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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/26

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

difference between the prices of Indian wheat in London in 1881 and 1886, respectively, leaving 4s. per quarter to be contributed by other agencies. Between 1879 and 1886 the charge for the railway transport of grain between Cawnpore and Calcutta (684 miles) was reduced to the extent of about 2s. per quarter, which represented to the purchaser in Calcutta an equivalent reduction in the cost of Indian production, and in the absence of which the Calcutta and European prices would obviously have been correspondingly increased. A further reduction of 6d. per quarter "is probably owing to a decline, during the same period, in the price of the gunny-bags" in which the wheat is transported; leaving 3s. 6d. per quarter, which may not unreasonably be referred to, and fully accounted for, by the extraordinary decline of more than 12s. per quarter, between the years 1880 and 1885, in the export price of American wheat; which, as the largest factor in determining the world's surplus of this commodity, is also necessarily the largest factor in determining what shall be the price of this surplus in the world's market.

Evidence was also submitted to the British Trade Depression Commission in 1866, to the effect that the increase of the acreage under wheat in India "exactly agrees with the development of the Indian railways," and that "when more railways are made in India, a very much larger wheat production will immediately follow."[1]

  1. On this subject, the following testimony was submitted to the British Commission on the Depression of Trade, 1886, by Mr. W. J. Harris, who is recognized as an authority in England on agricultural subjects:

    "Our Indian Empire seems able to extend its corn-growing industry to almost any extent, and to produce more cheaply than any other country in the world. I am aware that Sir James Caird gave a somewhat different evidence on this question, but I think that neither Mr. Giffen nor Sir James Caird have taken sufficiently into account one or two things in their statistical computation. They both maintain that the population of India is too large, or is getting too large, for the means of production. They do not seem to remember that every unit of population in India consumes about a fifth part of what the unit of population in the United States does. It is a comparison between India and the United States. Both Sir James Caird and Mr. Giffen admit that the capabilities of the United States are very enormous, but they think that the capabilities of India are comparatively very small. I differ from them, and I will give my reasons. If we follow (on the maps of India) the course of the railways which have been made for some time, you will find that the acreage under wheat exactly agrees with the development of those railways; and it appears to me that when more railways are made in India, a very much larger wheat production will immediately follow. I have made several inquiries from the principal merchants who do business with India, and who have agents at many central points, and they all agree that the wheat production in India is not nearly developed yet. The population is not encroaching on the means of subsistence so much as the mere statistician would argue, because he does not take into account the habits of the people; and I believe that the United States population, in consequence of the habits of its people, is encroaching just as fast on their means of subsistence as are the people of India. There is a large acreage in India that is not fully cultivated with anything at the present time, and, where it is, it is very imperfectly cultivated, and the prices of produce are exceeding low in places remote from railway communication. Agriculture is very rude; they have very little machinery. The system might be greatly improved, and the produce thereby increased."—Third Report on the Depression of Trade, pp. 82, 83.