Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/54

This page needs to be proofread.


50 THE NON-ARYANS. Character of the non- Aryans. — As a rule, the non-Aryan races, when fairly treated, are truthful, loyal, and kind. Those in the hills make good soldiers ; while even the thieving tribes of the plains can be turned into clever police. The non-Aryan low-castes of Madras supplied the troops which conquered Southern India for the British ; and some of them fought at the battle of Plassey, which won for us Bengal. The gallant Gurkhas, a non-Aryan tribe of the Himalayas, now rank among the bravest regiments in our Indian army, and have covered themselves with honour in every recent war, from Afghanistan to Burma. The Future of the Non-Aryans. — In many countries of the world, the ruder tribes have been crushed, or killed off by superior races. This has been the case, to a large extent, with the primitive peoples of Mexico and Peru, with the Red Indians of North America, and with the Aborigines of Australia and, to some extent, in New Zealand. But the non-Aryan tribes of India are prospering instead of decreasing under British rule. Hill-fairs and roads through their mountains and jungles have opened up to them new means of livelihood ; and the Census, both in 1872 and 1881, showed that they have a larger pro- portion of children than the other Indian races. As they grow rich, they adopt Hindu customs, and numbers of them every year pass within the pale of Hinduism. Others become converts to Christianity, and it seems likely that in the course of two or three generations there will be but a small remnant of the non- Aryan races which still cling to their aboriginal customs and rites. The Census in 1881 and 1891 included many of them among the low caste Hindus, and returned a much smaller number of pure Aborigines than the figures which I have given at page 38 for the aboriginal population, from the Census of 1872. This arises partly from the fact that the aboriginal races are merging into the Hindu community: partly because the system of classification adopted in 1872 exhibited the Aborigines more fully according to their race than the later Census enumerations in 1881 and 1891.