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1908

THE RECRUITMENT OF THE INDIAN

FOREST SERVICE

On the 24th of February it was announced that Mr. Morley had appointed a Committee ' to enquire into and report upon the present system of selecting, and of training after selection, candidates for the Indian Forest Service, and to make recommendations.'

Though small in number, this is a strong Committee. Its chairman, Mr. Munro-Ferguson, M.P., was also chairman of the Departmental Committee on British Forestry in 1902; and the other four members are Sir John Edge, formerly Chief Justice at Allahabad and now senior member of the India Council ; Sir William Thiselton-Dyer, for many years Director at Kew; Mr. Stafford Howard, Senior Commissioner of Woods and Forests; and Mr. Eardley-Wilmot, InspectorGeneral of Forests in India. Mr. Wilmot has been sent home to represent the Government of India, which is, of course, specially interested in having this important question settled in a manner more satisfactory to it thạn recent and present arrangements for the selection and training of probationers seem to be.

Mr. Morley is to be congratulated on nominating a Committee likely to formulate an unprejudiced and common-sense opinion on the evidence submitted to its consideration. And its report may perhaps contribute towards the realisation of Mr. Morley's hope, when, on the 20th of July 1906, speaking of the 250,000 square miles of State forests, in the revenue from which there had been in the preceding five years an increase of over 600,0001., he said, 'I cannot wonder that those who are concerned in these operations look forward with nothing short of exultation to the day when this country will realise what a splendid asset is now being built up in India in connection with these forests.' Whether this ‘splendid asset' will continue to be developed on the best lines must necessarily depend in no small degree on the recommendations made by this Committee with regard to the selection and training of the men into whose hands will, in due course, be entrusted the administration of that vast capital in land and timber represented by these State forests. Hence the importance of the liberty 'to make recommendations regarding selection; and the Committee may perhaps first of all have to consider if the present conditions of service, and more especially the prospective amount of pension obtainable as contrasted with the pensions sanctioned for the other Indian Services, are such as seem likely to secure the best class of candidates that can be expected to offer themselves under the inducements held out by the Government of India.

As was pointed out in an article on 'The Forests of India and their Administration ' in this Review for February 1907 (page 278), after the formation of the Indian Forest Department in 1864, the first Inspector-General, the late Dr. (Sir Dietrich) Brandis, soon found that a body of well-trained officers was absolutely necessary in order to develop departmental organisation properly. At first the Department was recruited by appointing military officers and others who seemed fond of shooting, or botany, or rough camp life, or who showed aptitude for carrying out the simple surveys for enumerating and classifying the stock of valuable marketable timber in the forests. But in 1866, after long correspondence, the Government of India and the Secretary of State agreed to proposals for a regular recruitment of the Department by securing young trained officers. To supply urgent immediate requirements, however, two young German foresters were appointed, under specially favourable terms. These were Dr. W. Schlich and Mr. B. Ribbentrop, who both later became InspectorsGeneral (from 1882 to 1885, and 1885 to 1900). A system of com. petitive examination for probationerships being instituted, the first examination was held in November 1866, and the selected candidates were trained for two and a half years from the following March onwards, partly in Germany and partly at the French National School of Forestry in Nancy. At the end of their training the probationers were appointed as assistant conservators on & salary of 250 rupees per mensem (then stated to be equal to 3001. a year), and with a prospective pension of 500l. according to the prospectus issued. This Continental training ceased in Germany in 1875, and in France in 1886, ninety-seven trained officers being thus appointed between 1869 and 1886, after competitive examinations held from 1866 to 1883.

Meanwhile, Coopers Hill College had been opened in 1871 to train recruits for the Public Works Department. But with the fall in the rupee and the shrinkage in funds available for new works in India, a large reduction of establishment took place in 1879, and the number of recruits wanted was then insufficient to maintain the College without a larger Government subvention than formerly. To decrease the annual deficit, and partly also for other reasons, a new system training for forest probationers was therefore introduced in October 1885, the selected candidates of that year being sent to Coopers Hill for two years, and then spending about three months in certain forest

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districts in Britain and Germany. In 1888 Sir Dietrich Brandis was appointed Director of the Practical Study of Forestry, and conducted the German tour. From 1890 onwards the training was extended from twenty-four to thirty-four months, and consisted in a two years' course of forestry instruction given under Dr. Schlich (who retired with a full pension and a bonus of 20,000 rupees from the inspectorgeneralship on the 1st of January 1889) as professor of sylviculture and forest management, with Mr. W. R. Fisher (who retired from a conservatorship) as assistant professor of forest protection and utilisation. First year students made a short tour in Normandy, but the long German tour in the last half-year was still personally conducted by Sir Dietrich Brandis. Thus modern French and German (but chiefly German) forestry was taught by two retired Indian forest officers, while special lecturers provided instruction in botany, zoology, and the chemistry of soil and plant, and the forest probationers shared with the engineering students the courses in physics, surveying, &c.

These arrangements were subsequently altered, the course in forestry and the cognate sciences still consisting of two years spent at Coopers Hill, with an extensive tour in French forests during the first year of study, but in the third or last year the probationers were placed in small groups under head foresters in Germany, to gain an insight into the practical work, and to see the results of methodical management on a far larger scale and in a much more scientific and thorough manner than can as yet be seen anywhere in Britain. This system of training at Coopers Hill lasted from 1885 to 1905, and furnished 152 probationers, making in all 249 young, scientifically trained British officers who were appointed to the Forest Service between 1869 and 1906.

