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British Empire League

Sindh Branch, its activities

1)    INTRODUCTION

Karachi Branch of the British Empire League was inaugurated on 5th March 1906 with aim to protect and propagate the interests of the Ruling Class and community. London was the Head Quarter of the League. On the eve of its establishment in Sindh 85 members were enrolled as its members. They consist of various communities such as Hindu, Muslim ant Parsi besides, Ruling community. Mr. A.D. Young husband was its founder President, whereas Mr. Webb became its founder Vice President.

In 1907, following were the office-bearers:

President:            A.D. Younghusband (commissioner-in-Sindh)

V.President:        H.N.Crouch (Additional com.-in-Sindh)

Hon.Secretary & Treasurer: P.Wren (Acting Educational Inspector)

Working/Managing Committee: Mr. A.Lucas (Judicial commissioner),

                                             Col.Westmorland (Commonding Karachi Brigade)

                                                   Mr.H.C.Mules (Collector Karachi)

                                                  Sir Edmund Cox Bart (I.G.Police,Sindh)

                                                  Col. Travers (South West Borders)

                                                  Mr. J.Forrest Bruton (Chief Officer K.M.C)

                                                  Dr.V.N.Nazareth, Prof.Sahibsing Shahani,

                                                  Mr.Teckchand Udhavdas, Mr. Ghulam Ali 

                                                  Chagla,Mr.N.D.Dinshaw and Mr.Ysif Ali

                                                  Alibhoy.

  

In 1909 following were the office-bearers of the League:

President:                          W.H.Lucas

V.President:                      M.de P.Webb

Secretary & Treasurer:  C.N.Brockbank

Managing Committee:    Brig.General C.H.Westmorland,

                                              Col. C.H. Price

                                              Lt. Col. H.E.Voyle

                                              Commander N.F.J. Wilson

                                              H.T. Robson

                                              Harcandrai Vishindas

                                              Prof.H.C. Shahani

                                              N.E. Dinshaw

                                              Ghulam Ali Chagla

                                              Yousif ali Alibhoy

                                              Mir Ayoob Khan

                                              E. L. Price

The British Empire League on the eve of the anniversary of the birth of the late Queen Empress Victoria celebrated EMPIRE DAY every year since its inception. The league also arranged lecture program for its members and citizens. Some of lectures were given on the following topics and dates:

·        On 27.01.1912 Vice President of the League delivered his lecture on the subject of “Sindh and Punjab: to be or not to be”. The speaker dwelt with the topic with special reference to merits and demerits of amalgamation of Sindh with Punjab after separating Sindh from Mumbai Presidency. This lecture program was presided over by Mr. M.E.M. Pratt.

·         On 31.05.1912, Dr. Dhalla delivered his lecture on the topic of “East and West”. It was arranged in Ferer Hall. Dr. Dhalla in his lecture indicated common factors and different position of East and West.

·        On 20.01.1914, Mr. H.N. Crouch of Karachi Chamber of Commerce gave lecture on the topic of “The British Merchants in India”. In his lecture he threw light on the past, present and future of British Merchants in India.

 

Formation of the Ladies of the Empire Association

This association was formed on 28th of January, 1921 with the initiate of Lady M.de P. Webb. In the meeting held in her home, the following aims and objectives were proposed and passed:

1)    To promote social interaction between leading ladies of various communities,

2)    To provide social services to needy individuals and families.

Mr. Neilson was appointed as an honorary treasurer of this association. All the ladies belonging to the British officers and army men and our important Hindu and Parsi families were nominated as members of this association. Leading members were as under:

            Dadi Nannavati, Mrs. Aston, Mrs. Sethna, Mrs. Punthakey, Mrs. Mulchand Khialdas, Mrs. Haji Haroon, Mrs. Vajifder, Mrs. Elphinston, Mrs. Chilty, Mrs. A.C.Wild, Mrs. R.R.Gibson, Mrs. Homi Mehta, Mrs. P.Bilimora, Mrs. Limbuwal, Mrs. Hatim Tayyabji, Mrs. Jagannath, Mrs. Hallifax, Mrs. Bowtell-Harris and Mrs. Karaka etc.

