Part 1 out of 3
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BY COMMISSIONER BOOTH-TUCKER
A SUPPLEMENT TO GENERAL BOOTH'S
"IN DARKEST ENGLAND, AND THE WAY OUT."
The remarkable reception accorded to General Booth's "In Darkest England
and the Way Out," makes it hardly necessary for me to apologise for the
publication of the following pages, which are intended solely as an
introduction to that fascinating book, and in order to point out to
Indian readers that if a "cabhorse charter" is both desirable and
practicable for England (see page 19, Darkest England) a "bullock
charter" is no less urgently needed for India.
In doing this it is true that certain modifications and adaptations in
detail will require to be made. But the more carefully I consider the
matter, the more convinced do I become, that these will be of an
unimportant character and that the gospel of social salvation, which has
so electrified all classes in England, can be adopted in this country
almost as it stands.
After all, this is no new gospel, but simply a resurrection, or
resuscitation, of a too much neglected aspect of the original message
of "peace on earth, good will towards men," proclaimed at Bethlehem. It
has been the glory of Christianity, that it has in all ages and climes
acknowledged the universal brotherhood of man, and sought to relieve the
temporal as well as the spiritual needs of the masses. Of late years
that glory has in some degree departed, or at least been tarnished, not
because the efforts put forth are less than those in any previous
generation, but because the need is so far greater, that what would have
been amply sufficient a few centuries ago, is altogether inadequate when
compared to the present great necessity.
The very magnitude of the problem has struck despair into the hearts of
would-be reformers, many of whom have leapt to the conclusion, that
nothing but an entire reconstruction of society could cope with so vast
an evil, whilst others have been satisfied with simply putting off the
reckoning day and suppressing the simmering volcano on the edge of
which, they dwelt with paper edicts which its first fierce eruption is
destined to consume.
Surely the present plan if at all feasible, is God-inspired, and if
God-inspired, it will be certainly feasible. And surely of all countries
under the face of the sun there is none which more urgently needs the
proclamation of some such Gospel of Hope than does India. That it is
both needed and feasible I trust that in the following pages I shall be
able to abundantly prove.
General Booth has uttered a trumpet-call, the echoes of which will be
reverberated through the entire world. The destitute masses, whom he has
in his book so vividly pourtrayed, are everywhere to be found. And I
believe I speak truly when I say that in no country is their existence
more palpable, their number more numerous, their misery more aggravated,
their situation more critical, desperate and devoid of any gleam of hope
to relieve their darkness of despair, than in India.
And yet perhaps in no country is there so promising a sphere for the
inauguration of General Booth's plan of campaign. Religious by instinct,
obedient to discipline, skilled in handicrafts, inured to hardship, and
accustomed to support life on the scantiest conceivable pittance, we
cannot imagine a more fitting object for our pity, nor a more
encouraging one for our effort, than the members of India's "submerged
Leaving to the care of existing agencies those whose bodies are
diseased, General Booth's scheme seeks to fling the mantle of
brotherhood around the morally sick, the destitute and the despairing.
It seeks to throw the bridge of love and hope across the growing
bottomless abyss in which are struggling twenty-six millions of our
fellow men, whose sin is their misfortune and whose poverty is their
crime, who are graphically said to have been "damned into the world,
rather than born into it."
The question is a national one. This is no time therefore for party or
sectarian feeling to be allowed to influence our minds. True for
ourselves we still believe as fully as ever that the salvation of Jesus
Christ is the one great panacea for all the sins and miseries of
mankind. True we are still convinced that to merely improve a man's
circumstances without changing the man himself will be largely labor
spent in vain. True we believe in a hell and in a Heaven, and that it is
our ultimate object to save each individual whom we can influence out of
the one into the other. True that among the readers of the following
pages will be those whose religious creed differs from our's as widely
as does the North Pole from the South.
But about these matters let us agree for the present to differ. Let us
unite with hand and heart to launch forthwith the social life boat, and
let us commit it to the waves, which are every moment engulfing the
human wrecks with which our shores are lined. When the tempest has
ceased to rage, and when the last dripping mariner has been safely
landed we can, if we wish, with a peaceful conscience dissolve our
partnership and renew the discussion of the minor differences, which
divide, distract and weaken the human race, but _not till then._
IN DARKEST INDIA.
I. Why "Darkest India?"
II. Who are not the Submerged Tenth?
III. The minimum standard of existence
IV. Who are the Submerged Tenth?
V. The Beggars
VI. "The Out of Works"
VII. The Homeless Poor
VIII. The Land of Debt
IX. The Land of Famine
X. The Land of Pestilence
XI. The White Ants of Indian Society
(a) The Drunkard
(b) The Opium Slave
(c) The Prostitute
XII. The Criminals
XIII. On the Border Land
XIV. Elements of Hope
THE WAY OUT.
I. The Essentials to success
II. What is General Booth's scheme?
III. The City Colony
IV. The Labour Bureau
V. Food for all--the Food Depots
VI. Work for all, or the Labour Yard
VII. Shelter for all, or the Housing of the Destitute
VIII. The Beggars Brigade
IX. The Prison Gate Brigade
X. The Drunkards Brigade
XI. The Rescue Homes for the Fallen
XII. "The Country Colony"--"Wasteward ho!"
XIII. The Suburban Farm
The Market Garden
XIV. The Industrial Village
XV. The Social Territory, or Poor Man's Paradise
XVI. The Social City of Refuge
XVII. Supplementary Branches of the Country Colony
Off to the Tea Gardens
Land along the Railways
Improved methods of Agriculture
XVIII. The Over-sea Colony
XIX. Miscellaneous Agencies
The Intelligence Department
The Poor Man's Lawyer
The Inquiry Office for missing Friends
The Matrimonial Bureau
The Emigration Bureau
XX. How much will it Cost?
XXI. A Practical conclusion
PART I.--IN DARKEST INDIA.
WHY "DARKEST INDIA?"
It is unnecessary for me to recapitulate the parallel drawn by General
Booth between the sombre, impenetrable and never-ending forest,
discovered by Stanley in the heart of Africa, and the more fearfully
tangled mass of human corruption to be found in England. Neither the
existence, nor the extent, of the latter have been called in question,
and in reckoning the submerged at one tenth of the entire population it
is generally admitted that their numbers have been understated rather
Supposing that a similar percentage be allowed for India, we are face to
face with the awful fact that the "submerged tenth" consists of no less
than _twenty-six millions of human beings_, who are in a state of
destitution bordering upon absolute starvation! No less an authority
than Sir William Hunter has estimated their numbers at fifty millions,
and practically his testimony remains unimpeached.
Indeed I have heard it confidently stated by those who are in a good
position to form a judgement, that at least one hundred millions of the
population of India scarcely ever know from year's end to year's end
what it is to have a satisfying meal, and that it is the rule and not
the exception for them to retire to rest night after night hungry and
faint for want of sufficient and suitable food.
I am not going, however to argue in favor of so enormous a percentage
of destitution. I would rather believe, at any rate for the time being,
that such an estimate is considerably exaggerated. Yet do what we will,
it is impossible for any one who has lived in such close and constant
contact with the poor, as we have been doing for the last eight or nine
years, to blink the fact, that destitution of a most painful character
exists, to a very serious extent, even when harvests are favorable and
the country is not desolated by the scourge of famine.
Nor do I think that there would be much difficulty in proving that this
submerged mass constitutes at least one-tenth of the entire population.
No effort has hitherto been made to gauge their numbers, so that it is
impossible to speak with accuracy, and the best that we can do is, to
form the nearest feasible estimate from the various facts which lie to
hand and which are universally admitted.
Let any one who is tempted to doubt the literal truth of what I say, or
to think that the picture is overdrawn, but place himself at our
disposal for a few days, or weeks, and we will undertake to show him,
and that in districts which are as the very Paradise of India, thousands
of cases of chronic destitution (especially at certain seasons in the
year) such as ought to be sufficient to melt even a heart of stone!
WHO ARE NOT THE SUBMERGED TENTH?
Before passing on to consider of whom the destitute classes actually
consist, it will be well in a country like India to make a few
preliminary remarks regarding the numbers and position of their more
fortunate countrymen who have employment of some sort, and are therefore
excluded from the category.
The entire population of British India, including Ceylon, Burmah, and
the Native States amounts according to the Census of 1881 to about two
hundred and sixty-four millions.
These I would divide into five classes--
1st--The wealth and aristocracy of the country consisting of those
who enjoy a monthly income of one hundred rupees and upwards per
family. According to the most sanguine estimate we can hardly
suppose that these would number more than forty millions of the
2nd.--The well-to-do middle classes, earning twenty rupees and
upwards, numbering say seventy millions.
3rd.--The fairly well off laboring classes, whose wages are from
five rupees and upwards, numbering say at the most one hundred
4th--The poverty stricken laboring classes, earning less than five
rupees a month for the support of their families. These cannot at
the lowest estimate be less than twenty-five millions.
5th.--The destitute and unemployed poor, who earn nothing at all,
and who are dependent for their livelihood on the charity of others.
These can hardly be less than twenty-five millions, or a little less
than one-tenth of the entire population.
The two hundred and ten millions who are supposed to be earning
regularly from five rupees and upwards per family, we may dismiss
forthwith from consideration. For the time being they are beyond the
reach of want, and they are not therefore the objects of our solicitude.
At some future date it may be possible to consider schemes for their
Indirectly, no doubt, they will benefit immensely by any plans that will
relieve them of the dead weight of twenty-five million paupers, hanging
round their necks and crippling their resources. But for the present we
may say in regard to them, happy is the man who can reckon upon a
regular income of five rupees a month for the support of himself and his
family, albeit he may have two or three relations dependent on him, and
a capricious money lender ever on his track, ready to extort a lion's
share of his scanty earnings. And thrice happy is the man who can boast
an income of ten, fifteen, or twenty rupees a month, though the poorest
and least skilled laborers in England would reckon themselves badly paid
on as much per week.
