- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 13 Oct 1921, p. 237-251
- Rustomjee, Rustom, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- Some amusing anecdotes of the speaker's reception in various parts of the world. Forces seeking not only to drive a wedge between the peoples of the United States and the British Empire, but between the Mother-country and His Majesty's overseas dominions. The speaker's conviction, after a prolonged stay and much travelling both in the U.S. and Canada, that the headquarters of the arch-conspirators against Great Britain, especially England, are located in the U.S. cities like New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. Some personal reminiscences. Hostility to British rule. The question, and the speaker's response, with regard to the British Indian Empire coming to an end. The work of Great Britain becoming more majestic and more glorious as years roll by. India's contributions to the war. The economic cause of the unrest in India. The religious and political causes of the unrest. The new era in India and what it means politically. Moving towards complete responsible government. Great Britain's achievements in India. Words on the Empire. What the King represents and symbolizes. The need to renounce, in a manner, the world's high expectations with which the entrance into the world's great conflict was hailed by the peoples of the Empire. Trying to renew the youth of the world; trying to save society, divided against itself; trying to save the multitudes endangered by their ungovernable passions. The address concludes with a song.
- Date of Original
- 13 Oct 1921
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- Full Text
- QUO VADIS INDIA?*
AN ADDRESS By RUSTOM RUSTOMJEE
Before the Empire Club of Canada, Toronto
October 13th, 1921
PRESIDENT MITCHELL,-Gentlemen, today we have, to speak to us, Mr. Rustom Rustomjee. I may say that Mr. Rustomjee has explained to me that the "jee" at the end means "esquire" (Laughter) Mr. Rustomjee is an authority on India. During the last year or so we have had several addresses on India, but I think Mr. Rustomjee will present some new angles of view, and will be able to explain to us many things which are at least rather confusing as we see them at this distance. The situation in India is such that we, as an Empire Club, ought to be fully informed, and we ought to take every opportunity we can to learn about that particular part of the Empire. I have pleasure in calling on Mr. Rustomjee.MR. RUSTOMJEE
Mr. President, and fellow citizens of the British Empire,--How different is your reception from that which I received last March at Massey Hall in this city! But I remember well that the people who tried to break up my meeting were not Toronto people, were not Canadians, were not of the British Empire, though they were in the British Empire. (Hear, hear)
When I arrived in New York a few years ago, one of the newspapers of that metropolis of the United States
*India: Whither goest thou?
of America said, "A Pharisee has come from India to teach us religion." When I went to Boston with my wife, the cultured ladies of that modern Athens thought I was a fortune-teller. Then, at Atlantic City, I was announced to speak on behalf of the American Red Cross and as I landed on the board-walk I saw a huge electric sign saying, "A Live Prince from India will lecture here this evening." (Laughter) Then, in the city of New York, at a reception held in honour of Lord Reading, then British Ambassador to the United States of America, I was ushered in as "His Excellency the Ambassador from Turkey." (Great laughter) But, Gentlemen, the best introduction was given to me by that group of papers controlled and managed by that abominable liar, Hearst (applause) in an article last September published throughout the United States, which stated, "Rustom Rustomjee, of Bombay, is a dirty British propagandist." Well, Gentlemen, if dissemination of correct information about my country be British propaganda, and if rendering unto Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and to God that which belongs to God, be British propaganda, then I am not ashamed to be a British propagandist. (Applause) But I am not a servile apologist of Great Britain. I have never maintained that the British government of India was the kingdom of heaven established on this earth, or that British administrators of India are angels, because they are men with like passions as you and I have; they have made mistakes, and they are making mistakes; but I would rather be a dog and bay the moon than be such an ungrateful man as not to acknowledge that, on the whole, the British government of my country has been a great blessing to the teeming millions of India. (Applause)
Gentlemen, it is admitted, it has become almost a truism to say, that the English-speaking peoples of the world, the people of the British Empire and of the United States of America, constitute the hope of the world; that they are and must remain the great guardians of western or Christian civilization; yet there are forcesforces very virulent, poisonous and vindictive--which are seeking not only to drive a wedge between the peoples of the United States and this British Empire, but between the Mother-country and His Majesty's overseas dominions.