In 1929, the total number of members of the association was 186, regular monthly meetings were held for collection of donations in cash and kind. The amount and articles collected by the association were being presented to various maternity homes and hospitals.

In 1929, following were the office bearers of the association:

President:    Mrs. A.C. Wild (wife of additional judicial commissioner)  

Vice President: Mrs. R.E Gibson (from British officers)

                              Mrs. Homi Mehta (from Parsi Community)

                             Mrs. Haji Abdullah Haroon (from Muslim Community)

                             Mrs. Moolchand Khialdas (from Hindu Community)

Cutter-out:                  Mrs. D .E. Katrak

Needle work Supervisor: Mrs. P.Bilimora

Honorary Secretary: Mrs. Limbuwal

Honorary Treasurer: Mrs. Tobutt

Member of central committee: Mrs. Hatim Tayyabji, Mrs. Jagannath, Mrs. Hallifax and Mrs. Karaka

 

3) Meetings

Meeting held on Saturday, 1st July 1909 @12 Staff lines, Subject of the Baghdad Railway was discussed at Some length. Those Present included. Mr. W.H. lucas (President), M.de P. Webb (V.P), Col: C.H.u. Price, lt.col. H.E Voyle, E.L.Price, Prof. S.C. Shahani (Member of committee) and some fifteen memners, Several ladies were also present.

The general conclusion arrived @by col. Voyle was that it was to G.Britian’s Present interests to discourage the building of the line by withholding all financial Support. But Webb challenged this conclusion and said that it would prove of considerable advantage to India and to Empire generally.

It was announced that H.E Sir George Clarke, Governor of Bombay had consented to be patron of the Karachi Branch of this Empire league.

 

·         A meeting of members of the Karachi branch of the British Empire league was held on Saturday 17-07-1909, at 12:00, staff lines, Karachi, when the subject of the Baghdad Railway discussed at some length. Those present included Mr. W.H. Locas, I.C.S. President; The Honourable Mr. M.de  P. Webb, C.I.E.; Vice President, General C.H. Wastmoreland, Colonel C.H.U. Price and professor S.C. Shahahni, Memmber of committee, and some fifteen members, several ladies were also present.

Colonel Voyle delivered an excellent address on the origin, growth and possibilities of the Baghdad Railway Scheme, dealing with his subject from the historical, political, commercial and strategically point of view. The general conclusion arrived that by Colonel Voyle was that it was to Great Britan’s present interest to discourage the building of the line by withholding all financial support.

It was announced at this meeting, that His Excellency Sir George Clarke, Governor of Bombay, had kindly consented to be Pattern of the Karachi Brach of the British Empire League.

  

·         The Annual General Meeting of the Karachi Branch of the British Empire League was held at the Frere Hall, Karachi on 3rd August, 1909 (Tuesday), Mr. W.H. Lucas, I.C.S., presiding.

The President having taken the chair, called upon the Honorary Secretary to read the Managing Committees Report for 1908-09. Mr. C.N.Brock-bank responded. During the past year the Committee had arranged to Meetings, encouraged the celebration of Empire Day, and obtained full and complete information regarding the difficulties between Indians and the Transvaal Govt. in South Africa. It had not been part practicable to take any official action in this last matter, but representations and enquiries for information were made privately to all the Chambers of Commerce in South Africa and replies received and copies of official correspondence between the Transvaal and the Supreme Governments and other publications were available for the use of Members and Associations who may desire to the study the subject. The roll of membership now being 61 and of Associations 34. After this the report was unanimously adopted.

            Mr E.L Price proposed that the Managing Committee for the ensuring year should be composed as follows:-

            Br. General C.H. Westmorland, C.B; Col.C.H.U.Price, D.S.O; Lt. Col. H.E. Voyle; Commander N.J.F. Wilson, R.I.M; H.T. Robson, Esq; Harchandri Vishindas, Esq; Proffessor Shahibsing C.Shahani; Nadirshaw E. Dinshaw, Esq; Ghulam Ali G. Ghagla, Eaq; Yusafali Ali bhoy, Esq; Mir Ayub Khan, W.H Lucas, Esq, i.c.s.__President. The Hon. M.M.de P.webb, C.I.E __vice president; C.N. Brock bank, Esq.__ Hon. Secretary and Treasurer.