We turn from these to the workless tenth and to the other tenth who eke
out a scanty hand-to-mouth existence on the borders of that great and
terrible wilderness. But before enumerating and classifying them, there
is one other important question which calls for our consideration.
THE MINIMUM STANDARD OF EXISTENCE.
What may reasonably be said to be the minimum scale of existence, below
which no Indian should be suffered to descend? Fix it as low as you
like, and you will unfortunately find that there are literally
_millions_ who do not come up to your standard.
Pick out your coarsest, cheapest grains, and weigh them to the last
fraction of an ounce. Rigidly exclude from the poor man's bill of fare
any of the relishes which he so much esteems, and the cost of which is
so insignificant as to be hardly worth mentioning, and yet you will find
legions of gaunt, hungry men, women and children, who would greedily
accept your offered regimen to-morrow, if you could only discover the
wherewithal for obtaining the same, and who would gladly _pay for it
with the hardest and most disagreeable description of labour._
Take for instance the prison diet, where the food is given by weight,
and where it is purposely of the coarsest description consistent with
health. That the quantity is insufficient to satisfy the cravings of
hunger I can myself testify, having spent a month inside one of Her
Majesty's best appointed Bombay prisons, and having noted with painful
surprise the eagerness with which every scrap of my own coarse brown
bread, that I might leave over, was claimed and eaten by some of my
hungry, low-caste fellow prisoners!
The clothing and the blankets are also of the very cheapest description.
Of course it must be remembered too, that the food and materials being
bought in large quantities, are obtained at contract prices which are
considerably less than the usual retail rates in the bazaar. And yet
notwithstanding these facts it costs the Bombay Government on an average
Rs. 2/4 per month for each prisoner's food, and close upon Rs. 2 a year
for clothing, besides the cost of establishment, police guard, hospital
expenses and contingencies. Altogether according to the figures given in
the Jail Report of 1887 for the Bombay Presidency, including all the
above mentioned items, I find that the average monthly cost to
Government for each prisoner is a little over Rs. 6 a head.
Now it is a notorious, though almost incredible, fact, that in many
parts of India, men will commit petty thefts and offences on purpose to
be sent to jail, and will candidly state this to be their reason for
doing so. Many Government Officials will, I am sure, bear me out in
this. Here we have men who are positively so destitute that they are not
only prepared to accept with thankfulness the scanty rations of a jail,
but are willing to sacrifice their characters and endure the ignominy of
imprisonment and the consequent loss of liberty and separation from home
and family, because there is absolutely no other way of escape! In
Ceylon the jail is familiarly known among this class as their "_Loku
amma_", or "_Grandmother_"!
India has no poor law. There is not even the inhospitable shelter of a
workhouse, to which the honest pauper may have recourse. Hence with tens
of thousands it is literally a case of "steal or starve." I suppose that
nine-tenths of the thefts and robberies, besides a large proposition of
the other crimes committed in India, are prompted by sheer starvation,
and until the cause be removed, it will be in vain to look for a
diminution of the evil, multiply our police and soldiery as we will.
But I am digressing. My special object in this chapter is to show the
minimum amount which is necessary for the subsistence of our destitute
Another very interesting indication of the minimum cost of living in the
cheapest native style, consistent with health, and a very moderate
degree of comfort, is furnished by the experience of our village
officers to whom we make a subsistence allowance of from eight to twelve
annas per week. This with the local gifts of food which they collect in
the village enables them to live in the simplest way, and ensures them
at least one good meal of curry and rice daily, the rest being locally
Here is the account of one of our Native Captains as to how he used to
manage with his allowance of eight annas a week. I have taken it down
myself from his own lips.
"When in charge of a village corps, I received with others my weekly
allowance. When I was alone I used to get 10 annas, and when there
were two of us together we got eight annas each. This was sufficient
to give us one good meal of kheechhree (rice and dal) every day,
with a little over for extras, such as firewood, vegetables, oil and
"We had two regular cooked meals daily, one about noon and the other
in the evening. Besides this we also had a piece of bajari bread
left over from the previous day, when we got up in the morning.
"For the morning meal we used to beg once a week uncooked food from
the villagers. They gave us about eight or nine seers, enough to
last us for the week.
"It was a mixture of grains, consisting ordinarily of bajari,
bhavtu, kodri, jawar and mat. These we got ground up into flour. It
made a sort of bread which is known as Sangru and which we liked
very much. With it we would take some sag (vegetables) or dal. This
was our regular midday meal.
"Including the value of the food we begged, the cost of living was
just about two annas a day for each of us. We could live comfortably
"The poorer Dhers in the villages seldom or never get kheechhree
(rice and dal). They could not afford it. Most of them live on
"ghens" (a mixture of buttermilk and coarse flour cooked into a sort
of skilly, or gruel) and bhavtu or bajari bread, or "Sangru." The
buttermilk is given to them by the village landowners, in return
for their labour. They are expected for instance to do odd jobs, cut
grass, carry wood, &c. The grain they commonly get either in harvest
time in return for labour, or buy it as they require it several
maunds at a time. Occasionally they get it in exchange for cloth.
Living in the cheapest possible way, and eating the coarsest food, I
don't think they could manage on less than one annas' worth of food
One of our European Officers, Staff Captain Hunter, who has lived in the
same style for about four years among the villagers of Goojarat, and who
has been in charge of some 30 or 40 of our Officers, confirms the above
particulars. He says that on two annas a day it is possible to live
comfortably, but that one anna is the minimum below which it is
impossible to go in order to support life even on the coarsest sorts of
He tells me that the weavers have assured him that when husband and
wife are working hard from early to late, they cannot make more than
four annas profit a day by their weaving, since the mills have come into
the country and then they have to pay a commission to some one to sell
their cloth for them, or spend a considerable time travelling about the
country finding a market for it themselves. A piece of cloth which would
fetch nine rupees a few years ago, is now only worth three and a half or
Bearing in mind, therefore, the above facts, I should consider that if
India's submerged tenth are to be granted, even nothing better than a
"bullock charter," the lowest fraction which could be named for the
minimum claimable by all would be one anna a day, or two rupees a month
for each adult. As a matter of fact, I have no hesitation in saying,
that there are many millions in India who do not get even half this
pittance from year's end to year's end, and yet toil on with scarcely a
murmur, sharing their scanty morsel with those even poorer than
themselves, until disease finds their weakened bodies an easy prey, and
death gives them their release from a poverty-stricken existence; which
scarcely deserves the name of "life."
WHO ARE THE SUBMERGED TENTH?
By classifying and grading the various orders that constitute Indian
Society according to their average earnings, and by considering their
minimum, standard of existence, I have sought to prepare the way for a
more careful investigation of those who actually constitute the Darkest
India, which we are seeking to describe. I have narrowed down our
inquiry to the fifty millions, or whatever may be their number, who are
either absolutely destitute, or so closely on the border-land of
starvation as to need our immediate sympathy and assistance.
Strictly speaking it is with the former alone, the absolutely destitute,
numbering as I have supposed some twenty-five millions, that we are at
present concerned. I have, however, found it impossible to exclude some
reference to the poverty-stricken laboring classes, earning less than
five rupees a month for the support of each family, inasmuch as they are
probably far more numerous than I have supposed, and their miseries are
but one degree removed from those of the utterly destitute. Indeed we
scarcely know which is the most to be pitied, the beggar who, if he has
nothing, has perhaps at least the comfort that nobody is dependent on
him, or the poor coolie who with his three or four rupees a month has
from five to eight, or more, mouths to fill! _Fill_ did I say? They are
_never_ filled! The most that can be done in such cases is to prolong
life and to keep actual starvation at bay, and that only it may be for a
Nevertheless, I have restricted the term "Submerged Tenth" to the
absolutely destitute, whom I now proceed to still further analyse.
In doing so I have been obliged to include several important classes
who happily do not exist in England, or who are at any rate so few in
number, or so well provided for, as not to merit special attention. I
mean the beggars, the destitute debtors, and the victims of opium,
famine, and pestilence, without whom our catalogue would certainly be
Including the above we may say that the Indian Submerged Tenth consist
of the following classes:--
I. The Beggars, excluding religious mendicants.
II. The out-of-works,--the destitute, but honest, poor, who are
willing and anxious for employment, but unable to obtain it.
III. The Houseless Poor.
IV. The Destitute Debtors.
V. The Victims of Famine and Scarcity.
VI. The Victims of Pestilence.
VII. The Vicious, including
(b) Opium eaters.
VIII. The Criminals, or those who support themselves by crime.
They are alike in one respect, that if they were compelled to be solely
dependent upon the proceeds of their labor, it would be impossible for
them to exist for a single month.
It is these who constitute the problem which we are endeavouring to
solve. Here is the leprous spot of society on which we desire to place
our finger. If any think, that it is not so big as we imagine, we will
not quarrel with them about its size. Let them cut down our figures to
half the amount we have supposed. It will still be large enough to
answer the purpose of this inquiry, and should surely serve to arrest
the attention of the most callous and indifferent! About its existence
no one can have the smallest doubt, nor as to the serious nature of the
plague which afflicts our society. As to the character of the remedy,
there may be a thousand different opinions but that a remedy is called
for, who can question?
One of the chief problems of Indian Society is that of beggary. India is
perhaps the most beggar-beridden country to be found. Nor would it be
possible under present circumstances to pass any law forbidding beggary.
