RECORD: Wallace, A. R. et al. 1902. Enquiry into the economic condition of India. In: Dutt, Romesh C. 1902. Speeches and papers on Indian questions, 1891 and 1902. Calcutta: Elm Press, pp. 150-156.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed (double key) by AEL Data, corrections by John van Wyhe. RN1

[page 150]



[Memorial submitted to the Secretary of State for India in January 1902, It was prepared by the Indian Famine Union, and is included in this volume as Mr. Dutt was one of the signatories.]


We, the undersigned, being interested in the welfare of India, and grieved on account of the sufferings of the Indian people from recurring famines, desire to approach you with reference to an investigation of the causes of these famines and the promotion of all practical means of prevention.

We recognise the energy and success with which the Government of India have through several visitations of famine performed their stupendous task of feeding millions of starving sufferers scattered over vast areas, and we believe that the various Famine Commissions, by careful scrutiny of past results, are gradually bringing our system of famine relief to the highest point of efficiency. The methods of famine relief do not therefore appear to as to press for enquiry. But there remains the question of famine prevention. Here all possible help is needed to collect facts and mature practical suggestions. And we believe that such as we can offer will be welcomed by the hard-worked officials in India, whose time is fully occupied by the current duties of administration.

[page] 151

Many means have been suggested for strengthening the position of the Indian agriculturist and rendering him more capable of resisting the effects of drought; such as the more rapid extension of irrigation, agricultural banks, village and other industries, re-afforestation, migration, grain storage, export duties on grain, technical education, arbitration courts, besides administrative reforms, such as timely remissions of land revenue during periods of famine, and the limitation of land alienation. These various remedies appear to us to deserve careful enquiry, and we doubt not that, as each comes under investigation, your Lordship will favour us with information from the India Office showing what has been done by the Government in the directions indicated up to the present time. But we are most strongly impressed with the conviction that the problem of checking famine in India cannot be usefully considered without further special knowledge of the different circumstances of its extended territories and of their inhabitants. What is beneficial in one area may be useless and even mischievous elsewhere. An exact diagnosis of the patient must precede the application of remedies. Our request therefore is that the Government will be pleased to cause a detailed enquiry to be made into the economic condition of a limited number of selected villages in each of the provinces which have been afflicted by famine. It is suggested that in each province the local administration should select typical villages, and appoint suitable persons, including officials and non-officials, Europeans and Indians, to make a

[page] 152

complete enquiry into their condition, ascertaining the exact financial position of each cultivator, with the history and causes of his difficulties. When the economic record of these villages is complete, approved experiments in their management might be entrusted to administrators of proved capacity and discretion. Different groups of villages will doubtless be found to require different treatment; and the remedies, administrative and legislative, found efficacious in the typical villages, could he afterwards cautiously extended to the groups existing under similar economic conditions.

We ask with the more confidence for the detailed local enquiries above indicated because we find that precedents exist in which the Government of India have based remedial agrarian legislation upon the results of such enquiries. As important instances we would refer to the labours of the Dekkhan Riots Commission, which led to the Dekkhan Ryots Relief Act of 1879; and to the Punjab Alienation of Land Act, 1900, which was based upon a village-by-village and holding-by-holding enquiry carried out in 1895-6 by Mr. Thorburn in typical tracts in the Western Punjab. This enquiry, which was both minute and comprehensive, extending to 742 villages, was completed within six months, and involved an extra expense of only £300.

We are, of course, aware that valuable information regarding the economic condition of the agriculturists has been collected by the Government from time to time, especially by means of the enquiries initiated in 1881 and in 1887, and we hope for much enlightenment

[page] 153

from a study of the information thus made accessible. But we desire to point out that, although this information is most valuable for purposes of comparison, it is based on enquiries having no direct connection with famine questions; it belongs to a period before the great famines of 1897 and 1900 had seriously affected the condition of so large a portion of the agricultural population; and it was net generally based, as we believe, on such local enquiries as we suggest. It appears to us, therefore, that fresh enquiries of the kind asked for are urgently necessary, in order to determing the economic condition of the cultivators with reference to, their present power of resisting the attacks of famine.

In conclusion, we desire to state that this movement is of a purely scientific character, that it is unconnected with party politics, and that our wish is to support the Indian Government in its efforts to deal with a great national calamity.