After a prolonged stay and much travelling, both in the United States of America and in the Dominion of Canada, the conviction is strongly and firmly borne in upon my mind that the headquarters of the archconspirators against Great Britain, particularly against England-much maligned England-are located in the United States of America, in the cities like New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco. It was my painful duty about two years ago to attend a meeting called for the purpose of inaugurating a "League of Oppressed Nationalities." I naturally supposed that there would be speakers representing the coloured peoples of the United States of America, representatives from the Philippine Islands, from Haiti, from Liberia, from Africa, from French, Dutch as well as British colonies and dependencies. Among the speakers there was an American of Irish descent, a Sinn Feiner; an East Indian; an Egyptian; a Parsee; a Chinese; a Japanese; a Russian; and the burden of their song was the oppression of Great Britain in their respective countries. (Laughter) No love of Ireland or of India or Egypt actuates these men, because when the announcement was proclaimed of the strike in Great Britain at that meeting by Dudley Field Malone, the whole audience rose up and cheered, and cried out, "The British Empire is at an end." When the names of Lenine and Trotsky were mentioned, the very roof of the Lexington Opera House seemed to have come down. I say there was no love for Ireland or India or Egypt; it is their latent hatred of Great Britain; and when they shouted that the British Empire was at an end I, in my humble way, in the corner of the theatre, shouted-and I was thankful to say that I was allowed to shout, and shout loud-that the British Empire was not at an end, but on the contrary, as the days went by her duties seemed more clear, her -work more majestic, her goal more sublime. (Applause) So I say it is not a love of India or Egypt or Ireland; it is their latent hatred of Great Britain; they are striving now to give a knock-out blow to the great work of civilization that Great Britain has erected throughout the continents of Asia and Africa, of Europe and America. Few sequels of the war have been more disconcerting to the average Briton than the discovery of his unpopularity. Before the great struggle his insularity, his inefficiency, had earned him a reputation abroad which was not without its humorous side; it left him a little uneasy but the war, he hoped, had swept all this away. It had burned, as in a furnace, the fine gold of the Englishman's real nature, the sincerity of his passion for liberty and justice, his tenderness for the oppressed and depressed races of the earth. Might not the mistakes and the mannerisms of the past be forgotten, and might not Great Britain now count upon the confidence if not the affection of those peoples for whom she has laboured and suffered? To such a question, what has been the reply? It is coming early from Ireland. It came from Egypt in March, 1919, when the very fellaheen, whom Great Britain had raised from the dust, murdered their brothers with every kind of savagery. It has come from Mesopotamia, where the Arabs, whom Great Britain has recently rescued from the galling yoke of the Turks, are in general revolt against British occupation. And it is coming from India.
To many it seems that this hostility to British rule is growing more serious and more acute every day; and may I assert, Sir, that it is coming in a different way from the great Dominions of the British Empire-from a section of the people of the British Empire? They are also matching a section of the people of the United States in playing the not very edifying game of "twisting the lion's tail."
Gentlemen, the burden of civilizing the world-a burden largely upon the shoulders of Great Britain-has become almost staggering. It would reflect no credit upon any part of the British Empire if she were forced to relinquish her charge. The most thrilling spectacle of the late war was the unity and determination of the whole British Empire, the disintegrated and isolated peoples of the Empire which set before them one common purpose and one common goal. They achieved that purpose; they reached that goal. Let the same unity of purpose now inspire them in a far nobler, though a harder work, that of the reconstruction of Europe, Asia and Africa. (Applause) Let nothing be done, let nothing be said, that would complicate the great problems Great Britain has tried to solve throughout the world. Remember that Great Britain is the heart of the Empire, and if the heart suffers the other members of the Empire are bound to suffer.
