Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/307

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
291
PRINCIPLES OF TAXATION.

fidential circular to the heads of departments and governors, in which they asked whether it was wholly or partially true, not that 40,000,000, but that the greater proportion of the population of India suffered from an insufficiency of food; and they directed that men of 'experience and judgment' should be set to make the inquiries. The replies were contained in five confidential Bluebooks. In the district of Rampoor twelve scattered villages were taken, with a total population of 2,000. Of these, 1,600 were cultivators, and the remaining 400 were laborers, artisans, etc. It was found that, after deducting rent and the cost of cultivation, the cultivators had available for their support during the year sixteen rupees each, while the laborers had seventeen shillings a year each as the whole means of their subsistence. In another case it was shown that in a district having a population of over 1,000,000 souls, 173 persons had only thirteen shillings a year each to live upon. In another district the official reports which were contained in Blue-books marked 'confidential' showed that in a large district nearly all the inhabitants had to live upon from three eighths to three quarters of the amount of grain which was ascertained to be the minimum that would support a healthy condition of life."

In the debate that ensued, Sir Richard Temple, another ex-official of India, stated that "the calculations referred to by Mr. Keay were not worth the paper they were written on or the breath with which they were uttered. The data upon which they were founded were supposititious, and the deductions drawn from them were impossible. If they were true, the people of India would not be living at all, and the land would be of no market value. Yet, in another breath they were told that large sums of money were being advanced by local banks on security of the land."

Mr. Keay said that the facts and figures were quoted from the Blue-book.

Sir R. Temple retorted that "the facts were no facts at all. The tabular statements were merely tabular statements of particular theories of particular calculators. They were, in fact, delusions and snares. He preferred to take certain general facts which could be tested. He could not know or test how a particular family in India lived. He did, however, know the area of land under cultivation, the population of the country, the ratio of the increase in the population, the expansion of trade, and, above all, the exportation of foodstuffs. Honorable members told them that the people of India were starving, yet India exported food and grain stuffs to such an extent as to threaten disturbance to the markets of Europe, and particularly to disturb the markets of this country [England]. Honorable members told them that the people of India were sinking, yet the population had increased by