PAGES FROM HISTORY  

 

 

 

Land Revenue and Land Policy 1858-1947 - IV
Selection by Amir Ali Kadri

 

Naeem Deswaly

7. AGRICULTURAL BANKS, 1901

288. We attach the highest importance to the establishment of some organization or method whereby cultivators may obtain, without paying usurious rates of interest, and without being given undue facilities for incurring debt, the advances necessary for carrying on their business. Agriculture, like other industries is supported on credit. ’The saukar is as essential in the village as the ploughman,’ said the Secretary of State in reviewing the Report of the Deccan Riots Commission, and the statement is true in existing circumstances. But, owing to causes, which it would be tedious to trace, the saukar or bania has, from being a help to agriculture, become, in some places, an incubus upon it. The usurious rates of interest that he charges and the unfair advantage that he takes of the cultivator’s necessities and ignorance have, over large areas, placed a burden of indebtedness on the cultivator which he cannot bear. Passed on from father to son, and continually swollen in the process by compound interest, this burden of indebtedness has become hereditary and retains the cultivating classes in poverty, from which there is no escape, that we can perceive, except through State assistance, or the discovery of some other means by which the cultivator may get, on easier terms, the accommodation that he needs. But even the fuller measure of State aid in the shape of taqavi loans,, which we shall recommend, will go but a small way towards removing the difficulties of the whole class. Government cannot possibly finance all the cultivators of a district, still less of a province. In the establishment of Mutual Credit Associations lies a large hope for the future of agriculture in India; and from the enquiries we have made there is reason to believe that, if taken up and pressed with patience and energy, such associations may e successfully worked.

289. This question is, we believe, to come shortly under the consideration of the Government of India, but it is necessary that we should call attention to its importance here. The subject was broached by us in all the provinces that we visited, and was everywhere regarded with interest. Moreover, as the Government of the North-Western Provinces and Oudh has actually taken steps to put the principles of rural co-operative credit into practice, we think it well to offer a few brief remarks on the direction which, in our opinion, a practical scheme of Agricultural Banks should follow.

290. The underlying idea in all Mutual Credit Associations, such as we recommend, is that a number of persons, by combining together, create a new and valuable security, which none of them previously possessed as individuals. Cooperation substitutes for isolated and helpless agricultural units a strong association competent to offer guarantees and capable of inspiring confidence. The advantages of lending to groups instead of to individuals need no demonstration. It is simpler for a creditor to deal with a group of fifty or a hundred associated cultivators than with the same number singly; it is simpler for him to obtain repayment from the group than from each of the members composing it; it is simpler for the group to make its own arrangements with each member than for the lender to try to do so. By the same process of reasoning, it is simpler for a Central Agricultural Bank to deal with groups of associated cultivators in each village than to make any attempt to deal with each cultivator singly.

291. To obtain the full advantages that co-operation offers, any group of cultivators, voluntarily associating together to obtain credit on their joint responsibility must agree to abide by certain recognized rules. Notwithstanding the difference between eastern and western conditions, the rules of the Raiffeisen credit associations are probably the best that, subject to necessary modifications, any similar associations in India could adopt. On this point some further remarks are required; but before offering them, -we desire to remove some misconceptions, which our enquiries have shown to prevail, both as to the scope of village banks and as to the fundamental principles which should regulate their working.

292. It should be understood from the outset, and made perfectly clear to all concerned, that the establishment of a village bank does not imply the creation of an institution from which the villagers may draw money at their discretion. A village bank, based generally upon the Raiffeisen system, admits no one to membership who does not fulfill certain conditions which are essential for the safe conduct of the bank’s operations; it works only for the benefit of its own members, and it grants no loan except for purposes connected with the promotion of agriculture. It is most important that these objects and limitations should be clearly understood, so that there may be no disappointment afterwards and no unnecessary alarm caused to the old established village money-lender.

