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CHAPTER IX

THE PEOPLE : NUMBERS, RACES, AND LANGUAGES

Growth of Population.—It is probable that in the 64 years since annexation the population of the Panjab has increased by from 40 to 50 per cent. The first reliable census was taken in 1881. The figures for the four decennial enumerations are :

Year Panjab N.W.F. Province Kashmir British Native States Total 1881 1891 1 90 1 1911 17.274.597 19,009,368 20,330,337 19,974.956 3,861,683 4,263,280 4,424,398 4,212,974 21,136,280 23,272,648 24.754.735 24,187,730 1.543.726 1,857,504 2,041,534 2,196,933 2,543.952 2,905,57 8 3,158,126

Incidence of Population in Panjab.—The estimated numbers of independent tribes dwelling within the British sphere of influence is 1,600,000 The incidence of the population on the total area of the Panjab including native States is 177 per square mile, which may be compared with 189 in France and 287 in the British Isles. As the map shows, the density is reduced by the large area of semi-desert country in the south-west and by the mountainous tract in the north-east. The distribution of the population is the exact opposite of that which prevails in Great Britain. There are only 174 towns as compared with 44,400 villages, and nearly nine-tenths of the people are to be found in the latter. Some of the so-called towns are extremely small, and

Provincial Geographies of India Volume 1 0117.jpg

Fig. 27. Map showing density of population.

the average population per town is but 14,800 souls. There are no large towns in the European sense. The biggest, Delhi and Lahore, returned respectively 232,837 and 228,687 persons.

Growth stopped by Plague.— The growth of the population between 1881 and 1891 amounted to 10 p.c. Plague, which has smitten the Panjab more severely than any other province, appeared in 1896, and its effect was seen in the lower rate of expansion between 1891 and 1901. Notwithstanding great extensions of irrigation and cultivation in the Rechna r Doab the numbers declined


Fig. 28. Map showing increase and decrease of population.

by 2 p.c. between 1901 and 191 1. In the ten years from 1901 to 1910 in the British districts alone over two million people died of plague and the death-rate was raised to 12 p.c. above the normal. It actually exceeded the birth-rate by 2 p.c. Of the total deaths in the decade nearly one in four was due to plague. The part which has suffered most is the rich submontane tract east of the Chenab, Lahore and Gujranwala, and some of the south-eastern districts. A glance at the map will show how large the loss of population has been there. It is by no means entirely due to plague. The submontane districts were almost over-populated, and many of their people have emigrated as colonists, tenants, and labourers to the waste tracts brought under cultivation by the excavation of the Lower Chenab and Jhelam canals. The districts which have received very marked additions of population from this cause are Jhang (21 p.c), Shahpur (30 p.c), and Lyallpur (45 p.c). Deaths from plague have greatly increased the deficiency of females, which has always been a noteworthy feature. In 1911 the proportion had very nearly fallen to four females for every five males.

Increase and Incidence in N.W.F. Province.— The incidence of the population in the area covered by the five districts of the N.W.F. Province is 164 per square mile. The district figures are given in the map in the margin. The increase between 1901 and 1911 in these districts was *j p.c. There have been no severe outbreaks of plague like those which have decimated the population of some of the Panjab districts. General figures for the territory of the Maharaja of Kashmir are meaningless. In the huge Indus vallev the incidence is only 4 persons per sq. mile. In Jammu and Kashmir it is 138. The map taken from the Census Report gives the details. The increase in the decade was on paper 8| p.c, distributed between 5| in Jammu, 12 in Kashmir, and 14 in the Indus valley. A great part of the increase in the last must be put down to better enumeration.

Health and duration of life.— The climate of the Panjab plains has produced a vigorous, but not a long-lived, race. The mean age of the whole population in the British districts is only 25. The normal birth-rate of the Panjab is about 41 per 1000, which exceeds the English rate in the proportion of 5 to 3. In 1910 the recorded birth-rate in the N.W.F. Province was 38 per 1000. Till plague appeared the Panjab death-rate averaged 32 or 33 per 1000, or more than double that of England. The infantile mortality is enormous, and one out of every four or five children fails to survive its first year. The death-rate in the N.W.F. Province was 27 per 1000 in 1910. In the ten years ending 1910 plague pushed up the average death-rate in the Panjab to 43! per 1000. Even now malarial fever is a far worse foe than plague. The average annual deaths in the ten years ending 1910 were:

