|LONDON, the 1st November 1911.|
I have received Your Excellency's despatch, dated the 25th of August last and issued in the Home Department, and I have considered it in Council with the attention due to the importance of its subject.
2. In the first place you propose the transfer from Calcutta to Delhi the seat of the Government of India, a momentous change which in your opinion can be advocated on its intrinsic merits, and apart from the considerations which are discussed in the later passages of your despatch. You point out with truth that many of the circumstances which explain the selection of Fort William in the second half of the eighteenth century as the headquarters of the East India Company cannot now be adduced as arguments for the permanent retention of Calcutta as the Capital of British India while certain new conditions and developments seem to point positively towards the removal of the central Government to another position. Such a suggestion is in itself not entirely novel, since it has often been asked whether the inconvenience and cost of an annual migration to the Hills could not be avoided by founding a new official capital at some place in which Europeans could reside healthfully and work efficiently throughout the whole year. You regard any such solution as impractical, in my judgment rightly, and you proceed to describe in favourable terms the purely material claims of Delhi for approval as the new centre of Government. There would be undoubted advantage both in a longer sojourn at the capital than is at present advisable, and in the shorter journey to and from Simla when the yearly transfer has to be made while weigbt may properly be attached to the central situation of Delhi and to its fortunate position as a great railway junction. As you point out, these facts of-themselves ensure not a few administrative advantages, and I am not disposed to attach serious importance to the removal of the Department of Commerce and Industry from a busy centre like Calcutta, for any official disadvantage due to this cause should be counterbalanced by the gain of a wider outlook upon the commercial activities of India as a whole.
3. From the historical standpoint, to which you justly draw attention, impressive reasons in support of the transfer cannot less easily be advanced. Not only do the ancient walls of Delhi enshrine an imperial tradition comparable with that of Constantinople, or with that of Rome itself, but the near neighbourhood of the existing City formed the theatre for some most notable scenes in the old time drama of Hindu history, celebrated in the vast treasure house of national epic verse. To the races of India, for whom the legends and records of the past are charged with so intense a meaning, this resumption by the Paramount Power of the seat of venerable Empire should at once enforce the continuity and promise the permanency of British sovereign rule over the length and breadth of the country. Historical reasons will thus prove to be political reasons of deep importance and of real value in favour of the proposed change. I share, too, your belief that the Ruling Chiefs as a body will favour the policy and give to it their hearty adhesion.