Page images
PDF
EPUB

season.

1901.]
The Famine.

[353 indirect assistance was 140,143. But the winter rains appear to be holding off, and if they fail altogether the result will be very serious indeed. A petition bearing many influential names is being prepared for presentation to the Secretary of State for India, asking for the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the causes of famine and the means of preventing it. No doubt the movement is well meant, but it is difficult to see how it can result in any practical good. It is perfectly obvious that the cause of famine in India is the failure of rain at the proper

When the monsoon is good not only do the coast lines on either side of India get a good supply of rain, but the two currents from the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean meet together in the centre of India, and in united strength pass through Rajputana and the southern parts of the North-West Provinces and the Punjab. When the monsoon is weak or irregular these tracts suffer, and should the monsoon fail for a series of years in succession they would be reduced to uninhabitable deserts, like those already existing in some parts of India and many parts of Asia. Whether canals, tanks or wells can be dug with any real advantage in any particular tract is a question, not for a Commission, but for trained engineers with local knowledge. To attempt to combat the forces of Nature with such weapons is much like a child attempting to keep back the sea by building a fortification of sand.

The following are the official figures as to the numbers of persons receiving direct or indirect

relief at different periods of 1901 :

[blocks in formation]

The famine, it should be understood, has been practically confined to the Bombay Presidency (British districts and native States), Baroda, Hyderabad and (though in a slight degree) the Central Indian States. The figures embraced in the official returns for Madras and other parts of India were never at all considerable. Near the end of the year, however, figuresthough quite small-began to appear for the Punjab and the Rajputana States, the return for the week ending December 28 giving 2,500 and 1,376 under those headings respectively.

Z

THE PLAGUE.

In regard to the plague the year 1901 has been the gloomiest since the outbreak of that fell malady in 1896-7. The returns of mortality from it in 1900 seemed to encourage the hope that in diffusive power, if not in the virulence of its onslaught on those actually attacked by it, the disease was wearing itself out. In the Bombay Presidency, where the plague deaths in 1898 and 1899 had reached, in round numbers, 104,000 and 117,000 respectively, they fell in 1900 to 38,000. But though the first weeks of 1901 offered no indications of a serious recrudescence of the plague, February had not begun before the mortality returns showed an ominous upward tendency. In March they were over 2,000 a week, and though a slight decline followed, it was only illusory. In August the plague deaths in the Boinbay Presidency were above 13,000, and in October they passed 31,000 and came within little more than 7,000 of the entire mortality from the same disease in 1900. For December the figure was 22,100, and the whole year showed a total of 155,000. In Bombay City the plague deaths were nearly 19,000, and other large quotas of mortality from that cause-ranging between 23,000 and 32,000—were furnished by Kolhapur, Sattara, Dharwar and Belgaum.

The development of plague mortality in some other parts of India was only little less serious. Calcutta showed a slight decline—from 8,300 in 1900 to 7,800 in 1901 ; but the rise in the case of several Bengal districts was such that, for the Presidency as a whole, the total had more than doubledrising from 35,800 to 77,900. The figures for the North-West Provinces and the Punjab rose from about 100 and 500 respectively to 8,100 and 15,200, and the total plague mortality outside the Bombay Presidency increased from 53,000 to 117,000.

BURMAH.

The Viceroy's autumn tour consisted of a visit to Burmah, and was made by land by way of Assam and Manipur; he reached the frontier on November 21, and held a durbar of the Shan chiefs at Mandalay on November 26 and at Lashio on December 2; he gave them some excellent advice, but the most important speech was one made a little later, in which he announced his decision that the railway was not to be extended to the Chinese frontier or to Bengal by way of Assam. His Excellency continued his tour to Rangoon, and from there returned to Calcutta by sea.

1901.)

Nepal, Patiala, Kapurthala.

(355

III. INDIAN FEUDATORY STATES.

NEPAL,

Sir Bir Shumsher, who had been Prime Minister since 1887 and was a really good ruler, died suddenly, though not quite unexpectedly, last April

. He was peacefully succeeded by his brother, General Deb Shumsher, but in June another brother, Chundra Shumsher, managed to arrest Deb, and with the King's (Dhiraj's) sanction imprisoned him and proclaimed himself Prime Minister. The revolution is said to have been a bloodless one ; if so, it is the first one which has been so managed in Nepal. The ostensible reason for Maharajah Deb Shumsher's deposition was that he was introducing changes into the government of the country which were objectionable to the principal persons in the State ; but the real cause of it was no doubt merely Chundra Shumsher's desire to supplant his brother, and it is not likely that any change will result, either in the internal or external policy of Nepal. Towards the end of the year it was reported that Maharajah Deb Shumsher had escaped from Dhumkota, where he was a state prisoner, into Darjiling. It seems probable that we are not yet at an end of revolutions in Nepal.

PATIALA.