In the absence of a poor-law, it is the last resource of the destitute.
True it is a plague spot in society and a serious reflection both on our
humanity and civilisation, to say nothing of our religious professions,
to tolerate the continued existence of the present state of things.
And yet I see no reason why the problem should not be firmly and
successfully handled in the interests alike of the beggars themselves
and those who supply the alms.
A short time ago I was visiting a Mahommedan gentleman in the Native
quarter of Bombay. It was in the morning before he went to business, and
I happened to hit upon the very time when the beggars made their usual
rounds. I should think upwards of fifty men and women must have called
during the few minutes that I was there. In fact it seemed like one
never-ending string of them reaching down both sides of the street. Some
sang, or shouted, to attract notice; others stood mutely with appealing
eyes, wherever they thought there was a chance of getting anything. Many
received a dole, while others were told to call again. I could not but
be struck by the courteous manner of my host to them, even when asking
them to pass along.
On the opposite side of the road some food, or money, I forget which,
was being distributed to a hungry crowd by another hospitable merchant.
Evidently the supply was limited, and it was a case of first come first
served. The desperate struggle that was going on amongst that little
crowd of some fifty or sixty people was pitiful to behold.
Now the present system, while better than nothing, is fraught with many
serious objections, with which I am sure my Indian readers will agree.
1. The weakest must inevitably go to the wall. It is the strong
able-bodied lusty beggar who is bound to get the best of it in
struggles such as I have above described, although he is just the
one who could and ought to work and who least needs the charity. He
is able also to cover more ground than the weak and sickly. To the
latter the struggle for existence is necessarily very severe, and
while needing and deserving help the most they get the least.
2. This unsystematic haphazard mode of helping the poor is bound to
be attended with serious inequalities; while some get more than is
either good, or necessary, others get too little, and for the
majority even supposing that on two or three days of the week they
succeeded in getting a sufficiency, the chances are that on four or
five they would not get nearly enough. It would be interesting to
know the total amount of food thus distributed and the number of
mouths that claim a share.
3. Of course in the case of any rise in the price of grains, the
position of the beggar is specially painful, as it is upon him that
the weight of the scarcity first falls.
4. Again the present system is a distinct encouragement to fraud. It
is impossible for the givers of charity to know anything about the
characters of those to whom they give. Thus much of their generosity
is misapplied, and the most pitiable cases escape notice, either
because they have not so plausible a tale, or because they have not
the requisite "_cheek_" for pushing their claims.
5. While the generous are severely taxed, the less liberal get off
scot free. They cannot give to all and therefore they will give to
nobody. Some beggars are frauds, therefore they will help none. They
have been taken in once, therefore they do not mean to be taken in
6. Finally the Indian army of beggars is continually increasing, and
will sooner or later have to be dealt with. Private charity will
soon be unable to cope with its demands, and humanity forbids that
we should leave them to starve.
I return therefore to the question, can we not seize this opportunity,
in the common interests of both beggars and be-begged, for dealing
vigorously with the difficulty, and for mitigating it, if we cannot at
one stroke entirely remove it?
I am very hopeful that this can be done, and that now certain classes
of beggars. But in any case I think we may fairly view the problem in a
spirit of hopefulness.
Roughly speaking the beggars may be divided into four classes:--
(a) The blind and the infirm.
(b) Those who take them about and share the proceeds of their
(c) The able bodied out-of-works, and
(d) The religious mendicants.
Passing over the last of these for obvious reasons, I would confine
myself to the first three classes. But I must not anticipate. The scheme
for their deliverance is fully described in a later portion of this
book, and for the present I would only say that they constitute a very
important section of India's submerged tenth and no plan would be
perfect that did not take them fully into account.
It is true that this does not form a part of General Booth's original
scheme. But the reason for this is patent. In England vagrancy is
forbidden. There is a poor law in operation and there are work-houses
provided by the State. In India there is nothing of the kind, save a law
for the _compulsory emigration_ of European vagrants, who are deported
by Government and not allowed to return. For Natives there is no choice
save the grim one between _beggary, starvation,_ and _the jail._ To
obtain the shelter of the last of these they must leave their family,
sacrifice their liberty, and commit some offence. Therefore the honest
out-of-works are driven by tens of thousands to lives of beggary, which
too often pave the way for lives of imposture and crime.
That the problem is capable of being successfully solved, if wisely
handled, has been proved by the Bavarian experiment of Count Rumford
quoted by General Booth in an appendix to his book. True that in that
case the Government lent their authority, their influence and the public
purse to the carrying out of the Count's plan of campaign.
This we do not think that public opinion would permit of in India, even
if Government should be willing to undertake so onerous a
responsibility. Nor do I believe that there is any necessity for it. The
circumstances are a good deal different to those in Bavaria, and will be
better met by the proposals which I have elsewhere drawn up.
Anyhow it is high time that something should be done, and that on an
extensive scale and of such a drastic nature as to deal effectually with
I can easily imagine that some may fear lest in dealing with the system
we should wound the religious susceptibilities of the people. Begging
has come to be such a national institution and is so much a part and
parcel of the Indian's life and religion, that any proposal to
extinguish the fraternity may cause in some minds positive regret. To
such I would say that we do not propose to _extinguish_ but to _reform_,
and with this one hint I must beg them, before making up their minds, to
study carefully the proposals detailed in Chapter VII of Part II.
I should question whether there is a single town or country district in
India which does not present the sad spectacle of a large number of men,
willing and anxious to work, but unable to find employment. Moreover, as
is well known, they have almost without exception families dependent
upon them for their support, who are necessarily the sharers of their
misfortunes and sufferings. There is one district in Ceylon, where
deaths from starvation have been personally known to our Officers, and
yet the country appears to be a very garden of Eden for beauty and
In the early years of our work I remember begging food from a house, and
learning afterwards that what they had given us was positively the last
they had for their own use. Needless to say that it was hastily
returned. During the same visit a cry of "Thief, thief!" was raised in
the night. We learnt next morning that the robbery had been committed by
a man whose wife and child were starving. It consisted of rice, and the
thief was discovered partly by the disappearance of the suspected
person, and partly by the fact that in his house was found the exact
quantity which had been stolen, whereas it was known that on the
previous day he had absolutely nothing whatever in his house! He had
left it all for his starving wife and child, and had himself fled to
another part of the country, probably going to swell the number of
criminals or mendicants in some adjoining city.
I quote these instances as serving to show the impossibility of judging
merely from outside appearances in regard to the existence or
non-existence of destitution of the most painful character, which it is
often to the interest of the local landlords to whitewash and conceal.
It is only on looking under the surface that such can in many cases be
discovered. It has been the actual living among the people that has made
it possible for us to obtain glimpses of their home life, such as could
not otherwise have been the case.
But let me enumerate a few of the classes among whom the Indian
"Out-of-works" are to be found. I do not mean of course to imply that
the entire castes, or tribes, or professions, referred to, constitute
them. Far from it. A large proportion are comparatively well off, and
though entangled almost universally in debt, are included among the 210
millions with whom we are not now concerned. None the less it will be
admitted, I believe, that it is from these that the ranks of destitution
are chiefly recruited. I call attention to this fact, because it helps
in a large measure to remove the religious difficulty which might at
first sight appear likely to stand in the way of our being commissioned
by the Indian public to undertake these much-needed reforms. They are
almost without exception of either no caste, or of such low caste, that
religiously speaking they may justly be regarded as "no man's land." The
higher castes and the respectable classes are mostly able to look after
themselves, and will not therefore come within the scope of our scheme.
And yet on the threshold of our inquiry we are confronted with an
important and increasing class, of "out-of-works" who are being turned
out of our educational establishments, unfitted for a life of hard
labour, trained for desk service, but without any prospect of suitable
employment in the case of a great and continually increasing majority. I
do not see how it will be possible for us to exclude or ignore this
class in our regimentation of the unemployed. Certainly our sympathies
go out very greatly after them. But beyond registering them in our
labour bureau, and acting as go-betweens in finding employment for a
small fraction of them, I do not see what more can be done. However, the
majority of them have well-to-do relations and friends to whom they can
turn, and except in cases of absolute destitution will not fall within
the scope of the present effort.
Passing over these we come to the poorest classes of peasant proprietors
who, having mortgaged their tiny allotments to the hilt, have finally
been sold up by the money-lender. Add to these again the more
respectable sections of day-laborers. Then there are the destitute among
the weavers, tanners, sweepers and other portions of what constitute the
low-caste community. Out of these take now the case of the weaver caste,
with whom we happen to be particularly familiar, as our work in Gujarat
is largely carried on among them. Since the introduction of machinery,
their lot has come to be particularly pitiable. In one district it is
reckoned that there are 400,000 of them. Previous to the mills being
started, they could get a comfortable competence, but year by year the
margin of profit has been narrowed down, till at length absolute
starvation is beginning to stare them in the face, and that within
To the above we may add again the various gipsy tribes, who have no
settled homes or regular means of livelihood. Finally, there are the
non-religious mendicants, the religious ones being considered as not
coming within the scope of our present effort, being provided for in
charitable institutions of their own.
Representatives of nearly all the above abound in our cities, and when
both town and village destitutes come to be reckoned together, I do not
think it will be too serious a view to take of their numbers, to reckon
the absolutely workless as numbering at least 25 or 26 millions.
THE HOMELESS POOR.
On this question I do not propose to say much, not because there is not
much that could be said, but because in a climate like India it is a
matter of secondary importance as compared with food. The people
themselves are comparatively speaking indifferent to it. The "bitter
cry" of India if put into words would consist simply of "Give us food to
fill our stomachs. This is all we ask. As for shelter, we are content
with any hovel, or willing to betake ourselves to the open air. But food
we cannot do without."