For the Indian Famine Union,

S. S. THORBURN Joint Hon.
M. M. BHOWNAGGREE Secretaries.

The Hon. Secretaries have been authorised to add the following names to this Memorial:

The Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster.
The Archbishop of Armagh.
The Marquis of Ripon.
The Earl of Aberdeen.
The Earl of Dunmore.
The Lord Hobhouse.
The Lord Kinnaird.

[page] 154

The Bishop of Carlisle.
The Bishop of Liverpool.
The Lord Leigh.
The Lord Radstock.
The Lord Stanley of Alderley.
Sir Auckland Colvin, K.C.S.I.
Right Hon. Sir Richard Garth. K. C.
Sir Lepel Griffin, K C.S.I.
Sir John Jardine. K.C I E.
Sir William Markby, K.C.I.E.
Sir William Muir, K.C.S I.
General Sir Henry Norman, G.C.B.
Sir W. Comer Petheram.
Sir John Budd Phear. K.C.I.E.
General Sir J. W. Sneider.
Sir Raymond West, K.C.I.E.
Mr. G. B. Chapman.
Mr. T. Hart Davies.
Mr. T. A. Denny.
Mr. E. C. Ozanne.
Dr. A. D. Pollen.
Mr. J. R. Reid, C.I.E.
Mr. H. J. Reynolds, C.S.I.
Mr. Alex. Rogers.
Mr. G. W. Vidal.
Mr. C. W. Whish.
Mr. T. Gair Ashton, M.P.
Mr. T. Burt. M.P.
Mr. John Burns, M.P.
Mr. T. Bayley. M.P.
Mr. J. Brigs, M. P.
Mr. W. S. Caine, M.P.
Mr. D. Brynmor Jones, M.P.
Mr. J. Herbert Lewis, M.P.
Sir John Leng, M.P.
Mr. J. Herbert Roberts, M.P.
Mr. Thomas Shaw, K.C., M.P.
Mr. H. J. Wilson, M.P.
Mr. J. H. Yoxall. M.P.
The Dean of Durham.
The Dean of Lincoln.
The Dean of Llandaff.
The Dean of Manchester.
The Principal of Jesus College, Oxford.
The Warden of Keble College, Oxford.
The Principal of Manchester College, Oxford.
The Master of Pembroke College, Oxford.
The Principal of Somerville College, Oxford.
The Master of Catherine College, Cambridge.
The Master of Clare College, Cambridge.
The President of Queen's College, Cambridge.
The Principal of Aberdeen University.
The President of Queens College, Belfast.
Rev. Canon Ainger.
Rev. R. A. Armstrong.
Rev. W. T. A. Barber.
Rev. Canon Barnett.
Mr. Bramwell Booth.
Rev Dr. John Clifford.
Rev E. D. Cornish.
Rev. J. Estlin Carpenter.
Rev. Dr. Glasse.
Rev. Canon Gore.
Rev. Canon Hicks.
Rev. J. Page Hopps.
Rev. A. O. M. Jay.
Rev. Canon Knox-Little.
Rev. J. T. McGaw.
Rev. Dr. Mair.
Rev. Dr. Marshall.
Rev. F. B. Meyer.
Rev. J. H. Moulton.
Rev. Dr. Paterson.
Rev. J. E. Radcliffe.
Rev. Dr. Rigg.
Rev. T. G Selby.
Archdeacon Sinclair.
Rev. T. Spurgeon.

