NOTES AND COMMENTS THE BEGGAR PROBLEM THE total number of beggars in...
NOTES AND COMMENTS
THE BEGGAR PROBLEM
THE total number of beggars in India is estimated at 14 lakhs. Many of
these are found in the big cities and towns. In Bombay City alone it is
estimated that there are more than 15,000 beggars, the juveniles among
them numbering in the neighbourhood of 5,000. According to a survey made
in 1932, there were 4,000 beggars in Calcutta of whom about 25% were lepers,
10% blind, 5% lathyric, 5% suffering from miscellaneous diseases, while a small
fraction included the insane, deaf and dumb. The remainder, namely, 50%
of the professional beggars and vagrants, did not show any disease or physi-
cal disability. Of this total of Calcutta's beggar population, one-third be-
longed to Bengal, one-third to Bihar and Orissa, and the remaining to U. P.,
C. P., and other provinces. The females numbered a little less than half the
males, and the Hindus were double the number of the Mohamedans.
According to a recent census, there are 5,749 beggars in Bangalore
City and 2,800 in Mysore City. Of these some 2,000 are non-Mysorians. There
are altogether 3,937 able-bodied and 1,812 infirm beggars in Bangalore City,
and in Mysore City 2,133 and 677, respectively. Majority of them have no
other means of livelihood. Only about one-third of those in Bangalore and
one-fifth in Mysore have had some occupation prior to taking to begging. In
Lucknow there are 2,000 beggars and daily some Rs. 500/- are given away in
indiscriminate charity. Figures are not available for other cities nor do we
have any accurate data for the important cities like Bombay, Calcutta,
Madras, etc. All the same, we may conclude that there has been an alarming
increase of beggars in cities and towns.
During the last two years there has been increased attention given by
the public to the beggar problem in many cities and towns in India, among
these being Bombay, Madras, Calcutta, Trivandrum, Kottayam, Ernakulam,
Bangalore, Mysore, Karachi, Lucknow, Nagpur and Hyderabad. The All
India Women's Council have been active on this issue all over India. Concern
about this problem is not of recent origin. It has been engaging the
attention of governments, local bodies and the public for more than two
decades. It was as early as 1915 that the Bombay Municipal Corporation inter-
ested itself in this problem. In 1919, the Government of Bombay appointed
a Committee to report on beggary in the Province with a view to preventing
358 NOTES AND COMMENTS
it. The appointment of the Piekford Mendicancy Enquiry Committee in 1920
was an indication of the concern of the citizens of Calcutta of those days with
regard to the eradication of this evil. The recommendations of the Piekford
Committee were not carried out owing to financial difficulties.
There have been in existence of old and recent origins in different cities
and towns a small number of institutions private, grant-in-aid and public,
which were taking care of the destitute and infirm. In Bombay, for instance,
there are two Children's Homes at Umarkhadi and Chembur, grant-in-aid
institutions run by the Children's Aid Society ; there are two homes for the
blind at Dadar and Andheri, there is the King George V Memorial Infirmary,
the Lady Dhunbai Jehangir Home for the Destitute, and the Dharmasala in
Byculla maintained by the District Benevolent Society. In Calcutta, there
are five agencies and the Corporation is thinking of starting a new Vagrants'
Home. The Madras Corporation is already running a poor house and is con-
templating to build another. In Nagpur, the Society for the Elimination of
Beggary—a privately constituted body of public-minded citizens of the city—
is active and has been raising funds, and planning to start poor houses. In
the meanwhile, they have adopted a system of billetting beggars on their
relations and friends, or some other institution with the help of a monthly
subsidy. In Karachi, it is proposed to confine able-bodied beggars in a
separate ward in jails and inculcate in them the habit of industry and work.
In Lucknow, the Social Service League has opened a Poor House. Trivan-
drum, Kottayam and Bangalore have homes for the poor.
Regarding legislative measures, the law on begging as it stands in
India concerns itself only with prohibition but not with relief. For instance,
the Central Provinces Municipalities Act (Section 206) penalises importunate
begging in public places without offering relief to the beggars. The Govern-
ment of India published on 15th February 1941 an amendment to the Rules
under the Indian Railways Act prohibiting begging in railway premises or
trains without making any provision for relief. Section 109 of the Criminal
Procedure Code penalises a vagrant without ostensible means of livelihood but
makes no provision for such means. Certain Police Acts in India prohibit
begging without providing alternative means of livelihood. Exceptions to this
rule are the European Vagrancy Act and the Leper Act which lay an obliga-
tion on the State to provide means of subsistence to the persons concerned.
The Bombay City Police Act (Section 121) deals with begging thus:—
"Whoever in any street or public place begs or directs or permits children
under his control to beg, or applies for alms or exposes or exhibits with the
object of obtaining or extorting alms, any sore, wound, deformity or disease
shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one
THE BEGGAR PROBLEM 359
month or with fine which may extend to fifty rupees, or with both." The
Madras Government published a Bill on 26th November 1940 to amend the
present Madras City Police Act to penalise begging in public places. The
C. P. Government issued a circular in January 1939 inviting all Deputy Com-
missioners to explore the possibilities of using Section 206 and Section 179(1)
(EE) of the C. P. Municipalities Act to deal with beggary. The Government
of Sind has appointed a Committee to deal with this problem. There is a bill
in the Sind Legislative Assembly to penalise begging by able-bodied beggars..
The District Magistrate of Bangalore (Civil & Military Station) has, under
Section 64 of the Bangalore Police Law, absolutely prohibited begging in
public places in his jurisdiction. Similar action has been reported in Secun-
derabad. Calcutta Corporation has a Vagrancy Bill under consideration.
In spite of the prohibitory legislations in the major cities, either be-
cause of the laxity in enforcing them or due to the comparatively light punish-
ment involved, beggars are still present on the streets of Bombay, Madras and
other cities. The Committee of Enquiry into the case of Destitute Children and
Young Offenders, set up by the Government of Bombay, reported in 1934 that
"the punishment is comparatively light; it makes no provision for treatment
on classified lines. In our opinion there can be no constructive treatment of
the beggar problem without a comprehensive Beggar Act drafted in line with
the Leper Act."