293. We have been told by some non-official witnesses that, if Agricultural Banks do not lend for miscellaneous purposes, they stand no chance of succeeding, and by other witnesses that, if they do lend for miscellaneous purposes and thus compete with the money-lender, they are sure to oil. We think that both apprehensions arise from a misconception of the objects in view. It is not intended to frighten the village money-lender by permitting a village bank to enter into competition with him over the whole field of his business; still less is it the intention to encourage borrowing for unproductive purposes. No association borrowing on the joint responsibility of its members would be justified in devoting any of its funds to loans for unproductive purposes. It does not consequently enter into the scope of a village bank’s operations to lend for marriage festivities or for caste feasts or similar objects. If people wish to borrow money for such purposes, or for any other purpose unconnected with agriculture, they must still go to the village saukar or bania. The co-operative agricultural bank only aims at freeing the great business of the cultivator’s life from the terrible burden which now presses on it, owing to the usurious interest taken for agricultural loans.

294. To sum up, the objects of an Agricultural Bank of this kind may be thus enumerated:

(1)  To enable its members to obtain loans at reasonable rates for agricultural purposes by placing them in a favourable position to borrow, and by assisting in the creation of a new credit, which individually they did not possess.

(2)  To provide them with a secure place, in which to deposit their small savings.

(3)  To encourage thrift, by holding up before the eyes of the members the principle that money should not be borrowed unless for reproductive purposes.

(4)  To promote co-operation among the village community in all agricultural affairs.

295. Having thus defined the scope of an Agricultural Bank’s operations, we next wish to enumerate the principles upon which they are usually based. They are as follows:

(1)  There should be unlimited liability; members must be jointly and severally responsible for all the obligations contracted by their society.

(2)  The area in which the village institution -works must be well defined and restricted to narrow limits.

(3)  Members must be carefully selected, -and none admitted but those of approved character.

(4) All services in connection with the bank’s administration must be gratuity ously rendered.

(5)  There should, in general, be no paid up capital.

(6)  All net profits are payable, not as dividends to members, but to the reserve fund, which must be indivisible.

 

8. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PUSA INSTITUTE, 4 JUNE 1903

We have the honour to submit for your Lordship’s favourable consideration and sanction a scheme for the establishment of an Agricultural Research Station, with which will be associated an Experimental Farm and an Agricultural College, on the Government estate of Pusa in the Darbhanga district of Lower Bengal.

2. When two years ago, we appointed with your Lordship’s sanction an inspector General of Agriculture for India, it was recognised that this was the first step towards the more active prosecution of the policy of scientific and practical enquiry and experiment in agricultural matters on which so much stress was laid by the Famine Commissioners of 1878, and the necessity for which was again emphasized by Dr. Voelcker, who was deputed in 1890 to advise us on the best course to be adopted in order to effect improvements in Indian agriculture. We realized, moreover that, in order to enable him to perform the task entrusted to him, it was essential that he should be given an adequate staff of experts, and we have therefore, with Your Lordship’s approval, added to his staff a Cryptogramic Botanist and an Entomologist, in addition to the Agricultural Chemist whose services were already at our disposal. It has however always been apparent that, if the desired progress was to be made in the field of agricultural investigation, it would be necessary to provide a fully equipped research laboratory in which the agricultural experts could pursue their various enquiries, and the establishment of such a laboratory was already under our consideration when Mr. Henry Phipps, whose name will be known to Your Lordship, came forward with his munificent donation of 020,000 to be devoted to whatever object of public utility (if possible in the direction of scientific research) His Excellency the Viceroy might prefer. In accepting his generous offer it appeared to His Excellency that no more practical or useful object could be found to which to devote a portion of his gift, nor one more entirely consonant with the wishes of the donor, than the erection of a laboratory for agricultural research. He therefore decided to utilize for this purpose the greater portion of Mr. Phipps’ donation, and we would add that Mr. Phipps has expressed his warm approval of the decision and has generously added a further sum of £ 10,000 to his original contribution.

6. Thus the scheme to which we now desire to obtain your Lordship’s approval includes the establishment on the Pusa estate of an experimental farm and research station with fully equipped laboratories, the funds for the erection of which will be provided from Mr. Phipps’ donation, together with an agricultural college for the training of students and a cattle farm for the improvement of the local breeds of cattle. The institution will be an Imperial one under the general supervision and control of the inspector General of Agriculture. It is perhaps unnecessary for us to argue at any length the urgent necessity for an institution of this kind.