The late Maharajah died in November, 1900. He has been succeeded by his son, Bhupendur Singh, a boy of about ten years of age, who was installed on the gadi by the LieutenantGovernor of the Punjab in October last. It has been decided that the new Maharajah will have an English tutor until he is fourteen, and he will then complete his studies at the Aitchison Chiefs' College at Lahore. A Council of Regency, composed of Sirdar Gurmukh Singh, Khalifah Sayyid Muhammed Hussein and Lala Bhagwan Das, has been formed for carrying on the administration, but a British officer, Major Dunlop Smith, C.I.E., has been placed in charge of all the Phulkian States, which will still remain under the LieutenantGovernor of the Punjab. An assessment of the Land Revenue will be carried out under another British officer, Captain Pop

ham Young

KAPURTHALA.

The State has sustained a great loss in the death of Sirdar Bhagat Singh, who died on October 23. He had rendered faithful service for thirty years, rising through various important offices to that of Minister in 1897. Not long ago he was appointed by Sir Mackworth Young to a seat in the Legislative Council of the Punjab.

BAHAWULPUR.

The young Nawab, who is now eighteen years of age, completed his education by passing the Entrance Éxamination of the Punjab University in April

. He was married in July last. He is now being trained in administrative work under Colonel Grey, C.S.I., Superintendent of the State; he is very intelligent and very promising. He is one of the five chiefs who have been invited to and will attend the King's coronation; the others are the Maharajahs of Gwalior and Jaipur and the Rajahs of Kolhapur and Nabha.

BHOPAL.

H.H. Sultan Jahan has been installed as Begum of Bhopal; her husband has been recognised as Nawab Consort and her eldest son, Nasrullah Khan, as the heir-apparent.

PANNA.

The Maharajah has been suspended and removed to Sutna, and a commission has been appointed to investigate the charges against him of poisoning his uncle, who died suddenly a few months ago. He has married, or wished to marry, a low Mahomedan woman, and he desires to give her the position of a Rajput's wife.

CHARLES ROE.

CHAPTER VI.

ASIA (THE FAR EAST).

I. CHINA.

The peace protocol embodying the terms demanded by the foreign Powers as satisfaction for the outrages committed in 1900 was signed at Pekin by the Chinese plenipotentiaries, Prince Ching and Li Hung Chang, on January 14, and shortly after conferences began to be held between the foreign and Chinese Ministers for the purpose of settling in what way effect was to be given to the agreement. Early in the negotiations it became evident that the aims and interests of the different foreign Powers engaged were not identical, and the Chinese plenipotentiaries were quick to see in this an opportunity of reducing the terms to which they had been forced to subscribe. The discussion on the punishment clause resulted in a compromise. The Imperial Princes Tuan and Lan were sentenced to banishment; three high officials were reported to have already died and, therefore, to be beyond the reach of punishment; six others were sentenced to death. Of these six, two who were already in the hands of

1901.)
China.-The Terms of Peace.

[357 the Japanese, were executed in Pekin; the remaining four were officially reported to have been executed in the interior, but of this there is no proof. As to Tung Fu-hsiang, the notorious general who tried to destroy the foreign Legations, a promise was accepted that his punishment would follow later. When the question of the punishment of the provincial officials was reached in the month of March, M. de Giers, the Russian Minister, refused to support the demand for any further punishments. As Russia was at the time negotiating the Manchurian treaty her withdrawal from the concert of the Powers gave rise to the suspicion that she was willing to sacrifice general interests in order to secure special advantages for herself. In the provinces the same unwillingness to punish the really guilty was manifest. In the Chekiang province the high officials responsible for the brutal murder of several English missionaries in the City of Chüchou escaped with nominal punishment, and a few of the mob only were executed.

The amount of indemnity to be demanded from China occupied the attention of the foreign representatives more than any other question. In May China was informed that the total amounted to 450,000,000 taels, or 65,000,0001., with interest at 4 per cent. and amortisation. Lengthy discussion took place among the foreign Powers as to the best means of raising the money. Some of the Powers, especially those whose sole care was to have their expenses reimbursed, proposed a large increase in the duties on imports. In the end the suggestion of the British Minister was accepted, which was that the revenue to be assigned for the payment of the indemnity should be, first, the balance of the Maritime Customs, augmented by raising the tariff on imports to an effective 5 per cent., inclusive of articles which Dow enter free; secondly, the revenues from the native Customs at the treaty ports administered by the Imperial Maritime Customs ; thirdly, the net revenue from Salt Gabelle. Moneys on account of principal and interest were to be received and distributed by a Committee of encashment at Shanghai nominated by the Powers interested. Each Power was to receive from the Chinese Government bonds bearing interest at 4 per cent. for the amount claimed, and the redemption of these bonds was spread over thirty-nine years, in such a way that as China paid off her outstanding loans the number of bonds would be redeemed at an accelerating rate. The total amount of interest and principal to be paid by China in this way will amount to 982,238,150 taels. In compliance with the terms of the peace protocol Prince Chun, a brother of the Emperor, was sent to Berlin to express regret for the murder of Baron Von Ketteler, the German Minister. Prince Chun arrived in Switzerland at the end of August. Here he delayed some days, the reason being, it was believed, that the German Emperor demanded that the Chinese Prince should perform the Kotow. If the demand was put forward it was not persisted in, for Prince Chun went on to

« PreviousContinue »