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have outstripped the comprehension of his readers. But suppose

the new man, seeing the difficulties of the situation here, has resolved to advance along new and more popular lines—where are his alternatives ? Foreign politics do not exist for the mass of the population. It is only on the rarest occasions—one of the few instances being the feeling that was awakened last year by the Sultan's victories over Greece—that any glimmer of interest in what is passing elsewhere reveals itself in India. Then there is no place for sport, social amusements, music, the drama, literature, science, art, or foreign travel; for these things have no existence as matters of general and recognised interest in the narrow and monotonous life of the people of Hindustan. What is more strange is that there is no commercial intelligence, and in a land of agriculture no attention to agricultural topics. A belated reprint of some returns or report from one of the Government Gazettes, inserted now and again when there is nothing better to fill a page, is all the acknowledgment that this vital interest receives from the newspapers of the country. But here, again, if our reformer were to decide to make agriculture his feature, and could enlist Dr. Voelcker and Professor Wallace among his contributors, he would find himself met by the difficulty that his paper would still probably not reach a single ryot, while it would have ceased to be read by the Babu class. The absence of everything corresponding to our money-market intelligence is even more peculiar, inasmuch as the great business class, the fraternity of bankers, merchants, grain-dealers, and moneylenders, who until recent years formed the only middle-class in Indian society, have from time immemorial been very alert about every phase of public affairs that could affect their many-sided interests, and often in days past gave astonishing proof of the accuracy and rapidity of their information from distant parts of the country. Nevertheless, the native newspapers make no attempt to produce anything answering to a City article ; and the commercial and financial columns are almost the only parts of the AngloIndian journals from which they do not freely borrow. The omission is surely very significant of the isolation of the native journalist, who produces, when we get to the bottom of it, simply for the literary caste to which he belongs and to which his interests are confined. Is it wonderful that an institution which has sprung up in so thin a soil, in so cramped a situation, should show small signs of a healthy, vigorous growth ; or that, deprived of all lighter topics, debarred from most serious ones by the ignorance and apathy of its public, the Indian press should remain confined to politics as its one interest ? And by politics one must not understand all that the word would convey to a European reader. Measures of the first importance, of the most far-reaching consequences, may make their entrance upon the public stage and pass their slow way across it to fulfilment or rejection almost unnoticed as long as they afford no appeal to sentiment. But if a Magistrate riding across his district is charged with having given a couple of cuts with his cane to the lazy attendant who has not got bis refreshment ready half way, or a police officer with having shot a Raja's tame deer as a nuisance; if a Professor has turned an impudent student out of doors, or a Missionary College ventured to convert one of its pupils—any stimulus of this sort, and the whole vernacular press is ablaze with excitement. Politics, in short, are represented in its view by those acts of Government, and especially of its local officers, which admit of being utilised for hostile criticism. But even in this unvarying opposition to Government, as we have seen before, the native editor is the creature of circumstances. It is not easy for him to find where his line lies vis à vis of a Government which he cannot upset, and which it is even forbidden to hint too openly at upsetting. The part of eulogist would be highly unpopular, and would earn no gratitude from the official classes, who would merely take it as a bid for a post under Government; and finally the native journalist has no constructive politics. Like the native politician, he suffers from the want of a goal and a purpose. These classes have no desire to turn us out, for they know what must follow, and they have no wish either for anarchy or the Russians. At the same time, being in opposition without any sense of responsibility, nothing hinders them from advocating measures which would make the continuance of British rule an impossibility ; while they are constantly found in bitter opposition to other measures, simply because brought forward by Government, which ought in all consistency to have their warmest support. Thus papers which when it suits them quote readily from Mill on · Liberty' vehemently assailed a few years ago the Bill that was introduced for protecting Hindu child-wives from the outrages of immature wedlock. There are no sets of phrases more constantly in the mouth of native writers and public speakers than those which turn on the evils of bureaucracy and the blessings of representative government. But these very persons will at the same time betray in the most guileless way that they do not in the least yearn for the triumph of the representative principle or for the extinction of bureaucracy. In a country where the ambition of every second man is to obtain a place in Government service, the whole pressure and tendency of public opinion is for more posts and larger establishments. The extension of an office or department is the most popular act that an Indian Government can commit. From the humble octroi clerk who makes work in hope of bringing in a cousin to the speakers of the National Congress with their cry for ‘simultaneous examinations,' everyone is bent on increasing and aggrandising the bureaucracy. Native sentiment in this respect is an exaggeration of Continental sentiment. Even a gaol-bird has been heard to say to a man with whom he was arguing, ‘I wear the uniform of the State: but who are you?' The fault of the present public service in native eyes is that it is not manned entirely by natives. But it is often attacked as though it was the form of government that was objected to. To take a last instance, the British soldier is constantly being held up to obloquy; but as far as out of the inconsistencies of the native politician one can frame for him that ultimate ideal which he will not formulate for himself, it is that the country should be comfortably held down by British bayonets, while the clerkly classes, after a free education at the general cost, should be invested with its administration.

Out of such a medley of contradictory ideas it is not strange that the only constant feature of this criticism is disapproval of any move the Government can take in any direction whatsoever. On the other hand, from the difficulty of making any reply, the cue of the Government has been to assume the lofty indifference that proceeds from the consciousness of latent force :

The eagle suffers little birds to sing,

And is not careful what they mean thereby,
Knowing that with the shadow of his wings

He can at pleasure stint their melody.