As ample provisions now exist in British Universities for training civil engineers and granting degrees in engineering, the question of maintaining Coopers Hill had more than once been considered by the Indian Council. After a thorough inquiry in 1903 a special committee urged the abolition of the College ; and early in 1904 the Secretary of State announced its closure in July 1905. Since then the Public Works Department has been easily and satisfactorily recruited by the selection of well-qualified candidates who have gone through a full theoretical and practical course of British engineering. But the question of training Indian forest probationers still remained undecided. As there is no national school of forestry in Britain, it was asserted that India's special requirements would best be met by transferring the two forestry professors, Dr. Schlich and Mr. Fisher, to some University centre offering good opportunity of providing instruction in the cognate sciences. The most likely centres for such a purpose were the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Edinburgh ; but the issue soon lay between the two great residential English Universities, whose Boards of Indian studies train the majority of the Indian Civil Service probationers selected at the competitive examination held annually under the Act of Parliament of 1858. Oxford and Cambridge therefore became rivals to secure the training of the forest probationers. In many respects Cambridge offered really the greatest advantages, but upon Dr. Schlich's advice the Secretary of State's preference was given to Oxford. So Messrs. Schlich and Fisher were moved to Oxford from October 1905 onwards, the curriculum being the same as finally at Coopers Hill-namely, a two years' collegiate course including a tour in France, followed by one year spent mainly in practical work under a German forester, and terminating in an extensive tour throughout German and Swiss forests.

On this decision favouring Oxford being announced early in 1905, Cambridge protested against the invidious distinction thus made in sending the forest probationers to its ancient rival, because this was equivalent to an official grant of 12001. a year, as the professorial salaries paid by the Government of India to Messrs. Schlich and Fisher are respectively 7001. and 5001. a year. Mr. S. Butcher, M.P. for Cambridge, moved in the matter, and the Earl of Lytton, on the 7th of March 1905, asked a question in the House of Lords, to which the Marquis of Bath, Under-Secretary of State, replied officially (see Times and Hansard) to the effect that

there was a good deal of misapprehension both as to the scheme and the results which would ensue from it. He particularly emphasised the fact that the scheme was, and was intended to be, only of a temporary nature. In coming to his decision, the Secretary of State was guided by very strong representations made to him by the experts whom he consulted, who stated that the number of men engaged in studying forestry was very small, only ten a year. It was considered most necessary that the probationers should continue to be educated all in one residential University, where rooms and supervision were provided for the students, where they could come into contact with their contemporaries studying for other walks of life, and where the forestry students should obtain the benefit of instruction in the cognate sciences and have the opportunity of obtaining University degrees or diplomas. The choice of a residential University not too far from London naturally lay between Oxford and Cambridge. When attention was first directed to the matter, in 1903, Cambridge was thought to be the most suitable place. But it was urged that, with respect to woods, Oxford was far more favourably situated than Cambridge, and in selecting Oxford, no idea of preferring one University to the other entered the mind of the India Office authorities. The competition would be just the same as it bad been for Coopers Hill, after an examination carried out by the Civil Service Commissioners What the India Office required was that the students should receive a University training for two years, and spend the last year of their course in Germany. But he desired again to emphasise the fact that this was merely a temporary measure. Indian money would not be spent upon a permanent establishment at Oxford or elsewhere until the matter had been fully considered in the light of experience and of the best expert opinion. To meet the objections felt to the scheme, he undertook that an inquiry, which should include outside authorities, would be held before the close of the three years, to consider and report upon the

experiment. And, if it should be thought desirable, the India Office were prepared to reduce the proposed experimental term from five years to three years, which was the lowest period that could be adopted with advantage to the experiment.

This official offer to limit, if considered desirable, the Oxford experiment to three years, i.e. till 1908, is not likely to be adhered to, because the contracts existing between the Secretary of State and Messrs. Schlich and Fisher (originally made in 1889, and renewed from time to time for definite periods) do not lapse till 1910; hence no change of any kind is likely to be made till then. But, since Lord Bath made his statement in March 1905, the number of Indian forest probationers is much more than ‘very smallonly ten a year'--for in 1906 nineteen Indian forest appointments were advertised, and in 1907 eighteen, and for 1908 at least sixteen' are advertised. Including the Ceylon and other colonial students, the forest probationers selected in 1905 and 1906 and studying at Oxford numbered about fifty in 1906-7. However, in any case, the promise about reconsidering the subject in the spring of 1908 has been fully redeemed by Mr. Morley in appointing his Committee, and it will now rest with them to ask for all the expert opinions they may wish to receive in order to enable them to discharge their important duty in making recommendations for future selection and training. And what is also important is that fair opportunity has now been given to the Government of India of expressing its views on the subject; for the transference of Messrs. Schlich and Fisher from Coopers Hill to Oxford is said to have taken place without the Government of India, which pays the salaries, having been consulted, or having even been asked if it would not like to suggest any alteration in the course of study marked out for those selected as probationers.

After the competitive examination of 1905 the two years' collegiate course for probationers began at Oxford in October. It included the usual four branches of theoretical and practical forestry, and, as auxiliary subjects, organic and soil chemistry, geology, elementary zoology and forest entomology, forest botany, geometrical drawing, plane trigonometry and surveying, German, elementary engineering, and bookkeeping and Indian Forest accounts. It was 8pecially desired that probationers should take a degree in the honour school of natural science before undergoing their last year of study in the German forests, at the end of which time approved students were to receive a University diploma of forestry. And almost simultaneously, on the 4th of October 1905, a prospectus notified that a competitive examination would be held in August 1906 for ten (subsequently increased to nineteen) probationerships, the subjects of examination being merely 'the elements of mechanics, physics, chemistry and botany, with a qualifying examination in German.' But as the date for this examination approached it was found that, for the first time

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