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Labour Notes.

The Theatre Royal I

IHome Rule for India./,


I Home Rule for India. I MRS. ANNIE BESANT AND INDIAN DELE- GATES AT CARDIFF. I THE INDICTMENT OF BRITISH RULE. II On Thursday last, a large audience fore- gathered at the Cory Hall, Cardiff, to listen to an address by Mrs. Annie Besant, under the auspices of the Labour Party and the Britain and India Movement, upon the subject Why India Wants Home Rule." Mrs. Besant was accompanied by Messrs. B. P. Wadia, P. K. Telang and Jamnadas Dwarakas, who form a delegation to this country from their Indian comrades. In the enforced absence of Mr. J. Lovat Fraser, who wrote that he was detained in Scot- land, Mt. A. J. Williams, Parliamentary Labour candidate for Cardiff at the last election, occu- pied the chair, and stated in his opening ad- dress that they had come to listen to a plea for a great cause from probably the world's greatest living woman. Mrs. Besant, who was well received, stated that she and her Indian friends were there to claim for the Indian nation what was to-day ad- mitted to be the right of every individual—the right, within its limitations and possibilities, to determine for itself its own specific and indi- vidual problems. That was a right that was sacred and inherent in every nation as in every human being, and there could be no natural or healthy progress without it. She wished that evening to bring before them the aspirations of the Indian people, and she would take care that in submitting the facts of the situation in India. to-day, those facts would be supported not by loose opinions or doubtful sources of observation but by the actual returns of the British Govern- ment upon the specific subjects dealt with. What then were the facts. A SHOCKINC PICTURE. I The picture she had to draw for them was as revolting as it was shameful. Whether we looked at India from the standpoint of trade or education, British rule in India had been marked by an exploitation of that country's re- sources that had not failed to bring in its train poverty, distress and incompetence. The econo- mic situation in India to-day was more than alarming, it called for instant redress. The high taxes levied by the Government, and especially under the iniquitous impost of the land tax, amounting in some districts to 50 per cent, of the products, left the people in a state of abso- lute impoverishment, destitution and almost of despair. The peasant after working hard to make two ends meet found hintoelf continually in debt. It was Lord Salisbury who had said that if the country had to be bled it were better to bleed it where the congestion wa,s most, where it could less be appreciated, rather than where, for want of blood, it would show the iA-hei,e, The economic policy thus followed was a policy of "ultimate poverty and exhaustion, and a high English Government official had had the courage to admit that the taxes, as now exacted by the home Government, trenched on the bare subsistence of the labourer. There were mil- lions in India to-day who from one year's end to the other hardly knew what- it meant to have a full stomach. Sickness, famine and plague carried multitudes away. Children and adults .dike sickened and died jud<?' the- heel of the cc?in?ou? economic drain that was made bv ?taxes and otherwise upon the very vitality of I the nation. So much had British rule done for India, thus far had she degenerated under that rule from her old 'strongly entrenched economic position. EDUCATION? I When they came to consider the education of India, matters were no better, but rather worse. The material, not less than the moral prosperity of a country, was largely bound up with the question of education. Both educativelv and economically the forces from without which had I destroyed the old village system upon which the polity of ancient India was built, had told their tale of degeneracy, and so far was this true to- day that the masses of India, as proved from the figures which were given in the Government statistics, were among the least educated peo- ples of the world. The responsibility for this lay upon the British Government, and the problem that confronted them, both in the economic as well as in the educative re-construction of India. could never be solved as long as we had the country controlled by a Parliament who were willing to give. the short period of three days out of every year to considering the wants of this great and important part of our Empire. Let them understand that the patience of India was nearly exhausted. I TH E RICHT OF INDIA. I India claimed self-government, under reason- able Imperial limitations, as a right. She did not ask that thjs great boon should be granted as a favour, but conscious of her own loyalty, which she had proved in many ways, and in none more than in her economic self-sacrifices, she claimed an equal right to take her place, equally with the other self-governing portions of the Empire, knowing that thus only would be cemented the great tie of brotherhood between the two nations that gave a value to the name of freedom. Mr. B. P. Wadia (editor of "New India.") speaking as a representative of the Labour Party in India, emphasised in a rousing speech the economic aspects of the Indian demand for Home Rule. Fresh from the Labour meetings at Edinburgh lie had noted the demand there made for shorter working hours and had marked the immense disadvantage under which India stood as compared even with existing conditions in this country. The average working day in India covered 12 hours. Women, as a special favour, were allowed to work only 11 hours and young persons, under which official description children from 9 to 14 years were included, could be compelled, arid were often compelled, to work six hours at a stretch. Add to this the fact- that the average wage for the artizan was not more than £ 1 per month and that in the coal districts the miners' pay did not exceed 7d. a day, and it was not difficult to see that this con- dition of things needed instant remedying and could not long continue. THE FALLACY OF CASTE. A' T' F. I .? ? I I Mr. P. K. Lelang (founder of the Hindu Cen- tral College, now the Hindu University) stated that there was one question upon which he de- sired to clear the air in its bearing on Indian Home Rule. It had been objected that the system of caste in India made it impossible for that country to avail itself of the advantages which Home Rule might offer. That objection, however, was based upon a misconception not only of the origin of the caste system, but also of it,s influence upon the social and political life of the India of to-day. It had worked for thou- sands of years as the basis of a wise and far- sighted social system which had served the special needs of India in the past, and which, with modifications, continued to serve it to the present day, although the ideal that gave it birth had not perhaps preserved its ancient in- tegrity. That ideal was based upon the division of the community. The thinkers, philosophers j and idealists formed the first class, and next to them in order came the organisers and adminis- trators, the traders and the labourers. Such a division, under the ancient ideal, implied no social difference, and was based primarily upon capacity and selection and fittingness for ser- vice. Members of all castes were to be found to-day working together in social and political movements in India with the greatest co-opera- tion and cordiality, and w here any outstanding differences had to be adjusted, he would leave them to judge whether an outside Government or a Government in which the people themselves had a representa-tive and effective share would be most qualified to deal with such differences. The demand for Home Rule for India was by no means excluded by considerations of caste, and nothing would tend to obliterate the sharp religious differences which caste in exceptional cases engendered than a. wise, liberal, and uni- formly progressive system of representative Government. Mr. Jamnadas Dwarakas,. director of tha Bombay Chronicle," who was introduced as having given greatly of his wealth and devoted his whole time to the Home Rule movement, also spoke.

A Policeman's Mind.


To the Land of The Maple Leaf.…