A dignified and intelligible attitude; but unfortunately the practice of Government has never come up to its principles. On the contrary, it is notorious how often fussy governors of provinces have made the lives of their subordinates a burden by the importance they have given to every calumnious or absurd story put about by the native newspapers. The homage paid in these days to the power of the press has, in truth, never been more strikingly exemplified than in the attention thus bestowed on the utterances of obscure local prints, which may be well known all the time to be conducted by persons almost illiterate, and wholly without credit among their neighbours. But, at the same time, there have been many far-sighted men connected with the Government of India who, on broader grounds, have insisted upon the inevitable danger of allowing a stream of invariably hostile comment to be constantly poured into the empty and credulous minds of the people—their only source of information as to the doings and motives of their rulers. Thus the attitude of the Government, though tranquil, has never been strong, and on the first appearance of political disquietude last year it shifted totally. Even the possibility of a repulse in the courts from the ambiguity of the Penal Code could not deter it from taking up case after case of sedition.

Of Section 124a of the Indian Penal Code, inasmuch as it has been so exhaustively threshed out in the law courts, and is now about to be recast, there is no temptation to say more than is strictly necessary. But from the position it has come to occupy in relation to the whole question it cannot be quite passed over. The section says that whoever "excites or attempts to excite feelings of disaffection to the Government established by law in British India' has committed an offence rendering him liable to a wide range of penalties thereinafter enumerated. Obviously this must raise the question in each case, What are feelings of disaffection ? The ' Explanation' appended by the framers of the law elucidates the matter thus :

Such a disapprobation of the measures of Government as is compatible with a disposition to render obedience to the lawful authority of the Government and to support the lawful authority of the Government against unlawful attempts to subvert or resist that authority is not disaffection.

It seems to have been a general impression among lawyers that the effect of this ‘Explanation was to qualify the force of the preceding words to an extent that would make a conviction doubtful in all but flagrant cases. It tells us certainly what is not disaffection ; but this may still leave much doubt as to what is. The judges before whom the question has come have rendered it by different equivalents. It appears, indeed, to be a word not always of the plainest import. I was reading a few days back an account of a ladies' bicycle race at the Aquarium, in which it was stated that 'through the disaffection of Roger (the twelve days' race winner), Farrar and Blackburn were left alone to fight for the supremacy. What should one gather from this ? That Roger was sick or sulky? Or perhaps her disaffection means nothing more than that she was absent from the contest. At any rate the term is one with rather a wide range of meaning, from the physical to the mental state, like disorder, distemper, indisposition. And when we have lately seen the most eminent judges in England severed into two bodies of equally weighty opinion by a question as to whether a given act comes within the meaning of the word 'cruelty,' and again as to what constitutes a 'place,' it seems rash to expect that minds of lesser acumen will be able to lay down exactly the obscurer borders of such a term as 'disaffection. Up to a few years ago the result of an appeal to the law on this point might, in fact, have been very questionable. But a great change has lately come over the spirit of the Indian law courts, which no longer delight in taking roundabout legal paths for arriving at decisions repugnant to common-sense and baffling to the administration. Beginning with Mr. Justice Strachey's elaborate judgment in the leading case of Tilak, all the High Court Judges before whom the question has come have insisted strongly on the distinction between the disapproval of particular measures of Government, which is innocent, and the exciting of that general disapproval of the Government as an institution, of which one of the synonyms is disaffection, which they have agreed to consider criminal and have punished. Sustained by the strong and clear decisions it had obtained, which, as they included pronouncements by the Chief Justices of Bombay

and of the North-West Provinces, constituted a body of precedent to which subsequent decisions would conform, the executive Government might have rested content. But it has preferred to follow up the success and deal with the Press question actively by two amendments of the Penal Code and two of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The principal object of the latter is merely to enable the Government to take securities for good behaviour from misguided writers who indulge in sedition, blackmail, or obscenity, as they can now do from other persons of bad livelihood. Of the two amendments to the Penal Code, one is directed against the publication as news of mischievous reports, calculated to cause public alarm, or to set class against class. The other is the substitution of a new 'Explanation' to Section 124a, running thus:--

Comments on measures of Government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means, without exciting or attempting to excitė hatred, contempt, or disaffection, do not constitute an offence.

Doubtless this change of wording does clear the ground to some extent, but it surely still leaves abundant room for uncertainty. One may criticise any particular measure of the Government, say a new tax oran enhancement of land revenue; but one must not do it in a way that may be deemed capable of stirring up active ill will against the Government. But what then of such ordinary epithets, in regard to the criticism oftaxation, as inequitable, greedy, rapacious, oppressive, iniquitous, tyrannical—terms harmless enough in English controversy, but which have such a different ring when employed towards an irremovable Government ? Can it be said that such expressions do not inculcate, in a more or less remote measure, feelings of active ill will for the Government whose dealings are thus spoken of? Would any of us care to stake his personal liberty that they do not, with a persuasive barrister appearing for the prosecution and the atmosphere perhaps charged with political excitement ? It would seem to the lay mind that, if the new 'Explanation ’ should pass as it is drafted, there will still be occasion for practising lawyers to rub their hands.

But though the proposed alterations may not be free from these and other objections, it must be recognised that the course adopted by the Government of India is vastly more politic than the alternative which they had under consideration and, if report is true, favoured. It may seem inconsistent to deprecate a return to legislation on the lines of Lord Lytton's Press Act, seeing that that measure is allowed to have fulfilled its purpose excellently. It is notorious that the outcries raised against it were three parts pure clap-trap, and that its working was neither injurious nor despotic. In fact, no prosecution or suspension was ever instituted under it--so well did the knowledge that the power was in reserve suffice to secure the end in view. But the fatal objection to the re-enactment of Lord Lytton's Act


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