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There remains no course but to imprison them. In these cases, however, and all cases when offenders are incarcerated in consequence of fines not being realised, the prisoners should be made to pay for their crimes by their labour. It is unworthy of a great Government to profit by the proceeds of prison labour. True, the prison establishments are kept up at an immense cost, but they are paid from the general revenues of the country, and their maintenance is only one out of the many duties, which every Government has to perform in return for the taxes paid by its subjects. The labour of prisoners seems the most appropriate source, from which to reimburse those who have suffered by crime. To sell the house and little property of the criminal, is to turn him penniless on the world, and increase the motives to crime by poverty, the strongest of all temptations. But if each prisoner were made to pay for his offences by the sweat of his brow, his labour would have a more direct penal connection with his offence than it has now. Of the proceeds of labour part might be set aside to meet contingent Jail expenditure, part to form a small fund to put the prisoner above temptation from pressing want on leaving the Jail, and the rest to the reimbursement of those whose loss he has caused; and no criminal, whether the term of his actual sentence be long or short, should be released from confinement, until he has repaid every loss occasioned by his crime and all expenses attending his trial.
As to deprivation of liberty, it is universally admitted in this country to be the least effective punishment of all. Mere loss of liberty is not felt to be a severe visitation. At least one Jail in the Punjaub is currently known in the district as Bibisht or Paradise. As a means of reforming criminals it might be máde valuable, were steady, constant and profitable labour exacted from every prison inmate. Good habits, however, are acquired only after long and painful effort. For this reason more good can be effected with long-term than with short-term prisoners. Shortterms are unmitigated evils. They expose the convicts to all the corrupt and contaminating influences of Jail life, without teaching them habits of steady labour, which in their release might lead them to adopt an honest and remunerative calling. We should like to see short-terms of imprisonment less frequently inflicted, and recourse had to fines and flogging, in all cases where these punishments are practicable. Most of our prison inmates are of a promising and pliable age, the hopeful ardent period of life between sixteen and thirty. Much might be made of such materials were prison education more attended to. It will not be creditable to the Punjaub Commission, if next year's Jail report does not show an immense improvement in the matter of prison education. It is also worth
consideration whether long term prisoners, who have been invariably well-conducted during the greater part of the period of their sentence, might not receive a probationary release. They might be put under surveillance of the police, and be made to understand that absence from their village or colony, without permission, for even a single day, would not only subject them to imprisonment for the remaining portion of their term, but to increased labour and the most rigid discipline.
We should like to see some measures taken, not only to detect and punish crime, but to improve the law-breaking population. We have pliable subjects, and may make of them what we please. Perhaps more could be done by the introduction of European arts than by any efforts of the legislature. An awakened spirit of enterprise is the most radical of all reformers. Railways and steam flotillas are the best humanisers. Could we only remove the aimlessness of native life, give the people an end to live for, teach an individual and a national destiny, what life would be imparted to the dry bones of India! We want a bridge across the gulph which divides oriental from western thought. A common religion is the bond which every Christian prays for. But the spread of Christianity has been and will be slow. Socially, at present, there can be no union, and little even of agreeable intercourse, between the natives and their rulers. But western arts form a common field, where the Englishman may teach and the native may learn without fear or prejudice. With the great veins of commerce opened out, the resources of the country known, and the people alive to their value, law will take a new form. Crime will then become a social sore, and the interest of society will be to cut off the festering member. Criminals will not, as now, be sheltered and protected for a bribe. Commerce is destructive to crime. The Punjaub is already rapidly opening up to commercial enterprise. Its productions, especially its flax, are exciting interest and speculation abroad, which are even now not without effect in stimulating production. In a few years the Punjaub may become in reality, what it is in fable," the Garden of India."
ART. V.-1. Selections from the Records of the Madras Govern~~ ment. Papers relating to the Revision of Assessment in South Arcot. MADRAS.
2. Reports on the Settlement of the Land Revenue of the Provinces under the Madras Presidency. MADRAS. 1858.
Two Articles on the subject of the Madras Land Revenue have appeared in this Review, but at such long intervals that it is necessary, while laying a third before our readers, to recapitulate briefly the purport of those which have gone before. The object of the first Article,* was to shew that the lands of the Madras Presidency were much more highly assessed than those of the North West Provinces under the Village settlement, or than those of Bengal under the Zemindary settlement, and that not only was the assessment comparatively high but it was in itself excessive. We shewed that it was considered to be so by the very officers by whom it was first fixed (Col. Read and Sir J. Munro) at the beginning of the present century, and that the subsequent fall of prices had rendered it still more oppressive. We shewed that the heads of districts had from that time constantly urged its reduction, but had pleaded in vain; and that, in consequence of this assessment, the cultivation of the district which we selected as our example had actually retrogaded during half a century of undisturbed peace. We shewed that the result was that the most fertile lands were lying waste, while those of inferior quality, which had been less heavily taxed, were cultivated, and that the general cultivation of the country was repressed. We stated that the effects really due to this excess of taxation had been the means of bringing into disrepute the principles upon which the settlement had been made. The evils of over-taxation had been laid at the door of the "Ryotwarry System." We endeavoured to free the system of Munro from the errors by which it had been overlaid, and to vindicate the pure principles of a Ryotwarry settlement.