Mere prohibition without adequate provisions for relief is not going to
solve the beggar problem. Now the question arises: Who will pay for the
care of beggars ? Will the State take the responsibility, or should the beggars
be left to shift for themselves without begging, or should voluntary agencies
give them institutional care ? Voluntary agencies though indispensable are
not adequate to meet the need. Government action is necessary not only to
prohibit begging but also to finance poor relief from public taxation. Pri-
vate agencies carrying on with voluntary donations can continue as supple-
mentary and co-operating institutions.
Unless legislation is effected both for prohibition and relief on an All-
India scale, there is the danger of many embarrassing situations arising in
different places. For instance, the Calcutta Vagrancy Bill recommends the
repatriation of extra-territorial beggars. Where will they go and what will
they do 1 The drive against begging in public by the Secunderabad Police
authorities has made many beggars take to different avocations. Some have
gone to villages and set themselves as money-lenders and fortune-tellers,
while others who are still in the city are believed to be working as magicians
and trinket-sellers. There is no reason to assume that many of the beggars
would prefer security and compulsory detention in a poor house or jail to free-
360 NOTES AND COMMENTS
dom outside with all its risks of insecurity. Many beg because it is not an
offence, because it adds to their income; further, the comparatively slight
odium associated with begging, and the public at large, with the traditional
idea of religious merit derived from almsgiving, indirectly encourage begging.
It will be as hard to take the almsgivers off the streets as to prohibit begging.
Many of these donors may not contribute towards the maintenance of a poor
house. The public is to be educated to think of beggary as a social problem to
be solved by organized concerted effort. What is given now indiscriminately
and haphazardly ought to be pooled together to run central agencies where
beggars will be cared for. But institutions dependent mainly on voluntary
contributions alone will not be enough to meet the need. Government has
to share a major portion of this burden.
A special ear-marked tax may be levied to meet the need. In the Note
prepared by the Calcutta Rotary Club on the beggar problem, it was suggested
that there should be an increase in the tax on trade licenses by 12'5%.
Another suggestion made in that Note was the levying of a surcharge on the
applications for building plans in Calcutta. There are evidences to assume
that the public at large will be sympathetic towards legislation to prohibit
begging in public places, to make it obligatory on local bodies to give relief
and to levy tax to meet the expenses for the same. Poor laws, doles, work
relief, unemployment insurance, social security legislation etc., are only too
common in many western countries. It is not any too early for us to make a
start by taking care of our beggars efficiently and adequately.
WELFARE WORK AMONG PARSIS
THERE has been a great reawakening in the Parsi Community of late
born of the desire to set right some of the wrongs and evils brought into
being by the age-old, out-moded and extremely detrimental system of
doles. The thoughtful and intelligent members of the community were chal-
lenged by the queer and irreconcilable phenomenon of the smallest but one
of the richest communities in India with vast financial resources and vaster
problems heading straight towards general deterioration due to stark poverty.
And thus the Zoroastrian Welfare Association was formed to organize Zoro-
astrian Community life towards self-dependence and self-respect by devising
projects and programmes for the rehabilitation
of the members of the
community who have to be dependent upon charity, and by finding out the
means and organizing the machinery to execute the same.
Among other things, it may be mentioned that the Association aims to
render social service through personal contact of the social workers with
WELFARE WORK AMONG PARSIS 361
families for advising, guiding and assisting the latter in the routine of life, and
organize an efficient and influential machinery in order to provide and/or help
to secure sufficient and timely ameliorative assistance for the distressed, needy,
sick and poor members of the community. Further, it seeks to organize social
welfare settlements wherever and whenever possible. Salaried and voluntary
workers will, as far as possible, be recruited from the community which a
welfare settlement serves.
Among its other objectives are special provisions for the care and educa-
tion of the mother and child, initiation of playground and other activities for
the physical and mental well-being of children, the young and the aged, and
training of social workers in theory and practice under expert guidance for
undertaking welfare work amongst those who are in need of the same. The
Association proposes to take such other measures as may be found expedient
for the general betterment and health of the community life, particularly of
families whose means of livelihood are slender and inefficient, and devise
means to execute them.
In accordance with this programme, Welfare Centres have been started
at the Cowasji Jehangir Colony, the Marzban Colony and the Gamadia Colony,
and the second annual report opens with an optimistic note : " Our Welfare
Centre ", it observes, " . . . can now claim to be one of the best organized
Welfare Centres in India ", and states " the Association now works for the
complete rehabilitation and improvement of life of 700 Parsi families with a
population of nearly 3,000 persons. " The programme of rehabilitation in-
cludes the Nursery School, the Saturday Activity School, the Vacation
Schools, Kiddy Club, Play Centres, Athletics, Training Camp, Nature's Club,
Cycle Club, Boys' Club, Girls' Club, Three Women's Clubs, Education
Supervision, Reading Rooms, Debating Union, Study Circles, Visual
Education, Dramatic Club, Employment Bureau and a definite Employ-
ment Scheme in the form of a small industry—the Artitoy Industry—for the
benefit of Indian children and unemployed Parsis. Some provision is also
being made for Research Work.
The Artitoy Industry has splendid potentialities not from the business
angle alone but also from the point of view of developing child activity and
initiative, and of pointing the way to the role of art, aesthetics and educa-
tion. A perusal of the Report as a whole fills one with a sense of something
definite being achieved by a body of sincere, earnest, enthusiastic workers
and the Parsi Community owes no mean debt to the generosity of Lady Ratan
Tata, Lady Cowasji Jehangir and other patrons and donors for the solid
financial backing, and to the indefatigable efforts of the Association's
Director of Social Work, Dr. B. H. Mehta, M A., Ph.D., of the Sir Dorabji
362 NOTES AND COMMENTS
Tata Graduate School of Social Work, without whose able direction and
organizing zeal the present regeneration and reconstruction of the Parsi poor
families could hardly have been possible.
MANY and varied have been the efforts made in the past to educate the blind.
Many books have been made available to the blind by transcription into
raised characters known as Braille. These books are very bulky and
difficult to read. An ordinary novel done in Braille requires several volumes.
