Thursday, March 1, 2012

The government of India Act 1919

Secretary of state, Edwin S.Montagu and the viceroy of India Lord Chelmsford wrote an inquiry report regarding participation of Indians and responsible government in India, this report was published in 1918, Report on Indian constitutional Reform.

This report served as the basis for the creation of the legislation.

The government of India Act 1919 was passed by the British Parliament

·         To increase participation of the Indians in the government of India.The Act embodied the reforms recommended in the report of the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, and the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford.
·         The Act covered ten years, from 1919 to 1929.
·         The Act provided a dual form of government (a "dyarchy") for provinces.
·         Matters of administration were first divided between the centre and the provinces and then the provincial subjects were further bifurcated into transferred and reserved subjects.

The transferred subjects were to be administered by the governor with the help of ministers responsible to the legislative council composed mainly of elected members.

The Transferred subjects are:

(1) Education, (2) Libraries, (3) Museums, (4) Local Self-Government, (5) Medical Relief, (6) Public Health and Sanitation, (7) Agriculture, (8) Cooperative Societies, (9) Public Works, (10) Veterinary, (11) Fisheries, (12) Excise, (13) Industries, (14) Weights and Measure, (15) Public Entertainment, (16) Religion and Charitable Endowments, etc.

The reserved subjects were to remain the responsibility of the governor and his executive council which was not responsible to the legislature.

Governor got the power to override ministers and executive council.

The Reserved Subjects are:

(1) Land Revenue, (2) Famine Relief, (3) Justice, (4) Police, (5) Pensions, (6) Criminal Tribes, (7) Printing Presses, (8) Irrigation and Waterways, (9) Mines, (10) Factories, (11) Electricity, (12) Labour Welfare and Industrial Disputes, (13) Motor Vehicles, (14) Minor Ports, etc.

The effect of government of India Act 1919 –

(1) To introduce the bicameral or two chamber system in the Indian legislative council
(2) To increase the size of the provincial legislative council , to increase number of the elected members in each
(3) To substitute direct for indirect election
(4) To enlarge the electorate

This act applied the principal of communal representation to Muslims, Sikhs, Anglo-Indians, and Indian Christians etc.

The Indian legislature council was to be called as the Indian legislature.
·         The Indian legislature consisted of governor general and two chambers, the council of state and the legislative assembly.
·         The council of state consisted of 60 members nominated or elected under the rules, of whom not more than twenty were to be official members.
·         Thus council got 33 elected members and 27 nominated by the governor general of whom not more than 20 could of officials.
·         The legislative assembly consisted of 143 members.
·         The number of non elected members was 40 of whom 25 were official members and 15 non officials.
·         The number of elected member was 103.
·         To pass a law, including financial bills consent of both houses was required.
·         The power of both houses were same exception was power to vote supply was allowed only to the Legislative assembly.
·         The duration of council was fixed at 5 and of the assembly at three years.
·         The governor general got the power to dissolve either house or to extend its existence if necessary.
·         The members were elected by a process of direct election, in hope that the people will choose people to represent them.

Thus Hindus started to elect Hindus and Muslims elected Muslims and also there was communal representation.

The act of 1919 did not introduce federalism in India.

Governor General in council got the power and authority to decide whether a particular subject was central or provincial subject.