            Mr. J.Kothari, seconded the proposed. The Hon. Mr. Webb, moved that the name of Mr. E.L. Price be included in the Managing Committee for 1909-10.

The resolution was carried unanimously. Mr. M.de P.webb addressed the meeting on the subject of “Mr. Lloyd George’s Budget Proposals” which he understood would be described as “A New Era in Finance.”

            The meeting closed with a vote of thanks to the President.

  

4) Appeal of local branch Empire league Empire day

“The movement which annually finds expression on the anniversary of the birth of the late Queen Empress Victoria, has for its main objects the training of the rising generation in the virtues of loyalty and Patriotism and in the duties and responsibilities attaching to the membership of British Empire. Empire day is a day or rejoicing and thanks giving for all British subjects ___rejoicing, because of the progress already made, and the freedom and security attained under the aegis of British rule: and thanks giving, because it is impossible to regard their conditions of the development as we see them through out the various parts of the British Empire at the present day without a feeling of gratitude to the great creator of all Empires for the many blessings we now enjoy. Empire day is officially recognized as a holiday in practically all the Colonies and Dependencies of the British Empire and although Govt. have not made yet 24th May a Saturday Holiday in India, it is nevertheless practically observed as such in many parts of this great Dependency. Since 1906, the year in which Empire Day was first observed in Sind, each 24th May has been recognized as an un official holiday, and it is hoped that the people of Karachi and of Sind will, this year exhibit the same recognition of the late Queen “Empress” birthday as hereafter.

 

THE BRITISH EMPIRE LEAGUE

KARACHI BRANCH

The first annual general meeting of the Karachi Branch of the British Empire League was held in the Frere Hall on Wednesday, March 13th, at 7-30 P.M. The hall was well filled and in addition to the members and associates of the League, a considerable number of the general public attended to hear the address by the Hon'ble Mr. M. de P, Webb, C. L. E. Vice President of the Karachi Branch, (Which followed the business of accepting the Committee's draft Report for the year 1906, and the election of officers and committee for the year 1907.

In the absence ( on tour ) of the President, Mr. A. D. Young husband, i. C. S. Commissioner in Sindh, the chair was taken by the Hon'ble Mr. Webb, supported by Messrs. Thole, Wren, Shahani, Din-shah and Chagla.

The chairman first called upon the Hon. Secretary to read the draft Report for the year 1966, Mr. Wren then read as follows:-

THE REPORT

This Branch of the League was inaugurated on the 5th March, 1906 at a public meeting held at the Frere Hall, Karachi, The Commissioner in Sind, Mr. A.D. Younghusband, I.C.S., occupied the chair and there was a large and representative gathering of the leading English and Indian members of the community. The Hon'ble Mr. M.de P, Webb, C.I.E., delivered an address on the subject of "The Empire and the League".

This Branch of the League took an active part in securing the observance of Empire Day - 21th May - as a public holiday in Sindh. On this occasion most business houses were closed, the lead­ing shops of Karachi were shut and a liberal display of bunting reflected the feelings of the public. Most schools observed the day as a holiday. The Queen Victoria Memorial at Karachi was beauti­fully wreathed with flowers. By kind permission of Lieut Colonel King Hunter and Officers, the Band of the South Wales Borderers played at the Frere Hall Bandstand. In the evening a public meeting of members and friends of the League was held at the Frere Hall when Mr. H.C. Mules, M.V.O., Collector of Karachi delivered an address on "India and the Empire", The President of the League, Mr. A.D. Younghusband, I.C.S., Commissioner in Sindh, occupied the chair.

The third and last meeting of the League in 1906 was held at the newly built Khalak dina Hall on September 15th, when Sir Edmund Cox read a paper on "Imperialism versus Anti Imperialism". The meeting was largely attended! And a spirited discussion followed An Indian Member of the League - Professor Shahani - contributed a very interesting and loyal speed.

