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Page:Provincial geographies of India (Volume 1).djvu/122

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THE PEOPLE:

depends for its support on the soil, 20-5 on industries, chiefly the handicrafts of the weaver, potter, leather worker, carpenter, and blacksmith, 9-4 on trade, 2-5 on professions, and 9-6 on other sources of livelihood.

Measures taken to protect agriculturists.— In a country owned so largely by small farmers, the first task of the Government must be to secure their welfare and contentment. Before plague laid its grasp on the rich central districts it was feared that they were becoming congested, and the canal colonization schemes referred to in a later chapter were largely designed to relieve them. But there is a much subtler foe to whose insidious attacks small owners are liable, the temptation to abuse their credit till their acres are loaded with mortgages and finally lost. So threatening had this economic disease for years appeared that at last in 1900 the Panjab Alienation of Land Act was passed, which forbade sales by people of agricultural tribes to other classes without the sanction of the district officer, and greatly restricted the power of mortgaging. The same restrictions are in force in the N.W.F. Province. The Act is popular with those for whose benefit it was devised, and has effected its object of checking land alienation and probably to some extent discouraged extravagance. It has been supplemented by a still more valuable measure, the Cooperative Credit Societies Act. The growth of these societies in the Panjab has been very remarkable, a notable contrast to the very slow advance of the similar movement in England. In 1913-14 there were 3261 village banks with 155,250 members and a working capital of 133! lakhs or £885,149, besides 38 central banks with a capital of 42 1 lakhs or about £285,000. Village banks held deposits amounting to nearly 37 lakhs, more than half of which was received from non-members, and lent out y lakhs in the year to their members.