The appeal now being made by the leading zemindars of Bengal to their fellow zemindars to co-operate to check “the deliberate campaign of falsehood and downright misrepresentation concerning the scope, character and object of the Rowlatt Act” is eloquent of the opinions of the real Bengal if only it can be secured a hearing. The Government owe the Maharaja Tagore a debt of gratitude for the action he has taken and it will be difficult for the Extremists to gainsay the authority of the names of those who associate themselves with the Maharaja in his appeal. The pity of it all is that something was not done earlier on similar lines and that something also was not done to obtain expression for the real opinion of the ryots. No one who remembers their courageous attitude to the murderous activities of the armed assassins who infested the province in 1916 can believe that the cultivators, like the zemindars, would not have given their active support to Government had they known that Government stood in need of it. The action of the leading zemindars proves to demonstration the truth of the contention always maintained in these columns that the politicians, composed as to nearly fifty per cent of lawyers, who misrepresent the Indian “nation” at Simla and in London, represent in reality nothing but their own exceedingly narrow, and largely denationalised, class.
VILLAGE PANCHAYATS IN MADRAS
MADRAS, MAY 17
In its order reviewing the report on the working of informal village panchayats the Madras Government observes that if further progress is to be made it in necessary in the opinion of the Government to provide some statutory basis for these panchayats, which are intended to form a part of the general machinery of local self-government, to be the last link in the chain of local institutions. In a resolution, dated the 16th May, 1918, the Government of India contemplate legislation for calling these panchayats into existence. They point out that the legislation should be as simple and elastic as possible, with the fullest scope for details, the latter being left to the rules which will be gradually evolved and unproved by experience. This view is accepted and action will now be taken to place an officer of the Provincial Service on special duty to draft a law for the purpose. The law will, when drafted, be placed before a committee of officials and non-officials for examination before the Government accord administrative approval to it.
ON THE WAY TO THE FRONT
PESHAWAR, MAY 17
Travelling through the Punjab one is struck by the keen interest of the people in the war. There are smiling crowds in the vicinity of the railway stations and no evidence of discontent. The troop trains hurrying north are filled with happy soldiers, British and Indian, who cheer when passing towns and villages. Mahomedans and Hindus alike are very evidently united in antagonism to the Afghans. A Sikh Subedar said, “why does the Government take all this trouble? Let it give us the work and the Sikhs alone will take Kabul.” Peshawar looks most peaceful. The business of pushing forward troops and conducting operations is being done very quietly, with an extraordinary absence of that noise and confusion which one has been accustomed to associate with an advanced base in war.
MORE LOYAL OFFERS
LAHORE, MAY 17
On hearing of the situation in Afghanistan Major-General His Highness the Maharaja Bhupendra Sing of Patiala at once offered the Government his own personal services. His Highness has been selected for appointment as special service officer on the staff of General Sir Arthur Barret, Commanding the NorthWest Frontier Force. The Lieutenant-Governor has received the following telegram from the Maliks and public of Pindighe, in the Attock district: The Pindighen Maliks and public assembled in mass meeting look with dislike upon the Amir of Afghanistan ungratefully waging war against the British Government, and place all their resources at the Government’s disposal.
PUBLIC HEALTH FUND
SIMLA, MAY 17
The Government of India have made a five lakhs initial grant to form the nucleus of a public health fund, and provision has been made for this amount in the Budget estimates for 1919-20. This grant is in pursuance of the resolution moved by Mr. B.N. Sarma in the Imperial Legislative Council on the 8th of March last. A Medical Committee has been appointed which will meet in Simla on the 23rd and 24th May to advise upon the best means of applying the fund and to consider proposals for the establishment of a central public health organisation.