Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya

Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya
Speeches & Writings

Representation of Indians in Parliament


IN supporting the following resolution of the twentieth Indian National Congress held at Bombay in 1904 The Hon. Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya said:


That in the opinion of the Congress, the time has arrived when the people of this country should be allowed a larger voice in the administration and control of the affairs of their country by :


(a)    the bestowal on each Province or Presidency of Indian of the franchise to return at least two members to the British House of Commons.



(b)    an enlargement of both the Supreme and Provincial Legislative Councils - increasing the number of non-official members there in and giving them the right to divide the council in all financial matters coming before them - the head of the Government concerned possessing the power of veto.



(c)    the appointment of Indian representatives (who shall be nominated by the elected members of the Legislative Councils) as members of the Indian Council in London and of the Executive Councils of the Government of India and the Government of Bombay and Madras.


Mr. Chair man, Brother-Delegates and Sister-Delegates, after the full and able speech which Mr. Krishna-swami Iyer has made in proposing this resolution, it is not necessary for me to say much to commend it to your acceptance. There are three parts of this resolution, gentlemen, and all these three parts have been very fully and very ably dealt with. (Hear, hear) As my friend, Mr. Krishnaswami Iyer has pointed out, lt might seem somewhat surprising to some of us that we desire to have a few representatives of our country present in the great House of Commons. Gentlemen, the desire will not seem to us so unreasonable if you look a bit' more closely into the matter. (Cheers). By an Act of Parliament it is provided that an Indian Budget should come up for debate when the House is full, but we know, as a-matter of fact, that year after year the House of Commons is cleared of most of its members when the Indian Budget is brought up for discussion. (Cries of shame) Contrary to what we expected from the character of the Englishmen's love of duty and contrary to their sense of duty, they do not find it possible to be present, or I do not know how it comes about that they are not present, in sufficient numbers are not present, in sufficient numbers whenever the Budget concerning the great population of this country comes up for discussion into their great House of Commons. Well, gentlemen, we will not complain of that; we see that they have got to look after a very wide Empire; that they have got to look after many important concerns of their own country; that they have got to do so many things, and probably they have not got time. and we therefore, offer our humble services-(Hear, hear)-and ask them to "admit us into the Io ld of that great and glorious assembly and enable us to speak by our own mouths and in our humble way the grievances known to us of our fellow-countrymen (Hear, hear) who are entrusted to our care. If you grant that request, we shall thank you and we shall help you to better control the administration of this country which will rebound to the credit and glory of your administration." (Hear, hear.) As the matter at present stands, very few members of the House of Commons take any interest in Indian questions. In saying this I do not overlook and under-estimate the value of labours of those friends of India who do work in her behalf in season and out of season- (Hear, hear)-and in Parliament, and out of Parliament. (Hear, hear.) But in the midst of the affairs of the vast and world-wide British Empire it is really very difficult to get a hearing for the population of so poor and distant a country like India. Gentlemen. if our friends in England pay attention to the Indian questions, it is because there is reason on our side and there is justice on our side-(Hear, hear.) Whether the English people will accede to au. request or not is left for them to decide. It is our duty to put forward these suggestions and it is their duty to consider whether they will accept them Or not. We say: "Extend our Legislative Councils and give us a little more real power in this very country, and we shall try to help the Government with our advice; and with our advice it will become less and less difficult for you to exercise control over the affairs of India from England.


(Hear, hear.) As the matter at present stands, you have recognized the principle of introducing more members in the Legislative Councils - by election. That principle was recognized after a very careful consideration-(Hear, hear)-and careful examination of the whole subject." (Cheers.) The late lamented Mr. Bradlaugh brought the subject up for discussion in Parliament and it was discussed in its various aspects by the distinguished members on both sides of the House of Commons. The late Lord Salisbury cautiously granted the principle in small measure. They granted twenty members in the Imperial Council, 16 in another Council, 15 in another Council and so on. It was more or less a modicum of reform, but we did not complain of it: we took it in good light and we felt thankful to Parliament for it. (Hear, hear.) "The reform has prove eminently successful, as was pointed out by my friend, Mr. Krishnaswami Iyer, who referred to the opinions of Governors-General and Governors of different provinces in which they were graciously pleased to acknowledge the worth of the members of the different Councils. (Hear, hear.)


