Modern India eBook

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

They are so different, these haughty Mohammedans, from the bare-legged, barefooted, cringing, crouching creatures you see farther south.  It would seem impossible for these men to stoop for any purpose, but the Bengalese, the Hindustani and the rest of the population of the southern provinces, do everything on the ground.  They never use chairs or benches, but always squat upon the floor, and all their work is done upon the ground.  Carpenters have no benches, and if they plane a board they place it upon the earth before them and hold it fast with their feet.  The blacksmith has his anvil on the floor; the goldsmith, the tailor and even the printer use the floor for benches, and it is the desk of the letter writer and the bookkeeper.

It looks queer to see a printer squatting before a case of type, and even queerer to see a person writing a letter with a block of paper spread out before him on the ground.  But that is the Hindu custom.  You find it everywhere throughout India, just as you will find everybody, men, women and children, carrying their loads, no matter how light or how heavy, upon their heads.  If an errand boy is sent from a shop with a parcel he never touches it with his hands, but invariably carries it on top of his turban.  One morning I counted seven young chaps with “shining morning faces” on their way to school, everyone of them with his books and slate upon his head.  The masons’ helpers, who are mostly women, carry bricks and mortar upon their heads instead of in hods on their shoulders, and it is remarkable what heavy loads their spines will support.  At the railway stations the luggage and freight is carried the same way.  The necks and backs of the natives are developed at a very early age.  If a porter can get assistance to hoist it to the top of his head he will stagger along under any burden all right.  I have seen eight men under a grand piano and two men under a big American roller top desk, and in Calcutta, where one of the street railway companies was extending its tracks, I saw the workmen carry the rails upon their heads.

XXII

THE ARMY IN INDIA

The regular army in India is maintained at an average strength of 200,000 men.  The actual number of names upon the pay rolls on the 31st of December, 1904, was 203,114.  This includes several thousand non-fighting men, a signal corps, a number of officers engaged in semi-civil or semi-military duties, those on staff detail and those on leave of absence.  The following is an exact statement: 

British

Cavalry, three regiments 2,101
Artillery, eighty-seven batteries 14,424
Infantry, forty-five battalions 42,151
Engineers, one battalion 204

          
                                                              ------- 58,880

Natives

Cavalry, forty regiments

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Project Gutenberg
Modern India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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