Quo Vadis India? Whither goest thou, India? Do you think for a moment, from the reports you have recently read in the newspapers, that Great Britain is going to lose India? That her dowry of peace and justice, her labours for the well-being of the teeming masses of India-that all these are to go for nothing? Is the British Indian Empire coming to an end? I emphatically say, No. (Applause)
As I said before, the work of Great Britain is becoming more majestic and more glorious as years roll by. Let no man admit the craven fear that those who have created the British Indian Empire are not able to hold it. That is not my reading of history. That is not my forecast of the future. To me the message is carved on the pages of the history of the world, that Great Britain's work in India, as in Egypt, as in all other of our dependencies and colonies, is righteousness, and that it will endure. (Applause) I do not deny that there is unrest in India. There is very serious unrest in India, and I venture to say here that the situation must become much worse before it becomes better. Many and various are the causes of this unrest. I have time only to deal with three chief causes-the economic cause of the unrest in India, the religious cause of the unrest in India, and the political cause of the unrest in India:
When Great Britain was fighting the Mesopotamia campaign, India not only supplied men-500,000 Indian soldiers; but all the food-stuffs and fodder that were required for that campaign were supplied from India and so we exhausted all our reserve stocks of food supply. Unfortunately, in the year 1919 the annual rain failed, famine conditions prevailed, and 35,000,000 of people were affected by famine conditions. It was not, as was said by one of your leading papers-I will not mention its name-that 35,000,000 of people died of starvation in British India. That paper ought to be ashamed of itself. Famine conditions affected 35,000; 000 people; but as soon as the signs of the famine appeared on the horizon, we began to ameliorate the condition of the faminestricken people of my country. Millions of bushels of wheat were imported from Australia; and I am thankful to say that the government and people of Australia sold us wheat at one-third of the price they charged the people of Great Britain. Famine relief works were opened; the collection of land revenue was suspended; several grants were given out, city and agricultural implements were given away gratis; fodder was given away free; and everything that could be done, was done to ameliorate the condition of the famine-stricken people of my country. I venture to say-and I hope that newspapers will print this-that not a hundred people died of actual starvation during that famine of 1919. (Applause) But in spite of all our efforts there was a great deal of distress, and that created a great deal of unrest among the masses of India. That is the economic cause of the unrest; the prices of food-stuffs went up high, multiplied a thousand per cent in some cases.
Then as to the religious causes of the unrest. When the war was going on, and Turkey entered the war on the side of Germany, we were fearfully apprehensive of a Holy War being declared by the Sultan of Turkey of the Caliph of Bagdad. Fortunately, thanks to the statesmen of Great Britain and of France, that calamity was averted, although a Holy War was declared by that Mad Mullah, the great Mohammedan leader, Kaiser William of Germany, the Mad Mullah of Berlin-which turned out to be a complete fiasco, for the Mohammedan soldiers fought side by side with Hindu soldiers and Australian soldiers in the Gallipoli Peninsula against the Turks themselves.
After the Armistice, much time was lost in giving out the peace terms to Turkey, but during the interregnum, gentlemen belonging to the same vocation as this gentleman (referring to the clergyman at his right) especially in England and in the United States of America, began to talk, saying, "The last war was fought not only to defeat Germany, but it was a blow aimed at the Moslem Church, at the Ottoman power, which is the same thing, because the glory of Islam is centred in Constantinople. The Mohammedan soldier, the Mohammedans of India who number about 72,000,000, began to think they were led astray by "perfidious Albion," and they began to agitate to restore the Ottoman power to the status quo ante bellum, and they are agitating now, and they have made common cause with the Russian Bolsheviki.