And yet, looked at from the point of view either of a moralist, a
sanitarian, or a humanitarian, the question is one which calls for
prompt consideration and remedial action. For instance, according to the
last Government census, the average number of persons inhabiting each
house in the city of Bombay is no less than 28. The average for the
entire Presidency is six. But then it must be remembered that the great
majority of the houses of the poor in the agricultural district consist
of one-roomed huts, in which the whole family sleep together.
In the cities the overcrowding has become so excessive, and the
accomodation available for the poor is so inadequate, costly and
squalid, as to almost beggar description. Considerations of decency,
comfort and health are largely thrown to the winds. A single unfurnished
room, merely divided from the next one by a thin boarding, through which
everything can be heard, will command from five to thirty rupees a
month, and even more, according to its position, in Bombay.
The typical poor man's home in India consists as a rule of a
single-storeyed hut with walls of mud or wattle, and roof of grass,
palm-leaf, tiles, mud, or stones, according to the nature of the
country. One or two rooms, and a small verandah, are all that he
requires for himself and his family.
In the cities the high price of the land makes even this little
impossible. Take for instance Bombay. Here the representative of the
London lodging-house is to be found in the form of what are called
"chawls," large buildings, several storeys high, divided up into small
rooms, which are let off to families, at a rental of from three rupees a
month and upwards. Very commonly the same room serves for living,
sleeping, cooking, and eating. There being as a rule no cooking place,
the cheap earthen "choola" serves as a sufficient make-shift, and the
smoke finds its exit through the door or window best it can.
For hundreds, probably thousands, in every large city, even this poor
semblance of a home does not exist. Those who manage somehow or other to
live on nothing a month, cannot certainly afford to pay three rupees, or
even less, for a lodging. Whilst, no doubt, many of the submerged, tenth
are not absolutely houseless, inasmuch as they are often able to share
the shelter of some relation or friend, it cannot be doubted that a very
large percentage of them might say, "Foxes have holes, and the birds of
the air have nests," but we "have not where to lay our heads."
Of the homeless poor there are two classes. The more fortunate find
shelter in those of the Dharamsalas, Temples and Mosques which contain
provision for such purposes. It must be remembered, however, that a
large number of such institutions are reserved for certain favored
castes, and are not therefore available for the out-caste poor. For the
rest, the uncertain shelter of verandahs, porticoes, market-places,
open sheds, and, in fine weather, the road-way, esplanade, or some shady
tree, have to suffice.
As already said, I am quite willing to admit that this question of
shelter for the poor is of secondary importance as compared with that of
their food-supply. And yet is it nothing to us that millions of the
Indian poor have no place that they can call "home," not even the meagre
shelter of the one-roomed hut with which they would gladly be content?
Is it nothing to us that superadded to the sufferings of hunger, they
have to face the sharp and sometimes frosty air of the cold weather with
scarcely a rag to their backs, and no doors, windows, or even walls to
keep off the chilly wind? Is it nothing to us that in the rainy season
they have to make their bed on the damp floor or ground, though to do so
means a certain attack of fever? Is it nothing to us that under such
circumstances the houseless poor should be converted into a dismal
quagmire in which moral leprosy, more terrible than its bodily
representative, should thrive and propagate itself? Certainly if the
Indian destitute are to have a "bullock charter" granted to them, it
will be necessary that it should sooner or later include suitable and
decent shelter as well as food.
True, the problem is a vast one but this is no reason why it should be
looked upon as insoluble, or left to grow year by year still vaster and
What we propose ourselves to undertake in this will be found elsewhere
(see Part II Chapter VI). It must be remembered, moreover, that if our
efforts to deal with the workless masses in finding them employment
should prove successful this will in itself help to remove much of the
existing evil. And by directing labor into channels where it can be the
most profitably employed, we shall help to disembarrass those channels
which have at present got choked up with an excess of it.
THE LAND OF DEBT.
One of the darkest shadows on the Indian horizon is that of debt. A
drowning man will snatch at a straw, and it would surely be inhuman for
us to find much fault with the unhappy creatures who constitute the
submerged tenth for borrowing their pittance at even the most exorbitant
rates of interest in the effort to keep their heads above water.
I have no desire here to draw a gloomy picture of the Indian Shylock. In
some respects I believe him to be a decided improvement on his European
and Jewish representative. It was only a short time ago that I read a
blood-curdling description of the London money-lender, which put any
Indian I have ever come across altogether into the shade.
Nevertheless, Shylock flourishes in India as perhaps in no other country
under the sun. His name is Legion. He is ubiquitous. He has the usual
abnormal appetite of his fraternity for rupees. But strange to say he
fattens upon poverty and grows rich upon the destitute. Whereas in other
regions he usually concentrates his attention upon the rich and
well-to-do classes, here he specially marks out for his prey those who
if not absolutely destitute live upon the border-land of that desolate
desert, and makes up by their numbers for what they may lack in quality.
He gives loans for the smallest amount from a rupee and upwards,
charging at the rate of half an anna per month interest for each rupee,
which amounts to nearly 38 per cent. per annum. As for payment, he is
willing to wait. Every three years, a fresh bond is drawn up including
principal and interest. Finally, when the amount has been sufficiently
run up, whatever land, house, buffalo, or other petty possessions may
belong to the debtor are sold up, usually far below their real value.
I remember one case, which came before me when I was in Government
service, where the facts were practically undisputed, in which a
cultivator was sued for 900 rupees, principal and interest, the original
debt being only ten rupees worth of grain borrowed a few years
previously. Ultimately it was compromised for about 100 rupees. This is
by no means an exceptional case.
Of course it may be said in favour of the money-lender that he is
obliged to charge these high rates, to cover the extra risk, and that as
a rule, he is generally prepared to forego half his legal claim when
the time for payment comes. I am aware also that the subject has long
occupied the earnest attention of Government, and that in some parts of
the country enactments have been introduced for the relief of poor
debtors. But these are only local and the evil is universal. A judicial
Solon is sadly needed who shall rise up and boldly face the evil. The
extortions of usurers have led to revolutions before now, and it seems
high time for an enlightened Government to do something on a large scale
for the abatement of the evil, if only by an absolute refusal to enforce
any such usurious contracts.
But I have only mentioned the subject, because it plays a specially
important part in the present depressed condition of the submerged
masses. In the following pages I hope among other things to be able to
cast some rays of light into this valley of the shadow of debt, if not
THE LAND OF FAMINE.
Any review of Darkest India would be incomplete without some mention of
the widespread and calamitous famines which periodically devastate the
country and which reappear from time to time with terrible certainty.
In a country where so large a proportion of the population is
agricultural, and where the poor are almost entirely paid in kind, the
failure of a single crop means the most terrible scarcity and privation
for those who even in time of plenty live at best but a hand-to-mouth
existence. And when the failure is repeated famine faces the
poverty-stricken masses, and they are frequently swept off by thousands.
In the terrible Madras famine of 1877 to 1878, several millions
perished, in spite of the relief works and charitable agencies which
hastened to their assistance. When the census of 1881 came to be taken,
it was found that in this part of India, instead of the population
having largely increased, as was everywhere else the case, there had
been a diminution of two per cent as compared with the census of 1871.
It may be said that such famines are not frequent and we are thankful to
admit that this is so. Yet scarcely a year passes without some part of
India suffering severely from partial droughts. Only last year hundreds
of poor starving wretches, crowded into Bombay from Kattiyawar, and were
for weeks encamped on the Esplanade, an abject multitude, dependent on
the charity of the rich. And yet it was "no famine" that had driven them
hundreds of miles from their homes, but "_only_ a scarcity."
At the same time famine prevailed in the Ganjam District to an extent
which would probably have been utterly discredited, had not the Governor
of Madras proceeded personally to the spot, and reported on the terrible
state of affairs. No less than 30,000 persons were thrown upon
Government for their support. In the same year through a fortnight's
delay in the break of the monsoon, there were grain riots at
Trichinopoly and Tanjore, several merchants stores being broken into,
through a rise in the price of food. Happily a subsequent fall of rain
averted the impending calamity, prices fell and order was restored.
Now to deal radically with famines it is necessary to meet them half
way, and not to wait till they are upon us in all their stupendous
immensity. It must be remembered that, as in the above instances, the
present condition of things is such, that the mere threatening of famine
is sufficient to send up the prices of food at a bound, to famine rates.
The chief victims of famine are the very classes who have been here
described as constituting the "submerged tenth." In ordinary times "the
wolf" is always "at the door" but at these calamitous periods there is
no door to keep him out, and he is master of the situation. Now General
Booth's scheme proposes to deal with him promptly and remove him to such
a safe distance, as shall make his inroads almost impossible.
By leaving these destitute classes in their present miserable condition,
we prepare for ourselves a gigantic and impossible task when the evil
day of famine at last overtakes us. By facing the difficulty at the
outset, and meeting it midway, we make our task much easier. Time is in
our favour. True, the people are hungry, but they are not dying. We can
afford to let them drift a few weeks, months, or even years longer,
while we are putting our heads and hearts together to devise for them
some way of deliverance commensurate with the immensity of their needs.
But to resign oneself to the present condition of things as inevitable
seems to me almost as heartless as to fold our hands helplessly at a
time of absolute famine. To deafen our ears to the immediate distresses
of the submerged tenth may be less criminal in degree but not in kind.
To those who feel paralysed by the vastness of the problem I would say
"Study General Booth's Way Out and the adaptation of it to India which I
have endeavoured to sketch in the following pages."
Here at least is a plan, perhaps not a perfect one, but still definite,
tangible and immediately possible. Improve upon it as much as you like.
