- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 7 Sep 1926, p. 207-213
- Vijayaraghavacharya, Diwan Bahadur, Sir T., Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Canada within the British Empire. India within the British Empire. An examination of India within the Empire. India's judicial service. India's Parliamentary institutions. Reaching a happy medium. The 1919 declaration that the goal of India is Parliamentary self-government within the Empire. Getting near and nearer to that goal daily in India. The speaker's belief in, and loyalty to, the British Empire. Ways in which the British Empire is a League of Nations. What distinguishes the British Empire from other empires. The affection which binds the nations of the British Empire together. Loyalty to King George and reasons for it. The British connection that has been responsible for making Indian a nation. Letting India understand Canada; letting Canada understand India; letting all of us feel proud of the Empire and all of us working shoulder to shoulder in peace as we worked in war. Canada in the Empire; India in the Empire; Canada and India together within the Empire as the speaker's message.
- Date of Original
- 7 Sep 1926
- Language of Item
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- Full Text
AN ADDRESS BY DIWAN BAHADUR, SIR T. VIJA YARAGHAVACHARYA, K.B.E.
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto,
Sept. 7, 1926.
The guest of the day was introduced by COL. ALEXANDER FRASER, who occupied the chair in the absence of the President.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen,-I happen to belong to the British Empire Club in Great Britain. It is a great pleasure for me to be welcomed by a sister club, if I may so venture to call it, in Canada. I asked my friend Col. Fraser to tell me what the motto of your club was; he tells me, it is " Canada and the Empire. " I can think of no more appropriate motto and of no greater ideal for the people who live within the British Empire-Canada and the Empire. I believe all Canadians, whatever political group they may belong to, whatever Province they may live in, are united in this one aspiration that they are contented to live within the Empire, they are proud to live within the Empire, and, God willing, they will always be within the Empire. And my message put in a few words is simply this; India in the Empire, India contented to be in the Empire, India is proud to be in the Empire, and, God willing, India will forever remain within the Empire. For the last three days I have been on a visit to adjoining territory, outside the Empire, and coming back this morning to Canada, the very first thing which struck me was that it is like coming back home; that is no exaggeration whatever. I have been here only just two weeks; I do not know what it is, but I think the secret is what the chairman put in a few words just now, it is just one touch of Empire that makes us all kin, eastern and western, I think it is that that made me feel I was coming back home when I reached the Canadian frontier. I have met a few interesting things outside. I met a political extremist from my own country who is now in the States. I asked him what were his feelings. He said, " You know very well what my views were when in India; they are altered." I said, "That is very interesting; how. are they altered? Are you a greater extremist than ever? Usually extremists go on to the end." I said, "Have you gone to the very end." He said, " No, I think I have been a bit cured; I think I would rather like to go within the Empire." That is not very surprising. For one thing, I am now talking from the Indian point of view; take the great public services in India. We take all our traditions of the public services from Great Britain and we know very well in our own generation we have seen what the influence of these traditions has meant. There is a great political leader in India, he was a leader once, not so much now, but he was a great political leader in India. He has travelled all over the world, and his views were just the very reverse of what an Imperialist should be, and he has not very much reason to be grateful to the Indian government because for some time he was a political prisoner. But the other day when I met him in Marseilles, I asked him what he thought. He said, " I have travelled all over the world. The purest public life, I do not want to confess, but I have got to confess the purest public life in the whole world is found in Great Britain. " That is a tribute, an unwilling tribute, but all the more therefore, a valuable tribute, which is paid to the purity of the administration and India has got the great benefit of deriving its traditions for its public service from that country.
Take our judicial service in India We derive our traditions from England. Of course, I know people outside of the ranks of lawyers and judges, say in India, just as in England, the judges are considerably overpaid. They think these gentlemen sit in court trying to decide which is more probable of two lies, and drawing large salaries for so deciding. But in India on account of the fact that we have native states ruled according to old judicial systems, what we have discovered is that it is one of the essential conditions for the progress in a country to have thoroughly upright and thoroughly independent judiciary, and that we have got in British India. If Great Britain had done nothing else but established those judicial traditions in British India, it would have gone far to justify its task in that country.