A "Ryotwarry settlement," we showed, as understood by Munro, involves neither excessive interference on the part of the officers of Government, nor the taxation of improvement, nor annual scrutiny, as so often alleged. It simply proposes that the land be assessed once for all according to its quality, that the Government deal directly with the proprietor of every holding small or great, that no improvements be taxed, that the Government should not attempt to interfere to say what the size of the holdings shall be, but should leave this to the ordinary operation of the customs and
* Vol. XVII. Page 282.
laws of the country; and that the Government should not interpose between itself and the holders of the land any factitious aristocracy. It was urged that if the assessment was lightened, and the taxation of improvements, such as wells and plantations, abandoned—if in fact Munro's principles were carried out in Munro's spirit-the agriculture of the Madras Presidency would rise from its depression, and an increasing revenue and a contented population would vindicate the soundness of the Ryotwarry principle rightly understood.
These arguments were not universally admitted, we therefore considered that if a district could be found in which the Ryotwarry system prevailed, but where the assessment was not excessive, where improvements were not taxed, and where annual scrutiny was not the rule, it would be valuable to see how the principle had worked there. The district of Canara appeared to offer the example we sought, and was a particularly valuable one, because it had been administered by Munro, who there found the principles in force which he had before advocated. The Ryotwar principle was indigenous in the country, and he left it undisturbed. In 1854* we published an Article descriptive of the district of Canara, and traced its Revenue history from the time of its cession in 1799 to the present day, and we showed that when the demand upon the land was moderate, the system of Munro was invariably successful; that cultivation had extended; that the Government revenue from the land had increased; and that the revenue from extra sources indicative of the improving comforts of the people had doubled in 20 years. We concluded with the following remarks:
"We are not arguing that, where village communities exist in their integrity, and are in accordance with the feelings of the people, it would be advisable or just to break them down; or that any one system would be applicable to the whole of India; but we do argue that any attempt artificially to create an intermediate proprietary body between the cultivators of the soil and the Government, be it composed of village corporations, of Zemindars or of farmers of the revenue, is unjust towards the present owners of the soil, and that such institutions must be injurious where they are not the spontaneous growth of the country, and supported by the affections of the people. Where none such are found, a ryotwarry settlement is, we believe, the only just and wise measure that can be adopted, and where a ryotwarry settlement has once been made, to attempt any other would, we are persuaded be a step backwards.
"In the late discussions much has been written on the relative merits of the revenue systems of the several Presidencies, but we cannot but think that far too much stress has been laid on the system of
* Vol. XXI. Page 356.
collection, while a far more important question has been left in the background. That important question is, not what system of collection is the better, but what amount of taxation can a country bear, and it is idle to compare two systems if one is applied to an oppressive the other to an easy taxation.
“If in one part of India we are expending millions to construct magnificent canals, and disperse the waters at one or two Rupees per acre, and in the other we demand 75 per cent. of the produce amounting to 30 Rs. an acre and upwards, what fair comparison can be made between the village tenures of the one, and the Ryotwarry tenures of the other. It matters little what course may be pursued for reducing the taxation of the Madras districts, whether it be done by a direct sacrifice of revenue (as in Cawnpore) or by taking an average of previous collections and making this a maximum of demand; or by adding so much waste land to present holdings as shall reduce the assessment to a moderate demand on the whole, (as has virtually been done in Canara,) or whether all these be combined; whatever may be the course pursued, the reductions which Sir J. Munro showed to be indispensable must be carried out before his system is condemned. But if when Ryotwarry assess· ment has been made as light as that of the North West or as that of the Zemindary Estates of Bengal, it, fails to produce results as beneficial, then and then only will it have been weighed in the balance and found wanting."
A further period of five years has now elapsed, and during that period important changes have taken place in the revenue system of Madras, several steps have been made towards a return to the principles of Munro, and the Ryotwarry system has been freed from those excrescences which brought it into such ill repute. The taxation of wells has been at last abandoned, and a proprietor of land can improve it without fear of the revenue officer, provided he keep within the boundaries of his land. Government does not claim to share in the profits of cultivation, unless the water is supplied by the Government. The taxation of fruit trees has been also abandoned. Plantations belonging to the Government, and the produce of the public forests, are, of course, rented out as before; but trees planted on the farmer's own land, are the farmer's own property. These two concessions leave the proprietor in undisturbed possession of his land, so long as he pays a certain fixed land tax, and do away with a vast amount of vexatious and corrupt interference on the part of the subordinate native revenue officers. The question with which the fiscal officer has to deal, is simply whether the landholder retains the land he holds, whether he resigns it, or whether he takes more; and it is obvious, as we observed in a previous Article, that as the land acquires saleable value, any inquiry is unnecessary, for no one will resign into the hands of Government what he can sell for a price.