The membership of the Karachi Branch of the League now amounts to 85 and includes supporters from so far afield as Bhatinda, Lahore, Sukkur, Poona and Bombay. The total amount received in subscriptions up to December 31st, 1906, was 738 rupees; and 568 rupees have been remitted to Headquarters in London, Rs. 128-8-0 were expended in local charges, and the balance Rs. 41-8-0 carried forward to 1907.

The Hon'ble Mr. Webb then moved that the Deport be adopted. - Carried unanimously.

The next item on the Agenda was the election of officers and committee for 1907. Mr. Thode proposed, and the Hon'ble Mr. Webb seconded, the following gentlemen:-

President - A,D. Younghusband, Esq., I.C.S., Commissioner in Sindh; Vice President - H.N. Crouch, Esq., Additional Judicial Commissioner of Sindh; Hon. Secretary and Treasurer - P. Wren, Esq., M.A., Acting Educational Inspector in Sindh; Committee - A Lucas, Esq., I.C.S., Judicial Commissioner of Sindh; Colonel Westmorland, Commanding Karachi Brigade; H. C. Mules, Esq. M.V.O., Collector of Karachi; Sir Edmund Cox, Bart, inspector General of Police in Sindh; Col. Travers, South West Borderers; Mr. J. Forrest Brunton, M.I.C.E., M.I.M.E., Chief Officer, Karachi Municipality; Dr. V. E. Nazareth; Professor Shabsing shahani, Sindh Arts College; Mr. Teckchand Udhavdas, Public Prosecutor; Mr. Ghulam Ali G. Chagla; Mr. Nadir shah E. Dinshaw; and Mr. Usafali Alibhoy, Carried nem com.

The Hon'ble Mr. M. de P. Webb, who had not been re-elected Vice President as he was proceeding on long leave next day, then vacated the chair which was taken by the new Vice -President, Mr. H. N. Crouch, whose installation was warmly applanded.

Mr. Thole then proposed, and Professor Shahani seconded, that the services of the Hon'ble Mr. Webb, as Vice President of the Karachi Branch should be put on record, and a vote of thanks to him passed, Carried unanimously.

Mr. Crouch then called upon Mr. Webb for his Paper upon "Swadeshi ^overnents,"

MR. WEBB'S SPEECH.

 Swadeshi Movements.

Mr. Chairman, Members of the British Empire League, Ladies and Gentlemen - I must preface my remarks with an apology. I see by the notices convening this meeting, that I am down to "read a paper" on Swadeshi Movements. You are therefore no doubt expecting a carefully prepared and closely reasoned lecture. Un­fortunately the pressure on my spare moments has been so great during my last few days in Karachi that I have had no time to make any but the slenderest attempt at preparation. I beg, there­fore, you will grant me a little indulgence and forgive all short­comings in the few brief remarks I am about to offer.

Probably all here present will know that the word "Swa­deshi" means "own country". A Swadeshi movement is therefore a movement in favour, or in support, of one's own country. Swadeshi goods are home made goods. I need hardly say that sincere and genuine Swadeshi movements are not likely to receive other than the warmest sympathy from a people like the British, one of whose most favourite national songs is " Home, Sweet Home". It has unfortunately happened that owing to the Indian Swadeshi movement being so frequently referred to in connection with the political affairs of Bengal, and with the efforts of certain misguided enthusiasts to establish a boycott of all English and Foreign made commodities in this country, English people are now liable to regard all people who talk Swadeshi with suspicion and dis-favour. On the other hand certain Indians unaware apparently of Government's policy, and their English friends' real feelings in regard to the genuine Indian Swadeshi movements, are inclined to see hostility to their ambitions and ideals where no such hostility exists. It is parley in the hope of removing these mis­understandings that I am venturing to address you this evening.