Fevers .. .. .. 450,376
Plague .. .. .. 202,522
Other diseases .. 231,473
Total .. 884,371 Fever is very rife in October and November, and these are the most unhealthy months in the year, March and April being the best. The variations under fevers and plague from year to year are enormous. In 1907 the latter claimed 608,685 victims, and the provincial death-rate reached the appalling figure of 61 per 1000 Next year the plague mortality dropped to 30,708, but there were 697,058 deaths from fever. There is unfortunately no reason to believe that plague has spent its force or that the people as a whole will in the near future generally accept the protective measures of inoculation and evacuation. Vaccination, the prejudice against which has largely disappeared, has robbed the small-pox goddess of many offerings As a general cause of mortality the effect of cholera in the Pan jab is now insignificant. But it is still to be feared in the Kashmir valley, especially in the picturesque but filthy summer capital. Syphilis is very common in the hill country in the north-east of the province. Blindness and leprosy are both markedly on the decrease. Both infirmities are common in Kashmir, especially the former. The rigours of the climate in a large part of the State force the people to live day and night for the seven winter months almost entirely in dark and smoky huts, and it is small wonder that their eyesight is ruined.

Occupations.— The Pan jab is preeminently an agricultural country, and the same is true in an almost greater degree of the N.W.F. Province and Kashmir. The typical holding is that of the small landowner tilling from 3 to 10 acres with his own hands with or without help from village menials. The tenant class is increasing, but there are still three owners to two tenants. Together they make up 50 p.c. of the population of the Panjab, and 5 p.c. is added for farm labourers. Altogether, according to the census returns 58 p.c. of the population 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. Tribal Composition.— Table I based on the Census returns shows the percentages of the total population belonging to the chief tribes. The classification into " land-holding, etc." is a rough one

Fig. 31. Jat Sikh Officers (father and son).

Jats.— The Panjab is par excellence the home of the Jats. Everywhere in the plains, except in the extreme north-west corner of the province, they form a large element in the population. In the east they are Hindus, in the centre Sikhs and Muhammadans, and in the west Muhammadans. The Jat is a typical son of the soil, strong and sturdy, hardworking and brave, a fine soldier and an excellent farmer, but slow-witted and grasping. The Sikh Jat finds an honourable outlet for his overflowing energy in the army and in the service of the Crown beyond the bounds of India. When he misses that he sometimes takes to dacoity. Unfortunately he is often given to strong drink, and, when his passions or his greed are aroused, can be exceedingly brutal. Jat in the Western Panjab is applied to a large number of tribes, whose ethnical affinities are somewhat dubious.

Rajputs.— Rajputs are found in considerable numbers all over the province except in a few of the western and south-western districts. As farmers they are much hampered by caste rules which forbid the employment of their women in the fields, and the prohibition of widow remarriage is a severe handicap. They are generally classed as poor cultivators, and this is usually, but by no means universally, a true description. The Dogra

Rajputs.- of the low hills are good soldiers. They are numerous in Kangra and in the Jammu province of Kashmir.

Brahmans.— The Brahmans of the eastern plains and north-eastern hills are mostly griculturists, and the Mutual Brahman of the north-western districts is a landowner and a soldier. In the hills the Brahman is often a shopkeeper. The priestly Brahman is found everywhere, but his spiritual authority has always been far less in the Panjab than in most parts of India.

Biluches.'— When the frontier was separated off the Biluch district of Dera Ghazi Khan with its strong tribal organization under chiefs or tumanddrs was left in the Panjab. The Biluches are a frank, manly, truthful race, free from fanaticism and ready as a rule to follow their chiefs. They are fine horsemen. Unfortunately it is difficult to get them to enlist.

Pathans.— Both politically and numerically the Pathans are the predominant tribe in the N.W.F. Province, and are of importance in parts of the Pan jab districts of Attock and Mianwali. The Pathan is a democrat and often a fanatic, more under the influence of mullahs than of the maliks or headmen of his tribe. He has not the frank straightforward nature of the Biluch, is untiring in pursuit of revenge, and is not free from cruelty. But, when he has eaten the Sarkdr's salt, he is a very brave and dashing soldier, and he is a faithful host to anyone whom he has admitted under his roof.