Not all blind people are able to read Braille fluently ; many cannot read it at
all, even in its simplest form. Braille system was developed on the basis
of utilizing the sense of touch of the blind. Now a new system has been
introduced which utilizes the sense of hearing of the blind. Since 1933, talk-
ing books have been introduced. The invention of the talking book puts the
whole field of literature within the potential reach of the blind. Already many
western classics have been recorded as gramophone novels, and the intention
is to create a comprehensive library so that almost any book that is worth
reading will be available to the sightless.
For the purpose of recording books, special 12-inch records are used
made of very thin flexible material. A fourteen-record volume will be less
than an inch thick, which makes the gramophone novel scarcely more bulky
than a printed book. By placing the sound channels closer together, without
interfering in any way with the quality of the reproduction, success was achiev-
ed in compressing much material into a single record page. The records run
for eighteen minutes a side. The recording is done at the rate of 180 words a
minute and the reproduction can be regulated to 10% slower or faster as requir-
ed. While it is estimated that an average reader can get through a book at
the rate of 400 words a minute, the talking book gives a reproduction at about
half this rate. A 7,200-word story can be recorded on a double-faced record.
Another method of producing a talking book makes use of the " sound
strip " employed in some methods of film recording. The attractive features
of this method are that a novel can be recorded on one continuous strip of film
much less bulky than a set of records, and that it is easier for reproduction.
But it requires the use of a modified film projector, which is much more
expensive than a gramophone which is used for reproducing the records. Yet
the two different methods have their own special uses. The " sound strip " is
particularly suited to the broadcasting of novels, whereas the gramophone
record is more of a home amenity. If more than one person is engaged
in the recording of books where more than one character come, it is possible
TALKING BOOKS 363
that the reproduction of these records or films will hate an added dramatic
At present talking books are produced exclusively for the blind. It is
more than likely that this device may be extended in its usefulness to all
classes of readers. More important and hopeful portent is that it will be a
boon to the illiterates. The ears will absorb what the eyes cannot decipher.
Moreover, as fashionable society women knit while they are listening to a
lecture or concert, poor manual labourers and women engaged in routine
household duties can listen while they are working. The "hum of the
charka " can be silenced by the " voice of human experience and knowledge."
It is refreshing to notice that alongside of the destructive use of scientific in-
ventions proceeds the socially productive side as well. Sympathetic attention
to the handicapped bring into existence devices which ultimately become a
boon to the non-handicapped as well. When books can be enjoyed by the
simple process of sitting back in a chair and listening to them, reading—for
pleasure—may be the exception rather than the rule.
RACE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT
we speak of fitness and efficiency we shall have to ask ourselves :
Fitness and efficiency for what? A man may be fit as a paper hanger
without being fit to decide the destiny of a continent A man
without legs is unfit for walking but may be an outstanding fighter pilot."
These challenging questions and answers were made not long ago in the
Journal of the American Medical Association by two South African doctors,
Drs. Ernst Jokl and Eustace Henry Cluver of Johannesburg. To determine-
the physical fitness of thousands of their countrymen, they carried out many
and varied experiments. Some of their findings are interesting and revealing.
Recently they rounded up 32 young men from the "poor white" class.
Since these men had no major diseases, most doctors would call them physi-
cally fit. But they were dull, undernourished, sluggish, plagued by colds,
rheumatism, headaches. No employer would hire them. Drs. Jokl and
Cluver sent them to a Government-sponsored camp, gave them food, exercise,
recreation. In six months they produced an improvement "truly remarkable".
Soon after the training period, most of the men found good jobs.
During the last few years, Drs. Jokl and Cluver have made 20,000 tests
on children between the ages of 5 and 20. The children were of many different
groups :—"English, Afrikander (native Dutch or Hughenot), Jewish, Bantu,
Cape Coloured, Indian and Chinese." They had to put a ten-pound shot, run
100 and 600
yards, at any pace they pleased. After each child finished, the
364 NOTES AND COMMENTS
doctors made careful notes on how tired he was. Amazing were the findings:
All racial groups of the same age had the same endurance. Said the doctors:
"No more impressive evidence for the basic equality of man has ever been
"In sharp contrast to what is generally believed," the doctors found
that "working endurance" is greatest in young children, and the age of
greatest physical stamina is at about 6. In all children, the onset of adole-
scence causes a tremendous physical strain. From the age of 13 on the physi-
cal efficiency of women does not increase, may even decline. Girls of 18 were
exhausted by the 600-yard run, although children of 6 took it in their stride.
The physical efficiency of boys continues to rise after 13 but at a much slower
rate than before. "An important biologic hint: During puberty, unneces-
sarily strenuous activities such as rigid drill . . . must be avoided."
Few Scientists know anything about the effect of food on physical
efficiency. Drs. Jokl and Cluver compared the athletic performance of two
sets of children :—a " poor " group which ate mostly carbohydrates, a few
vegetables ; a " rich " group which had plenty of vegetables, meat and dairy
products. When both groups were put through their paces, there was no
difference in efficiency before adolescence, between the " poor " and " rich "
children ; after adolescence, the poor children dropped far below the others.
Prowess in athletics has always been considered a sure sign of physical
fitness. But not to Drs. Jokl and Cluver. They have collected case records
of scores of athletes who suffered from major disease :—a champion
swimmer with a form of insanity and paralysis caused by syphilis, a first-class
ski-runner with a wooden leg, a shot-put champion with a congenital defor-
mity of his chest muscle. Prize specimen was the '' iron man of South Afri-
can Rugby", who died after a game. Both his kidneys were diseased, and he
had an enlarged heart, hardening of the arteries, glandular trouble.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST MALARIA
IN World War I the total killed and died were "8,538,315, and that means
there was an average of about 2,135,000 deaths and nearly 5,303,000 were
wounded every year of the war. Malaria kills 3,000,000 beings yearly in
an unending world-wide massacre. What-is India's share in this human sacri-
fice at the shrine of Mrs. Mosquito ? Two lives per minute, or 2,880 persons
per day or 1,036,800 persons every year is the heavy toll taken by Malaria
in this country.' If over a million persons die annually of malaria it is
reckoned that the number of persons attacked by this disease every year is
100,000,000. When more than a quarter of the population of this country is
CAMPAIGN AGAINST MALARIA 365
attacked yearly by such a debilitating disease, it is too much to expect that
this country can be progressive or prosperous. In India malaria is primarily
a rural disease. From a survey of the burden on the ryots caused by this
disease, it is estimated that malaria costs them each year directly over
It is this appalling magnitude of the problem that brought into exist-
ence the Malaria Institute of India in 1927. The annual report for the year
1940 shows that the Institute carries on investigations, and systematic re-
search ; assists in carrying out anti-malarial measures in any part of India ;
undertakes clinical work on malaria, including treatment; teaches and trains
officers and others in practical malarial work ; publishes scientific results,
useful guides, bulletins etc., keeps alive interest in malaria study and preven-
tion, and sees that such interest wherever present is nursed and assisted.