The Swadeshi movement is nothing new. Twenty years ago some of the shop-keepers in this presidency used to exhibit sign­boards and notices inviting their customers to support home indus­tries by buying their particular wares which were declared to be of Swadeshi manufacture, This appeal to patriotic Indians was no doubt based on the hope of material benefits to the shop keeper rather than any widespread and far seeing ambition to develops and expand the industries of this country. At the same time it was perfectly legitimate and wholesome, and it is quite certain that English people would be the last persons in the world to take any exception to efforts of this kind. As years went on, the more educated and enlightened members of the Indian community have endeavoured by frequent appeals to the sentiments and good sense of their country­men, to increase the Interest in, and stimulate the development of, Indian products, Indian manufactures and, in short, everything Indian - an endeavour that, as I shall presently show, the Govern­ment of this country have done their best to support in every way possible. Curing the last year or two, when feelings in Bengal in connection with the re-arrangement of the machinery of the administration of that Province, have, in some instances, run wild, various attempts to establish a boycott of foreign made goods by the employment of physical violence, have been made, and under the banner of “Swadeshi” too. Every right thinking person can only deplore these misguided efforts. The cause of Swadeshi is hardly likely to be advanced by assaults on poor shop keepers, or by the wanton destruction of the goods they may be attempting to sell. Then, again, we have all heard of the pamphlets or leaflets that were distributed widely in the Punjab and other Parts of Northern India a short time ago stating that foreign made sugar was manufactured by the aid of animal blood and bones and calling upon all good Hindus to avoid the use of such sugar in future. Now seeing of sugar - cane or beet - we can only infer that the writers and distributors of the pamphlet must have acted in cross ignorance or with deliberately malicious intent; and as the publication of lies of this character are more likely to create ill feeling and race prejudice rather than forward the cause of the Indian Swadeshi movement, we can only hope that a wide publication of the real facts of the case will have the necessary corrective effects.

I promised a few minutes ago to say something of the part that the Government of India have played in the effort to develop the Industries of this country. As far back as 1883 the Government of India stated officially in their Resolution No.185 of the 10th January that they were "desirous to give the utmost encouragement to every effort to substitute for articles now obtained from Europe articles of bonafide local manufacture, or of indigenous origin"; and that they would ''always be prepared to give the preference to the latter where the European and Indian articles did not differ materially in price and quality". This I think is clear enough, from that day to this Government have frequently reminded its officers of the desirability of purchasing goods of Indian origin or manufacture wherever possible. Last year by a Government Resolution No.1243 - 1252 of the 19th February (Department of Commerce & Industry) a Committee was appointed specially to investigate the question of affording greater encouragement to Indian industries. This is the Resolution in my hand now. Paragraph 2 contains the following words:-

“Government fully agree with the view that the question of the purchase of supplies for the great consuming Departments of Government is intimately connected with the wider question of the encouragement of local industries, and they desire to afford all reasonable facilities and to offer all possible encouragement to manufacturers who have started, or who desire to start, factories in India”

I think you will agree with me that the above facts show very clearly that Government are second to nobody in their desire to stimulate the Swadeshi movement, in this connection I can relate a little matter from my own experience that will show you a concrete example of Government's policy. A few years ago the N. W. State Railway here used to purchase a considerable portion of its fuel from England. With the development of the coal industry in Bengal there arose a cry "Why should Government buy English coal for its largest railway system when good coal can be obtained from Bengal? Why not support Indian industries"? Government so far recognized the force of this demand that they at once stopped buying English coal and the N. W. Railway now imports some 300,000 tons of Bengal coal annually from Calcutta via Karachi. This is only one example of many 1 cold give. The truth is that there is no larger or more practical supporter of the Swadeshi movement in this country than the Government of India itself.