We would therefore only remark that the necessity for similar institutions has been recognized not only in England-as in the institution founded by the late Sir J. Lawes at ’Rothamsted’, in Hertfordshire-but also in America and in most Continental countries. In India it is, as we have already pointed out, only a further and necessary step in the development of the policy which has been initiated by the appointment of an Inspector General of Agriculture and his expert staff. Indeed in the absence of some such institution, at which our agricultural staff can combine experiments with growing crops with research in the laboratory, we cannot expect to derive full benefit from their services.

11. We now turn to the portion of the scheme which relates to the establishment of an agricultural college, and in this connection it is necessary to explain somewhat fully what is the present position of agricultural education in India, and the objects which the proposed college is designed to attain.

12. The question of establishing an agricultural college in connection with the research station at Pusa naturally came before us first of all from the point of view of Bengal, which at present possesses an Agricultural College at Sibpur near Calcutta, with a course of two years (formerly 14 months), where a somewhat superficial agricultural training is given to students who have taken their B.A. degree, or have passed the F.E. standard in the Engineering College. There are only six students in the second year’s course at present. There was formerly a lower class, which also had a 14 months’ course afterwards lengthened to two years, but it was discontinued in 1900 as it failed to attract students. The qualification for entry to this class was the Entrance Examination; and the education was intended for kanungos and others in the Subordinate Revenue Service. In both classes the education was in English. This College is admitted on all hands to have been a failure, and will probably have to be closed in any case, if for no other reason than that its situation is wholly unsuited to its purpose. There is not a suitable place in Bengal where a new college can be started with the advantage of an experimental farm in its neighbourhood, the only farm belonging to Government being at Chittagong. It appears essential therefore that the Imperial Institution at Pusa should include a college that will take the place of the Provincial Agricultural College of Bengal, though admission to it will not be confined to that province.

13. But an agricultural college is required at Pusa, not only in order to provide for the needs of Bengal, but also to serve as a model for and raise the standard of agricultural colleges in other provinces, and to provide for a more complete and efficient agricultural education than is now possible in any of the existing institutions….

 

9. CO-OPERATIVE CREDIT SOCIETIES ACT, 25 MARCH 1904

I.    (1)  This Act may be called the Co-operative Credit Societies Act, 1904; and

      (2) It extends to the whole of British India.

III.  (1) A society shall consist of ten or more persons above the age of eighteen years - (a) residing in the same town or village or in the same groups of villages, or (b) subject to the sanction of the Registrar, consisting of members of the same tribe, class or caste.

      (2)  Societies shall be either rural or urban. In a rural society not less than four fifths of the members shall be agriculturists. In an urban society not less than four-fifths of the members shall be non-agriculturists.

      (3)  When any question arises as to whether for the purposes of this Act a person is an agriculturist or a non-agriculturist or whether two or more villages shall be considered to form a group, or whether any person belongs to a tribe, class or caste, the question shall be decided by the Registrar, whose decision shall be final.

IV.  The members of a society shall be - (a) persons joining in the application mentioned in section 6, sub-section (I), and registered as a society under sub-section (2), of the same section; (b) persons qualified in accordance with the requirements of section 3 and admitted by the society in accordance with the provisions of this Act and with the by-laws of the society;

      Provided that a person so admitted shall not exercise the rights of a member unless or until lie has made such payment to the society in respect of membership or acquired such interest in the society as may be prescribed by the rules made under this Act or the by-laws of the society.

V.   The Local Government may appoint a person to be Registrar of Co-operative Credit Societies for the Province or any portion of it.

VII. The liability of each member of a society for the debts of the society shall be as follows: (a) in the case of a rural society, such liability shall, save with the special sanction of the Local Government, be unlimited; (b) in the case of an urban society, such liability shall be unlimited or limited as may be provided by the by-laws or by any rules made under this Act.

VIII.(1) No dividend or payment on account of profits shall be paid to a member of a rural society, but all profits made by such a society shall be carried to a fund (to be called the reserve fund):

      Provided that, when such reserve fund has attained such proportion to the total of the liabilities of the society, and when the interest on loans to members has been reduced to such rates as may be determined by the bylaws or rules made under this Act, any further profits of the society, not exceeding three-fourths of the total annual profits, may be distributed to members by way of bonus.

      (2)  Not less than one-fourth of the profits in each year of an urban society shall be carried to a fund (to be called the reserve fund) before any dividend or payment on account of profits is paid to the members or any of them.