The Institute has a distinguished staff of highly trained officers, research
director as well as assistants, through whom these high aims for the complete
eradication of malaria are sought to be fulfilled. Many visits and tours were
made by the Director, Lieut. Colonel Covell, Dr. Puri, Majors Afridi and
Jaswant Singh during the year throughout the length and breadth of India for
the purpose of fulfilling the various above mentioned functions, and twenty-
four students, drawn from different sources such as the Defence Department,
Air Force in India, Provincial Governments and Indian States, were given in-
structional courses, 17 of whom passed the examination held at the end of the
Besides this valuable work, the organization publishes several reports,
articles, bulletins, papers and journals which later serve as a textbook for
the various courses in malariology. The Institute also has good libraries at
Kasauli and Delhi and a museum which is now very well equipped. Many
interesting field and laboratory researches have been and are being carried on
in Delhi, Wynaad (South India), Orissa and Bazpur and the report of the
Entomologist is replete with tests of insecticides, Indian grown pyrethrum
flowers, mosquito repellents, larvicides and ovarian development. One of the
most significant of the Institute's activities, however, is the starting of the
rural anti-malaria schemes under the guidance of the officers, and during the
year, such schemes have been in operation in Delhi Province, the United Pro-
vinces, Madras Presidency and Bengal.
All the major efforts in India so far are on one side to destroy mosqui-
toes and on the other to cure malaria. Mosquito control is attempted by
insecticides,.limitation of mosquito breeding places and such other mecha-
nical means. Cure of malaria is generally effected by the use of quinine. So
far the use of the more effective weapon " atabrine " has not become popular.
366 NOTES AND COMMENTS
This complicated drug keeps malarial patients from infecting mosquitoes and
thereby spreading the disease.
Malaria spreads in just one way and that is through the bite of a parti-
cular kind of she-mosquito. This insect sucks the blood of an infected
person; then she bites and spits the microbes back into healthy people.
The effective control of malaria depends upon the breaking up of this man-to-
mosquito-to-man chain. Quinine cures individual cases wonderfully. But in
many advanced cases the curative doses doctors have to use are so terrific that
they are dangerous. Many prefer the disease to the cure. Thus the chain of
infection survives, and malaria continues in the community.
In 1925 a team of German microbe hunters cooked up a new coal-tar
chemical—"Plasmoquine" which was real poison for male and female malarial
microbes. Here was power that quinine lacked. But there are two kinds of
malaria microbes, sexual and sexless neuters. These neuters are the real
killers. Yet strangely, it is the male and female microbes that perpetuate the
chain of malarious death. It is these that a mosquito sucks into her stomach
where they beget myriads of malaria-microbe children which Mrs. Mosquito
injects into the blood of healthy people. Plasmoquine was feeble against the
murderous sexless microbes. Quinine could cure malaria but could not power-
fully prevent it. Plasmoquine could prevent malaria from going via
from man to man, but could not cure it.
The searchers struck off on a new chemical trail—something that would
kill these sexless microbes. And in 1930, they developed a drug which they
called "atabrine". Compared to quinine, these little yellow pills were harm-
less. At worst, they coloured some people's skins yellow for a while. Babies
could take them safely. Most malarious people could be cured by little quan-
tities of this drug—one little pill by mouth, three times a day, for five days or
at the longest seven. In some counties of Georgia in the southern part of
the U. S. A. atabrine has been tried and proved amazingly effective. Some
optimists are saying that it is no longer a question of whether we can wipe
malaria out, but it is a question—will we 1
No amount of money spent will be
extravagant if we can wipe out this ancient, perennial, life-sapping plague.
THE DISTRICT AFTER-CARE ASSOCIATION, POONA
HE Sixth Annual Report for the year 1939-40 of the District After-Care
Association, Poona, reveals how much good can be done through volun-
tary efforts in such a short period of time. The activities of the Asso-
ciation are defined as " life saving work ". In the Report it says : "Young
twisted lives have to be straightened out; neglected children have to be given
due protection and young offenders have to be rehabilitated in society." The
THE DISTRICT AFTER-CARE ASSOCIATION, POONA 367
few cases cited certainy justify the objectives and claims of the Association.
Technically, the work of the Association falls under two Provincial enact-
ments:—The Bombay Children Act in respect of boys and girls less than six-
teen years of age and the Bombay Borstal Schools' Act with reference to the
after-care of adolescent lads released on license to homes in Poona. To carry
out this work, the Association employs two paid Probation Officers and main-
tains a Remand Home and After-Care Hostel for working boys.
The report gives illustrative case summaries, and a classified list of the
annual return of Juvenile Court Cases. The total number of children's cases
dealt with by the Poona Juvenile Court in 1939-40 was 368, of which 326
were cases of arrest within the year, 295 were cases placed on remand and 31
on bail. The number of new cases has trebled within four years, and the ratio
of boy and girl delinquents is 4:1. As against 70% of neglected children
requiring protective treatment, only 20% of young offenders were arrested. The
work of the Association seems therefore to be largely preventive. Four Certi-
fied Schools in Poona and its vicinity receive the bulk of the children requir-
ing institutional treatment. The total number of children committed to
institutions in the past year amounted to no less than 112 as against 51 in the
There are two full-time paid Probation Officers, and 93 children were
under their supervision. During the year 69 cases were closed, of which 51
were successful and 18 failed. Seven public-spirited citizens of Poona have
offered their services as voluntary Probation Officers. After-care work is
also carried on and adult probation work is contemplated. The Association
is financed by voluntary subscriptions and donations, and also grants from
Government and local bodies. It deserves to be congratulated for the excel-
lent work it is doing. Those who visit the Poona Remand Home always come
out with a new outlook and a new faith in the treatment of our unfortunate
youngsters. Other cities and towns can very well emulate Poona in starting
such associations for the care of juveniles in their respective areas.