Awans.— The home of the Awan in the Panjab is the Salt Range and the parts of Attock and Mianwali, lying to the north of it, and this tract of country is known as the Awankarf. In the N.W.F. Province they are, after the Pathans, by far the largest tribe, and are specially numerous in Peshawar and Hazara.

Shekhs.— Of the Shekhs about half are Kureshis, Sadikis, and Ansaris of foreign origin and high social standing. The rest are new converts to Islam, often of the sweeper caste originally.

Saiyyids.— Saiyyids are unsatisfactory landowners, and are kept going by the offerings of their followers. They are mostly Shias. It is not necessary to believe that they are all descended from the Prophet's son-in-law, Ali. A native proverb with pardonable exaggeration says: "The first year I was a weaver (Julaha), the next year a Shekh. This year, if prices rise, I shall be a Saiyyid."

Trading Castes.— Aroras are the traders of the S.W. Panjab and of the N.W.F. Province. They share the Central Panjab with the Khatris, who predominate in the north-western districts. The Khatri of the Rawalpindi division is often a landowner and a first-class fighting man. Some of our strongest Indian civil officials have been Aroras. In the Delhi division the place of the Arora and Khatri is taken by the Bania, and in Kangra by the Slid or the Brahman. Khojas and Parachas are Muhammadan traders.

Artizans and Menials.— Among artizans and menials Sunars (goldsmiths), Rajes (masons), Lohars (blacksmiths), and Tarkhans (carpenters) take the first rank.

Impure Castes.— The vast majority of the impure castes, the " untouchables ,: of the Hindu religion, are scavengers and workers in leather. The sweeper who embraces Islam becomes a Musalli. The SikhMazhbis, who are the descendants of sweeper converts, have done excellent service in our Pioneer regiments. The Hindu of the Pan jab in his avoidance of "untouchables" has never gone to the absurd lengths of the high caste Madras!, and the tendency is towards a relaxation of existing restrictions.

Mendicants.— Men of religion living on charity, wandering fakirs, are common sights, and beggars are met with in the cities, who sometimes exhibit their deformities with unnecessary insistence.

Kashmiris.— According to the census return the number of Kashmiri Musulmans, who make up 60 p.c. of the inhabitants of the Jhelam valley, was 765,442. They are no doubt mostly descendants of various Hindu castes, perhaps in the main of Hill Brahmans, but Islam has wiped out all tribal distinctions. Sir Walter Lawrence wrote of them: "The Kashmiri is unchanged in spite of the splendid Moghal, the brutal Afghan, and the bully Sikh. Warriors and statesmen came and went; but there was no egress, and no wish .... in normal times to leave their homes. The outside world was far, and from all accounts inferior to the pleasant valley .... So the Kashmiris lived their self-centred life, conceited, clever, and conservative."

The Hindu Kashmiri Pandits numbered 55,276.

Tribes of Jammu. — Agricultural Brahmans are numerous in the Jammu province. Thakkars and Meghs are important elements of the population of the outer hills. The former are no doubt by origin Rajputs, but

Fig. 32. Blind Beggar.

they have cast off many Rajput customs. The Meghs are engaged in weaving and agriculture, and are regarded as more or less impure by the higher castes.

Giijars.— Gujars in the Maharaja's territories are almost always graziers. In 1911 they numbered 328,003.

Dard Tribes of Astor and Gilgit.— The people of Astor and Gilgit are Dards speaking Shina and professing Islam. Sir Aurel Stein wrote of them: "The Dard race which inhabits the valleys N. of (the Inner Himalaya) as far as the Hindu Kush is separated from the Kashmiri population by language as well as by physical characteristics .... There is little in the Dard to enlist the sympathies of the casual observer. He lacks the intelligence, humour, and fine physique of the Kashmiri, and, though undoubtedly far braver than the latter, has none of the independent spirit and manly

Fig. 33. Dards.

bearing which draw us towards the Pathan despite all his failings. But I can never see a Dard without thinking of the thousands of years of struggle they have carried on with the harsh climate and the barren soil of their mountains[1]."

Kanjutis. — The origin of the Kanj litis of Hunza is uncertain, and so are the relationships of their language. Mongoloid Population of Ladakh.— The population of Ladakh and Baltistan is Mongoloid, but the Baltis (72,439) have accepted Islam and polygamy, while the Ladakhis have adhered to Buddhism and polyandry.