IX. A society may receive deposits from members without restriction, but it may borrow from persons who are not members only to such extent and under such conditions as may be provided by its by-laws or by rules made under this Act.

X.   (1)  A society shall make no loan to any person other than a member.

      Provided that, with the consent of the Registrar, a society may make loans to a rural society.

      (2)  Save with the permission of the Registrar to be given by general order in the case of each society, a rural society shall not lend money on the security of moveable property.

      (3)  The Local Government may, by general or special order, prohibit or restrict the lending of money on mortgage of immoveable property or any kind thereof by any society or class of societies.

XI.  A society may deposit its funds in the Government Savings Bank or with any banker or person acting as a banker approved for this purpose by the Registrar.

 

10. LORD CURZON ON THE INDIAN PEASANT,’ 16 NOVEMBER 1905

It is the Indian poor, the Indian peasant, the patient, humble, silent millions, the So per cent who subsist by agriculture, who know very little of policies, but who profit or suffer by their results, and whom men’s eyes, even the eyes of their countrymen, too often forget-to whom I refer. He has been in the background of every policy for which I have been responsible, of every surplus of which I have assisted in the disposition. We see him not in the splendour and opulence, nor even in the squalor, of great cities; he reads no newspapers, for, as a rule, he cannot read at all; lie has no politics. But he is the bone and sinew e= the country, by the sweat of his brow the soil is tilled, from his labour comes c: e-fourth of the national income, lie should be the first and the final object of every Viceroy’s regard.

It is for him in the main that we have twice reduced the salt-tax, that we remitted land revenue in two years amounting to nearly 22 millions sterling; for him that we are assessing the land value at a progressively lower pitch and making its collection elastic. It is to improve his credit that we have created co-operative credit societies, so that he may acquire capital at easy rates, and be saved from the usury of the money-lender. He is the man whom we desire to lift in the world, to whose children we want to give education, to rescue whom from tyranny and oppression we have reformed the Indian police, and from whose cabin we want to ward off drought and famine. Above all let us keep him on the soil and rescue him from bondage or expropriation. When I am vituperated by those who claim to speak for the Indian people, I feel no resentment and no pain. For I search my conscience, and I ask myself who and what are the real Indian people; and I rejoice that it has fallen to my lot to do something to alleviate theirs, and that I leave them better than I found them. As for the educated classes, I regret if, because I have not extended to them political concessions-more places on councils, and so on  I have in any way incurred their hostility. For I certainly in no wise return it, and when I remember how impartially it is bestowed on every Viceroy in the latter part of his term of office, I conclude that there must be something wrong about all of us which brings us under a common ban. I also remember that in a multitude of ways even as regards places and appointments I have consistently befriended and championed their cause. That I have not offered political concessions is because I did not regard it as wisdom or statesmanship in the interests of India itself to do so; and if I have incurred odium for thus doing my duty, I have no apology to advance.

 

11. M. L. DARLING’S EVIDENCE ON AGRICULTURAL INDEBTEDNESS, 1928

…There are four main reasons why the peasant proprietor is obliged to borrow:

1.   The small size of his holding and the way it is split up, conditions which make it almost impossible for him to live without getting into debt, unless he is exceptionally frugal and industrious, or has some extraneous source of income.

2.   His constantly recurring losses of cattle from drought and disease;

3.   His ingrained improvidence, the effects of which are greatly aggravated by insecurity of crop; and

4.   His extravagant expenditure upon marriage and other domestic ceremonies.

In addition there are two causes that make borrowing easy, namely:

1.   The money-lender and his vicious system of business; and

2.   The great expansion of credit due to high prices and the inflated value of land.

The first four causes explain why the peasant proprietor must borrow, the last two how he can borrow, and it is the combination of ’must’ and ’cant’ that explains the great increase of debt in the last fifty years. Or, expressing it differently, we may say that the first four causes explain the existence of debt, the money-lender and his system, its continuance, and the expansion of credit, its volume.

Two minor points must also be noted; litigation, though a serious factor in certain districts, is not a major cause of debt; and land revenue, through often a cause of borrowing, is rarely a cause of indebtedness . . .