SOCIAL slavery and economic poverty have been the lot of the Untouch-
ables in India on account of the caste system. Even worse seems to be
the lot of the Aborigines. And their number is not a negligible figure
either. According to 1931 census, it is 22,407,792, i.e.,
6.5% of the total popu-
lation, or half that of the depressed classes. Recently, in his Kale Memorial
Lecture, Mr. A. V. Thakkar dealt with the problems of the Aborigines at the
Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, in which he analysed the pro-
blem under the major divisions of poverty, illiteracy, ill-health, inaccessibility
368 NOTES AND COMMENTS
of the areas inhabited by tribals, defects in administration and lack of
Since the Aryan invaders drove them to mountain-fastness, they have
remained there in pre-historic civilization, the rest of India calling them in
contempt the "Kali-Praja" or the dark race. Hitherto they have been com-
pletely neglected by rulers and their civilized brethren who usually attribute
their poverty to laziness and to their crude form of agriculture which is called
"shifting cultivation". Many tribes do not use ploughs at all. But some
do; for instance, the Chakmas of Bengal, and the Savaras of S. Orissa. Many
thousands of aborigines are found working in the coal mines of C. P. and
Bihar, and on the tea gardens of Assam and N. Bengal.
In many places the zemindars and their unscrupulous rent-collectors
exploit these poor people. Many of them are reduced to the position of serfs.
or forced labour is exacted from them without any payment or with only
a nominal payment by the zemindars. Mr. D. Symington, I.C.S., of Bombay
Province, who was appointed in 1937 to inquire into the conditions of the
Aboriginal and Hill tribes of the province, reveals that "all jungle tract
tenants are liable to be called upon to work for their landlords. This forced
labour is demanded for as many days as are necessary for the landlord's
requirements. If they refuse or procrastinate, they are liable to assault or
beatings. I was told, on creditable authority, of men being tied up to posts
and whipped. There are also rumours of men in the past having been killed.
The maximum remuneration of forced labour is one anna per diem. More
often rice is given, barely sufficient for one man for one meal. If the land-
lord is also a forest contractor, he will use his tenants labour by Veth
working his coupes. Landlords will not scruple to use their power in fulfil-
ment of their purposes; for instance, the use of their tenants' womanfolk for
the gratification of their lust."
Then, there is the drink evil which is another cause of poverty among
many of these tribes. Most of them are illiterate. In the 1931 census, for a
tribal population of 76,11,803 (for which the literacy figures have been ex-
tracted) only 44,351 were literate. That means a literacy of 0.58%, or one in
172 persons was literate. They are also exposed to diseases which play havoc
with them. Malaria, Yaws and such other debilitating and disabling diseases
are too prevalent. Their primitive treatment consists mainly of exorcism;
now and then they have recourse to some herbs administered by quacks.
Many of these tribes live in inaccessible areas thereby minimising con-
tact with outside world. The administration of tribal areas is more auto-
cratic than sympathetic. Lack of knowledge and understanding of the tribal
laws and customs lead to many anomalous injustices and injuries. Rao Baha-
dur S. C. Roy writes : "The British system of law and administration has
further tended to impair the social solidarity of these tribes and has weakened
the authority of the social heads or Panchas
and the respect they formerly
commanded. Until recently, when Government orders validating tribal cus-
tomary law regarding succession and inheritance were promulgated, the Courts
often disregarded the custom against inheritance by daughters and applied to
them a Succession Act quite inconsistent with the fundamental social struc-
ture and ideas of kinship of the tribes. Until recently, when rules against
alienation of ancestral lands were promulgated by Government, the ancient
tribal custom against such alienation was utterly disregarded."
The backwardness of these tribes is in one way due to the lack of leader-
ship among them. In another sense, it is their backwardness that is re-
sponsible for this lack of leadership. Their interests and cause are today pre-
sented to the public by third parties. However disinterested and noble these
outside efforts may be, nothing can help these tribes so effectively to get out
of degradation and primitivity as leadership from within.
In a nation-building process the question of "isolationism" versus
terventionism" does not arise. All peoples in the land are necessarily to be
"assimilated" into a common culture, loyalty, and standard of life. The test
of a true democratic way of life is how far society ensures opportunities for all
to develop their faculties to the utmost. The more backward the group, the
greater is the need to promote its status and culture. Unstinted support to all
endeavours to improve its health, education, wealth and culture is not optional
but obligatory. In this process, it can never be over-emphasized that imposi-
tion of standards which are alien to the tribal culture without making their
value clear to them will lead to disorganisation and still further backwardness.
RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN U. P.
HE annual report on the working of the Department of Rural Development,
U. P., for the financial year 1940-41, reveals how much can be done by
organised effort in Indian villages. Programmes of improvement have
been drawn up for each village under the Rural Development Department of
the U. P. Government. Setting up of definite tasks to be performed, has made
it possible for the Department to show some concrete results within the year.
The activities consist of village organization, educational expansion, medical
aid, cottage industries, agricultural improvement, co-operative schemes,
veterinary aid, cattle welfare and forest schemes, together with the main
scheme of rural development. The total budget provisions for the year
amounted to Rs. 3,240,656.
370 NOTES AND COMMENTS
A large number of Better-Living Societies have been formed and regis-
tered and are continuously stimulated to activity. The programme of agricul-
tural improvement embraced the following activities :—the running of special
rural development seed stores for the distribution of pure improved seeds,
implements and manures; demonstration of the improved methods of agricul-
ture and conservation of manure; distribution of breeding bulls in the Rural
Development areas; formation of co-operative better-farming societies, and
running a co-operative farm. The co-operative farming scheme is worthy of
special note. It is run by settlers from among the criminal tribes. The suc-
cessful working of this farm is sure to have wide and lasting influence in other
parts of India.
The medical aid and public health division has been one of the most
effective sections. There are 48 fixed and 14 travelling dispensaries, 146
and 47 Unani
dispensaries, 21 maternity centres, and a large number
of trained village dais.
