Imatges de pÓgina
[ocr errors]

of 70. RAGĦUNATH B. TALVÁLKAR B. A. HEAD MASTER HIGH SCHOOL AMRAOTT.-Feinale enlightenment is an indispensable condition. The real obstacle to reforms of this kind is neither religion nor caste. Both have begun to loosen their hold upon us. It is in the family and among the relations.



71. THE HON'BLE MR. J. GIBB8 C.S.I. C.I.E.-Nothing but the constant hammering at all classes, but especially at the

of the different religious sects, can do good. The remedy in itself

is easy. Let each leading man determine that he will not allow such marriages (child marriages) in his family, and in a few years the custom will die out... ...... You most bring public opinion to bear through the Press, and you must if possible, get expressions of opinion from men in high official positions as a background to work on.

72. MAHADEO GOVIND RANADE M. A. L. L, B.-Our deliberate conviction, however, has grown upon us with every effort, that it is only a religious revival that can furnish sufficient moral strength to work out the complex social problems which demand our attention. Mere considerations of expediency or economical calculations of gains or losses, can never nerve a community to undertake and carry through social reforms especially a community like ours, 80 spell

: bound by custom and authority. Our people feel," and feel earnestly, that some of our social customs are fraught with evil, but as this evil is of a temporal character, they think that it does not justify a breach of commands divine, for such breach involves a higher penalty...........People find fault with us;

, even abuse us, for half-heartedness, for our apparent want of fire and enthusiasm. God only knows that in our household we are perpetually at war with our dearest and nearest, we struggle and strive to do our best, and have perforce to stop at

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

many pointgi when we fear the strain will cause a rupture. This is our present situation. We do not think either Parsi or European philanthropists can make any impression upon our society. Empires come and go, dynasties change, but our society remains unconcerned. These are my views on the general question.*

As regards the two notes, I go in fully with you that time has now come for a determined effort to secure legislative and executive sanction to a moderate limit of minimum age being fixed, below which early marriages should be discouraged. Three years ago, we started a movement here (Poona) to fix the boys' age at 17 or 18 and the girls' at 10 or 11. These limits are not all that we should wish, but as a commencement we must carry the more cultivated sentiment of the people with

Once this is done, we might by gradual steps raise the limit'in due time...... ..I agree with you that in order to stimulate the discussion of the subject, a motion might be brought in the Senate of the University prescribing bachelorship as one of the requisite qualifications for the Matriculation Examination. The Educational Department might be also moved in the matter.

73. A. MACKENZIE ESQ., SECRETARY TO GOVERNMENT OF INDIA.—You cannot scold or legislate 'the people at large into setting aside caste prejudices, but I do think you can make it to some extent "fashionable" to despise them. Get then, all the leading native gentlemen, whose education has already taught them the folly and wickedness of infant marriage and enforced widowhood, to band themselves into a national association for the propagation of sound ideas on these subjects. Education is after all the true and common basis for Indian nationality. Make it the object of the association to encourage and support all who hold similar views. Get all the leading official and non-official Europeans to affiliate themselves as sympathisers

( This was written on August 18, 1884. The opinion given to Government is dated 12th February 1885.) : 5

and well-wishers--Raise funds for compiling vernacular tracts on the subject, letting it be known far and wide, how influential the movement really is. Hold meetings periodically at all large centres to induce young men especially to join and pledg themselves to advance its aims ; and you will I feel sanguine give a great and lasting impulse to the reforms you so much desire to bring about.

I have observed, with great interest and satisfaction, Mr. Justice Pinhey's Judgment refusing to import into Indian legal practice the English “order for restitution of conjugal rights” in cases of unconsummated infant marriages. When there has never been voluntary cession, no question of restitution can arise. If the decision is up-held in appeal (it was not) it will throw an effectual shield over many virgin—wives. There is however this practical difficulty-that few of them will be educated sufficiently to know their rights, and still fewer of them will care or venture to assert them.

