The medical and dispensary work of the American missions is also very extensive, and its importance to the peasant class and the blessings it confers upon the poor cannot be realized by those people who have never visited India and other countries of the East and seen the condition of women. As I told you in a previous chapter, ninety per cent of the Hindu population of India will not admit men physicians to their homes to see women patients, and the only relief that the wives, mothers and daughters and sisters in the zenanas can obtain when they are ill is from the old-fashioned herb doctors and charm mixers of the bazaars. Now American women physicians are scattered all over India healing the wounded and curing the sick. There are few from other countries, although the English, Scotch and German Lutherans have many missions.
COTTON, TEA, AND OPIUM
Next to the United States, India is the largest cotton-producing country in the world, and, with the exception of Galveston and New Orleans, Bombay claims to be the largest cotton market. The shipments have never reached $50,000,000 a year, but have gone very near that point. Every large state in southern India produces cotton, but Bombay and Berar are the principal producers. The area for the whole of India in 1902-3 was 14,232,000 acres, but this has been often exceeded. In 1893-4 the area planted was nearly 15,500,000. The average is about 14,000,000 acres. Cotton is usually grown in conjunction with some other crop, and in certain portions of India two crops a year are produced on the same soil. The following table will show the number of bales produced during the years named:
Bales of Bales of 400 lbs. 400 lbs.
1892-3 1,924,000 1897-8 2,198,000 1893-4 2,180,000 1898-9 2,425,000 1894-5 1,957,000 1899-0 843,000 1895-6 2,364,000 1900-1 2,309,000 1896-7 1,929,000 1901-2 1,960,000
The failure of the crop in 1899-1900 was due to the drought which caused the great famine.
About one-half of the crop is used in the local mills. The greater part of the remainder is shipped to Japan, which is the best customer. Germany comes next, and, curiously enough, Great Britain is one of the smallest purchasers. Indian cotton is exclusively of the short staple variety and not nearly so good as that produced in Egypt. Repeated attempts have been made to introduce Egyptian cotton, but, while some of the experiments have been temporarily successful, it deteriorates the second year.
The cost of producing cotton is very much less than in the United States, because the land always yields a second crop of something else, which, under ordinary circumstances, ought to pay taxes and often fixed charges, as well as the wages of labor, which are amazingly low, leaving the entire proceeds of the cotton crop to be counted as clear gain. The men and women who work in the cotton fields of India are not paid more than two dollars a month. That is considered very good wages. All the shipping is done in the winter season; the cotton is brought in by railroad and lies in bags on the docks until it is transferred to the holds of ships. During the winter season the cotton docks are the busiest places around Bombay.