India, Old and New

Sir Valentine Chirol
India, Old and New

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Title: India, Old and New
Author: Sir Valentine Chirol
Release Date: April 8, 2005 [EBook #15586]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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"We shall in time so far improve the character of our Indian subjects as
to enable them to govern and protect themselves."--Minute by Sir
Thomas Munro, Governor of Madras, Dec. 31, 1824.

It is little more than ten years since I wrote my Indian Unrest. But they
have been years that may well count for decades in the history of the
world, and not least in the history of India. Much has happened in India
to confirm many of the views which I then expressed. Much has
happened also to lead me to modify others, and to recognise more
clearly to-day the shortcomings of a system of government, in many
ways unrivalled, but subject to the inevitable limitations of alien rule.
At a very early stage of the Great War the Prime Minister warned the
British people that, after the splendid demonstration India was already
giving of her loyalty to the cause for which the whole Empire was then
in arms, our relations with her would have henceforth to be approached
from "a new angle of vision." The phrase he used acquired a deeper
meaning still as the war developed from year to year into a
life-and-death struggle not merely between nations but between ideals,
and India claimed for herself the benefit of the ideals for which she too
fought and helped the British Commonwealth to victory. When victory
was assured, could India's claim be denied after she had been called in,
with all the members of the British Commonwealth, to the War
Councils of the Empire in the hour of need, and again been associated
with them in the making of peace? The British people have answered
that question as all the best traditions of British governance in India,
and all the principles for which they had fought and endured through
four and a half years of frightful war, bade them answer it.
The answer finally took shape in the great constitutional experiment of
which I witnessed the inauguration during my visit to India this winter.
It promises to rally as seldom before in active support of the British
connection those classes that British rule brought within the orbit of
Western civilisation by the introduction of English education, just
about a century ago. It has not disarmed all the reactionary elements
which, even when disguised in a modern garb, draw their inspiration
from an ancient civilisation, remote indeed from, though not in its
better aspects irreconcilable with, our own. A century is but a short
moment of time in the long span of Indian history, and the antagonism
between two different types of civilisation cannot be easily or swiftly
lived down. It would be folly to underrate forces of resistance which

are by no means altogether ignoble, and in this volume I have studied
their origin and their vitality because they underlie the strange
"Non-co-operation" movement which has consciously or unconsciously
arrayed every form of racial and religious and economic and political
discontent, not merely against British rule, but against the progressive
forces which contact with Western civilisation has slowly brought into
existence under British rule in India itself. These forces have been
stirred to new endeavour by the goal now definitely placed within their
reach. That we were bound to set that goal and no other before them I
have tried to show by reviewing the consistent evolution of British
policy in India for the last 150 years, keeping, imperfectly sometimes,
but in the main surely, abreast of our own national and political
evolution at home and throughout the Empire. Once placed in its proper
perspective, this great experiment, though fraught with many dangers
and difficulties, is one of which the ultimate issue can be looked
forward to hopefully as the not unworthy sequel to the long series of
bold and on the whole wonderfully successful experiments that make
up the unique story of British rule in India.
I have to express my thanks
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