Darkest India eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 172 pages of information about Darkest India.
of the prisoners, except by permission of the Superintendent, and the jailor shall keep a catalogue of all books and printed papers admitted into the prison.
232.  It shall be the duty of the minister or instructor admitted to visit any prison, to communicate to the jailor any abuse or impropriety in the prison which may come to his knowledge, on pain of being prohibited from visiting the prison.



Besides the 25,000,000 who constitute the actual destitute and criminal population, we estimate that at a very low computation there are 25,000,000 who are on the border-land, who are scarcely ever in a position to properly obtain for themselves and for their families the barest necessities of existence.  I do not say that they are wholly submerged, but they pass a sort of amphibious existence, being part of the time under water and part of the time on land,—­some part of their life being spent in the most abject poverty, and some part of it in absolute starvation—­positively for the time submerged, and liable at any moment to be lastingly engulfed.  These are the classes whose income never rises above five rupees a month, while more frequently it is under four rupees.

On one farm, concerning which we have detailed information, where the rent of the land is unusually low, the soil good and well irrigated, where loans can be got at a merely nominal interest, the cultivators, with the additional help of occasional cooly work, did not average in their earnings four rupees a month, some having to keep a family on three and a half, while if a bullock died, or a plough had to be procured, it meant positive hunger and increased indebtedness to supply those needs.

The fact is that in many districts there is not only an increase of population to be sustained by a constantly narrowing area of cultivated land, but the land itself is deteriorating through the unendurable pressure put upon it.  As the forests grow more distant through being used up for timber and fuel, wood becomes dearer.  The manure which ought to go upon the land is therefore by necessity consumed for fuel.  The ground in consequence becomes impoverished.  As the struggle for existence becomes fiercer, the people are unable to let their land periodically lie fallow, so the crops grow lighter.  Again, the ryot is not only unable properly to feed himself, but his bullocks share a similar fate.  The feeble animals can only draw a plough which merely scratches the surface of the ground.  Furthermore, as the population increases the land is divided into smaller and smaller holdings.  The struggle against the advancing tide of adversity cannot be maintained.  Inch by inch the tide rolls up, pushing the border-landers closer and closer upon the black rocks of famine, to escape which they at length plunge into the sea amongst the submerged millions, who, weary and bitter and despairing, or with blind submission to the iron hand of fate, have grown hopelessly and miserably indifferent.

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Darkest India from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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