Help us to remedy its defects by all means. But whatever you do, don't
stand by as an indifferent spectator. Put your own individual shoulder
to the wheel. Help us with your sympathy, prayers and substance to make
the effort, and should failure ensue, you will at least have the
satisfaction of realising that you have helped others to make an honest
determined effort for dealing with a gigantic evil that involves the
welfare, if not the existence of millions.
THE LAND OF PESTILENCES.
Happily a description of English destitution does not call for any
reference to plagues, such as those which annually or at least
periodically, devastate India, and that with such certainty that their
presence has come to be regarded, almost with indifference, as a matter
of course, or at least of necessity. Indeed we suppose that some would
even look upon it as a Divinely ordained method for reducing the
population. True, that in Europe the matter is regarded in a very
different light. Public opinion has made its voice heard. Medical
science has exerted itself, and not in vain. The laws of sanitation are
better known, and are enforced upon the entire community by severe legal
enactments. And above all, Christianity has taught the rich to say of
the poor "He is my brother," and to provide for him the medical care and
attention that would otherwise not be within his reach.
What is possible in Europe is no doubt possible in India. Much has
already been done, and our Government is fully awake to the importance
of the subject, and will be able, year by year, to institute further
improvements in this respect.
With this, however, we are not directly concerned. My object in
referring to the subject is to point out--
1. That it is almost invariably from among the submerged tenth, with
whom we propose to deal that these fearful plagues usually have their
origin. Pestilence may indeed be said to take up its abode among them.
Destitution is as it were the egg from which pestilence is hatched.
There are brooding seasons when it may for a time disappear from sight.
But it is there all the same and we know it. If we are to eradicate the
evil, we must deal effectually with its cause. And this is the special
object of General Booth's scheme.
True, it may be possible to keep this deadly enemy at bay by multiplying
our hospital fortresses and putting into the field medical legions armed
with the latest discoveries of science. But the requisite paraphernalia
is too expensive for a country like India; and who does not know that
well-fed bodies, and healthy homes are better safeguards against disease
than all the most costly medicines that could be provided by the British
pharmacopoeia? If therefore we are able to deal radically with
destitution we shall at the same time strike an effective blow at the
pestilences which are at present such a scourge to India.
2. Again I would like to remind my readers of another fact, and in this
aspect of the question, all classes of the community are bound to be
interested. If pestilence begins its deadly work among the destitute, it
can never be reckoned on to stop there. Indeed pestilence may be
regarded as _Nature's revenge_ on society for the neglect of the poor.
Once the cholera fiend has broken loose, it is impossible to tell whom
he is going to select for his victims. The rich, the fair, the learned,
the young, the strong, are often the first objects of his attention. He
manifests a reckless disregard of social position. The distinctions of
caste and rank, of beauty or learning, are not for him. And even as I
write he may be preparing his invisible hordes of bacilli for fresh
invasions, more terrible than those that have ever swept down from the
mountains of Afghanistan. While we are spending millions upon
strengthening our North-Western Frontiers against a foe who may never
exist, save in our imagination, can we dare to neglect the more terrible
enemy who defies all Boundary Commissions, who overleaps the strongest
fortresses, and who laughs to scorn the largest cannon that ever capped
3. Finally there is one very sad shade in this part of our picture of
darkest India. If on the one hand pestilence may be said to somewhat
thin the ranks of the destitute by decreasing the number of mouths
requiring to be fed, it must be remembered on the other hand that it
continually recruits them both by sweeping away so many of the
breadwinners, and by frequently paralysing many of those who are left,
and preventing them from earning what they otherwise might. How often do
we hear of even public institutions having to be closed, and of
thousands being thrown out of work by the panic which ensues at such
I have sought to confine myself to a matter-of-fact description of this
gloomy subject, and to avoid anything that could be construed into mere
sensationalism. And yet deaf must be the ears, and hard must be the
hearts, that can be insensible to the cries of agony that yearly ascend
from thousands and tens of thousands of homes. In a recent Government
report, I find that from cholera alone in one year there were reported
no less than 300,000 deaths; and yet the year was not remarkable for any
exceptional outbreak. Still more terrible and regular are the ravages of
the various malarial fevers, that sweep away millions yearly to a
premature grave, often just in the prime of life, when they are most
needed by the country. That a very large percentage of these deaths are
directly connected with destitution, and that pestilence frequently but
finishes the work commenced by months and years of starvation, is too
notorious to require proof. It is a melancholy picture, and yet without
it our review of Darkest India would be necessarily incomplete.
THE WHITE ANTS OF INDIAN SOCIETY.
Hitherto our description of the Submerged Tenth has concerned those who
may be styled principally the children of misfortune, and who in their
struggle for existence have resort to means which are indeed desperate
in their nature, but against which no moral objection can be raised.
General Booth next calls attention to another great section of the
Submerged Tenth who have found a temporary shelter or asylum in the
temple of Vice,--those who either trade upon the sins of society, or are
the miserable victims of those sins. The unlawful gratification of the
natural appetites has ever been the snare by which millions have been
deluded to damnation. If it were possible to combat this tendency in
human nature by mere legal enactments, it would have been done long ago.
But though much has been done in this way to hold vice in check, and to
prevent it from openly parading itself in public as it otherwise would,
yet it has chiefly been by the chains of religion that the monster has
been bound, and even his legal shackles have mostly been manufactured at
the anvils of the religious public. Take for instance the wholesale
prohibition of intoxicating liquor by the Mahommedan religion, or again
the strong Temperance movement that has more lately been established
among Christians. The former has no doubt accomplished what would never
have been done by means of legal enactments, while the latter has first
educated the public on the Temperance question and has thus prepared the
way for prohibitory legislation of a more stringent character.
In dealing with this portion of the Submerged Tenth there can be no
doubt that the religious and moral appeals of the Salvation Army
Officers will serve to stimulate and enforce wholesale reformation. By
substituting the attractions of our public meetings, we shall do much to
counteract those of the liquor den and other factories of pollution and
destitution,--for it is as such that we may regard the places where
drunkards, opium-eaters, prostitutes, fornicators, and the other hideous
satellites of Vice are manufactured wholesale, whether with or without
the shelter of a license. A large proportion of those who are engaged in
vice as a trade openly profess to do so as a means of subsistence, and
because it enables them to eke out what is in nine cases out of ten but
a scanty subsistence, and what is almost invariably accompanied by the
most terrible penalties Nature can inflict on those who outrage her
ordinances. Many are heartily sick of the trade, but can see no way of
escape. In dealing with destitution we shall open for these a door of
hope. The deserters from the ranks of those who trade in vice will help
us to deal more effectively with those who still cling to the profession
on account of its profits.
In dealing with the panderers to the vices of society we shall largely
diminish the numbers of its victims. It has been said that sinning is
very much a matter of temptation, and in reducing those temptations, as
we believe General Booth's scheme will largely tend to do, we shall be
able to reduce in quantity, if we cannot hope to cause altogether to
cease, the frightful holocaust of human victims that is annually offered
up at this dark shrine.
_(a) The Drunkards._
I will take the question of the Drunkard first, for it is itself a
prolific root of all kinds of evil. The gradual breaking up of religious
restraints, the increasing facilities for obtaining at smallest cost
the most fiery and dangerous liquors, the added suffering entailed on
any drinking habits that may be formed by the tropical heat of India,
all serve to accentuate the gravity of the evil in this country. Add to
this a consideration of the distressing poverty, the chronic hunger, the
dull monotony, unrelieved by hope of amendment, in which myriads of the
people of India fight out the battle of life; reflect how these must
crave for the boon of forgetfulness and eagerly grasp at the wretched
relief which drunkenness may bring. Nor can we throw the responsibility
altogether upon the individual, if it be true that prior to contact with
Western nations, the Hindoos were largely a temperate and even an
abstinent people. We are in an especial manner bound to consider whether
there can be found any alleviation or remedy for a disaster which, if we
have not actually created, we have at least suffered to spring up
unheeded and unchecked in our very midst.
It is notorious that the large cities of India are crowded with shops of
the kind thus described by Mr. Caine, late M.P., in his "Picturesque
"The wide and spacious shops in front of which are strewn broken
potsherds, and whose contents are two or three kegs and a pile of
little pots; are the liquor-dealer's establishments. The groups of
noisy men seated on the floor are drinking ardent spirits of the
worst description absolutely forbidden to the British soldiers, but
sold retail to natives at three farthings a gill."
Mr. Caine goes on to say that in the city of Lucknow, with a population
of some 300,000 inhabitants, there were in 1889 thirty distilleries of
native spirits and 200 liquor-shops. The Government exchequer receipts
from spirits in the North-West Provinces amount to nearly L600,000,
having doubled themselves during the last seven years. This means that
in round numbers L1,000,000 worth of native spirits is sold in these
provinces per annum.
Now consider first that as a rule with rare exceptions a native of
India who uses the fiery country liquors drinks for no other purpose
than to become intoxicated. They are manufactured with a view to this,
and not as in Europe to provide a thirst-quenching potation. Mr. Caine
says: "The people of India, unlike other people, only drink for the
purpose of getting drunk, and if we make them drunken we destroy them
more rapidly than by war, pestilence and famine."
Nothing is clearer than that a rapidly increasing multitude in this
country, once remarkable for its sobriety and thrift, are rushing
headlong into the disastrous vice of intemperance and its attendant
horrors, almost without check. Something must be done. We cannot
cold-bloodedly abandon them to a gospel of despair.