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Rev. Dr. Taylor.
Rev. H. A. Thomas.
Rev. S. Vincent.
Rev. H. Russell Wakefield.
Rev. Principal Whitehouse.
Ven. Archdeacon Wilson.
Sir Arthur Arnold.
Sir Thomas Barlow, M. D.
Dr. Karl Blind.
Mr. P W. Bunting.
Mr. Wilfrid Scawen Blunt.
General Sir William Butler.
Mr. W. P. Byles.
Mr. Jas. Carter.
Mr. Donald Crawford.
Mr. Wm. Digby, C I.E.
Mr. J. Passmore Edwards.
Mr. A E. Fletcher.
Sir Douglas Fox.
Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Fry.
Sir Theodore Fry.
Professor Wm. Graham.
Mr. Frederic Harrison.
Mr. T. E Higham.
Mr. C. H. Hopwood, K.C.
Mr. J. Seymour Keay.
Mr. Bertram Keightley.
Mr. C. S. Loch.
Right Hon Sir Massey Lopes.
Mr. Fred. Maddison.
Professor Alfred Marshall.
Mr. George Meredith.
Mr. H. S. Murray.
Professor S.J. Owen.
Mr. H. D. Pearsall.
Sir H. Gilzean-Reid.
Mr. G. Bernard Shaw.
Mr. J. Bamford Slack.
Mr. Robinson Souttar.
Mr. Herbert Spencer.
Sir W. P. Treloar.
Sir E. H. Verney.
Mr. Alfred Wallace.
Professor John Westlake.
Mr. A. J. Wilson.
Mrs. G S. Barnett.
Miss E. A. Bayly ("Edna Lyall")
Mr. Bramwell Booth.
Mrs. W. P. Byles
The Countess of Carlisle.
Miss Alison Garland.
Madame Sarah Grand.
Mrs. Eva M'Laren.
Mrs. Chas. Mallet.
Mrs. F. Max Muller.
Mrs. Russell Rea.
Mrs. Flora Annie Steel.
The Countess of Warwick.
The Lord Mayor of Bristol.
The Lord Mayor of York.
The Mayor of Barnsley.
The Mayor of Barrow in-Furness.
The Mayor of Birkenhead.
„ „ Blackburn.
„ „ Bootle.
„ „ Bradford.
„ „ Cheltenham.
„ „ Coventry.
„ „ Gateshead.
„ „ Grimsby.
„ „ Huddersfield.
„ „ Ipswich.
„ „ Maidstone.
„ „ Newport (Mcn.)
„ „ Nottingham.
„ „ Shoreditch.
„ „ Stepney.
„ „ Sunderland.
„ „ Warrington.
„ „ Wigan.
The Provost of Ayr.
„ „ Melrose.
„ „ Montrose.
„ „ Paisleya.
The Chairman, Blackburn Chamber of Commerce.
The Chairman, Cardiff Chamber of Commerce.

[page] 156

The Lord Aberdare.
The Lord Keane.
The Marquis of Winchester.
The Lord Wrottesley.
Sir George Birdwood. K.C.I.E.
General Sir Andrew Clarke.
Mr. Romesh C. Dutt, C.I.E.
Mr. Robert H. Elliot.
Colonel H. B. Hanna.
Sir Robert G. Head.
Mr. J. Knox Wight.
Mr. Edward Bond. M. P.
Mr. R. Cameron. M. P.
Mr. Alfred Emmott, M. P.
Mr. Samuel Evans, K.C, M.P.
Sir Michael Foster, M. P.
Sir Walter Foster. M. P.
Mr. J. P. Farrell, M. P.
Mr. M. J. Flavin, M. P.
Sir W. Brampton Gurdon, M. P.
Mr. J. Keir Hardie, M. P.
Mr. A. H. Heath, M P.
Mr. J. D. Hope, M. P.
Mr. P. J. Kennedy, M. P.
Sir James Kitson, M. P.
Colonel Hon. Heneage Legge, M. P.
Mr. Maurice Levy, M. P.
Mr. Chas. McArthur, M. P.
Dr. T. J. Macnamara, M. P.
Mr. J. Lloyd Morgan, M. P.
Mr. Chas. Morley, M. P.
Mr. T. W. Nussey M. P.
Mr. J J O'Shee, M. P.
Mr. A. C. Humphreys Owen. M. P.
Mr D. V. Pirie, M. P.
Mr. H. J. Reckit, M.P
Mr. S. Forde Ridley, M.P.
Mr. Edmund Robertson, K.C. M.P.
Mr. C. P. Scott, M.P.
Mr. Chas. E. Shaw, M.P.
Mr. J. W. Spear, M.P.
Mr. T. Courtenay Warner, M.P.
Mr. J.K. Wingfield-Digby, M.P.
Mr. Samuel Young, M.P.
The Dean of Glouchester.
Rev. Dr. G. S. Barrett.
Rev. Canon McColl.
Rev. Wm. Dale.
Rev. Hugh Price Hughes.
Rev. Vernon Staley.
Rev. Chas. Voysey.
Comptoir National D'Escompte (Mr. E. Lazarus, Manager).
Councillor Fielding Johnson.
Sir Wm. Bruce.
Sir Alfred Newton.
Mr. A G. Symonds.
Mr. Edgar Speyer (Messrs. Speyer Bros.)
Dr. R. Spence Watson.
Mr. Alex. Wedderburn, K.C.
Mr. Spencer Wilkinson.
Mr. W. Martin Wood.
Mrs. H. Bradlaugh Bonner.
Chairman, Cambridgeshire County Council.
Chairman, Merionethshire County Council.
The Mayor of Glouchester.
The Chairman, Bradford, Chamber of Commerce.

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