So much for the Swadeshi movement in India l now desire to say a few words regarding another Swadeshi movement, one which embraces in its scope not only the trade and industries of this country, but the commerce of the whole of the British Empire. We have just heard of the departure to France of a great statesman who has devoted the most valuable years of his life to the disse­mination of propaganda of worldwide importance. I am referring of course to Mr. Chamberlain, may the change of climate quickly restore his energy and vitality. Mr. Chamberlain's ideal of a British Empire where in every portion would derive some material trade advantage from the fact that it was a portion of the British Empire, where in the development of agricultural and manufacturing industries and the building up of Capital resources would be stimulated to the utmost by the existence of an Imperial Prefer­ential Tariff, an Empire wherein the possession of overwhelming material resources would enable the maintenance of defensive armaments on land and sea sufficiently powerful to prevent all possibility of interference by other Great Powers with the happy and prosperous British peoples in all parts of the world, this ideal, I confess very strongly appeals to me. Trained, and firmly believing in the principles of free trade in my earlier years, a close study of the whole subject, a certain personal knowledge of other peoples and other lands, and nearly twenty years of actual business experience have now convinced me that the present fiscal policy of the United Kingdom needs amendment. I do not propose to so far take advantage of you this evening as to deliver a lengthy address on the pros and cons of Mr. Chamberlain's proposed fiscal policy, or of the advantages of Preferential Trade within the Empire as compared with the present wholly un-organized condition of our tariff system, but I may say that i am a firm believer in a scientifically devised imperial tariff, a tariff the first object of which would be to stimulate commercial enterprise within the Empire. This I consider a Swadeshi movement in which every member of the British Empire League should be an active participator. Owing to a succession of good crops throughout the world, owing to an annual output of the precious metals far in excess of anything yet recorded in the world's history, and owing in a measure to the war in Manchuria now happily at an end, the trade of Great Britain during the last few years has been progressing at a phenomenal pace, and the people of the United Kingdom are correspondingly pleased with themselves. I fear however, that, blinded by their own prosperity, many are inclined to ignore the fact that the same causes which have contributed to Great Britain's prosperity have also contributed to an extra ordinary development of the material resources of other great nations, notably Germany and the United States of America. The people of the United Kingdom have never yet found themselves face to face with nations of greater capital powers than themselves, and are not therefore prepared for an attack by overwhelming masses of cheap capital and all its inevita­ble accompaniments. This is the possibility we shall have to face in the near future. It is essential, therefore, that we devise means to stimulate the growth of material wealth within the Empire. This I submit can be done by means of a Preferential Tariff. As a matter of Policy, I think the initial move in this direction would be more likely to meet a wide acceptance were it introduced in the form of an Imperial Defense Tax of say five per cent levied at every port in the British goods on manufactured or partly manufactured goods of foreign origin to be extended as expediency per­mitted to an commodities of foreign origin. If the manufacturers of Great Britain, the cotton growers of India and Egypt, and the wheat farmers of Canada, Australia and the Punjab slightly benefitted by such a tax at the expense of their fellow subjects engaged in other occupations, a very doubtful possibility, such a result would be easily defensible on the ground: (l) that producers rather than consumers should be guarded by the State; (2) that the benefit accrued not to Britain's rivals but to Britain's most valued supporters, i.e. British produces; (3) that to stimulate the growth of population, production, and wealth within the British Empire should be one of the foremost aims of every British Government; (4) that the revenue by an Imperial -Defense Tax would enable some relief to be obtained from the crushing load of direct taxation under which the workers of the united Kingdom at present stagger; (5) that the money being expended on imperial defense, no better reason for imperial taxation could exist; (6) that each portion of the Empire would feel that bot in trade and politics it was contributing and receiving certain special advantages from the fact of it being a component part of the British Empire; and lastly (7) that the sentiment and reality of Imperial Unity would be materially augmented by such a policy.

Here I submit is a Swadeshi movement deserving of the widest support from every member of the British Empire.