_(b) The Opium Slaves._
Darker still perhaps is the dreadful night, and more sickening the
miasma, which lies around the opium creeks, multiplying and increasing
and slowly sucking down into their slimy depths thousands upon thousands
of those who dare to seek momentary relief from sorrow in its lethal
stream. Mr. Caine thus describes an opium den in Lucknow:--
"Enter one of the side rooms. It has no windows and is very dark,
but in the centre is a small charcoal fire whose lurid glow lights
up the faces of nine or ten human beings, men and women, lying on
the floor. A young girl some fifteen years of age has charge of each
room, fans the fire, lights the opium pipe, and holds it in the
mouth of the last comer, till the head falls heavily on the body of
his or her predecessor. In no East-end gin palace, in no lunatic or
idiot asylum, will you see such horrible destruction of God's image
in the face of man, as appears in the countenances of those in the
preliminary stage of opium drunkenness! Here you, may see some
handsome young married woman, nineteen or twenty years of age,
sprawling, on the ground, her fine brown eyes flattened and dull
with coming, stupor; and her lips drawn convulsively back from her
glittering white teeth. Here is a young girl sitting among a group
of newly arrived customers singing some romance. As they hand round
the pipes there is a bonny little lad of six or seven watching his
father's changing face with a dreadful indifference.
"At night these dens are crowded to excess, and it is estimated that
there are upwards of twelve thousand persons in Lucknow enslaved by
this hideous vice. An opium sot is the most hopeless of all
drunkards. Once in the clutches of the fiend, everything gives way
to his fierce promptings. His victims only work to get more money
for opium. Wife, children, home, health, and life itself are
sacrificed to this degrading passion."
If twelve thousand for Lucknow be a fair estimate, can we put the
figures for the whole country at less than 100,000?
Still there is a deeper depth. In the same city, says Mr. Caine, there
are ninety shops for the sale of Bhang and Churras. "Bhang," says the
same writer, "is the most horrible intoxicant the world has ever
produced. In Egypt its importation and sale is absolutely forbidden, and
a costly preventive service is maintained to suppress the smuggling of
it by Greek adventurers. When an Indian wants to commit some horrible
crime such as murder, he prepares himself for it with two annas' worth
In the all but impenetrable shades and death-breathing swamps of this
social forest, lie and suffer and rot probably not less than one hundred
thousand prostitutes. Multitudes of these are dedicated to such a life
in childhood, given over to it, in some cases by their parents and not
unfrequently kept in connection with the temples. Thousands are searched
for and persuaded and entrapped by old women, whose main business it is
to supply the market. We know of at least one village where beautiful
children, who have been decoyed or purchased from their parents by
these prostitute-hunters, are taken to be reared and trained for the
profession. In Bombay there is actually a caste in which the girls are
in early childhood "married to the dagger," or, in other words,
dedicated to a life of prostitution. In some of the cities old men are
employed as touts to secure customers for the women, who remain in their
haunts, thus seducing and leading into vice crowds of lads and young men
who might otherwise have escaped.
Such suffering, shame, cruelty, and wreckage belong to this crime that
one's heart bleeds to think of the tens of thousands doomed, not by
their own choice, but by the wicked greed of unnatural parents or the
crafty cunning of wicked decoys to such a gehenna, without the least
power to extricate themselves from its torment and its shame.
With so much pity left upon the earth to weep over human woes, with so
much courage still to hack and hew a path through grim forests and
morasses of suffering, there must, and shall, be found "a way out."
The most recent report of the Indian Government informs us that there
are now no less that 737 Jails in British India (exclusive of Native
Territory), with an average population of 75,922 prisoners. In the
course of last year in the Bombay Presidency alone no less than 76,000
criminals were convicted, while 152,879 were placed on trial before the
various courts. In the whole of India the number of annual convictions
amount to upwards of one million, while the number who appear before the
Court are at least twice as numerous. Again, there are also immense
numbers of offences committed yearly, in which the Police are unable to
get any clue, the offenders having succeeded in eluding altogether the
vigilance of the Law. For instance a celebrated outlaw has only recently
been apprehended in Central India after several years of successful and
daring robbery, arson, mutilation and murder. Indeed in many parts of
India there are predatory tribes and communities of thieves who have to
be perpetually under Police surveillance, and who are brought up from
their infancy to thieving as a profession.
We desire to plead the cause of the voiceless multitude who occupy our
Indian Jails. The fact that they are voiceless,--that they have no means
of voicing their claims, their wrongs and their rights (for they, too,
_have_ rights), only adds to their danger. How can a criminal hope for
redress? What chance has he of being heard? Who will listen? What
advocate will plead his cause? Ah, if he happen to be rich, it is true,
he will have many friends! But as a rule the criminal is poor. Often he
has to choose between crime and starvation. For himself he might prefer
to starve, but the sight of his emaciated wife and aged parents,--with
whom, criminal though he be, he is as a rule ready to share his last
crust,--the clamour of his hungry children, all this drives him to
desperation and to a life of crime. He can only give voice to his
sorrows and his needs by some fresh act of lawlessness. Hence the
occasional outbursts of mutiny, and the murders of jail warders, which
from time to time reach the newspapers and shock the public ear.
And here I would desire to call attention to the fact that though crime
must be vigorously dealt with and punished, at the same time the
tendency of punishment is not to _reform_, but to _harden._ Who does not
know that the _worst criminals_ are those who have been _longest in
Jail_? Instead of _getting better_ they _grow daily worse_,--more adept
in committing crime and eluding detection,--more careless as to its
Equally futile would be the offer of a wholesale pardon. A singular
illustration of this occurred in 1887, when in honour of Her Majesty's
Jubilee in the Bombay Presidency alone, no less than 2,465 prisoners
were released out of a total of 6,087. Yet the Government report goes on
to show that within a few months of their release the Jails were fuller
What, then, is to be done? Punishment hardens the criminal, pardon
encourages crime, while the hearts of the offenders remain the same!
Here steps in the Salvation Army. Its methods and meetings, however
distasteful to the educated and refined, have a special attraction for
these dangerous classes. Its Officers are accustomed to handle them with
superhuman love and patience, as well as with a tact and adroitness
such as has often elicited the admiration and praise of those who have
no sympathy with our creed or ways of work.
We have all over the world fearlessly invaded these criminals in their
lowest haunts and dens, in the teeth of the warnings of the Police; we
have braved their fiercest fury when, urged on by publicans, maddened
with drink, misled by all sorts of infamous lies, and winked at or
patronised by the Police and Magistrates, they have wreaked on us the
utmost cruelties. We have invariably weathered the storm, though often
at the cost of health and even life itself. And in the end as a rule the
Roughs, Criminals and Dangerous Classes have become our warmest friends
and vigorous supporters. From amidst them we have rescued and reformed
some of the noblest trophies of Divine grace. This has been done all
over the world. It has been done in India and Ceylon. In a later part of
this book we have given a glimpse of this most interesting and important
portion of our work. Independent witnesses testify to its reality.
Government officials assure us of their warmest sympathy, and in not a
few cases aid us with their influence and subscriptions. In Ceylon the
Government has treated us most handsomely, throwing open their prisons
for our Officers to visit and hold meetings among the prisoners,
assisting us in the expenses of our Home with a monthly grant of Rs.
100, and encouraging the criminal classes to take advantage of the
opportunity thus afforded them for reforming their lives.
The common reason given for refusing such assistance elsewhere is that
Government cannot interfere with the religion of the prisoners. But in
Ceylon the majority of the prisoners are Buddhists, Hindoos and
Mahommedans, and what has been found to work so well there can surely be
tried with equal success elsewhere! Government does not hesitate all
over India to assist religious bodies in their endeavours to _educate_
the people, and they may therefore well countenance and help forward, as
they might so easily do, our efforts to reach and reform the criminal
classes on precisely the same grounds, offering similar advantages to
any Hindoo or Mahommedan Associations that might afterwards be formed
for the same purpose. At present the Indian criminal has no friend to
lend him a helping hand. Prison officials in various places have
personally informed me that they are distressed at being able to do
nothing for criminals, who, having lost their character and being
abandoned by their friends, have no alternative but to return to their
old associates. If our example causes others to rise up and make efforts
for reaching and reforming these classes, who would not rejoice? At
present it is a sad fact that throughout India the native criminals are
debarred from all opportunities of being reached by the softening
influences of religion. The Europeans have their Chaplains,--the
Natives are allowed to have no one to minister to their souls' needs, or
to bring to bear upon them those moral influences which might, and we
know often would, lead to their reform. There seems no reason whatever
why the following rules, which have been drawn up by the Ceylon
Government, should not be adopted likewise in India:--
General Rules made by His Excellency the Governor, acting under the
advice of the Executive Council for the Government of Prisons, for
the guidance of the prison officers, _under and by authority of
Section_ 26 _of the Prisons Ordinance_, 1887.
226. Ministers of religion and religions instructors shall be
entitled to visit prisoners under commitment for trial and prisoners
undergoing sentence after trial, and to give religious and moral
instructions to those who are willing to receive the same on Sundays
and other days in which prisoners are usually allowed freedom from
work, between the hours of eight in the morning and four in the
227. Such ministers or other persons shall be allowed access at all
times (but between the hours specified) to all prisoners who shall
be certified by the medical officers of the prison to be seriously
228. In prisons where such an arrangement can conveniently be made,
a suitable room shall be set apart where religious instruction can
be afforded to prisoners and the rites of religion administered.
229. If, under the directions of Government, Christian services be
held in any Jail, on Sundays and on other days when such services
are performed, all Christian criminal prisoners shall attend the
same unless prevented by sickness or other reasonable cause--to be
allowed by the Jailor--or unless their service is dispensed with by
the Superintendent. No prisoner, however, shall be compelled to
attend any religious instruction given by the ministers or religious
instructor of a church or persuasion to which the prisoner does not
230. It shall be lawful for the Superintendent in charge of any
prison to prohibit any particular minister or instructor visiting
any prisoner in such prison, if it shall appear to him that such
minister or instructor is an improper or indiscreet person, or
likely to have improper communication with the prisoner, provided
that such Superintendent shall without delay communicate his reason
for doing so, to the Inspector General for report to Government.
