Indentured Labour

.    •    T“"* • ••

m riji


(1)    Introduction.

(2)    Report of February 19th, 1916, by C. F. Andrews and

W. W. Pearson.

(3)    Extracts from Report of C. F. Andrews, November,


(4)    Memorandum of the Indian Non-official Members of

His Excellency the Viceroy’s Council.

(5)    Speech by Mrs. Sarojini Naidu against the Indentured



In this pamphlet are combined together the main results of two personal enquiries into the condition of the Indian indentured labourers in Fiji, especially the women and children who are in the greatest need of immediate succour and help.

Many years ago the news reached India, through Miss Dudley’s and Mr. Burton’s writings, that the life of the Indian men and women and children in the Fiji coolie “lines” was very seriously demoralised owing to the conditions under which they lived, and that murders and suicides were rife, because of the very low proportion of women who were imported along with the men. These statements were borne out later, in India itself, by the Rev. B. Capes, who gave to the Indian people an account of what he had seen on a visit to Fiji; and also by the Rev. R. Piper, who, after many years’ residence in Fiji, came over to India and made known the facts which he had witnessed with his own eyes in the sugar plantations. A book was also published at the same time, in Hindi, by Pundit Tota Ram, called “Twenty-one Years in Fiji,” giving a record of the treatment which the Indians received, from the Indian point of view.

The facts contained in these writings were in a great measure corroborated, as far as the statistics of murders and suicides^vere concerned, by the very careful and accurate Annual Reports, which were published by the Fiji Government Immigration Department. While these yearly-records showed that sanitation and health were improving, and that humaner treatment on the plantations was becoming more prevalent, they showed also an increase of violent crime which was terrible to contemplate.

An official Commission was sent out by the Government of India in 1913 to all the Crown colonies employing Indian labour, but, unfortunately, by the very terms of its enquiry, more attention had to be paid to the material and economic side, than to the inner life of the people. This Commission did, however, in the case of Fiji, deal at some length with those social conditions, which accounted for the excessive number of violent crimes recorded in the Fiji Government reports; and the Government of India was more deeply impressed by that part of the Official Commission’s findings than by any other. It was clear to those who could understand the significance of the figures, that much deeper evils were going on beneath the surface than had, as yet, been brought to light. In the years 1914 and 1915, the Viceroy and his Executive Council were gravely anxious and the minds of the leading Indians were becoming more and more bitter on the subject.

Mr. W. W. Pearson had accompanied me to South Africa in 1913-1914, to make an enquiry into the condition of Indian Indentured labour in Natal. We had, while staying there, the invaluable training and help of Mr. M. K. Gandhi, who had known intimately the ways and habits of his own people in Natal, through his residence among them, as their friend

and helper, for twenty years. He is by far the greatest living authority to-day on all the problems connected with the Indian indentured labour. Mr. Gandhi took us among the indentured labourers themselves, who spoke to us freely and without fear in his presence. We shared his life among the Indian people in South Africa in the closest possible ways; and he enabled us to trace out the inner causes which led to these violent outbreaks of crime, wherever the indenture, with its unnatural proportion of men and women, had been established. As far as the pages which follow carry conviction with them, we owe this entirely to the invaluable experience which Mr. Gandhi placed at our disposal in Natal.

The statistics given in the different records concerning Fiji were so much worse than those of Natal, or of any Crown colony which employed indentured Indian labour, that when the Natal Indian grievances were settled on an equitable basis, the leading Government representatives of the Viceroy’s Council requested us to go out to Fiji in the same way that we had gone out before to South Africa. This we undertook in the year 1915, with the Viceroy’s approval. It should be clearly understood, however, that our visit was unofficial, and our enquiry independent. Indeed, this unofficial and independent standpoint was the very strength of our position among the Indian people. Early in the year 1916, we returned to India and on February 19th presented our report. On March 20th of that year, the Viceroy, himself was able to make the welcome announcement, in the Imperial Legislative Council, that he had obtained the consent of the Home Government to state in public that the indenture System would be brought to an end, as soon as possible, not only in Fiji, but also in every colony where it was still in force..

But in January, 1917, the news reached India that a further delay of five years was contemplated by the Home Government, during which recruiting was still to be carried on. This was regarded at once by the Indian people as a serious infringement of the promise that had been given, and great public indignation was expressed.

Then ensued one of the most remarkable events in modern Indian history. For the first time on record, the women of India came out of their seelusionnm to the public platform, and pleaded before immense audiences for the honour of their sisters. Leading women from every province went in a deputation direct to the Viceroy himself and laid before him their sorrow.