The reasons preventing repayment embrace the whole life of the peasant and may perhaps be summed up as follows:

(1) the profound insecurity of life and crop in India acting upon very small holdings. (... )

(2) the thriftless character of the peasant which various forms of legal protection do nothing to mitigate.

(3) the character of the village money-lender, which is such that it considered almost a virtue to outwit, and sometimes even to murder hi-..

(4) the limited field of investment open to him which makes h ’m, reluctant to press for the return of his money, provided interest is more -less regularly paid;

(5) the heavy interest charges and their rapid accumulation in bad seasons at compound interest.

(6) the prodigal expenditure upon marriages leading to large unproductive loans which can only be repaid with difficulty.

(b) Co-operation is much the best direct means of lightening:- the burden of debt, as the following figures show, relating to 2,c93 village banks in the Punjab (with 69,000 members) which have completed 10 years. One hundred and twenty-eight lakhs (£ 850,000) of debt have bee- repaid, 38,000 acres redeemed and 41,000 taken in mortgage or purchase; for 87 lakhs. Fifty-eight lakhs have been accumulated in shares and undistributed profits, and 35 per cent. of the members are entirely free of debt. In other words, liabilities have been reduced by 128 lakhs, and assets increased by 145 lakhs. The former represents an average reduction of Rs. 185 per member. As there are over 300,000 members of village banks in the Punjab, this means that co-operation is reducing debt at the rate of about six crores (£ 4 million) in ten years.

The best indirect means of combating usury is the development of communications, education, and joint stock banks. In the Punjab, usury is -host evident in the more backward districts, e.g., Attock, Muzaffargrh and Gurgaon, and least evident in the more developed districts, e.g. Lyallpur. Emigration is another means and has been singularly successful in southern Italy. It would probably be only less effective in the Punjab if doors now closed could be opened; in Jullundur, for instance, it has had marked effect. But this is presumably impossible....

(c) In the Punjab, the Land Alienation Act restricts mortgage and sale. Circumstances have changed so profoundly since the act was passed that, in my opinion, it requires reconsideration. It was primarily passed to protect the weaker cultivator from expropriation, and in this it has succeeded. But it no longer protects the weak, but confers a very valuable privilege upon the strong; for, with the great increase in rural prosperity, many agriculturists are now in a position to buy land, and, as purchasers, are placed in a privileged position by the Act. The conferment of a privilege is obviously much less defensible than the conferment of protection. The difficulty is to grant the one without the other. Some advocate the introduction of a Homestead Law making whatever area is necessary to support a family inalienable. Such laws are in force in America, and several countries in Europe, e.g., France, Germany, Switzerland and Roumania, but they do not always prove effective and as recently as 1920 a Commission reported against their introduction into Italy. In Roumania there is not only a Homestead Law, but also a law that no more than a prescribed amount of land may be acquired. The object of this is to prevent the swelling of large estates at the expense of the small.

 

12. F. L. BRAYNE’S EVIDENCE ON VILLAGE UPLIFT, 1928

There are two great things to be done.

(1) First I would insist with all my power that no improvement of agriculture is of any use whatever without uplift. An uplift campaign must precede and accompany all efforts at improvement of agriculture. Improvements in agriculture cannot precede an improvement in the standard of living and no improvement in the standard of living is possible without breaking the hard brake of custom which grips the rural area. The people do not know how to spend the money they have got, so what is the use of giving them more money till they have learnt this lesson? They live in the most unnecessary squalor, misery, suffering, degradation and disease. The improvement of agriculture matters nothing compared with the importance of teaching them to live healthy, reasonable human lives. I attach the outlines of the propaganda campaign which is being carried on in Gurgaon, to achieve this end, and also a paper written by me which was read at the Educational Conference held in December, 1926, at Lahore.

(2) The second great thing is that it is utterly useless and worse than useless introducing better machinery, better seeds and better farming until we can stop the people ruining their land and impoverishing and degrading themselves by the making and burning of dung cakes. If the Royal Commission will stop the making of dung cakes, they will double the crops in India and make all other agricultural development easy.These two things are the first and the greatest essentials in India. If I might pick out the heart and centre of the uplift campaign, I should say that it was s the_ elevation, of women. India is the most backward of all countries because it regards women as hardly human. If it gave her proper place to women, India would very soon gain its own proper position among the nations of the -world. Until it does so, India is bound to be backward and degraded and to be counted among the less honoured countries of the world.