World War I was important for India’s nationalist movement. Indians of all persuasions overwhelmingly supported Great Britain and the Allied cause during the war. Nearly 800,000 Indian soldiers plus 500,000 noncombatants served in Europe and the Middle East.
Communal relations between Hindus and Muslims took several turns between the passage of the India Councils Act in 1909 and 1919. The reunion of Bengal in 1911 (which canceled its partition into two provinces) pleased the Hindus but antagonized the Muslims. The All-India Muslim League began to attract younger and bolder leaders, most notably a brilliant lawyer named Mohammad Ali Jinnah (1876–1946). Similarly Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869–1948) and Jawaharlal Nehru (1889–1967) emerged as leaders of the Indian National Congress. Many in India’s Muslim minority became concerned with the ultimate fate of the Muslim Ottoman Empire, which fought in the opposing Central Powers camp. World War I also aroused both the congress and the league to demand significant constitutional reforms from Britain. In 1916 they concluded a Congress- League Scheme of Reforms, known as the Lucknow Pact. It made wide-ranging demands for greater self-government, equality of Indians with other races throughout the British Empire and Commonwealth (in response to racial discrimination in South Africa and Canada), and greater opportunities for Indians in the armed forces of India.
In response, the new secretary of state for India, Edwin Montagu, officially announced the British government’s commitment to “the gradual development of self-governing institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India” in August 1917. He then toured India, met with Indian leaders, and together with Viceroy Lord Chelmsford drafted a Report for Indian Constitutional Reform in 1918, popularly called the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. A modified version of the report was embodied in the Government of India Act of 1919. It introduced partial self-government to India’s nine provinces in a system called dyarchy, whereby elected representatives controlled the departments of agriculture, sanitation, education, and so on, while the British-appointed governor and his advisers retained control of finance, the police, prisons, and relief. This was intended as a step toward complete responsible government. The viceroy, however, retained control of the central government, and the role of the mostly elected bicameral legislature remained advisory. The electorate was expanded, and separate electorates (Muslims elected their own representatives) were kept in place, on Muslim insistence.
The Government of India Act was a significant advance in India’s freedom movement. Others included a separate Indian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, in the same manner as the self governing dominions (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa). India also became a member of the League of Nations. But these advances did not satisfy Indian nationalists, who were inflamed by the continuation of wartime laws that abridged civil freedoms, and acts of peaceful and violent resistance continued. Hindu-Muslim accord continued during the Khalifat movement, when Indians supported the Ottoman emperor’s religious leadership as caliph of Islam. The cooperation collapsed when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established a republic in Turkey and abolished the caliphate in 1923 and also due to increasing competition between the two communal groups for power in a future independent India.

Indus valley language and script (Ancient History)

The Indus Valley Civilization was the first major urban culture of South Asia. It reached its peak from 2600 BC to 1900 BC roughly, a period called by some archaeologists "Mature Harappan" as distinguished from the earlier Neolithic "Early Harappan" regional cultures.Spatially, it is huge, comprising of about 1000 settlements of varying sizes, and geographically includes almost all of modern Pakistan, parts of India as far east as Delhi and as far south as Bombay, and parts of Afghanistan.

The main corpus of writing dated from the Indus Civilization is in the form of some two thousand inscribed seals in good, legible conditions. (In case you don't know what seals are, they are used to make impressions on malleable material like clay.)

Although these seals and samples of Indus writing have been floating around the scholastic world for close to 70 years, little progress has been made on deciphering this elegant script. However, we should not blame scholars for their lack of progress, for there are some major impediments to decipherment:

1. Very short and brief texts. The average number of symbols on the seals is 5, and the longest is only 26.
2. The language underneath is unknown.
3. Lack of bilingual texts.

For instance, consider Champollion, who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs with all of these 3 important clues: there were very long Egyptian texts; he knew Coptic, a descendant of Egyptian; and the Rosetta Stone, a bilingual text between Greek and two written forms of Egyptian.

But the script isn't as bad as undecipherable. For one, even though scholars don't have long texts and bilingual texts, they can still theorize about the language underneath the writing system. There are several competing theories about the language that the Indus script represent:
  1. The language is completely unrelated to anything else, meaning an isolate. Well, this doesn't get us anywhere.
  2. The language is "Aryan" (some form of Indian-Iranian Indo-European). The historical languages spoken in Northern India and Pakistan all belong to the Indic branch of Indo-European, including Sanskrit, Hindi, Punjabi, etc., so maybe the people of the Indus valley spoke a very old Indo-European language?
The major problem with this model is the fact that horses played a very important role in all Indo-European cultures, being a people constantly on the move. "There is no escape from the fact that the horse played a central role in the Vedic and Iranian cultures..." (Parpola, 1986) Sidenote: "Vedic" means from the time of the Vedas, the earliest text in India, and the Vedic culture is from around 1500 to 500 BC. However, no depiction of horses on seals nor any remains of horses have been found so far before 2000 BC. They only appear after 2000 BC. Very likely there were no Aryan speakers present before 2000 BC in the Indus Valley.
  1. The language belongs to the Munda family of languages. The Munda family is spoken largely in eastern India, and related to some Southeast Asian languages. Like Aryan, the reconstructed vocabulary of early Munda does not reflect the Harappan culture. So its candidacy for being the language of the Indus Civilization is dim.
  2. The language is Dravidian. The Dravidian family of languages is spoken in Southern Indian, but Brahui is spoken in modern Pakistan. So far this is the most promising model, as in the following points:
    • There are many Dravidian influences visible in the Vedic texts. If the Aryan language gradually replaced the Dravidian, features from Dravidian would form a "substratum" in Aryan. One of these features is the appearance of retroflex consonants in Indian languages, both Indo-European and Dravidian. In contrast, retroflex consonants do not appear in any other Indo-European language, not even Iranian ones which are closest to Indic. (For more information on retroflex consonants please visit my Phonetics page).
    • Another possible indication of Dravidian in the Indus texts is from structural analysis of the texts which suggests that the language underneath is possibly agglutinative, from the fact that sign groups often have the same initial signs but different final signs. The number of these final signs range between 1 to 3. The final signs possibly represent grammatical suffixes that modify the word (represented by the initial signs). Each suffix would represent one specific modification, and the entire cluster of suffixes would therefore put the word through a series of modifications. This suffix system can be found in Dravidian, but not Indo-European. Indo-European tongues tend to change the final sounds to modify the meaning of a word (a process called inflection), but repeated addition of sounds to the end of word is extremely rare. Often many suffixes in an agglutinative language correspond to a single inflectional ending in an inflectional language.
The Dravidian model isn't just an unapplicable theory...But first we have to know what kind of writing system is the Indus script.