So far I have only referred to those exhibitions of public spirit which find expression in efforts to develop and expand the country's commerce. Swadeshi movements are, of course, not limited solely to matters of this nature. Important as the accumulation of material wealth unquestionably is, every patriotic member of the Empire desires to see the benefits and happiness which robust health, sound social customs, wide knowledge, and a keen appreciation of the beauties of all the arts and sciences everywhere confer, extended to the utmost limit of the Empire's boundaries. There are many high souled philanthropists who, looking beyond the limits of the Empire are inspired to devote their energies to the further elevation of the human race as a whole irrespective of race or creed, colour or tongue, or of the artifi­cial boundaries erected in consequences of political developments of the great nations of the world, as we see them at the present day. whilst I feel nothing but admiration for the workings of these great souls, I cannot help thinking that we ordinary mortals shall be doing as much as in us lies, and as much as the present circum­stances of the world demand, if we confine our energies to the settlement of our more immediate surroundings within the limits of the Empire itself. His Majesty the King Emperor holds away over about one quarter of the land surface of the globe, and this surely is sufficient scope for the ambition of the most ardent of imperia­list , A determination to work in the interest of the Empire, an active desire to better the condition and circumstances of every­thing within the Empire, a general striving after loftier ideals in all branches and departments of our daily activities, that is the kind of Swadeshi movement which it is our duty to encourage. As I have said on a previous occasion, the aim and end of all civilization can only be to increase the possibilities and opportunities for good living noble living. And it is because we of the British Empire being Swadeshi to the core firing believe that British institutions, British social and political conditions, and British liberty of thought and action all combine to promote the highest civilization and the greatest happiness, that we are anxious to expand those conditions as far as we possibly can, and develop and bind together the various peoples, races and nations who at present constitute the great British Empire. That, I submit, is this noblest Swadeshi Movement of all (Applause).

MR. CHURCH'S SPEECH.

Amid prolonged applause the Hon'ble Mr. Webb took his seat and Mr. Crouch rose and expressed pleasure that Mr. Webb had selected for discussion a subject which had a special interest for India. The paper, indeed, was the commencement of an attempt to give an answer to the question. Why should Indians and Sindhies join the Imperial Federation League? To find an answer to this question was an obvious duty to which the Karachi Branch should devote itself at an early date. For the questions involved are of much greater importance. That is the concern of an Indian or a Sindhi with the British Empire? Has he any interest in it, has he any duty towards it? Possibly, the inquiry might sometimes conduct speakers near the region of politics; but the atmosphere in Sindh was by no means volcanic, and the risk of occasionally trespassing in what was, at the meeting of the League, forbidden ground might be safely incurred. Mr. Webb had, in his thorough examination of the Swadeshi movements, shown that it was only those who were ignorant of what Government had done, and was endeavouring to do, who could imagine that a sincere Swadeshism necessarily included any sentiment of hostility towards the Empire. Mr. Crouch was convinced that the time had long passed when the saying "India is held by the sword", contained the whole truth. India was already bound to the Empire by strong ties of mutual interest, and it was eminently desirable for India's sake that the growing generation of Indians should be educated to a full comprehension of this fact.

PROFESSOR SHAHANI'S SPEECH.

In response to the Vice President's enquiry as to whether any one present had any, remarks to offer on the subject of Swadeshism, Professor Shahani rose and said:-

“MR. CHAIRMAN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, I, as in my opinion everyone else of the audience have listened with considerable attention and interest to the able address on the Swadeshi movement delivered here tonight by the Hon'ble Mr. Webb. in his address he has told us, (1) that Swadeshism is very distingui­shable from, and much older than another movement started in Bengal - the boycott of British goods (2) that Swadeshism proper has always had the supporter of the British Government, the Britisher himself intensely loving his own home and home industries; 3) that Indian Swadeshism from; consideration of utility and imperialism might very well become imperial Swadeshism, to encourage industries and commerce of all parts of the Empire, for the effective furtherance of which he would suggest an imperial tax on articles from countries outside the Empire. With these his main propositions, I feel myself in perfect accord. Swadeshism or Commercial localism in India is really an old movement, now it is being conducted by Bengalis on new lines - not of persuasion but of coercion and lawlessness which, however, provoked, being in its nature vindictive and bad, could only be temporary. Again the boycott of merely British goods means our freedom to purchase other goods, e.g., of America, China, Japan, which could not help the Swadeshi movement, it is also true that the British Government has been sincerely minded to promote Swadeshism proper. I have always held that of all empires the British Empire has been the best, its principle being to afford to its citizens all opportunity to evoke in them all that is best and brightest in human mind and spirit. Some of my friends think this flattery. But I know I say what I feel. My agricultural work has thrown me into somewhat intimate contact with officials and I feel no hesitation in saying although at the cost of seeming unpatriotic, that I have found British officials to be very much better than Indian. And British Government to my mind represents distinctly higher political ideals than have been evolved by the political wisdom of India, and means that India is to be governed in her own interests and not in those of British or other capitalists. That India should be governed in her own interests is being now more and more recognized. The idea has been often expressed by Viceroys and Secretaries of state for India; and as often echoed in British Parliaments. As for the third proposition of Mr. Webb, every imperial citizen should be glad to see the goods of other parts of the Empire treated in India with as much consideration as Indian goods, provided, of course, those other parts too recognized the importance for civilization of developing diversified national industries, and their measures tended not to stunt Indian industries. Subject to this proviso, an imperial tax, such as is advocated by Mr. Webb, might do well. A reason urged by Mr. Webb in support of this imperial tax appeared to me to be not right. He said that the producer needed to be protected first and the consumer next. In my opinion, and according to my knowledge of political economy, the consumer must be protected first and the producer next. I am, of course, open to correction; but to me it seems quite as wrong to measure the gains of a community by the gains of producers as to measure the benefits from learning by the salaries of professors. Learning is for the benefit of learners, not of teachers; and so production is for consumers and not capitalists.