Now, Gentlemen, remember this: There are many more Mohammedans in the world than there are Christians, and they have two great advantages that the Christians do not possess; they are not divided into 1150 different denominations and sects. There is a superficial division of the shastra and sudra, but they present one united front, and they live on one solid rock of earth, right from southern India to northern India, Afghanistan, Persia, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Anatolia, the Caucasus, northern China, and a portion of south eastern Europe. So they have two great advantages. The Mohammedans of the whole world are restive at the present moment. The Ameer of Afghanistan has already entered into alliance with the Bolshevists of Russia. Persia has also entered into an alliance with the Russian Bolshevists, so, if there is nothing in common between Bolshevism and Islam, yet adversity has made them strange bed-fellows, and they are now marching side by side, hand in hand. What is their object? I wish the Christian peoples of the world would realize the danger of this; their one supreme object is to destroy the British Empire in Asia and Africa. One great obstacle to the progress of the fanaticism of Islam and the terrorism of Bolshevism-the two abominable menaces that threaten the very foundations of Christian civilization-is the religious cause of the unrest. These Mohammedans of India have made common cause with the Indian Nationalists or Bolshevists.
Now, the political cause of the unrest, I regret to say -because I have not come to this country to criticise anybody; my object is to do all in my power to draw the two great sections of the English-speaking peoples together, because I believe that they constitute the hope of the world-but I cannot help saying that the proclamation of the principle of self-determination in the governance of the peoples of the earth, without any modification or reservation, without taking into consideration the political status and stature of the peoples of the world, has done an incalculable harm to the peoples of Asia and Africa. (Hear, hear and applause) The impatient idealists of India, mostly priests, Brahmins, are working that principle for all it is worth.
Now, Gentlemen, do you know why the Brahmins of India, the fountain-head of all seditious movements, are against Great Britain? What is behind all the causes of the unrest, behind the movement of non-cooperation, of Ghandi? It is this: Before the Union Jack was felt in my country, or rather, before the British power was consolidated in India in 1858, by the Great Mutiny, the Brahmins of India were the lords of all they surveyed; all temporal and spiritual powers were centred in them; education was confined to the sons of the Brahmins alone. Great Britain came to India when India was divided and fighting; a hundred dynasties grew up, flourished, decayed, were forgotten for the wild adventurer who could muster a troop of horse and aspire to a train; so the first thing Great Britain did was to start universities, and start a public system of education open to all-the sons of the Sudras, the sons of the fighters, the sons of the merchants-all; and gradually these boys of the low classes of castes became educated, and displaced the Brahmins from their position of pelf and power, and the influence of the low caste increased. That was the cause of resentment by the Brahmins, and they organized the national movement. If you are interested in this subject, read Bevington Charles' book entitled, "Unrest in India." So the nationalists began to agitate for self-determination. Now, when that principle was announced first I think it was among the fourteen points. I was speaking at the Canadian Club in New York on that very day, and I said that the principle of self-determination was already in operation in India; we had self-determined to remain under the protection of the Union Jack. Had we not your self-determination when the war broke up in August, 1914, and India was denuded of all British troops? We could do something to shake off the so-called yoke of Britain, but instead of doing anything to aggravate the military position of Great Britain when she was plunged into her huge European war, instead of doing anything to renounce our fealty and unity to the British crown, Gentlemen of the Empire Club, we were the first in the field to offer our men and our money in defence of the integrity and honour and dignity of the British Empire. (Hear, hear and applause)
The war was declared on the 4th of August, and by the 11th of September of the same year 65,000 troops sailed in sixty-five transports, fully equipped and brilliantly led. They arrived in France, and according to Lord French, then commander-in-chief of the British forces, helped materially in checking the onward rush of the Germans towards the Channel ports. (Applause) After that, India sent out 250,000 troops. (Applause) Our soldiers fought side by side with your sons and your brothers on the fields of Flanders and France. Our Indian soldiers fought side by side with Australians on the Gallipoli Peninsula. Our soldiers fought side by side with the New Zealand cavalry in Palestine and Mesopotamia. Our troops fought in the Suez canal. Our troops fought side by side with soldiers of Botha's troops in East Africa. On all the fronts of the British Empire our soldiers fought-in Baku, in Italy, in Salonica, every where Indian troops fought. Not only did we supply men to Great Britain, but, Gentlemen, the peoples and Princes of India gave, as a gift to Britain, $2,000,000,000 in gold. (Applause) We did not loan the money; we gave it as a gift. (Laughter and applause) Not only did we supply men and money to Great Britain, but most of the ammunition that was required for the Mesopotamian campaign was manufactured in India out of Indian material, and made by Indian labour, and paid for from Indian revenues. (Applause)
Most of the food-stuffs and fodder that were required for the British armies in the Mesopotamian campaign were supplied from India. The people of Great Britain were touched, and on August 20th, 1917, Mr. Edwin S. Montagu, Secretary of State for India, declared in the I-louse of Commons that the ultimate aim and object of the British government of India was to give India responsible government as an integral part of the British Empire. With that object in view Mr. Montagu sent out a commission to find out how far such powers and privileges and liberties as are enjoyed by Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa could be accorded to the people of India. On its return from India, after making very exhaustive researches and inquiries on the spot, Mr. Montagu introduced a bill into the House of Commons. It became the Government of India Act in 1919. Gentlemen, if you are interested in constitutional government and the history of constitutional government, read the report of Chancellor Montagu, issued in June, 1918.
