The Canberra Times
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 1930.
THE SITUATION IN INDIA.
WHAT threatened to be a thunderbolt against the Government
in India by the campaign of civil disobedience by the Hindu, leader, Mr. Gandhi, has failed so far to prove in prac- tice more than a weakly supported protest. The campaign to date has failed to advance the cause of the Nationalists and has rather strengthened respect for the administration of India.
On the basis of the old proverb, "Forewarned is forearmed," the authorities have had ample time to take appropriate steps to meet any danger which may have been apprehended, and its vigi-
lance and patience have been the keynotes of its attitude to the whole movement. There is no doubt that the delay in launching
the campaign has lost a good deal of the dramatic effect intended Although sufficient details of the programme of civil disobedience were given by Gandhi some weeks ago the movement has re- solved itself so far into an attack on the salt duties.
There was a time when the salt duties in India contributed the second largest share of the revenue to the Indian Government,
coming next to the land tax. The policy of the Indian Govern- ment since 1903, however, has been to effect gradual reductions. Between 1888 and 1907 the duty was biought down from 2½ rupees to 1 rupee per maund (a little over 82lbs). In 1907-8 the gross yield of the duty was £3,339,000 more than one-fourth of this being derived from imported salt. In the year ended March 31, 1928, it amounted to nearly £5,000,000, but only oc- cupied third place among the principal heads of revenue. Cus- toms duties have come to represent far the largest individual source of Indian revenue in these days, and in 1928 they accounted for considerably more than half the total of the tax receipts, opium coming fourth, while land revenue only occupied fifth place so far as the Central Government is concerned, though the provincial Governments depend largely on this latter source of revenue.
There are, roughly speaking; four ways in which the Indian salt supply is obtained. The old-fashioned method of allowing sea water to collect in shallow pans along the sea coast and evaporate under the rays of the sun, leaving a salt sediment is still largely resorted to. The salt lakes in Rajputana, leased by the Government from rulers of native States and salt mines, es- pecially in the Northern Punjab, also furnish much of this necessary commodity, and a good deal is, in addition, imported from Britain
and from the Red Sea.
The idea of Mr. Gandhi and his confederates appears to be that everyone who can do so should set to work to manufacture salt by evaporation all along the coast line, and pay no duty to the authorities. As has already been seen, however, this method of obtaining salt cannot be resorted to in secret from its very nature and the Government is thus able to take steps to make the process of evading the attention of the Revenue officials by no means a safe or easy one.
As for the other proposals of the "civil disobedience" party,
it is probable that they will not be found in practice to work out very smoothly. That Indians who are serving the Government in any capacity will resign their posts and emoluments at a mo- ment's notice, en masse, seems an incredible supposition, and it will be a matter of surprise if Indian lawyers desert the courts at the command of the ascetic leader from the seclusion of his
An additional fact which must be stressed in connection with the aspirations of Gandhi is that the Indian "separation" move- ment has no support from the native princes whose territory forms one-third of all India. In the remaining two-thirds the separatists do not in the least represent the unanimous feeling of the people. They do not, in fact, represent the opinion of a very large majority
there if we consider the Moslems, the "untouchables," and other large sections of the population who have nothing to gain and a
good deal to lose by the domination of the men who are now aim-
ing at supremacy over all India.
The success of revolutionary movements such as Mr. Gandhi has inaugurated in India depends partly on the unanimity of the support received from all classes of the people and partly upon the hope of a failure of the Government to cope with the situation. It does not appear in the least likely that the first condition can be attained, and as regards the second, the attitude of the Govern- ment so far affords satisfactory evidence that no step of an aggra- vating character will be taken, and there is no reason for believing the Government will be found wanting when the crisis comes.