There has been not one complaint made that the elections have not brought in men who were, at any rate equal, if not superior to those who were appointed while nomination was the rule. (Hear, hear.) Well. gentlemen, we now say to the Government: "You have seen that the work of the members of the different Councils has been so good, you have seen the performance of the trial, we have fought in the action and have satisfied you that we are able to do the work entrusted to us, we have proved to be possessed of that marked ability which should be valuable in discharging our work; (Hear, hear) We now ask you to extend the Councils; instead of having 15 members for the population of 44 millions-7 official and 8 non-official-we say let us have a Council where at least one member should represent one million of' the population-(Hear, hear) entrusted to your care. That is not in this resolution, but I mention the fact to show you how our proposal may be worked with reference to the extension of the Councils." Our friends say : "How reasonable is your demand." 1 need hardly try to convince you about it, you will admit this that the number of our members in the Councils is very small. We, therefore, say this: "Increase that number." We also say: "Give us some real power and take us a little more into your confidence. After all it is not a question of giving us any power, because the power of veto rests with the head of the Government. It is only a question of taking us into your confidence and of reposing a little more trust in us---(Hear, hear)-trust us in the spirit in which our late Gracious Sovereign wished you to treat the people entrusted to your care.


(Hear, hear.) If you do that, there will be an end of a great deal of discord' and a great deal of complaint." (Hear, hear,) Now what happens at present is this: the Budget comes up for discussion before the Council; you may discuss it for any number of days; you cannot ask for the vote; you cannot divide the Council; therefore we ask; Why won't you allow us to do that in every walk of life. The Government has been pleased to admit the integrity of the Indians and their ability to discharge their duty to the Government of India in a satisfactory manner; why, then do you not appoint more of our members in the Council and take them more into your confidence; why do you not treat them with the same confidence that you show to the European membership members of your own country? If you do not let us have the vote, the discussion becomes more or less academic. (Hear, hear.) There may-be very effective speeches delivered but there is nothing left in the hands of the non-official members. If the non-official members are allowed to divide the Councils, it will lead to the Council doing better work than they do at present. (Hear, hear) I do not say that the Councils are merely a farce. There is a great deal that they do, but has not the time come for allowing them a little more power? The question is whether the people of India, who have now been under the British rule for over a century, with all the education given to them and with the acknowledgment of their ability and integrity on the part of the Government, ought not to be taken a little more into the confidence of the Government, and whether the policy of mistrust, which at present exists and which really stands in the way of the recognition of the worth of the people of India by the British Nation, ought not to be changed and whether that feeling of distrust should not give way to one of generous confidence? What do you say when we find in this country gentlemen of the position, ability and distinction of our esteemed friend. Sir Pherozeshah M. Mehta? (Loud applause), and my esteemed friend, the Hon. Mr. GokhaIe (Loud applause) I It cannot be said that these gentlemen are of less ability whatever than is to be found in persons of other countries where the Legislative Acts exist. (Hear, hear.) Gentlemen, the Government has not given us this power to do wrong, not only to ourselves but to itself also. (Cheers.) Because it proclaims to the world that there is absolutely no reason why the Indian gentlemen of ability and distinction-such as I have mentioned, and there are many more such in our country-should not be allowed really to voice the Indian voice in the administration of their own country. I think, gentlemen, the sooner the Government steps forward to remove this reproach the better for it and for ourselves. (Hear, hear.) Because so long as it is not removed, so long will the reproach remain. Why is it not removed? God only knows the reason; we can- not account for it. We ask the Government to act upon the noble principles which the best Englishmen have. from time to time advocated to be adopted in the administration of this' country (Hear, hear.) We ask the English Government only to act upon those principles.