Early this year, in the city of Delhi, the ancient and modern capital of India, was witnessed an event whose significance and importance to the world's history may be regarded as unique, as years roll on. A new era was ushered in by His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught. I said it was a unique event, for never in Asia has any people of any of those ancient countries been so freely and so generously dowered with the gift of free and responsible government. (Hear, hear) The Magna Charta was wrested from the unwilling hands of King John by the barons at Runnymede; but 328,000,000 of India have freely, though cautiously, been placed in the path of democracy and responsible government by the people of Great Britain. (Hear, hear and applause) It is an achievement of which every Briton, to whatever part of the British Empire he or she belongs, ought to be proud. (Hear, hear)
What is this new era? India is divided into eight provinces. In each of these provinces there are Legislative Councils, or Provincial Parliaments, elected by the people of India; and those councils have Indian ministers appointed by the governments of the provinces, but they must have the confidence of the councils. As in England, the King appoints the ministers, and they must have the confidence of the House of Commons. To these Indian ministers are transferred important branches of the administration of the province of India--trade, industry and commerce, land, revenue, education, forests, sanitation-all those important branches of the administration are entirely controlled and managed by Indian ministers who are responsible to the councils and the councils are responsible to the electors at the head of the government of India. In this way the Governor General is assisted by the Cabinet, or council of six members, three of whom are Indians. He is again assisted by two Houses of Parliament, the Legislative Assembly and the Council of State, something like your House of Commons and Senate. To the Legislative Assembly is confined the power of the press. We have obtained fiscal autonomy without fighting for it, and we have made use of that autonomy. Only about two and a half months ago India was in need of greater revenue than was obtainable by ordinary means, and it was suggested in the assembly that a moderate duty on cotton goods imported from England to India, manufactured in Lancashire, should be increased from three per cent. to eleven and a half per cent. As soon as Lancashire manufacturers heard of this, a hue and cry was raised in Great Britain, and that petition was made to the government of India. Deputation after deputation waited upon Mr Montagu, Secretary of State for India; but what was the reply of Mr. Montagu, and particularly what was the reply of the finance minister of India-an Englishman, by the way-a much-maligned Englishman? He said, "The interests of India must stand supreme; India is the mistress of her own finances; the days of mandates have gone, and gone forever." (Applause) It is written in the preamble of the act of 1919 that at the end of ten years a commission will go out to find out what further powers could be entrusted to the people of India. That is slow, but certainly India will have complete responsible government-I do not like the words "home rule" because of their association. (Laughter)
Gentlemen, do you know what that means--to have found a continent as big as Europe without Russia, with three times the population of the whole North American continent put together, torn by internecine strife since the beginning of the Christian era, a constant prey to foreign invaders since the time of Alexander the Great, 330 B.C.; without peace; without any system of justice; without any system of jurisprudence; without economic or financial stability; and then to have transformed India within three generations into a well-governed, prosperous, on the whole peaceful, democratic commonwealth of Indian nations? That is an achievement without parallel in the history of mankind. (Prolonged applause)
Gentlemen, this is the Empire Club. I see some of our Canadian friends objected to the word "Empire". At the Imperial Press Conference in Ottawa a Canadian -shall I say a statesman, or "politician?" (laughter) suggested that they should change the name of the Conference to British instead of Imperial. Well, what is the Empire? Would you put the construction of Empire as a vast organism resting on a theory of voluntary cooperation, and capable of development of common sense and justice? It is necessarily a modern invention springing from the ties of common origin, cemented by the loyalty of common inheritance, and recently confirmed and strengthened by the blood of martyrs in the cause of liberty and progress and civilization. In such a conception of empire there is no place for autocracy or despotism. (Applause) To use the words of Sir Wilfrid Laurier, it is "a perfect co-operation without coercion; closer bonds without any bondage."
