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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/308

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

30,000,000 in ten years—a greater increase than in almost any other country. No doubt the taxable capacity was low, but he asserted that the people of India were, as to the poorer classes of the population, the lightest-taxed people in the world. The actual value of the produce of one man's land was difficult to test, but the rate of wages was easily ascertained. The poorest laboring man in India could, at the time when he was in India, earn Rs. 5 per month, and he would not pay more than Rs. 2 per annum in taxes.[1] A man here earning thirty-five pounds a year would not pay less than two pounds in taxation. This meant that in England the poor man paid one seventeenth, while in India the poor man paid only one thirtieth in taxes. Therefore the taxation of India was relatively much lower than in England. How could a people who were exporting such quantities of foodstuffs and who were increasing so greatly in population be said to be dying of starvation? In face of those facts, which could be proved, what weight was to be given by the House to amateur statisticians and their calculations? He had spent twenty-five years among the poorest people in India, and he had also spent fifteen years among the active life of the poorest people of this country. With that experience he asserted that the people of India were not so poor as the people of England." (London Times, August, 1894.)

It was evident, therefore, from the outset that the natural conditions of India were as antagonistic to the adoption of what may be termed the civilized forms of taxation, as they were to the adoption of the Christian religion or English habits and language; and the problem to the new rulers for obtaining revenue for the support of their Government, without resort to the old forms of arbitrary exactions or plunder, has accordingly always been one of great difficulty and delicacy; and the record of their experience in attempting to solve it constitutes an exceedingly novel and important chapter in economic history.

Practically the only guide to them for the determination and collection of taxes has been that of expediency. The imperial revenue of British India for 1893-'94, stated in tens of rupees, was £60,193,000, making no allowance for the depreciation of silver. The value of ten rupees is very nearly equivalent to the British pound sterling, or five dollars gold coin of the United States. The ordinary revenue of India for the fiscal year 1893-'94 was, therefore, about $300,908,000. The expenditures exceeded


  1. The value of the silver rupee—Rs.—in India at the time mentioned by Sir Richard Temple, expressed in terms of the United States gold dollar, was about $0.48 cents. Its present (1896) corresponding gold value is about $0.23.4 cents.