Some 4,289 medicine chests were distributed in villages,
and 21 Eye Relief Camps were organised. A large sum of money was given on
a contributory basis for the improvement of water supply in various districts.
Thus improvements in sanitation and housing conditions are carried on
The Adult Education scheme has established already 720 schools, and
Rover Scouts are trained to do all sorts of improvement work. The Education
Expansion Officer through his departmental scheme has made 229,572 persons
literate during the year. This Department has 3,600 rural reading rooms and
1,000 libraries in addition to the 250 libraries run directly by the Rural
Development Department. In Fyzabad, young women from villages are
trained in various branches of homecrafts, girl guiding, welfare work,
handicrafts, care of children etc. After the completion of their training, these
women are sent back to their villages to open women's centres there.
Motor vans are utilized for publicity and for carrying educative propa-
ganda in rural areas. The Lucknow All-India Radio gives a special rural
broadcast every evening and on Saturdays a special programme for women is
broadcast. The monthly magazine of the Department, Hal,
is very popular
in rural areas. The panchayatghars
established in these villages correspond
to the Community Centres and Neighbourhood Houses in western countries
we hear so much about. The possibilities of development of such centres are
great. No other institution can help so well towards the development of a
local community spirit, and cut across communal and caste barriers.
The function of Rural Development, as stated in the report, is not '' to
provide amenities in the shape of more wells, roads, schools, buildings, hospi-
tals, improved seed, better cattle etc.; the real object is to change the attitude
RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN U. P. 371
of the villager towards life and to persuade him to improve his general condi-
tion and to make him realize that the advice and guidance of various existing
departments are available to him whenever he chooses to ask for them." Here
is a good philosophy of rural development with some concrete achievements
and genuine effort. Our hearty congratulations to Rai Bahadur Pandit Kashi
Nath, the Honorary Rural Development Officer, and his associates for demon-
strating to the rest of India as to what can be done under proper guidance and
enthusiasm. The U. P. Government deserves praise for the continued interest
in this field of activity. What is being done in U. P. can be done elsewhere.
ALL-INDIA COUNCIL OF SOCIAL SERVICE AND CENTRAL
AT its fifth annual meeting held in May 1940, the Central Advisory Board
of Education appointed the Social Service and Public Administration
Committee to investigate the advisability and feasibility of establishing
a centre or centres in India for study in social service and public administra-
tion. The Committee submitted their report in January 1941 with the follow-
ing major recommendations : —
1. That a centre for social research should be established.
2. That the centre should have closely associated with it, if not under
the same direction, a training school for social workers.
3. That there should be Provincial Schools of Social Service affiliated
to the Central Institute.
4. That training in social work should be given to officials of public
departments concerned with the social services as well as to the workers of
5. That extramural social work under the direction of a qualified
officer should be introduced into every University in India.
6. That training in rural and urban social work should be given at
The Board at its sitting in January 1941 accepted the main idea of the
need for an All-India Council of Social Service with a Central Research Insti-
tute. They also decided that before implementing the recommendations of
the Committee Provincial Governments and voluntary agencies of all India
character should he requested to furnish detailed information regarding exist-
ing agencies engaged in social service in their areas (including universities),
the scope of their activities, their relation to one another and the means
adopted to co-ordinate their activities. At the instance of the Board, the
Directors of Public Instruction in all Provinces are soliciting information on
372 NOTES AND COMMENTS
the above lines from various agencies. Many agencies are responding to the
call. The Social Service League has published in their Quarterly1 the reply
their Committee sent to the Director of Public Instruction, Province of Bom-
bay. In reference to the establishment of All-India Council of Social Service
with a Central Research Institute, they observe as follows : —
"My Committee heartily welcomes the idea of establishing an All-India
Council of Social Service with a Central Research Institute, the need for which
is under the consideration of the Central Advisory Board of Education in
India, as this step is likely, in my Committee's-opinion, to be conducive to a
better coordination of efforts which are being made through official or non-
official agencies and to making the progress in different items of social work
in different provinces uniform as far as possible. It should be the business
of the All-India Council of Social Service to see to it that the social problems
are dealt with, and social work in respect of them is carried on in all provinces
in accordance with the basic principles of social service in general and the
commonly accepted principles or conclusions in different social problems,
although latitude may be allowed in details. This Council may review the pro-
gress of social service in the country from time to time and direct the attention
of the provincial authorities to such social problems as seem to have been totally
neglected or not to have received sufficient attention in spite of their urgency.
The Council may also undertake inquiries with regard to the problems in which
all or several of the provinces have common interest.
"Training is quite necessary for social workers. Mere good will, a
desire to serve the people and active habits are not enough. A social worker
must have a thorough grasp of the principles of modern social service, a know-
ledge of the conditions of the people whom he has to serve, and he must know the
right way of approach to the class of people among whom he has to work and
he must cultivate tact and patience. Thus he must receive training in theory
and practice of social service. A central institute can provide facilities for
training. However, if there is to be one school or college for all the provinces,
my Committee would like to suggest that instead of starting a new school or
college for this purpose, the Government of India should take full advantage
of the Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work in Bombay by asking
the Provincial Governments to send students to that school with scholarships.
Also, by moving the different Universities, post-graduate courses in social
service may be instituted. It may also be one of the voluntary subjects which
a student who desires to study for his degree in Arts may take up. Such a
proposal has been passed by the Bombay University. In all such courses, an
acquaintance with sociology and social psychology is necessary as background.
1 The Social Service Quarterly,
October 1941, pp. 79-83.
CENTRAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE 373
The Central Government and the Provincial Governments should provide faci-
lities to the students for observation and research, be they studying in any of
the Universities or at a reputable institution like the Sir Dorabji Tata Gradu-
ate School of Social Work. Special courses may be instituted according to
the Government requirements.
" It is true, as stated in your letter, that practically all the subjects
covered by the term " Social Service " are included in the field of provincial
administration, and therefore it would be easier to impart practical training
at provincial centres. In this connection it must also be remembered that some
provinces have some special problems to deal with. Some have a large popula-
tion of aboriginal tribes, some have a number of criminal tribes, some have a
large number of factory or mine workers, and some a large number of labour-
ers employed on plantations. It will, therefore, be desirable for the Pro-
vincial Governments to have a sufficient number of social workers according
to their needs, and to carry on or encourage research in their special problems.
