Make your own free website on Tripod.com
PAPERS RELATING TO THE DURBAR CHANGES.

9. In considering the area which the Governor of a new Bengal should be called upon to administer, it is not necessary to recall at length the steps which led up to the Partition of the former Presidency, or to engage in detailed examination of its results. It is universally admitted that up to the year 1905 the task which the Lieutenant-Governor of Bengal and his subordinates had to perform, having regard to the extent of the Presidency, to its population, and the difficulties of communication in many districts, was one with which no energy or capacity could completely cope. It is equally certain that the Provincial centre of gravity was unduly diverted to the western portion of the area, and to Calcutta itself, with the result that the Mahomedan community of Eastern Bengal were unintentionally deprived of an adequate share of consideration and attention. Such a state of affairs was not likely to agitate public opinion on this side of the water ; the name of Dacca, once so familiar to British ears, had become almost unknown to them. A rearrangement of administration at the instance of the Government of India was therefore almost imperative, but the plan that was ultimately adopted, while effecting some beneficial changes in Eastern Bengal, and offering relief to the overladen government, produced consequences in relation to the Bengali population which you depict with accuracy and fairness. History teaches us that it has sometimes been found necessary to ignore local sentiment, or to override racial prejudice, in the interest of sound administration, or in order to estabish an ethical or political principle. But even where indisputable justification can be claimed, such an exercise of authority is almost always regrettable in itself, and it will often be wise to grasp an opportunity of assuaging the resentment which has been aroused, where this can be done without practical detriment to order and good Government. You point out, moreover, that in this case the grievance is not only one of sentiment, but that in connection with the Legislative Councils the Bengali population is subjected to practical disabilities which demand and merit some redress. In Your Excellency's opinion, the desired objects can properly be achieved by reuniting the five Bengali-speaking divisions of the Presidency, Burdwan, Dacca, Rajshahi and Chittagong, into the new Presidency to be for the future administered by the Governor of Bengal in Council.

10. At the same time you lay deserved stress on the importance of giving no ground for apprehension to the Mahomedans of Eastern Bengal lest their interests should be injuriously affected by the intended alteration. In common with others of their faith, they would presumably regard with satisfaction the re-erection of Delhi as the capital of India but they would be primarily concerned with the local aspect of the proposals. It is evident that in delimiting the new Presidency care is needed to see that the balance of the different populations, though it could not remain through-out the entire area as it stands at present in Eastern Bengal and Assam is not rudely disturbed, and, as you point out, the special representation on the Legislative Councils which is enjoyed by the Mahomedans, supplies them with a distinct safe-guard in this respect. I attach, however, no little importance to the proposal that the Governor of Bengal should regard Dacca as his second capital, with full claims on his regular attention, and his residence for an appreciable part of the year. The arrangements which have been made there for the administration of the existing Lieutenant-Governor will thus not merely be utilised, but will serve a valuable purpose which it would have been difficult to secure had proposals similar to those which you now make been put forward when the old Bengal was undivided. In these circumstances I consider that you are right not to make any suggestion for a Commissionership at Dacca, analogous to that existing in Sind in the Presidency of Bombay.

4

Text document scanned using HP PSC1315 & ReadIris(TM) Image Recognition Integrated Systems http://irislink.com