On the whole, Ladies and Gentlemen, it will be best to note, that proper and discriminating Swadeshism is not only not in conflict with imperial politics but adds to and strengthens the stream of imperial feeling. It is also noting conflict with economy laws. She helpful voluntary action on the part of the consumer to pay for some time high prices is intended only to ultimately realize that basal principal of Free Trade - "Produce where the comparative cost is the least, and consumes where the relative value is the greatest". It is, moreover, an ennobling patriotic movement that teaches self-sacrifice and co-operation. The movement has already done India much good. Considering cotton-piece goods, we find India now manufactures over one third of the quantity she annually consumes. Over 60 p.c. of the cotton produ­ced in India is used up by local manufactures. The cotton spinning and weaving mills in India number over 200. With these words 1 beg to resume my seat.

Professor Shahani' s speech was punctuated with applause throughout.

The Chairman then called upon Mr. Wren to express his views upon the subject Mr. Wren spoke  as follows:-

MR. WREN'S SPEECH,

MR. CHAIRMAN, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN

I am personally a Swadeshi-ist of the deepest dye - but I would add, an imperialistic patriotic Swadeshi-ist. to me there appear to be three kinds of Swadeshi-ism, the wrong kind; the kind which is right for the present conditions of the world; and the ideal kind, whose professors would be the high - souled but visionary philanthropists to whom the Hon, Mr. Webb just now referred. The followers of the first and wrong sort of Swadeshi-ism remind me of the ancient fable of the Belly and the Members. The members wished to punish the belly and the hand and mouth refused to give it food and the result was the Sickness of the whole body. So is it with the members of an Empire who act contrarily to the inter­ests of that Empire. These misguided Swadeshi-ists who talk of boycott, are a danger of sickness to the body politic as was the hand to the "body" of the fable. Their morality is wrong and their political economy is wrong, for surely it is axiomatic that men will buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest regardless of artificial external restraints which must prove ephemeral. The second kind of Swadeshi-ism, to which I referred, is that patriotic imperialistic Swadeshi combination, which is at the present day a necessity for our welfare. I would always use English, Indian, Australian, Canadian and other imperial good sin preference to French, German, Spanish, Chinese or other foreign goods because I am an imperfect creature in an imperfect world, whose present conditions compel each empire, kingdom, and other entity to be selfish, self-protecting and self-helping and forbids such folly as internal dissension and disintegration as is involved in a "Members vs. Belly" boycotting Swadeshi-ism. Possibly we may live, but I doubt it, to see the day when the lion shall lie down with the lamb (not inside him) and when the Ideal Swadeshi-ism may be possible when all men in the world may join together in solemn league and covenant (as school children do in Bengal) and declare that "We do hereby solemnly pledge ourselves to use no goods Whatsoever, but such as are undoubtedly produced in this World, because we are loving and patriotic sons of this world.

The Chairman then announced that Professor S. Shahani had promised a paper at the next meeting on the 'Production of in Sindh". After a vote of thanks to the chair the meeting dispersed.

 

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© Fayaz Sindhi 2010