Take our Parliamentary institutions. I know a certain number of my countrymen are not satisfied with the rate of progress; they think things ought to go faster. Well there are always people in every country who think things are not moving fast enough. There are on the other hand very large numbers of people who think things are moving too fast and in a country like India there are a large number of people who think things are not moving fast enough and another large body of people who think they are moving too fast. You may be sure that the truth is that we have arrived at a happy medium. Great Britain has declared, the British Parliament has declared, in a famous declaration which was embodied in law in 1919, that the goal of India is Parliamentary self-government within the Empire, and to that goal India is every day getting nearer and nearer, and I cannot conceive of any better future for my country than being within this Empire, than having its own government, but having its own government within the bounds of the British Empire. I am not ashamed of my belief and my loyalty to the Empire. I have got no restrictions, no qualifications to put upon my loyalty to the Empire. Some of you may think me perhaps too much of a fanatic; I am glad if I am that, a fanatic in a good cause like this. As I said, I have no restrictions to put on my loyalty. My loyalty to the Empire is complete, it is irrespective of any qualifications; there are no questions of mental equivocation, no mental reservations; my loyalty is complete and thorough, and that I believe is the case with the majority of my countrymen. They realize fully, as I believe you realize fully in this great Dominion of Canada that for our countries, the greatest possible progress politically and other ways,-it is quite possible that we can work out our own destinies, but that we work out our destinies very much better in cooperation with the British Empire. In fact I am prepared to go further and if I am asked, "What is the greatest political institution today in history which stands for the peace and progress of mankind?" I have no hesitation in answering, it is the British Empire. There is of course a League of Nations and many of us are in sympathy with its aspirations and its aims; but consider the work done by the British Empire so far; consider how much it stands for the peace of the nations and compare it with the work which the League of Nations can do and will do in the future. I think it is very safe to assert that the British Empire is not only a League of Nations but a very effective League of Nations. We are all happy to be within the Empire, we are proud of the Empire, and we have got a big affection for the other members of the Empire, but we have no disaffection, we have no enmity for nations outside the Empire. We do not want to get any unfair advantage over other nations. All that we want is to be left alone to work out our own destiny and if among ourselves we have a closer bond of intimacy, that is no reason why other nations should quarrel with us. We propose to be a happy family of nations within the Empire, but we have got no quarrels with other families outside our Empire, and the existence of the Empire is not only a guarantee for the progress of its own constituent parts but is a guarantee for the peace and welfare of the rest of mankind. That is what distinguishes the British Empire from other Empires. We do not want to perfect our weapons of war with a view to gaining an unfair advantage over other nations but all that we want is to be left alone to work out our own destiny and in that I believe all the nations, whether of the east or of the west, within the Empire, are agreed. In India we feel that within the bounds of the Empire, there is an affection which binds us all together, with the tie of common allegiance to King George, which binds all the members of the Empire together, whether eastern or western, whether Asiatic or European and that the bond of political allegiance is thicker than other bonds of race or religion, or creed. And loyalty to King George I believe is that which not only depends upon a whole number of sentimental associations reaching down into the past, these sentimental associations binding as much the monarchy as they bind India, but it also depends on a very large number of good logical reasons. During a period when some of the proudest monarchies of Europe have tumbled down, it is safe to say that the monarchy of Great Britain has during that very period strengthened its hold on the affections and feelings of the vast majority of people living not only in Great Britain but also in all the great Dominions which are attached to Great Britain. In India particularly the name of King George, the institution of the monarchy carries with it a particular sanctity to the ordinary Indian, I would say even to the educated Indian, a tie which seems to him to centralize the whole Empire, the one thing which forms the uniting bond of the Empire is the person of the King. It is difficult for the ordinary Indian to conceive of a loyalty in the abstract to the British constitution, to the King advised by his ministers and by about 625 members of Parliament. It is a very worthy body with which we are all proud to be associated, but the ordinary Indian is more simple in his mind. He likes to have a direct personal feeling of loyalty to King George-and if for no other part of the Empire, for the sake of India at least, to keep India within the Empire, if there were no King we should have to invent one. But it is lucky for us that we have a King who need not be invented; we have a King whose dynasty stretches back far into the past and around which great associations have gathered.
In this connection may I tell a short story. In 1919 there was a rebellion among certain sections of the population in the Province of Punjab at a place called Amritsar. There were quite a number of scenes of violence; the people burnt a few Post Offices and a few banks and were marching to the next place to loot, but then just in front of one of the banks they were burning was a statue of Queen Victoria. One man in the mob suggested, " Let us go and pull down that statue, " but the crowd said, " Let the great Ranee alone. " " Ranee " means Queen and in India today Ranee always means Queen Victoria. " Let the great Ranee alone; she is a very good queen; it is her ministers who are at fault." Then the whole crowd stopped and went around the statue three times in Indian fashion, prostrated themselves before it, and then proceeded to their next act of mischief. That shows the hold which the institution of royalty has laid upon the imagination of the Indian people and to very large sections of the Indian population their loyalty to the Empire is loyalty to King George. Not that they are not appreciative of the numerous benefits they derive from the British connection, it is the British connection that has been responsible for making India a nation, and the fact that in the Indian nation a political nationality and political unit has been inconvenient to the administrators in many ways has not dissuaded Great Britain from pursuing her task of building up Parliamentary constitutional institutions for India. That it is another point in which I venture to say Britain stands alone. We alone of all the nations have found it possible after the Great War to go back and put our former enemies in the ruling places. Witness the case of South Africa. Witness the case which happened in this great country. Witness what has happened in India itself, where several times the men who had just been against the Government, in one case the men who had been imprisoned, transported for life, then a few years after the constitutional system had begun the work, they found themselves taking the oath o1 allegiance to King George as his ministers in India Facts like these appeal to the imagination, appeal to the reason, appeal to the logical mind of everybody in India. The result is that whatever may be people's little quarrels with their own government, when the hour of trial comes India will be found side by side in the same place where I have no doubt Canada will be found, New Zealand will be found, Australia will be found, and the rest of the Empire will be found.
1914 found within a month of the war breaking out how all the nations of the Empire stood side by side together in spite of whatever inferences might have been drawn by our enemies to the contrary; and I am perfectly certain that during times of peace that have followed, we shall stand side by side together, and my mission to Canada is just this; let us in peace work out and extend the comradeship which we held during the war; let us feel that we are brethern drawn closer to each other; let us in the pursuits of peace, let us in the business of commercial intercourse, let us treat each other as brethren, as favored brethren within the pale, and let us all try to bring ourselves nearer one another. Let India understand Canada, let Canada understand India, let all of us feel proud of the Empire and all of us work shoulder to shoulder in peace as we worked in war. In a short word that is the message I bring, Canada in the Empire, India in the Empire, Canada and India together within the Empire.
Mr. GEORGE WILSON expressed to the Diwan the thanks of the Club.