 (Cheers.) We must tire their patience by repeating the words of the gracious Proclamation which has been referred to so many times. The principles laid down in the Proclamation for the administration of this country are the noblest principles and. would do honour to any nation in the world. (Hear, hear) consider it is inconceivable that there can be a higher ideal held up to any people of which the destinies are' entrusted to another nation to be kept. We don't want to ask the Government to bring about any revolutionary change; we only want them to act up to the principles laid down in the Proclamation; we only ask them that the rules that have been laid down and the principles that have been inculcated should be acted up to. (Hear, hear.) We are drunk with the literature of England and our minds have been illumined and enlightened by the ideas of liberty. We have our minds imbued with the ideas of freedom through a body of English literature:


(Hear, hear,) we have learnt to love the life of freedom and justice in England ; we have found and we have known that England illustrates those principles in dealing with many self-governing Colonies. England is now brought into contact with the people of this country who, though now unfortunately fallen, can boast of a happy and glorious civilization in the past (Hear, hear.) We find that we have proved that we have benefited by the teachings which England has imparted to us (Hear, hear); we have done our utmost to benefit ourselves by those teachings, and we are able to hold our own, if I my say so without presumption, with our fellow-subject in England in every walk of life. (Hear, hear.) We find that we have produced excellent and better judges of the High Court, who discharge their duties as honourably as any other judges would do. (Hear, hem) We find that there are Indian gentlemen entrusted with the executive work in the High Courts-(Hear, hear)-and that they do not betray their trust and discharge their duty as honourably as they would do in any other walk of life. (Hear, hear.) That being so, what do we find ? In our own country we are anxious to feel that we are really a part and parcel of the great British Empire which we love because at its love of freedom. In our resolution, if you scan it from first to last, you will find that we pray that the principles which have been laid down should be acted up to, so that the Indians should feel, even as our late Sovereign wished -that they should feel, that they are not living as a foreign nation (Hear, hear.) We see that by not acting up to those principles, by not recognizing our: worth and our work by treating us as being practically of an inferior race and by allowing the racial distinction to stand in the way of recognizing our worth, the" Government are directly working contrary to those principles and are thereby making it a very difficult task for us to realise and to feel w hat we wish to feel; that situation has accentuated our feelings about the Government when we see what is passing around us, Every self-governing Colony of England enjoys immensely greater privileges than any we wish for at present. In England and in all other countries which have come under the permanent influence of England, the peoples are allowed to take an active part in the, administration of their own affairs. We find that the other European nations have benefited by the free institutions of England. The ideas of liberty, of justice and of allowing the people to govern themselves more or less have gone out from England to other countries and have helped to elevate and to make the people of those countries happy. (Hear, hear) Well, we find in all directions this tremendous wave of civilization going out and powerfully lifting up the people from the condition in which they were found So years ago-into a higher and happier existence, politically, socially and intellectually. When we look around and see that all the countries are becoming more or less prosperous and are rising higher and higher in the scale of civilization and, in the scale of nations, and when we find that not- withstanding all our ancient civilization and in spite of our acquisition and knowledge, at any rate of the character which is given to us under the British rule, we are deprived of the enjoyment of those rights and privileges, I ask you and I ask every reasonable English- man and every fellow countryman of ours, whether it is right that we should be put up in this situation-that we should not be allowed to feel that we are the part and parcel of that very nation, to feel that we are treated as if we are a subject population in a very low scale at existence. Gentlemen, this is a wide question on which hinges the consideration of our hole case. Though the Indians are excluded from employment in the army, there should be no difficulty in granting them greater powers and more privileges under Legislative Act; (Hear, hear) Gentlemen, we want England to treat US, with greater, higher and nobler scruples. (Hear, hear.) We want Englishmen, whom God has sent to govern the destinies of this country, to act up to those principles (Hear, hear.) and if they do it, I am S~~ many of those grievances of which we complain will be remedied and will be appreciated by the; people who are actuated by their own innate commonsense and their own love of principle. (Hear, hear.) If England wants to be true to herself and if she endeavours to instruct her children to go on with administration of our country on the principles laid down in the Proclamation-if England would only see that her sons in India are treated by her sons in England according to those principles, all our grievances will be at an end, and the reforms that we are praying for will be soon granted (Cheers.)






Mahamana Madan Mohan Malaviya