74. HON'BLE SIR AUCKLAND COLVIN K.C.M.G.-The first thing to be done is to obtain from a large consensus of opinion amongst educated and influential natives a declaration hostile to these customs. If, as I understand from you, they rest on insecure legal bases, assistance should be given by natives interested in the matter, with the view of obtaining test decisions........... You need not to be reminded that, in matters of this kind, the Government cannot help you unless and until you help yourselves.....

Try and get up, in each province, societies having for their aim the object you are advocating, encourage discussion, however bitter in its tone against you personally; and be no respecter of persons. Plain misrepresentations are best met by plain truths.

I am one of those who think, and have no hesitation in saying--that societies which will not make any combined effort to reform their own short-comings are not to be much

trusted when they combine to reform public affairs. They lay themselves open to the suspicion that in the profession of public zeal, they find an agreeable cloak for the discouragement of private duty. It is because many native advocates of progress proclaim in public enlightened principles and urge liberal practices, the application of which to their domestic affairs they strenuously oppose, that I ventured in writing to you, to express the view that it was not the outside only of the platter, but the inner also, which requires attention.*

In India more than in many other countries the battle of social reform must be first fought by those whom it immediately concerns. They have always the Government behind and with them, as a reserve of strength, when the hour has come to employ it; but it is for them, by their efforts, to hasten that hour.

[ocr errors]

75. HON'BLE SIR STEUART BAYLEY.–At all events Government ought not to take the initiative. I think if a number of memorials from different associations all over the country, urging action and agreeing on a special line of action, were submitted, the hands of Government would be so far strengthen ed, that they might be justified in moving in the matter,

and what I would suggest is that the associations all over the country which take an interest in the matter, be urged to adopt this method .........I suppose the most hopeful outlook on this question is that the guidance of caste feeling will gradually fall into the hands of educated men who will lend their influence, and thus that of the caste, in support of the object you have in view.....

*Mr. Telang in replying to Sir Auckland quotes the following from Herbert Spencer. "Submission whether to Government, to the dogmas of ecclesiastics, or to that code of bebavionr which society at large has set up, is essentially of the same nature, and the sentiment which induces resistance to the despotism of rulers, civil or spiritual, likewise induoes resistance to the despotism of the world's opinion."


All the more earnestly would I encourage you to labour on in the cause by means of local committies, societies formed for the purpose of advocating and practising the reforms, by pamphlets and speeches, and all the machinery of organization which in other spheres the natives of India have not been slow to adopt.

76. MANOMOHAN GHOSE.-An association of the kind you have suggested may do a great deal of good......A strong public opinion ought to be created, and our universities ought to be made to take the initiative.

77. S. N. TAGORE Esq., C.S.-The only remedy possible is to educate public opinion. For my own part, I am not opposed to any well-considered law fixing a limit of marriageable age, but I fear that public opinion is not yet prepared

, for any such change.

78. B. N. PITALE, SUPT. HOME DEPARTMENT GOVERNMENT OF BOMBAY.–At present Hindu society is in a state of dormancy; it is by extraneous efforts of philanthropists whose hearts writhe in agony at the sight of customs' so repugnant to human nature, that a beginning could be made. Happy will be the day in the social and moral history of India, when these dark spots are effaced from its pages.

79. DINSHAW ARDESIR TALEYARKHAN.-It is best to point out an instance or two of what innate forces have the power of effecting...... ... ... In certain parts of Kattywar, one of the Wania castes has bound itself by its own voluntarily framed rule not to give any girl in marriage before she is eleven............. Somehow or other the minds of these caste people were touched by a number of child girls having become widows before this caste bandobast was adopted. Again a sect namad Rackwal Brahmins, through the exertions of many of its influential and enlightened leaders, has recently entered into an agreement not to permit a boy being given in marriage until he is 16 and a girl unless she is 9. In the case of the

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »