NOTES AND COMMENTS CHAIRMAN OF TATA SCHOOL TRUSTEES HONOURED IT is a...
NOTES AND COMMENTS
CHAIRMAN OF TATA SCHOOL TRUSTEES HONOURED
IT is a source of satisfaction to all associated with the Sir Dorabji Tata
Graduate School of Social Work that the Chairman of the Trustees,
Mr. S. D. Saklatvala, has been awarded a Knighthood in the New Year's
Honours List. Sir Sorab's active interest in humanitarian affairs over a long
period of years has placed him in the forefront of India's enlightened indus-
trialists and it is most fitting that his manifold public services should thus be
THE MEROM IDEA
Friends and former students of Dr. Arthur E. Holt of Chicago, who was Visiting
Professor in the Tata School in 1936-37, will be interested in this address, which Dr. Holt
delivered at the dedication of new buildings at Merom Institute (Indiana U. S. A.) Dr. Holt's
insistence that rural culture must be conserved and developed will meet a warm response in
WHEN I was a young lad on the farm I had a theory in horse trading
which I think has, in one way or another, characterized most of my
thinking down through the years ! This theory was that if I could
trade a fat horse for a horse that was poor and thin but which had possibi-
lities, I could win out in the game of horse trading. Now, sometimes it
worked and sometimes it didn't. I'd like to here put on record that in
pursuance of this theory my family have been compelled to ride behind more
than its fair share of "old crow-baits." I traded for an old horse in Pueblo,
Colorado, which the family immediately named "Napoleon" because of his
"bony parts." I traded for another which had all the beauty of outline of a
razor-back hog. He had an arched back, long, sloping hips, high withers,
and a long neck. I think nature started out to make a giraffe, but didn't have
quite enough neck, so made a horse. Even when he was fat he wasn't pretty.
He could snort so that you could hear him from one end of Main Street to the
other. Everybody knew when the Holt family was in town because they
could hear "Old Kid" snort. It was too bad the fire department didn't have
him, they wouldn't have needed either a gong or a whistle. But with his
long over-reaching stride he wasn't the slowest horse on the road and for
endurance he was still going when all the rest had quit. He helped educate
THE MEROM IDEA
three successive members of the Holts by taking them twelve miles over dirt
roads to a little academy. As I said, some time the theory works and some-
times it does not.
Because of this theory of mine, I suspect that the Bennett Brothers
found me a rather easy victim when they asked if I would be willing to become
chairman of the Board of Directors of a college which twelve years before had
closed as a Liberal Arts College. I was convinced that Indiana needed
another liberal arts college about as much as California needed another
mountain peak. But back of these black walnut staircases, these hand-made
bricks, I saw an outward thrust of liberal religion into education. The people
who built this building had convictions. They were willing to bring Horace
Mann to be president of a school at Yellow Springs, Ohio; they were willing
to join with the Unitarians in founding a great liberal seminary. Here I
thought I saw something which had grown rather lean from lack of nourish-
ment but which it might be worth while to fatten up with some public support.
I can give you today only very briefly the articles in our faith which
sustain the staff and Board of Directors in our efforts to carry forward Merom
Institute as the successor to Union Christian College.
1. We believed there was a place for an institution which would con-
serve for our country and our religion the native values of rural life. You
remember that when we met in the little chapel for the funeral of Ferry Platt
all the doves in the trees were mourning a funeral chant. Prom this hill,
every morning and evening, you can see the Divine Painter illuminating the
sky with colors no artist can equal. Rural life has its contribution to make
to the great total of religious mysticism.
2. We believed there is a place for an institution which will vitalize and
socialize the religious culture of a region. Some religions fight culture, some
religions are the victims of culture and some religions meet other legitimate
cultural efforts and co-operate with them. You can't have county planning on
the basis of a religion which believes that the world is soon coming to an end.
3. We believe there is a place for an institutional adventure which places
intelligence and inspiration at the disposal of people who intend to live in
rural neighborhoods rather than at the disposal of people who intend to climb
out of them. In general I think the church has spent millions of dollars on
institutions which have become ladders by which people have climbed out of
4. We believe there is a place for a program which works for a dis-
tributed rather than a centralized America. Raymond Gram Swing in one of
. his recent broadcasts said that the security of London lies in the fact that it
is a decentralized aggregation of villages. There is no central power system,
564 NOTES AND COMMENTS
no central water system, and no central gas system, which can be bombed and
the whole city be put out of business. The security of America lies in its
decentralization. We do not want any centralized gas system which can exist
for all of us. Rural life has suffered because the city people have tried to do all
the talking. For a whole generation the social creed of the churches proclaimed
the rights and privileges of urban workers without once recognizing that this
might result in the poverty of rural workers. There is a place for a morale and
thought center for rural causes.
5. There is a place for a rural institution which will immerse itself in
the stream of rural life and be an observation, a listening and a service post
as American rural life goes through that great industrial change brought on
by our ability to manufacture and use machinery. The Rust Brothers have
just announced that next year they go into mass production in the manufacture
of cotton picking machinery. I have no statistics but if my observations are
correct, a very large part of the A. A. A. payments have gone into the buying
of machinery which makes farm hands unnecessary. A recent letter from a
resident of this community called my attention to a farm which once supported
thirty people and now only supports six. According to a recent survey the
villages of southern Illinois are already filled with a rural non-farm unem-
ployed. The compulsory draft system will displace our population still more
as it did in the last war. A new kind of rural culture is evidently ahead of us.
There is one kind of immersion I believe in, and that is the kind which
immerses itself in the stream of life even as Graham Taylor immersed himself
in the river wards of Chicago and a half century later Chicago voted him the
first citizen of its city.
6. There is a place for an institutional program which will try to keep
alive the principle of self-help in a democracy. 1 spent part of last summer
among the Mennonites out in Kansas. I was impressed with the solid nature
of their culture and their inevitably great future. The key to their greatness
lies in their widespread adoption of the principle of self-help. I noted the
size of their rural churches, membership of 750 and 675 at Sunday School.
Co-operative buying and selling and marketing, mutual aid insurance com-
panies, old folks' homes and hospitals. The Mennonites are discussing the
founding of a theological seminary. I am trying to get them to establish it
here at Merom. We have made our own attempts at co-operative self-help.
One is entitled to his own opinion about how much has been accomplished by
this group which meets around the round table in the library of this building.
I am perfectly certain that it constitutes for many people the biggest reason
why some people on the outside are willing to help in this effort here.
7. We are deeply indebted to the staff who have given such unselfish
T H E MEROM IDEA 565
loyalty. We are indebted to the supporting agencies which our Mr. Green
has mentioned. Like all educational institutions we have needs beyond our
present supply. We need additional cottages for about 75 girls; we need a
swimming pool adequately equipped with filtering plant. We need all the year
around cottages which can be attached to the central heating plant.
And now may I come to a more personal note. Five years ago today
there passed from this earth one whom you have been generous enough to
honor with a memorial hall. In order that you may feel that you are not just
honoring my family but are really carrying forward a cause I want to tell you
something of Asa Dutton Holt. My father's name heads the list of the first
group initiated into the first Grange organized in the United States. He was
born on a farm near Fredonia, in the western part of New York in 1847. In
1867, 0. E. Kelley, on a trip from Washington, D. C., to his farm in Minne-
sota, stopped off at Fredonia and organized the first Grange in the United
States. Father was not a charter member but his name heads the list of the
first group initiated. His two sisters and his sweetheart, my mother, joined at
that time and were initiated a month later. In six years, this Grange move-
ment had 858,000 members and according to Solon J. Buck of Harvard
" m a r k e d the opening of the new period in American h i s t o r y . " This epoch
being nothing less than our national struggle for economic democracy.
In 1871 father went to Colorado and became a leading figure in northern
Colorado's attempt to rescue itself from the grip of the Great American Desert
by means of irrigation. These were the days when irrigation procedure was
in the making. It was not only a struggle against an unfriendly nature but
all the traditions of British common law were against them. The first men
who took out irrigation ditches had to go to jail to secure a reversal on the part
of the Supreme Court, that the water in the river belongs to the man who owns
the bank of the river. They finally secured the ruling that water for irriga-
tion is a public resource, and although there may be priority of appropriation,
you cannot hoard it, nor monopolize it; you can only show a right to it.
Father organized one of the first of the mutual stock companies for
irrigation in northern Colorado, this company, the Highland Ditch Company
later became one of the largest and most far-seeing of the companies of this
kind. Professor Lowry Nelson, whose knowledge of such projects goes back
to long experience has called these mutual companies one of America's best
examples of economic democracy. For more than sixty years, in addition to
carrying forward a 700-acre irrigated farm, father was officially connected with
this company most of the time as president. He knew more about irrigation
law than most of the lawyers. I have often seen him prepare a case and turn
" it over to the lawyers for presentation at court. He got a great deal of
566 NOTES AND COMMENTS
satisfaction out of a creative lawsuit which cleared up a point and advanced
good irrigation procedure.
In 1884, he organized a F a r m e r ' s Milling and Elevator Company. It
introduced a certain amount of competition into the marketing of farmers'
grain in Colorado. Up until the recent depression that mill carried on.
Like many small scale adventures it was swept to destruction and father,
although he might have saved his property, preferred that he should share
completely in the losses of other people.
He died with the satisfaction that he had helped to make a valley
blossom and grow the institutions of culture. Where the prairie dog, the
rattlesnake and the owl once ruled in undisputed sway, there are farms, and
homes and churches and schools. On the day of his funeral the Editor of the
Longmont paper wrote :
" If we go out into our countryside, we see the last of the garnering of
the beautiful crops, the stubble of grain, great stacks of hay, trucks bringing
in their last load of sugar beets. Presently, we shall see our stores humming
with activity as the earnings from these crops drift into the marts of trade.
We see the countryside criss-crossed with ditches, large and small, which
have conveyed the water from the hills to the fields, without which our land
would be semi-arid with scanty vegetation.
" W e look to the hills and see there the accumulated snow which shall
melt and fill these ditches and bring next year's harvest and every year
thereafter, to bless us with the bounties of nature.
"And on his last long journey comes A. D. Holt who laboured more
than any other man to bring about this transformation from desert to a
land of plenty. We should be thankful to him and revere his memory."
If the Asa Dutton Holt Hall carries forward this tradition the members
of his family will be very happy.
VALIDITY OF MADRAS AGRICULTURISTS' RELIEF ACT UPHELD
IN the December 1940 issue of the Journal,
Dr. P. M. Titus discussed the
subject of rural indebtedness and devoted several pages to the Madras
Agriculturists' Relief Act, 1938. 2 The validity of this Act was questioned
in an appeal from a judgment of the Madras High Court which recently came
before the Federal Court for hearing. The appellants contended that the
provisions of Section 7 relating to the scaling down of debts were in direct
conflict with Sections 32 and 79 of the Negotiable Instruments Act. The
Negotiable Instruments Act, being a Federal subject, fell within the exclusive
1 Pages 329-331,
MADRAS AGRICULTURISTS' RELIEF ACT 567
competence of the Central Legislature. The question, therefore, was whether
the Madras Act could affect monetary decrees obtained on promissory notes
which were covered by the Negotiable Instruments Act. The Advocate General
for India, who appeared for the appellants, contended that the action of the
Madras Legislature was not a case of incidental repugnancy, but of direct
encroachment on the sphere of legislation reserved for the Central Legislature.
Under the circumstances, Section 7 of the Madras Act, which included within
its scope all kinds of debts was invalid and ultra vires
of the Madras Legisla-
ture, and Section 8, which laid down the procedure for the scaling down of
debts could not be sustained if Section 7 were thus held.
The Federal Court, by a majority consisting of the Chief Justice and Sir
S. Varadachariar, dismissed the appeal. Sir Maurice Gwyer in his judgment,
said : " I t must inevitably happen from time to time that legislation though
purporting to deal with one subject in one list, touches also on a subject in
another list and the different provisions of the enactment may be so closely
intertwined that blind adherence to a strictly verbal interpretation would
result in a large number of statutes being declared invalid because the legis-
lature enacting them may appear to have legislated in a forbidden sphere.
Hence the rule which has been evolved by the Judicial Committee, whereby the
impugned statute is examined to ascertain its pith and substance or its true
nature and character for the purpose of determining whether it is legislation
with respect to this matter or that.
'' I am clear that the pith and substance of the Madras Act, whatever it
may be, cannot at any rate be said to be legislation with respect to negotiable
instruments or promissory notes, which are central subjects; and it seems to
me quite immaterial that many or even most of the debts with which it deals
are in practice evidenced by or based upon such instruments. That is an
accidental circumstance which cannot affect the question.
Suppose that at some later date money-lenders were to adopt a different
method of evidencing the debts of those to whom they lend money ; how could
the validity or invalidity of the Act vary with money-lenders' practice ? I am
of opinion, therefore, that the Act cannot be challenged as only invading the
forbidden field of list (the Federal Legislative List) for it was not suggested
that it dealt with any item in that list other than No. 28.
" It was then contended that even if not wholly invalid, either the Act
was invalid in part insofar as it did or might affect promissory notes or that it
ought to be construed as not to apply to promissory notes at all. But these
questions do not in my opinion arise in the present case, because the liability
on which the Act operated was a liability under a decree of the court passed
before the commencement of the Act."
568 NOTES AND COMMENTS
In a concurring judgment, Sir Varadachariar said : " That the subject
matter of the impugned legislation is to a certain extent at least within the
jurisdiction of the Provincial Legislature cannot be and has not been denied.
It may be that it will fall partly under one item and partly under another item
in list two or list three.
" Though the Madras Act does not in terms purport to deal with nego-
tiable instruments, debts due under such instruments will undoubtedly fall
within the definition of debts in the Act. The question for consideration,
therefore, is whether this inclusion of debts due under negotiable instruments
has rendered the Act wholly or in part invalid or inoperative."
His Lordship referred to Canadian precedent and said that a number of
Canadian cases "recognise that even where provincial legislation contains
provisions relating to subjects exclusively reserved for the Dominion legisla-
ture, the whole enactment may be effective if the offending provisions are only
incidental or if it is possible to regard a subject as falling under the provincial
jurisdiction in another aspect and the impugned provincial legislation has been
enacted in respect of the latter aspect."
His Lordship held that the case would clearly fall under the head
"money lending and money lenders" in Item 27 of list two. Under this head,
it would probably make no difference in respect of the Provincial Legislature's
power to deal with such a case that a decree had been passed in respect of the
debt, because the creditor would not be any less a money lender on that ac-
count. If there should be any doubt on this ground it might be sufficient to
read this head with Item 2 in the same list (jurisdiction and powers of courts).
Even if it should be necessary to call in aid the powers under the concurrent
list on the ground that there was an interference with the provisions of the
Civil Procedure Code relating to decrees, the precaution of obtaining the as-
sent of the Governor-General had been taken in this case.
" There in no reason," said Sir Varadachariar, " for holding that the
impugned Act is invalid or inoperative so far as the subject matter of the pre-
sent proceedings is concerned. The appeal must therefore be dismissed."
A dissenting opinion was rendered by Sir Shah Sulaiman who remarked
that " i n the early years of the working of a constitution, when ideas
have not crystallized, and rules of law applicable to it have not been clearly
formulated, differences of opinion are not uncommon. Taking all the provi-
sions together and considering the Act as a whole, it could not be doubted that
it was with respect to matters in lists two and three. It was most difficult to
place it outside these two lists."
It was impossible to deny, he said, that the Act encroached upon the field
covered by negotiable instruments—a Central subject. " It would have been
MADRAS AGRICULTURISTS' RELIEF ACT 569
open to the Provincial Legislature expressly to exclude such instruments
from the operation of the Act; but that had not been done. It is accordingly-
impossible to hold that there is no trespass on the Federal legislative field.
There is an apparent overlapping and no clear-cut demarcation is discernible.
'' In my opinion the Provincial Act, being repugnant to the existing
Indian law relating to promissory notes, which is exclusively a Federal subject,
is void to that extent. I, however, agree with the High Court that there is
nothing in the Madras Agriculturists' Relief Act which really conflicts with any
provisions of the Hindu law. No doubt a creditor can always fall back upon
the original consideration and sue upon the debt independently of the pro-
missory note. It is equally true that the sons were impleaded in this case
merely to deprive them of the chance of contending that it was not binding
upon them on account of its having been tainted with immorality or illegality.
A Hindu son is under a pious obligation to pay his father's debts out of the
joint family property. But he is not bound to pay what his father cannot be
made to pay. If the interest on the loan taken by the father can be cut down
under some existing law so as to benefit the father, the son can equally take
advantage of that relief.
'' I also agree that any repugnancy to the Central Act is cured by the
assent of the Governor-General and further as usurious loans come within
money lending, any conflict with the Usurious Loans Act alone is not material.
But for this erroneous conclusion as to the intra vires
character of the Madras
Act, based of course on the Full Bench decision of the Madras High Court, the
subordinate judge would have had no jurisdiction to interfere with the decree;
and so his order for the satisfaction of the decree when in fact it had not been
satisfied, amounted to acting with an illegality in the exercise of his jurisdiction.
The High Court could, therefore, appropriately exercise its discretion to
interfere in revision.
'' I would allow the appeal and remit the ease to the High Court with the
declaration that the order of the subordinate judge, dated February 11, 1939,
be set aside and the execution allowed to proceed."
BOMBAY SHOPS AND ESTABLISHMENTS ACT, 1939
IN the June, 1940 issue of the Journal,
articles by Mr. G. A. Limaye and Mr.
Wilfred Singh pointed out the exploitation of children in unorganized
industries in Bombay City. The Bombay Shops and Establishments Act,
1939, which came into force on the 15th November 1940, is designed to correct
the most flagrant abuses. The Act regulates the opening and closing hours of
shops and provides that no person shall be required or allowed to work in a
570 NOTES AND COMMENTS
shop for more than nine and a half hours in any day; for more than seven
hours in any day unless he has had an interval of rest of at least one hour, or
for more than five hours without a rest interval of at least half an hour. The
periods of work and intervals of rest must be arranged within a 12 hour spread-
over. Every person employed in a shop is to be given at least one day in a
week as a holiday and no deduction is to be made from his wages because of
Hours of work in commercial establishments are limited to 208 per
No person employed in any restaurant, eating house or theatre or any
other place of public amusement or entertainment shall be required or allowed
to work in such establishment for more than ten hours in a day; for more than
eight hours unless he has had an interval for rest of at least one hour, or for
more than six hours without a rest interval of at least half an hour. The
periods of work and intervals of rest must be within a 14 hour spread-over.
No child, i. e.,
a person who has not completed his twelfth year, is
allowed to work in any establishment to which the Act applies.
No young person, i. e., a
person who is not a child and has not com-
pleted his seventeenth year, is allowed to work in any establishment to which
the Act applies, before 6 a. m. and after 7 p. m. The hours of work for young
persons are limited to 8 per day and 42 in a week. No young person is allowed
to work in an establishment for more than 4 hours in any day unless he has
had an interval of rest of at least half an hour.
The enforcement of the Act is entrusted to local authorities, who shall
appoint such inspectorate as is regarded necessary for the purpose of carrying
out the provisions of the Act.
Penalties are provided for obstructing inspectors and contravening the
provisions of the Act.
Though the Act extends to the whole Province of Bombay, it comes into
force in the first instance only in the city of Bombay, the Ahmedabad Munici-
pal Borough and Cantonment, the Poona City and Suburban Municipal
Borough, the Poona Cantonment, the Sholapur Municipal Borough and the
Hubli Municipal Borough.
The Act may be criticised in that it lumps together establishments of a
widely varying nature, but the underlying purpose is good. The usual tears
are being shed about the pitiful lot of the boys under 12 who are thrown out
of employment. But so far as Bombay is concerned the effect of this provi-
sion should be a wholesome one. Large numbers of young boys have been
attracted to the city in the past because of the willingness of hotel (restaurant)
keepers to provide them with food in return for their services. Hotel keepers,
BOMBAY SHOPS AND ESTABLISHMENTS ACT 571
in turn, have encouraged the importation of this cheap and easily exploitable
labour. This abuse should now be stopped and any child in genuine need can
be cared for in the Children's Home at Chembur.
Another repercussion of the Act has been the action of some employers,
again mainly hotel keepers, in reducing the wages of existing employees who
have been working for excessive hours, in order to employ the additional
labourers required under the Act. In order to deprive their employees of the
weekly holiday with pay contemplated under the Act, a number of employers
have changed their employees from a monthly wage basis to a daily wage
The burden of inspection thrown upon a very small inspectorate is an
extremely heavy one, and the difficulties connected with rigid inspection will
quite probably result in a considerable number of establishments being able
to evade the strict provisions of the Act.
The principle behind this legislation is sound and undoubtedly a period
of experience with the working of the Act will reveal its major weaknesses
and result in its amendment and improvement.
PROGRESS IN THE PROTECTION OF CHILDREN
THE Annual Report of the Juvenile Branch on the Administration of the
Children Act in the Bombay Province for the year ending 31st March
1940 reveals that the Children Act is in full application in 8 areas of the
Province, while Part IV of the Act, dealing with Young Offenders, is in force
throughout the whole Province. Work in the mofussil is hampered by lack
of proper remand facilities—the only place of detention too often being the
sub-jail or police lock-up, where it is impossible to separate juvenile and
adult offenders in any adequate manner. Further, in those centres where the
full Children Act has not yet been applied there are no proper Juvenile Courts
and the Children are generally tried in a criminal court atmosphere. There
is still need for education on the part of the magistrates. Cases are disposed
of without adequate preliminary investigation and without due regard as to
what the possible effect of the disposition will be on the future welfare of the
child. There is still a marked lack of accommodation in Certified Schools.
Owing to the shortage in the number of Certified School vacancies, boys
often have to be retained in a remand Home after
commitment to a School,
while waiting for a vacancy to arise. At one time during the year in Poona,
there were no less than 18 committed boys retained in the local Remand Home.
Sometimes 40 boys were accommodated in premises designed to house 23.
Out of 2,498 children detained in 1939-40, 1,424 or 57'01 per cent were
572 NOTES AND COMMENTS
neglected children and 951 or 38.07 per cent were young offenders. In 1938,
276 children were committed to Certified Schools and 50 to Private Institu-
tions. In 1939-40, 574 children were committed to Certified Schools and 64
to Private Institutions. The rate of institutional commitment has risen from
18.46 to 25.9 per cent. The reason for this is the increased number of neglect-
ed and homeless children removed from the streets, as well as an increase in
the number of children removed from their homes because of moral danger.
Probation work is naturally best developed in the city of Bombay.
Four members of the Bombay Probation Staff are graduates of the Tata
The Report pays a tribute to the work of the Child Guidance Clinic of
the Tata School : "The Probation Officers and the children themselves owe
a deep debt of gratitude to Dr. K. R. Masani, Director of the Child Guidance
Clinic, for his unfailing help in the cases of children with specially difficult
problems. His patient and gentle unravelling of the tangle of emotions in
which they were caught, has set many of them free to make a new start, and
indirectly his influence has reached hundreds of children, with whom he has
had no direct contact, by virtue of the training and example given to us all."
Mentally defective children are still a problem in that there are no
proper facilities for their disposition. It is hoped that the Mentally Defec-
tive Children's Home to be erected on a portion of the Chembur Plot will not
be too long delayed.
Much credit is due to those in charge of the administration of the
Bombay Children Act for the intelligent and sympathetic manner in which
they are approaching their difficult task.
RESURVEY OF MADRAS VILLAGES
IN 1916-17 Dr. Gilbert Slater conducted a detailed survey of 8 villages in
various parts of the Madras Presidency. Twenty years later the Depart-
ment of Economies of Madras University made a resurvey of the villages
in an endeavour to ascertain the trend of changes in these villages. The
results of the study were summarized in a lecture delivered at Madras on the
16th January by Dr. P, J. Thomas, Professor of Economics in the Madras
Dr. Thomas stated that during the twenty year period the population
had increased in all but one of the resurveyed villages. Holdings had
increased in number but had decreased in size. No attempt had been made to
consolidate holdings—in fact the small size of the holdings seemed to make any
such scheme impracticable, Dr, Thomas suggested that perhaps a better line
RESURVEY OF MADRAS VILLAGES 573
of approach would be to experiment in collective farming. There had been a
great increase in the number of non-cultivating land-holders and a rapid
growth in tenancy. The increase in the number of agricultural labourers
might be designated as " a l a r m i n g . " The study revealed little change in the
system of crops. Animal husbandry was still the most neglected branch of
"With the development of banking facilities and co-operative credit, the
rates of interest had fallen by about fifty per cent. Communications had im-
proved, but with the improvement in communications the villages had become
less self-sufficient, being now more dependent on outside trade centres for
supply. Arrangements for marketing produce continue to be unsatisfactory.
There was a slight improvement in literacy and in public health. No
appreciable rise could be marked in the standard of living. It would appear
that the economic activities of Government since 1916 have been of more
benefit to the urban areas than to the villages and that there is now an urgent
need for a concentrated programme of rural development.
PUBLIC HEALTH ADMINISTRATION IN INDIA
IN his presidential address to the National Institute of Sciences in India,
meeting at Benares early in January, Colonel R. N. Chopra, Director of
the School of Tropical Medicine in Calcutta, and one of the recently
created Knights, dealt with the problem of public health administration in
India. One of the major difficulties according to Colonel Chopra, is the lack
of co-operation between the official Medical and Public Health Departments,
leading to confusion and financial waste. While in some respects it is advan-
tageous to have separate administrative agencies for preventive and curative
medicine, yet by and large the results have not been satisfactory. There has
been much overlapping, particularly in the fields of maternity and child
welfare, tuberculosis and leprosy.
Colonel Chopra sees a possible remedy for the existing state of affairs
in the English system, where the Ministry of Health is the chief tribunal for
local authorities. He believes that in India a Federal Ministry of Health would
prove to be a suitable co-operative agency for the provincial departments.
The Federal Ministry could assume responsibility for the various health func-
tions conferred on the Central Government by the Act of 1935. Curative and
preventive medicine would be dealt with under one department, suitably
organized and containing competent advisers and technicians. Each Province
would have a Board of Health under the Minister of the Department as
574 NOTES AND COMMENTS
There is no denying that the present system of organization, while
efficient in many areas, leaves other areas almost completely neglected.
Colonel Chopra's scheme should be carefully studied as a possible solution to
MEDICAL RELIEF FOR PUNJAB VILLAGERS
IN order to bring medical relief within easy reach of the villagers the Punjab
Government have taken a number of important steps. A scheme of settling
subsidised medical practitioners in rural areas was inaugurated in 1939.
Prom November 1939 to March 1940, 60 subsidised medical practitioners were
placed in villages which hitherto had not enjoyed any kind of medical relief.
In May 1940 the scheme was extended by adding another group of 23 doctors
to the subsidised list.
Rural medical officers in charge of rural dispensaries now spend four
days in each week in touring to four key villages within a radius of five miles
from the dispensary. If necessary, the sick in these villages are treated in
their own homes. School children are also examined and instruction is given
in matters of personal hygiene. This system of visiting villages is now
being practised in every district in the Province and is expected to expand in
MALNUTRITION AND INFANT MORTALITY
LECTURING at Patna University in mid-January, Dr. W. R. Aykroyd,
Director of Nutrition Research, Indian Research Fund Association,
stressed the importance of a well-balanced diet for the mother and for
the child—both before and after his birth.
The maternal mortality rate in India is high. Although accurate
figures cannot be obtained, a fair estimate would probably be 24.5 deaths per
1,000 registered live births. Of the diseases common to expectant mothers
in India, the larger number are due to some deficiency in diet.
The infantile mortality rate is also high. Over a million infants die
annually before reaching the age of one year. Fifty per cent of the total
infant mortality takes place during the first month after birth, and 60 per cent
of this total during the first week. One of the most important contributing
factors is that of malnutrition;'
Dr. Aykroyd stated that the mortality rate remains high throughout
childhood. Approximately 49 per cent of the total mortality in India is
among children below ten years of age. Here again it is the same story.
The parents live on a defective diet and the children eat the same thing as
MALNUTRITION AND INFANT MORTALITY 575
their parents. The amount of cereals consumed is out of proportion to the
amount of milk and vegetables.
Parents must be educated regarding correct feeding and the maternity
and child welfare service of the country greatly extended. " T h e task of
raising the standard of health by improving the diet of children," said Dr.
Aykroyd, " i s one which must appeal to all who have the welfare of the
country at h e a r t . "
PROPOSED LABOUR LEGISLATION
IN opening the Second Labour Conference, which met at New Delhi in late
January, Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar, Commerce Member, Government of
India, pointed out that " the war and the need to concentrate on winning
it should not stand in the way of healthy and peaceful preparations to meet the
new conditions that must come with peace." The path of wisdom was not to
allow problems to accumulate, but to take them up at the present time and
seek to find their solution."
As a result of the Conference discussions it was decided that six official
bills dealing with labour problems are to be drafted for introduction in the
autumn session of the Central Assembly. The proposed bills relate to (a)
prohibition of strikes and lockouts during conciliation; (b) holidays with pay;
(c) weekly holidays in commercial establishments and shops; (d) amendment
of the Factories Act so as to designate all establishments employing ten or
more persons as factories; (e) recognition of trade unions; (f) extension of
maternity benefit legislation to women employed in coal mines.
The proposals, which had been previously discussed with representatives
of employers and of labour separately at Calcutta early in January, were
discussed with representatives of Provincial and State Governments at the
Delhi conference. In his opening address Sir Ramaswami Mudaliar empha-
sized that it was not the intention of the Central Government to invade legiti-
mate provincial or State spheres. The object rather was to ensure coordinated
With reference to the prohibition of strikes and lockouts during conci-
liation, the procedure outlined is that before a strike or lockout is commenced,
the party contemplating such action must give 14 days' notice to the opposite
party, at the same time sending a copy to the Labour Commissioner or other
officer appointed for that purpose. The notice must state the reasons for the
proposed course of action. Upon receipt of the notice it is the duty of
Labour Commissioner, or the properly designated officer, to attempt a peace-
ful settlement of the dispute. If the attempt at conciliation fails, the strike
576 NOTES AND COMMENTS
or lockout may be started at the end of the fortnight. In the meantime
Government may decide whether it is advisable to appoint a board of concilia-
tion or court of inquiry under the Act. If such a board is appointed, the
strike or lockout should not be started for two months from the date of its
appointment, or till its conclusions are published—whichever is earlier. During
the period of conciliation the status quo should be maintained by both groups.
Regarding recognition of trade unions the Conference felt that there
should be central legislation defining conditions for the recognition of trade
unions by provincial governments and that the provincial governments should
be empowered to add to these conditions. The basic conditions as suggested
are : (1) that the union should fulfil the requirements of the Trade Unions Act;
(2) that membership should not be restricted on communal or other religious
grounds ; (3) t h a t the union should submit a copy of its membership lists to the
Government ; (4) that the executive committee should meet at least once in a
quarter and should be fully conversant with all union affairs ; (5) that the
union has been in existence for at least six months. It was further suggested
by the Conference that Central legislation should compel employers to recognise
trade unions recognised by a provincial Government ; that provincial govern-
ments should have the discretion to fix or not fix minimum membership, and
that provincial governments should have the right to confer such powers or
privileges as they may consider desirable on recognised trade unions.
The Conference agreed that an actuarial examination should be under-
taken as a preliminary to the possible introduction of a sickness insurance
scheme for workers.