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William Henry Sleeman
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 897 pages of information about Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official.

15.  The three Presidency Banks, the Bank of Bengal, the Bank of Madras, and the Bank of Bombay, in which the Indian Government is interested, are the leading Indian banks.  The Bank of Bengal was opened in 1806.  No bank in India is allowed to issue notes.  The paper money in use is issued by the Paper Currency Department of the Government of India, and the notes are known as ‘currency notes’.  The issue of these notes began in 1862-3. (Balfour, Cyclopaedia, 3rd ed., s.v.  ’Bank and Paper Currency’).  Much Indian capital is now invested in joint-stock companies of every kind.

16.  More correctly, Hodal.

CHAPTER 60

Transit Duties in India—­Mode of Collecting them.

At Horal[1] resides a Collector of Customs with two or three uncovenanted European assistants as patrol officers.[2] The rule now is to tax only the staple articles of produce from the west on their transit down into the valley of the Jumna and Ganges, and to have only one line on which these articles shall be liable to duties.[3] They are free to pass everywhere else without search or molestation.  This has, no doubt, relieved the people of these provinces from an infinite deal of loss and annoyance inflicted upon them by the former System of levying the Customs duties, and that without much diminishing the net receipts of Government from this branch of its revenues.  But the time may come when Government will be constrained to raise a greater proportion of its collective revenues than it has hitherto done from indirect taxation, and when this time comes, the rule which confines the impost to a single line must of course be abandoned.[4] Under the former system, one great man, with a very high salary, was put in to preside over a host of native agents with very small salaries, and without any responsible intermediate agent whatever to aid him, and to watch over them.  The great man was selected without any reference to his knowledge of, or fitness for, the duties entrusted to him, merely because he happened to be of a certain standing in a certain exclusive service, which entitled him to a certain scale of salary, or because he had been found unfit for judicial or other duties requiring more intellect and energy of character.  The consequence was that for every one rupee that went into the public treasury, ten were taken by these harpies from the merchants, or other people over whom they had, or could pretend to have, a right of search.[5]

Some irresponsible native officer who happened to have the confidence of the great man (no matter in what capacity he served him) sold for his own profit, and for that of those whose goodwill he might think it worth while to conciliate, the offices of all the subordinate agents immediately employed in the collection of the duties.  A man who was to receive an avowed salary of seven rupees a month would give him three or four thousand for his post, because it would give

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