I see, also, that some of your Canadians objected to the word King. (Great laughter) Oh, I don't speak about Canadian politics (laughter) I am speaking of our Empire scheme. But I think with the British Indian empire if there was no king we should have to invent one. The King of England is no mere figurehead; he represents the traditions of the British Empire. (Hear, hear) He symbolizes within his personality the unity in diversity of the British Empire; drawing within its sphere the various and often conflicting elements of the British Empire, training them to make common sacrifices for the common heritage of liberty and justice, which are the distinguishing characteristics of the British Empire. He symbolizes, as I say, the unity of the British Empire. I do not know why the Church of England clergymen should be obliged to pray that God might bless our King. (Hear, hear) Gentlemen, I have done. I want to talk five minutes more, Mr. President. ("Go on") Gentlemen, I started with the statement of a truism; let me end with the statement of another truism. It is always a truism that Great Britain at the present time is passing through the most severe trials of her existence. (Hear, hear) All the forces of evil-the ecclesiastical, the autocracy of the dreamers of India, the autocracy of the proletariats of Russia, the autocracy of Islam, the autocracy of the hyphenates of the United States of America (great laughter) and of the Dominion of Canada (laughter) all are seeking to destroy the influence and power for good of Great Britain. Gentlemen, I have travelled all over Africa, all over Asia, all over Europe, all over Northern America, and I have come to the conclusion that with all her faults, and with all her foibles, and all the mistakes she has committed--for she is always blundering, but with good intentions, with honesty of purpose, with unimpeachable motives-Great Britain is incomparably, incontestably the greatest force that worketh for righteousness, liberty, and democracy throughout the world. (Hear, hear and applause) It is time for the Dominions to stand together, stand by her when she is striving her best to solve the many complicated problems that she is confronted with, confronted as she is by enemies in all quarters of the globe. Turn where we will, within, around, the voice of great events is proclaiming to us, "co-operate that we may continue."
Now, therefore, while everything here and abroad forbodes ruin to those who persist in their hopeless struggle against the spirit of the age; now while the crash of the mighty thrones of Europe is still ringing in our ears; now while the roof of a Dutch castle affords an ignominous shelter to the would-be conqueror of the world; now when we see on every side ancient societies subverted and great institutions dissolved; now, in this our day of salvation, we must take counsel not of prejudice, not of narrow national pride or the spirit of nationality, but of history, of reason, of the wisdom of the ages that are past, and the signs of this most momentous time. We must renounce, in a manner, the world's high expectations with which our entrance into the world's great conflict was hailed by the peoples of the Empire; we must try and renew the youth of the world; we must try and save society, divided against itself; we must try and save the multitudes endangered by their ungovernable passions. The time is short; the opportunity may pass away. Then sing with me :
A song of hate is a song of Hell: Some there be that sing it well. Let them sing it loud and long, We lift our hearts in a loftier song: We lift our hearts to heaven above, Singing the glory of her we love-- ENGLAND ! Bind her, grind her, burn her Nvith fire, Cast her ashes into the seaShe shall escape, she shall aspire: She shall arise to make men free; She shall arise in a sacred scorn, Lighting the lives that are yet unborn, Spirit supernal, Splendour eternal, ENGLAND!
The audience expressed appreciation of the address by rising and giving three cheers and a tiger.