Ethnological theories.— In The People of India the late Sir Herbert Risley maintained that the inhabitants of Rajputana, nearly the whole of the Panjab, and a

Fig. 34. Map showing races.

large part of Kashmir, whatever their caste or social status, belonged with few exceptions to a single racial type, which he called Indo-Aryan. The Biluches of Dera Ghazi Khan and the Pathans of the N.W.F. Province formed part of another group which he called Turko-Iranian. The people of a strip of territory on the west of the Jamna he held to be of the same type as the bulk of the inhabitants of the United Provinces, and this type he called Aryo-Dravidian. Finally the races occupying the hills in the north-east and the adjoining part of Kashmir were of Mongol extraction, a fact which no one will dispute. Of the Indo-Aryan type Sir Herbert Risley wrote: "The stature is mostly tall, complexion fair, eyes dark, hair on face plentiful, head long, nose narrow and prominent, but not specially long." He believed that the Panjab was occupied by Aryans, who came into the country from the west or north-west with their wives and children, and had no need to contract marriages with the earlier inhabitants. The Aryo-Dravidians of the United Provinces resulted from a second invasion or invasions, in which the Aryan warriors came alone and had to intermarry with the daughters of the land, belonging to the race which forms the staple of the population of Central India and Madras. This theory was based on measurements of heads and noses, and it seems probable that deductions drawn from these physical characters are of more value than any evidence based on the use of a common speech. But it is hard to reconcile the theory with the facts of history even in the imperfect shape in which they have come down to us, or to believe that Sakas, Yuechi, and White Huns (see historical section) have left no traces of their blood in the province. If such there are, they may perhaps be found in some of the tribes on both sides of the Salt Range, such as Gakkhars, Janjuas, A wans, Tiwanas, Ghebas, and Johdras, who are tine horsemen and expert tent-peggers, not "tall heavy men without any natural aptitude for horsemanship," as Sir Herbert Risley described his typical Panjabi (p. 59 of his book).

Languages.— In the area dealt with in this book no less than eleven languages are spoken, and the dialects are very numerous. It is only possible to tabulate the languages and indicate on the map the localities

Fig. 35. Map showing distribution of languages.

in which they are spoken. For the Panjab the figures of the recent census are:

A 1. Tibeto-Chinese .. .. .. .. 41,607 B. Aryan :

(a) Iranian :

2. Pashtu . . 3. Biluchi . . 4. Kohistani 67,174 70,675 26 (b) Indian : 5- 6. 7- 8. Kashmiri Pahari . . Lahndi . . Sindhi . . 7,190 993,363 • 4,253,566 24 9 10. Panjabi . . Western Hindi . 14,111,215 3,826,467 11. Rajasthani 725,850

The eastern part of the Indus valley in Kashmir forming the provinces of Ladakh and Baltistan is occupied by a Mongol population speaking Tibeto- Chinese dialects. Kashmiri is the language of Kashmir Proper, and various dialects of the Shina-Khowar group comprehensively described as Kohistani are spoken in Astor, Gilgit, and Chilas, and to the west of Kashmir territory in Chitral and the Kohistan or mountainous country at the top of the Swat river valley. Though Kashmiri and the Shina-Khowar tongues belong to the Aryan group, their basis is supposed to be non-Sanskritic, and it is held that there is a strong non-Sanskritic or Pisacha element also in Lahndi or western Panjabi, which is also the prevailing speech in the Hazara and Dera Ismail Khan districts of the N.W.F. Province, and is spoken in part of the Jammu province of Kashmir. Pashtu is the common language in Peshawar, Kohat, and Bannu, and is spoken on the western frontiers of Hazara and Dera Ismail Khan, and in the independent tribal territory in the west between the districts of the N.W.F. Province and the Durand Line and immediately adjoining the Peshawar district on the north. Rajasthani is a collective name for the dialects of Rajputana, which overflow into the Panjab, occupying a strip along the southern frontier from Bahawalpur to Gurgaon. The infiltration of English words and phrases into the languages of the province is a useful process and as inevitable as was the enrichment of the old English speech by Norman-French. But for the present the results are apt to sound grotesque, when the traveller, who expects a train to start at the appointed time, is told: "tren late hai, lekin singal down ho gaya" (the train is late, but the signal has been lowered), or the criticism is passed on a popular officer: "bahut affable hai, lekin hand shake nahin kartd" (very affable, but doesn't shake hands).


  1. Sand Buried Ruins of Khotan, pp. 14 — 15.