'' In addition to the highly qualified social workers responsible for
organisation and supervision of social work, in each district, a large number
of social workers to work in talukas or groups of villages will be required for
rural uplift. The educational qualifications of those workers need not be very
high. These will have to be trained properly before they are given actual work.
They must know the principles and methods of social work and must be able
to organise literacy and post-literacy classes, co-operative societies, especially
better living societies, to carry on propaganda for sanitation and health, to
communicate to the people the results of the latest researches into dietetics
(for example, the researches made at the Research Institute at Coonoor) and
methods of agriculture. They should also be able to organise sports and to
impart general information to the village people. A course should be prepar-
ed extending over a period of a year or two. Young persons of active habits
should be selected to go through this course. This training may be given at
two or three centres in each province."
In reply to a similar letter from the Director of Public Instruction, the
Ag. Director of The Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work, Bombay,
has, among other things, made the following suggestion: —
'' As regards the training of social workers, I am of the opinion that
the time is not yet ripe for starting centres of training in each Province. To
begin with, the principle of professional training for social workers has not
yet been commonly accepted, and the idea that any person can do social work
374 NOTES AND COMMENTS
is still dominant. Under these circumstances, if social workers are trained in
the several Provinces they would only aggravate the problem of unemployment.
Even in our institution, though it is the only one of its kind in India at pre-
sent, we admit only 20 or 25 students every two years. As a result, we
are able to place practically all our graduates in suitable places. In view of
this situation, it would be better, at least for the time being, to make the Tata
Graduate School of Social Work an All-India institution. It is really function-
ing as such. The Provinces could easily subsidize the institution by a special
grant and send their students to be trained here. By doing so they will avoid
duplication of work and unnecessary expenses."
Recognition of the value and importance of Social Research, howsoever
belated is a welcome sign. Its urgency cannot be overemphasized. There is
no doubt that facts are better than oratory, and so far in India in the absence
of the former, social workers and reformers were relying mainly on the latter.
The dearth of data pertaining to pathological conditions in Indian society
make it difficult to tackle social problems in any wide organized manner.
Social diagnosis through research is accepted today as equally valid and in-
dispensable a pre-requisite in social work as medical diagnosis based on re-
search has come to be accepted in the medical world. If social work pro-
grammes are to be operated in a thoroughly effective manner, it is essential that
they be planned on a basis of adequate knowledge of existing needs, trends
and changes, available services and resources, and the organisation and func-
tioning of already existing agencies in applying resources to needs..
It has yet to be consciously recognised in India that professional train-
ing in social work is as essential as in any other profession. Just as we dis-
countenance quacks in the medical field we must deplore quackery in social
treatment. Social work is not merely disbursing charity, and efficient ad-
ministration of institutions and agencies. In the last analysis the main task
of social work is rehabilitation and reconstruction. The two primary questions,
which every social worker has to ask himself are : "What is wrong V
"What ought and can be done V
To answer these, an intellectual discipline
and orientation in the general field of social sciences, a thorough grasp of the
nature and meaning of social work and acquaintance with techniques that are
employed in other countries to meet such problems are essential. Social
sciences on a more extensive scale need to be introduced into the curriculum
of Indian Universities. Governments and private agencies have to be persuaded
not only to insist on professionally trained social workers, but also extend
social services in all directions to meet the pressing needs of the poor. We do
hope that what the Central Advisory Board of Education has accepted in
theory will soon mature into some concrete expression.
FAMINE IN SHERTALLAY 375
FAMINE IN SHERTALLAY—TRAVANCORE
THERE is war in Europe, and consequently there is famine is in Shertallay.
Coir industry, the mainstay of the inhabitants of Shertallay, has failed
because coir made there is no longer exported to foreign countries.
a monthly magazine, has issued a Famine Special Number in
which are given facts revealing the tragic plight of the people of Shertallay
and what the Travancore public and Government are doing to alleviate their
suffering. Shertallay, a taluk with an area of 117 sq. miles, is in the extreme
north of the narrow strip of land lying on the west coast of Travancore,
Alleppey forming its southern boundary. It has a density of 1,746 persons per
sq. mile according to the 1931 census. A survey has been made of 500 families
in the famine stricken area and the findings are appallingly tragic. Due to
deaths, fall in birth rate and migrations on account of famine conditions the
average persons per family has fallen from 5.82 in 1939 to 4.7 in 1941. The
fall in percentage of school-going children is 631/3. There is not even one piece
of cloth per family on the average, and what they have the different members
of the family use by turns. As against the income of 6 Annas 21/2 pies per day
for a family in 1939, the present income is only 8.8 pies. The average num-
ber of people employed in factory work in 100 families in pre-war time was
134, and now it is only 18. While the average income per family from coir
yarn spinning was 1 Anna 5 pies during pre-war days, it is only 4'6 pies
now. The average expenditure of a labour class family in Shertallay during
pre-war days was 4 As. 8 ps. per day, and the present average is only 9 pies.
Indebtedness per family has gone up from Rs. 12/6/- to Rs. 18/6/-. Out of 500
families surveyed there were only 12 families where 3 meals were served every
day. Those taking 2 meals a day were 116, one meal a day 217, 1 meal in 2
days 60, one in 3 days 85, one in four days 2, and one in five days one family.
In the vast majority of cases an average meal consisted of half a pound of
tapioca or rice. Malnutrition, disease, death and all other concomitant havocs
of famine are increasing day by day.
Voluntary bodies, religious, secular and political are doing relief work.
Special mention must be made of the most active group, the Youth Christian
Council of Action,—a body of active young men, noted more for their social
idealism rather than for any theological beliefs—which has raised and used
Rs. 12,000/- for feeding starving children in the famine stricken area. The
Government also have been giving some work relief. There has come into
existence a new Committee, the Coastal Reconstruction Committee, whose
aims are to introduce new cottage industries and develop agriculture in the
area. They are hoping to receive from the Government Rs. 2,000/- for every
376 NOTES AND COMMENTS
Rs. 1,000/- they raise from the public.
