Modern India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 495 pages of information about Modern India.

I notice that the official reports of the Indian government give the name as “Kashmir,” and, like every other place over here, it is spelled a dozen different ways, but I shall stick to the old-fashioned spelling.  It you want to know something about it, Cashmere has an area of 81,000 square miles, a population of 2,905,578 by the census of 1901, and is governed by a maharaja with the advice of a British “resident,” who is the medium of communication between the viceroy and the local officials.  The maharaja is allowed to do about as he pleases as long as he behaves himself, and is said to be a fairly good man.

The people are peaceful and prosperous; politics is very quiet; taxes are low; there is no debt, and a surplus of more than $3,000,000 in the treasury, which is an unusual state of affairs for a native Indian province.  The exports have increased from $1,990,000 in 1892 to $4,465,000 in 1902, and the imports from $2,190,000 in 1892 to $4,120,000 in 1902.  The country has its own coinage and is on a gold basis.  The manufacturing industries are rapidly developing, although the lack of demand for Cashmere shawls has been a severe blow to local weavers, who, however, have turned their attention to carpets and rugs instead.  Wool is the great staple, and from time immemorial the weavers of Cashmere have turned out the finest woolen fabrics in the world.  They have suffered much from the competition of machine-made goods during the last half-century or more, and have been growing careless because they cannot get the prices that used to be paid for the finest products.  In ancient times the making of woolen garments was considered just as much of an art in Cashmere as painting or sculpture in France and Germany, porcelain work in China or cloisonne work in Japan, and no matter how long a weaver was engaged upon a garment, he was sure to find somebody with sufficient taste and money to buy it.  But nowadays, like everybody else who is chasing the nimble shilling, the Cashmere weavers are more solicitous about their profits than about their patterns and the fine quality of their goods.  The lapse of the shawl trade has caused the government to encourage the introduction of the silk industry.  A British expert has been engaged as director of sericulture, seedlings of the mulberry tree are furnished to villagers and farmers free of cost, and all cocoons are purchased by the state at good prices.  The government has silk factories employing between 6,000 and 7,000 persons under the instruction of French and Swiss weavers.



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Modern India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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