231. No books or printed papers shall be admitted into any prison
for the use of the prisoners, except by permission of the
Superintendent, and the jailor shall keep a catalogue of all books
and printed papers admitted into the prison.
232. It shall be the duty of the minister or instructor admitted to
visit any prison, to communicate to the jailor any abuse or
impropriety in the prison which may come to his knowledge, on pain
of being prohibited from visiting the prison.
ON THE BORDER LAND.
Besides the 25,000,000 who constitute the actual destitute and criminal
population, we estimate that at a very low computation there are
25,000,000 who are on the border-land, who are scarcely ever in a
position to properly obtain for themselves and for their families the
barest necessities of existence. I do not say that they are wholly
submerged, but they pass a sort of amphibious existence, being part of
the time under water and part of the time on land,--some part of their
life being spent in the most abject poverty, and some part of it in
absolute starvation--positively for the time submerged, and liable at
any moment to be lastingly engulfed. These are the classes whose income
never rises above five rupees a month, while more frequently it is under
On one farm, concerning which we have detailed information, where the
rent of the land is unusually low, the soil good and well irrigated,
where loans can be got at a merely nominal interest, the cultivators,
with the additional help of occasional cooly work, did not average in
their earnings four rupees a month, some having to keep a family on
three and a half, while if a bullock died, or a plough had to be
procured, it meant positive hunger and increased indebtedness to supply
The fact is that in many districts there is not only an increase of
population to be sustained by a constantly narrowing area of cultivated
land, but the land itself is deteriorating through the unendurable
pressure put upon it. As the forests grow more distant through being
used up for timber and fuel, wood becomes dearer. The manure which ought
to go upon the land is therefore by necessity consumed for fuel. The
ground in consequence becomes impoverished. As the struggle for
existence becomes fiercer, the people are unable to let their land
periodically lie fallow, so the crops grow lighter. Again, the ryot is
not only unable properly to feed himself, but his bullocks share a
similar fate. The feeble animals can only draw a plough which merely
scratches the surface of the ground. Furthermore, as the population
increases the land is divided into smaller and smaller holdings. The
struggle against the advancing tide of adversity cannot be maintained.
Inch by inch the tide rolls up, pushing the border-landers closer and
closer upon the black rocks of famine, to escape which they at length
plunge into the sea amongst the submerged millions, who, weary and
bitter and despairing, or with blind submission to the iron hand of
fate, have grown hopelessly and miserably indifferent.
Now, it is notorious that millions live thus on the border-land. Granted
that after the harvest border-landers may for a time get two good meals
a day. Yet as the reserve store dwindles down and long before
harvest-time comes round, again, they get but one, and that frequently a
scanty one. They do live, multitudes of them, it is true, amidst
conditions that seem to us impossible. But how many of them die on this
one meal a day, there is nobody to chronicle. But if we do nothing
beyond rescuing a considerable mass of the totally submerged, we shall
considerably ameliorate the condition of these border-landers.
By rendering independent of charity thousands who now depend upon the
gifts of the more fortunate, by making large tracts of land productive
which at present lie waste, by enlarging the stream of emigration, and
partially draining the morass of crime, it is absolutely certain that
the conditions of life will become more favourable for the
border-landers. New markets will be created both for produce and labour,
which will tend to relieve the congested condition of the land now under
The land at present is like a good, but overworked and under-fed horse,
which, under this double adversity of overwork and under-feeding, dies
and leaves his poor owner, who was entirely dependent upon his earnings,
a pauper. It is a condition of things which is bad, and bound of
necessity to grow only worse and worse, till the willing horse drops
under his load, and his master falls from poverty to destitution. Once
enable the man to temporarily decrease his horse's labour and
permanently increase its food supply, that horse will regain its
strength, and by its increased strength become able to do double the
amount of work, increase its master's earnings, and so in time enable
him not only to properly feed his horse, but also to properly feed
Now close to hand there is an unemployed horse available which will
afford the relief, for want of which the overworked horse is dying. The
unoccupied and waste lands, waste labour, and waste produce, constitute
the ideal unemployed horse, on whose back we would put part of the
burden of maintaining the life and feeding the mouths of the Nation.
This idle and hitherto useless horse will immediately become useful and
productive, and will enable its under-fed companion, not only to be
relieved of part of its burden, but also to get sufficient food, and
grow once more plump and strong. Thus the man, or nation, that lived,
however miserably, yet still lived, on the labour of the one famished
over-worked horse, will then be able to get a decent living, since there
will be two strong well-fed horses to work for them, instead of a single
It is simply impossible within the limits of this chapter to trace out
the whole process. Enough to say that as a rule, to which of course
there are exceptions, one man's prosperity means some one else's
prosperity. Suppose I am a beggar. I wear practically no clothing. The
little I have is what somebody else has cast off. I have no home. I
sleep in the street. I get very little food, and that I do not pay for.
I produce nothing. My children, if I have any, are wastrels like myself.
But I am lifted out of this beggary, I become a productive worker. I get
a home, wear clothes, buy food, educate my children. Not only have I
improved my own circumstances, but I have helped to improve the
circumstances of others. Builders, shopkeepers, food-producers, all
profit by my redemption.
Now, if not one wastrel only, but 1,000,000 such are raised, a mighty
impetus is given to industry of every kind, and the border-landers,
instead of being driven on the black rocks by the tide of adverse
surroundings, begin to drive back the tide, and conquer the earth, and
subdue it, till the border-landers will be border-landers no longer, and
the dreadful days of hunger will live only in the stories of famine and
want, which the grey old man will tell to his happy and prosperous
grandchildren, and ten thousand links of love between emigrant sons and
home-staying fathers will bind the fertile plains of Ceylon, Burmah,
Africa, and other countries to the populous shores of India.
ELEMENTS OF HOPE.
The picture which I have endeavoured to paint in the foregoing pages is
dark enough to strike despair into the hearts of the most sanguine. And
if there were indeed no way of escape for these victims of sin and
misfortune, we might well prefer to draw a veil over the sad scene, and
to bury in the ocean of forgetfulness, the very recollection of this
But there are elements of hope in the consideration of this problem,
which should prevent us from regarding it despair.
1. In the first place, supposing that we are correct in computing this
human wastage at from twenty-five to twenty-six million souls, this
would represent only some five million families. It is true that looked
at even in this light the number is vast. But surely it is not
impossible for India to make sufficient and suitable provision for them
within her own borders, to say nothing of the "regions beyond" if
reasonable thought and effort were put forth in dealing with the
2. Again, as regards the _numbers_, it will be found _easier_ to deal
with these great national problems in bulk than piecemeal, and their
very size will give them an impetus when once they are fairly set in
motion. It will be found as easy to dispose of 1,000 people as of a
hundred, and of 50,000 as of a thousand, if they be properly organised.
Indeed, for many reasons it is easier. The larger the community, the
more work they at once provide for each other. Once let this social ball
be set rolling on a large scale, and we may believe that it will soon
get to move of its own weight.
3. Again, it is not an indiscriminate system of largely extended charity
that we propose to provide. Our object is to find work for these
workless multitudes, and such work as shall more than pay for the very
humble pittance the Indian destitute requires. He must be a poor
specimen of a human being who cannot fairly earn his anna or two annas a
day, and our brains must be poor addled affairs, if in this great vast
world of ours we cannot find that amount of work for him to do. It is
all nonsense to talk about over-population, when the world is three
parts empty and waiting to be occupied.
4. While we are piercing the bowels of the earth in search of gold,
minerals and coal, there lies at our very door a mine of wealth which it
is simple folly for us to ignore. True, the shaft has become choked with
the rubbish of despair, vice and crime, which will take time, trouble
and untiring patience to dig through. But it needs no prophet to foresee
that beneath this rubbish are veins of golden ore which will amply repay
our utmost efforts to open up. The old adage that "labour is wealth,"
and that a nation's riches consist in its hardy sons and daughters of
toil, will yet be proved true. Treat this human muck-heap even as you
would ordinary sewage or manure, and who does not know that the very
same putrefying mass of corruption which if allowed to remain near our
doors would breed nothing but fever, cholera, and the worst forms of
disease and death, when removed to a little distance, will double and
treble the ordinary fertility of the soil and produce crops that will
increase the wealth of the entire nation?
And knowing this can we be so blind, even to our selfish interests, as
to treat this human waste in a manner that we should deem the very
height of imprudence and folly in dealing with the other sort? Can we
shut our eyes to the fact that there are moral diseases, more terrible
in their nature, and more fatal to a nation's life, than the bodily
ones, against which we are so anxious to guard, even at the most lavish
expenditure of the public purse? And shall we, in dealing with this
moral sewage, neglect even the most ordinary precautions that we
consider necessary in dealing with the conservancy of our cities?
If on the other hand the problem be boldly and wisely faced, I am
convinced that in India, as in England, General Booth's most sanguine
prophecies will be realised, our most pestilential marshes shall be
drained, our moral atmosphere purified, prosperity take the place of
destitution, and hope that of despair. The millstone that hangs around
our national neck, so that we can barely keep our heads above water,
even when there is not a ripple upon its surface, and that always
threatens to engulf us in perdition at the first symptoms of a
storm,--this millstone shall be converted into an unsinkable life-buoy,
that shall not only support itself upon the crest of the highest waves,
but shall help to keep afloat the entire national body. What is now an
eyesore shall become an adornment, and what is now a cause of weakness
shall be a source of strength, bulwark of protection and mine of wealth
to all India. How this can be done we have sought in the following pages
to unfold, adhering carefully to the programme marked out by General
Booth, and suggesting only such additions and alterations as the
circumstances of the case appear to necessitate.