A count of the number of signs reveal a lot about the type of system being used. Alphabetic systems rarely have more than 40 symbols. Syllabic systems like Linear B or Cherokee typically have 40 to 100 or so symbols. The third ranges from logophonetic to logographic, running upwards of hundreds of signs (like 500 signs in Hieroglyphic Luwian, and 5000 symbols in modern Chinese).

It appears that the maximum number of Indus script symbols is 400, although there are 200 basic signs (ie signs that are not combined from others). This means that the Indus script is probably logophonetic, in that it has both signs used for their meanings, and signs used for their phonetic values.

Many signs start off as pictorial representation of a physical object, often misleadingly called pictograms. They really are should be called logograms because they represent words in the language. However, it's next to impossible to write out a word with abstract meaning pictorially. What all early writers figured out was to use a logogram not for the object or idea it was originally supposed to stand for, but for all words sounding similar to the original word for that object or idea. For example, in English to write "leave" we can use a picture of a "leaf". This is called rebus writing, and is a tremendously common pattern in all early writing systems. We could also then use the same "leaf" symbol to stand for the sound in "relief", adding another symbol in front of the "leaf" symbol in order to indicate the "re" sound. So the logogram gained a phonetic value as well.

Testing the theory

How can we take the theoretical framework so far and apply it to archaeological data?

Numerals seem to represented by vertical lines (represented by number of lines in the glyph), but they only go up to 7. Analysis reveal 4 more signs that appear in the same context as these numerals, and so they likely represent numbers higher than 7.

The fact that no vertical-line numeral sign denotes 8 very likely means the Harappan language is based 8. (For example, the Arabic numerals that we use has symbols from 0 to 9, and to write "ten" we have to combined the symbols 1 and 0, which identify our number system as based ten.)

Base 8 languages are rare in the world, but it does appear that early Dravidian is base 8, but later changed to base 10 (possibly under Indo-European influence). When translated, the count from 1 to 7 is familiar to us: "one", "two", "three", "four", "five", "six", "seven". However, above seven, the number's etymologies become non-numerical: 8 is "number", 9 is "many minus one", and 10 is "many". (Fairservis 1983)

But can we actually read (not interpret) any symbol on the seals? We should start with "pictograms", as this one:

Many scholars (Knorozov, Parpola, Mahadevan, etc) see this sign as a fish. Fish in reconstructed Proto-Dravidian is *mîn. Coincidentally, *mîn is also the word for star. On many pots from Mohenjo Daro, an Indus site, there are drawings of fish and stars together, and so affirming this linguistic association.

Going further, often the numeral six appears before the fish. Either it means 6 fish, or 6 stars. Old Tamil (a Dravidian language still spoken today) texts from just around the 1st century AD recorded the name of the Pleiades, a star cluster visible during autumn and winter just above Orion, as "Six-Stars", or aru-mîn

.Throughout the world, titles with celestial connotations are very common, and the clause Six Stars forming part or whole of a Harappan title is not unreasonable. (Parpola, 1986)

Sometimes symbols are added to the basic sign to make new signs. Of these, the one that looks like a circumflex accent placed on top of the fish is quite interesting. It is theorized to mean "roof", and in Proto-Dravidian it is *vêy/mêy. This is phonetically similar to Proto-Dravidian word for "black", *may. Together with fish, it spells out mai-m-mîn, or "black star", which in Old Tamil means the planet Saturn. In Sanskrit texts, Saturn is associate the color black. The god of death, Yama, is the presiding of this planet, and is usually depicted as riding on a dark buffalo.

But the "fish" reading isn't accepted by all scholars. William Fairservis saw it as a combination of a loom twist and a human sign, and form a honorific title pertaining to rulership (Fairservis, 1983). I, however, am more inclined to accept the fish identification.