It must not for a moment be supposed that I would stop the women working in the fields. Far from it. I consider the fact that the women (of all but the unfortunate purdah observing castes) work in the fields and every infant for the first year of its life lies in a basket under a tree in the fields, as the one redeeming feature of village life and the one thing that keeps the people healthy.

I want to stop the unnecessary and unhealthy work of corn grinding and dung cake making which wastes time far better devoted to the welfare of the children.

 

The first few things to do then are:

(a) to send the girls to school

(b) stop the making of dung cakes

(c) dig pits for the manure and village refuse and sweepings.

(d) open windows and ventilators in the houses.

(e)  abolish the grinding of corn by female labour, and

(f)   reinstate the menial castes in their proper position among mankind.

Add to this the teaching of the dignity of labour and you will :make a paradise of the Punjab villages. Till these things are done, it is a waste o time working at new kinds of seeds and implements and all the other niceties of advanced agriculture.

The Government authorities responsible for sanctioning or modifying local uplift schemes are rarely seen either in the villages or even at district headquarters.

If uplift is to be a real thing and the local workers are not to go on being disappointed and discouraged, there must be a real live organization for the work. At present all schemes are criticized at provincial headquarters and in a hostile atmosphere, and there is little effort made to consider them on the spot where they were framed and where they are to be executed and where local information and experience is available.

An officer, call him Director of Rural Uplift or Director of Rural Development - is required, sufficiently active and junior to tour regularly at all times of the year in the districts themselves and sufficiently young to be keen and optimistic. Uplift is a matter of enthusiasm which is apt to die as the years pass and touch is lost with the actual villager.

 

13. REPORT 017 INDIAN CATTLE, 1928

169. The complaint that cattle in India are deteriorating is an old one. It is mentioned by a traveler in India at the end of the eighteenth century and it was a common topic of discussion throughout the nineteenth century. It is impossible either to prove or to disprove that average specimens of Indian cattle are better or worse than they were a century, or ten centuries ago. No full records of their former condition exist, and, if records did exist, it would not be possible to use them so as to show how the I50 million cattle of to-day compare with the I00 millions of a former period. On the evidence placed before us, we can, however, state that the difficulty of securing good bullocks and good cows has increased in recent years; thus, in relation to the existing demand, the quality of the supply has deteriorated. There was also much evidence to the effect that conditions for the breeders of cattle are now more difficult than formerly. While the evidence of witnesses points to the probability that deterioration is going on, our own examination of the position, created primarily by the increasing demand for bullocks owing to the extension of cultivation, leads us to the conclusion that conditions have arisen, and are already at work, which cannot fail to prejudice livestock, and that cattle such as the deplorable animals now to be seen, for example, in parts of Bengal and of the Central Provinces, must become more common unless substantial changes in the existing management take place.

170. Many suggestions for improvement have been made and the subject is now engaging the attention of experts in all provinces. To these suggestions and efforts we shall later allude. In the meantime, we would emphasize two cardinal points in any policy of cattle improvement. The first is the necessity for attention to all matters that would tend to decrease the number of bullocks required for cultivation. Improvement in this respect would be secured by any measures calculated to check the subdivision and fragmentation of holdings, to increase the efficiency of the cultivator’s tillage implements or to facilitate transport, whether by improvement of his roads or by other means, as well as by measures aiming at an increase in the strength of the bullocks themselves. The second is the necessity for efforts to secure for dry cows and cows in-calf better treatment than they now receive.

 

14. REPORT ON VILLAGE UPLIFT, 1928

The aim of the suggestions and recommendations we have made in the preceding chapters has been to bring about greater efficiency throughout the whole field of agricultural production and to render the business of farming more profitable to the cultivator. Throughout our Report, we have endeavored to make plain our conviction that no substantial improvement in agriculture can be effected unless the cultivator has the will to achieve a better standard of living and the capacity, in terms of mental equipment and of physical health, to take advantage c the opportunities which science, wise laws and good administration may place < his disposal. Of all the factors making for prosperous agriculture, by far the most important is the outlook of the peasant himself.