Commendable though the efforts are, the urgency of the problem de-
mands more radical action on the part of the Government. The state as the
guardian of her citizens is bound to mitigate the evils resulting from such
poverty. Famine situations call for liberal and immediate action. Voluntary
efforts are slow and stunted even in such a crisis. The appeal for voluntary
contributions comes from Mr. M. P. Job, General Secretary, Shertallay
Famine Relief Committee, Kottayam, Travancore, and Mr. N. R. Krishnan,
M.L.A., Shertallay, Travancore.
HOUSING OP THE POOR IN INDORE
INDORE is the premier city of Central India with a population of nearly
2,00,000. It is a major trade centre and has many Textile Mills. -As in
the case of any other city with a large labour population, the housing
problem has become acute. The gratifying feature is that Indore is not sleep-
ing over the problem in callous indifference.
To the west side of the city on an expansive 10 acre plot of land stand
13 blocks of buildings. In these blocks are housed 91 families of sweepers
and the colony is "Harijan Colony No. 1 " . The rooms are spacious, airy and
conveniently planned ; there are open spaces for outdoor recreation; roads,
drains, latrines, water supply and other modern amenities and sanitary
arrangements are all up to the standard. There is a common hall erected in
the colony, which is to be utilized under the guidance of the Indore Harijan
Sevak Sangh for conducting Bhajans, Kirtan, Day School for Harijan child-
ren, Night Class for adults, a co-operative grain shop and general store. The
Government have sanctioned the construction of a second colony to the south
of the city to house 56 families of sweepers, and a third one is proposed to
house another 56 families which when completed will solve the housing pro-
blem so far as the sweepers are concerned.
All these have been made possible by the generosity of His High-
ness the Maharaja Holkar, the activities of the Indore Harijan Sevak Sangh
and the executive ability of the Prime Minister. His Highness sanctioned a
yearly grant of Rs. 1,00,000 from his private purse for the housing scheme.
Money is spent both by the Government and the City Municipality. Colony
No. 1 has already cost Rs. 87,000/-. The second will cost Rs. 51,000/-. The
problem of housing the labourers who also are mainly drawn from the Harijans
is the next one to be tackled. The local Millowners' Association has decided to
keep aside 5% of their war profits for the construction of houses for labourers.
Against the total estimated cost of Rs. 20,00,000/- this 5% seems too low to
HOUSING OF THE POOR IN INDORE 377
meet the need. The City Improvement Trust Board has already reserved
certain sites for such housing schemes to be eventually developed.
Peons, domestic servants, low paid clerks, teachers and others find it
very difficult to get decent dwellings at rates which they can afford. For the
lower middle class, it may be advisable to have houses built at public expense,
and then by arrangement have the cost paid back by them in easy instalments
so that after a time they will be the owners of the houses. Such schemes are
very popular in western countries and have been found to be extremely satis-
factory to all parties concerned. We hope that this good start will continue
to develop and result in an adequate provision of housing for all poor people
in Indore. A city with sanitary dwellings ensures efficiency, good health
R. K. YARDAY
Harijan Sevah Sangh, Indore
OUR STUDENTS' ASSOCIATION
OUR Students' Association has been singularly active during the last three
terms. Every term a new executive committee was elected with sub-
committees for debates and lectures, games and socials. The general
secretaries for each term were Messrs. P. P. Antia, K. G. Dighe and M. J.
Our intellectual activities consisted in arranging debates, and lectures
at the social hour every week. Some of the prominent guest speakers were
Mr. N. M. Joshi (M.L.A.), Mr. Verrier Elwin, Prof. 0. V. C. Wystimsky
(Director of Pioneer Research Institute, Poland), Mr. M. M. Rasool (Kisan
Sabha), Dr. P. A. Dalai, Dr. Atal (Leader of the Congress Medical Mission to
China), Mr. Ashok Mehta, Prof. Benoy Kumar Sarcar of Calcutta, Mr. Yusuf
Meher Ali, Dr. K. B. Menon of the Civil Liberties Union, Miss K. Khandwalla,
Prof. Radhakumud Mukerjee of Lucknow, Dr. Suman Mehta, Miss Godavari
Gokhale, Mrs. Sarojini Naidu, Prof. G. N. Parekh of Ramnarayan Ruia
College, Dr. Ida Scudder of Vellore Medical School, Dr. Hewat, Miss Margaret
Moor, Mr. P. Kodanda Rao and Mr. N. A. Dravid of the Servants of India
Society and others. The topics discussed were as diverse as the speakers
themselves. The meetings were attended by members of the faculty, alumni
and guests. Our debates were mainly on the political situation in India.
On 8th August, 1941, the following condolence resolution was passed
on the death of Dr. Rabindranath Tagore: "We the Faculty and the students
of The Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work are grieved at the
death of Dr. Rabindranath Tagore. World has lost one of its greatest artists
378 NOTES AND COMMENTS
and philosophers. India has lost a noble patriot. As a social worker he was
our beacon light; as a philosopher, he was our guide; as a poet, he inspired
us; as an artist, he interpreted life to us in various dimensions—through his
fiction, drama and paintings. His universality has made us detest narrow
nationalism. His godliness has made us all humble. His is the peace and
ours is the loss."
The School remained closed as a mark of respect to the memory of the
An emergency meeting of the Association was called on August 21st to
condemn the treatment meted out to the students of various colleges by the
Bombay City Police on 19th August 1941 on the occasion of the University Con-
vocation. The following resolution was passed by a majority of votes:—"We,
the members of the Students' Association of the Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate
School of Social Work, Bombay, strongly condemn the brutal treatmen tmeted
out to students of various colleges in Bombay, by the Bombay City Police on
19th August, 1941, on the occasion of Bombay University Convocation."
As regards recreational activities it may be pointed out that excursions,
visits to places of interest, group exodus to movies of social significance were
arranged, and the keen interest evinced by majority of students in these
activities revealed that they were out to get a diploma as well as an educa-
tion. Graduate students and prospective social workers—did the maturity of
our status and the burdens of Mother India wear us down? No. Indoor and
outdoor games, intramural tournaments and matches with alumni had their
legitimate place in our extra-curricular activities. In fact, we believe in
recreation to such an extent that we do not even think of it as extra-curricular.
Along with an all-round education we are developing wholesome personalities.
We have to thank all our guest speakers and the faculty for their interest and
co-operation in our activities.
J. V. BHAVE