PART II.--THE WAY OUT.
THE ESSENTIALS TO SUCCESS.
General Booth prefaces his scheme for the deliverance of the submerged
by laying down briefly the essentials to success. I cannot do better
than quote from his own words.
(1) "You must _change the man_, when it is his character and conduct
which constitute the reasons for his failure in the battle of life. No
change in circumstances, no revolution in social conditions, can
possibly transform the nature of man. Some of the worst men and women in
the world, whose names are chronicled by history with a shudder of
horror, were whose who had all the advantages that wealth, education and
station could confer, or ambition could obtain.
"The supreme test of any scheme for benefiting humanity lies in the
answer to the question; what does it make of the individual? Does it
quicken his conscience, does it soften his heart, does it enlighten his
mind? Does it, in short, make a true man of him? Because only by such
influences can he be enabled to lead a human life. You may clothe the
drunkard, fill his purse with gold, establish him in a well furnished
house, and in three, six, or twelve months, he will once more be on the
"Embankment," haunted by delirium tremens, dirty, squalid and ragged.
(2) "The remedy, to be effectual, must _change the circumstances_, when
they are the cause of his wretched condition, and lie beyond his
(3) "Any remedy worthy of consideration must be on _a scale commensurate
with the evil_, which it proposes to deal with. It is no use trying to
bale out the ocean with a pint pot. There must be no more philanthropic
tinkering, as if this vast sea of human misery were contained in the
limits of a garden pond.
(4) "Not only must the scheme be large enough, but it _must be
permanent._ That is to say, it must not be merely spasmodic coping with
the misery of to-day, but must go on dealing with the misery of
to-morrow and the day after, so long as there is misery left in the
world with which to grapple.
(5) "But while it must be permanent, it must also be _immediately
practicable_, and capable of being brought into instant operation with
(6) "The indirect features of the scheme must not be such as to produce
injury to the persons whom we seek to benefit. Mere charity for
instance, while relieving the pinch of hunger, demoralises the
recipient. It is no use conferring sixpenny worth of benefit on a man,
if at the same time we do him a shillings worth of harm.
(7) "While assisting one class of the community, it must not seriously
interfere with the interest of another.
"These are the conditions by which I ask you to test the scheme I am
about to unfold. They are not of my making. They are the laws which
govern the work of the philanthropic reformer just as the laws of
gravitation, of wind and of weather govern the operation of the
engineer. It is no use saying we could build a bridge across the Tay, if
the wind did not blow. The engineer has to take into account the
difficulties, and make them his starting point. The wind will blow,
therefore the bridge must be made strong enough to resist it. So it is
with the social difficulties, which confront us. If we act in harmony
with these laws we shall triumph. But if we ignore them, they will
overwhelm us with destruction, and cover us with disgrace."
WHAT IS GENERAL BOOTH'S SCHEME?
His object is to supply the destitute with food, shelter and clothing,
to provide them with work and to set them on their feet for making a
fresh start in life.
With a view to this he proposes to call into existence, a threefold
organisation, consisting of self-helping and self-sustaining
communities, governed and disciplined on the principles of the Salvation
Army. These he calls "Colonies", and divides into
(1) The City Colony,
(2) The Country Colony, and
(3) The Over-sea Colony.
All these are to be linked together and to be interwoven with and
dependent on each other. In the City Colony a series of agencies will be
established for gathering up and sifting the destitute. Thence they will
be passed on to the Country Colony and subsequently many of them will be
sent to Colonies across the sea.
Now this triple organisation can be brought into existence, on the
largest possible scale in India under circumstances peculiarly favorable
to the success of the scheme.
Our country is not of limited extent like England. It covers an immense
area and includes a conglomeration of nationalities, such as we find in
Europe, with the special advantage of being united under a single, and
that a friendly Government.
Then again there is the fact that, though the influx from the country
to the cities has commenced, yet it has not at present got beyond
manageable proportions, so that it is possible for us, if awake to the
emergency, to rise up and divert the stream into more desirable
If instead of waiting for a further irruption of village Goths and
Vandals, (which is only a matter of time, and which will soon overwhelm
our City labour market and compel the attention of our civil
authorities,) we anticipate the event and meet them half way by opening
up fresh channels for them, more in harmony with their own taste and
preference, we shall not only confer an inestimable boon upon them, but
shall turn them into a source of strength and revenue for the country,
and shall with them people tracts which are at present barren and
fruitless, but which are only waiting to be occupied and which in many
cases have only to be restored to the prosperity that they formerly
Finally we have the great advantage of a people already trained to
husbandry from their youth, and accustomed to the very co-operative
system of farming which General Booth advocates, where payments are
mostly to be made in kind rather than in cash, and where the exchange of
goods will largely supersede transactions in money, a strong but
paternal government regulating all for the general good.
THE CITY COLONY.
The first portion of General Booth's threefold scheme consists of the
This may aptly be compared to a dredger, which, gathers up all the silt
of a harbour, and carries it out to sea, leaves it there and then
returns to repeat the operation. If such an operation is necessary in a
harbour, and if without it the best anchorages in the world would often
get choked with rubbish and become useless, how doubly important must it
be in the case of the human wastage that abounds in every large Indian
Should a single ship strike on an unknown rock, we hasten to mark it
down in our charts, or erect over the spot a lighthouse as a warning to
others. Should it sink where it is likely to hinder the traffic, we set
our engineers to work to remove it, even though it may be necessary to
blow it to atoms.
And yet it is a notorious fact that our cities abound with rocks over
which there is no lighthouse,--that every channel is obstructed with
sunken vessels, and that there are not a few tribes of pirates who
fatten on the human wreckage. But we fold our hands in despair, and
allow bad to grow worse, till the problem daily becomes more enormous,
desperate and difficult to deal with.
Now General Booth's scheme proposes to establish a dredger for every
harbour, a lighthouse for every rock, an engineer for keeping clear
every channel. It may be too much to expect that there will be no
wrecks, but they will be fewer, and that surely is something! We do not
say that there will be no accidents, but there will be willing hands
held out to deliver. We cannot hope to abolish failures, mistakes,
shortcomings and weaknesses of various sorts, but we shall do our best
to anticipate and provide for them? We are sure there will be
difficulties and disappointments to encounter, but we shall meet them in
the confidence that God is on our side, that He is intensely interested
in the efforts which He Himself has inspired us to undertake and that
ultimate victory is bound to crown our efforts.
And now I would give a brief description of this great City Dredger,
explaining its component parts in the chapters that are to follow. We
cannot promise that the entire machine will get into working order at
once. We are anxious to start it immediately and to complete it as soon
as possible. But on the public will largely depend the question as to
how long it will take us to get it afloat and finished. Its simplicity,
practicability, and universality are to me at the same time its chief
charms, and its credentials to success. It is only part of a larger
scheme with which it is entwined. But it is an important, perhaps the
most important part and will continue to exercise over the entire effort
the controlling head and the inspiring heart without which the whole
apparatus will be as motionless as a machine without steam, or a body
The following are the various branches of the City Colony--
(1) The Regimentation of Labor.
(2) Food for all--Food Depots.
(3) Work for all--Labor yards.
(4) Shelter for all.
(5) The household Salvage Corps.
(6) The Prison Gate Brigade.
(7) The Drunkard's Home.
(8) The Rescue Home for fallen women.
(9) The poor man's Metropole.
(10) The Emigration Bureau.
To these no doubt will in course of time be added many other branches.
In the meantime this is in itself a sufficiently extensive programme for
some years to come. How we propose to elaborate each of the above, will
be found in the following pages.
THE LABOR BUREAU.
One of the most painful sights with which modern civilisation presents
us is the enormous and increasing wastage of valuable human labor. The
first step towards remedying this gigantic and alarming evil will be to
ascertain its extent. This we propose to do by means of our Labor
Bureau. Here all classes of out-of-works will be welcomed, from the
respectable well educated intelligent youths, who are being poured out
of our colleges by thousands, to the most squalid specimen of a Lazarus
that lies at our gates desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fall from
our tables. All will be sorted out, sifted and regimented, or organised,
into distinct corps, which will in time no doubt develope into legions.
The Bureau will not, however, stop short with simply ascertaining the
extent of the evil which exists. It will at the same time turn its
attention to the examination and regimentation of the channels which
already exist for the absorption of that labor. For while it is true
that there are vast quantities of unutilised labor, and that the present
supply of labor greatly exceeds the demand, it is also true that for
want of suitable arrangements for bringing together capital and labor,
the capitalist also frequently loses time and money, either in searching
for labor which he cannot get, or in resorting to labor of an inferior
quality, where labor of a superior quality would bring in much larger
Into the pre-existing channels it would be the first aim of our Labor
Bureau to pour the labor supply of the country. And experience would
probably enable us to widen, deepen and lengthen these channels in such
a manner as would prove profitable to both employers and employed, as
well as to the nation at large.
When, however, this had been done, it is alas! only too certain that we
should still have left upon our hands a vast amount of surplus labor,
for which we should next proceed to dig out new and profitable channels.
The problem no doubt bristles with difficulties, but that is no reason
why we should sit down before it and fold our hands in despair.
Once upon a time, aye for hundreds of years, the waters of the Cauvery
were poured in one useless torrent into the sea, sweeping past great
tracts of thirsty land, which craved its waters, but could not reach