This, in the main, is determined by his environment and it follows, therefore that the success of all measures designed for the advancement of agriculture must depend upon the creation of conditions favourable to progress. If this conclusion be accepted, the improvement of village life in all directions assumes at once a new importance as the first and essential step in a comprehensive policy designed t promote the prosperity of the whole population, and to enhance the national it come at the source. The demand for a better life can, in our opinion, be stimulate only by a deliberate and concerted effort to improve the general conditions of the country-side, and we have no hesitation in affirming that the responsibility for initiating the steps required to effect            improvement rests with Government.

 

15. RURAL DEVELOPMENT POLICY, 1935

The Government of India has allotted under the budget Rs. 1 crore for distribution to the provinces for the economic development of rural areas. The money was to be spent on schemes designed to increase the economic welfare of the people as well as those intended to improve their health and education. Of the sum allotted Rs. 15 lakhs were set aside for developing the co-operative movement. The balance was distributed amongst the provinces on the basis of their run population. As soon as the demand was sanctioned, local Governments were asked to submit schemes for the approval of the Government of India. A lead was give by indicating to them subjects which in the view of the Government of India covered the most pressing needs of village life. These were: sanitary measures including anti-malaria schemes, village water-supply and village drainage; consolidation of holdings; construction of village roads; and discretionary grants t District officers to enable them to promote or assist minor local works c improvement.

The scope for initiative in using the grant is great, as was illustrated by the proposals put up by the provinces. Some proposed to spend most of their allotment on projects of the general description indicated by the Government of India, but several schemes were out forward covering a wide range of activity, some of them representing entire new departures which might in time transform the conditions - of village life.

The nature of the various provincial proposals cannot be described in detail, but some of the interesting projects beyond the general range can conveniently be summarised as follows: improvements of livestock and fodder crops; development of marketing facilities; improved preserving and tanning of hides; encouragement of cottage industries; attachment of farms to schools for giving practical training_ in agriculture; development of fruit culture and canning; provision of improved seed; establishment of inland fisheries; and provision of wireless sets, gramophones and touring cinema outfits for propaganda work connected with village uplift.

The preliminary arrangements for launching the schemes took time and many of them could not produce substantial results by the close of the year. However, the reports received from the provinces show that a comprehensive programme of rural uplift work has been started and good use is being made of the money available. Much has been achieved, particularly in the improvement of water-supply by well-boring, in the provision of pedigree stock for improving cattle breeding and in the distribution of selected seed. Progress has also been made in the consolidation of holdings and in the improvement of village communications. One of the main features in the scheme is the rapid establishment of rural development centres and village development committees.

 

16. REPORT ON INDIAN CATTLE, 1941

... Although India has about as many milch cattle as Europe including Russia (U.S.S.R.), its production of milk is only a fifth of that of Europe. India produces nearly four times the quantity of milk produced by Canada but has nearly 17 times the number of cattle. Similarly, it produces only a little less milk than Germany but maintains six times the number of cattle. It must be realised that India has a very large cattle population, more than that of any other continent, not to speak of any individual country. The dairy quality of the cattle within the boundaries of India itself varies so extensively that it is highly misleading to compare ’Indian cattle’ as a class in point of milk yields with small lots of specialised dairy cattle in countries abroad, some of which have been improving their yields for the last 50 years, if not more. As stated before, there is one note-worthy feature concerning the Indian cattle, viz., that they yield richer milk as compared with most of the breeds of cows abroad. It appears that from early times a major portion of the production of milk in India has always been utilized for ghee making and the early breeders, therefore, paid more attention to the richness of milk rather than to high yields. In other words they thought more in terms of ghee (butter-fat) than milk. Even today, the breeders in remote areas, e.g., Kathiawar and Cutch, where ghee is the main consideration, never measure or weigh the milk but as the ghee is packed in empty kerosene oil tins (4 gallons each) before sale, they indicate the performance of the animal in terms of the number of tins of ghee obtained from it and it is surprising how well they know the exact quantity of ghee yielded by each animal during a lactation. 

(Concluded)

 

This is a seventh part of the series of historical record pertaining since past political history. Prof. Amir Ali Kadri, an avid lover of collecting and collating archival record, will keep on contributing for these columns. We expect similar response from our esteemed readers and their contribution would also be accommodated in these columns.

- Editor

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