The effect was immediate. The Viceroy replied to them that he had determined that all further recruiting for indenture should be stopped at once, and intimated that it would not be allowed to begin again after the war. Since then, his words have been definitely confirmed and the indenture system is dead.

The earliest history of this system of labour, which has how been finally abandoned, is a sordid one indeed. It dates back to the days when slavery was forbidden and a substitute for slave-labour was demanded in the tropics. Among the different groups of British colonies, where sugar was grown, this demand was met by the Indian Government allowing the

villagers of the plains of India to be exploited for labour purposes abroad. Recruiters were permitted to go in and out of the villages and pick up cheap labour for emigration. From the first very little care was taken with regard to the characters of the recruiting agents, and one of the most gigantic systems of fraud which the world has ever seen was allowed gradually to grow up. Such fraudulent recruiting will scarcely be a surprise to the Australian people, because they have had the experience of a similar system (which went by the name of “black-birding”) close to their own shores in the past. It is true, that the more violent methods of the Kanaka labour traffic were not often resorted to in India, but the fraud and treachery went just as deep, and the misery caused by the breaking-up of homes was equally acute.

Thus it has come about, that for more than eighty years thousands upon thousands of ignorant villagers have been sent out in the great emigrant ships to the sugar plantations in Mauritius, Natal, Trinidad, British Guinea, Dutch Guinea, Jamaica and Fiji. These men and women were bound over, with penal consequences, to labour for five years for an alien master in a foreign land, without any possibility of intermission or release. Even quite young children, of 11 and 12 years of age, were imported as “adults,” and forced by law to become indentured to their employers when they were strong enough for work.

But by far the worst feature was the unnatural sex proportion of the emigrants. The records are not before me, but I think I am right in stating that at first the question of the sex relations was entirely ignored. Later on, the proportion of 33 women for every 100 men was required by the Indian Government by law, and then, last of all, the ratio was raised to 40 per 100. This last proportion, of forty women for every hundred men, was still being actively carried out in Indian recomitment only a few months ago. As late as March, 1917, the Government of India was still allowing recruiters in India to roam about the country and by guile and cunning get hold of simple, ignorant village women. Recruiters were still inveigling these women into going out to the colonies, the agents being paid at the rate of so much per head, per woman—a higher price being' given for a woman than for a man! Only on March 12th, 1917, was this iniquitous system with all its fraud and deception abandoned.

In the absence of my friend and colleague, Mr. W. W. Pearson, I was asked by the Indian leaders to go out alone, on a second visit to Fiji, directly after the indenture system was abolished. They wished me to meet once more the Indians themselves in the Islands, who were in great distress on account of the war conditions, which had increased the price of living without any corresponding increase in wages. They wished me also to bring back news, as to what could be done to improve the condition of the Indians in Fiji, now that indenture had been brought to an end. There were 60,000 Indians in the Islands, and it would have been unthinkable neglect to leave them without any attempt to help forward their recovery to a healthier life.    .

Though the notes of this second visit to Fiji are still very rough and altogether fragmentary and imperfect, I have ventured to add them t» the substantial report, which we presented to the Indian Government on February 19th, 1917, because they bring up to date the impressions and conclusions of our former visit, and correct these in certain particulars. I have given also, in an appendix, the most authoritative statement yet made on the whole subject by the Indian members of the Viceroy’s Council. It will be seen with what emphasis they condemn recruited emigration in any form whatever.

In regard to this document I might add a word of personal explanation of a somewhat technical character. . In our original report of February, 1916, while condemning the old Indenture system, we were ready to recommend the continuance of emigration under a free monthly contract, for which only bona fide families should be recruited. But deeper consideration of the problems involved has more and more convinced me that the old evils would creep back again, under any new system, especially in the matter of recruiting. I was able to make a far closer study of recruiting agencies in India last year; and the unfathomable depths of fraud and wickedness connected with these made it impossible for me to contemplate any longer the re-opening of that source and fount of all the mischief. This revision of my former opinion I communicated in February, 1917, to the Indian leaders, and it coincided entirely with their own point of view. But as it represented a complete change of front from the attitude I had taken up in Fiji on my earlier visit, I felt that it was only fair to the planters and to the C.S.R. Company, that I should come back to Fiji and discuss with them my altered position and hear any arguments which they had to bring against it. For this reason (as well as those already mentioned) I all the more readily agreed to go out last April.

I have a practical, immediate end in view in publishing this report in Australia before returning to India. There are certain improvements which need to be undertaken at once, if the evils of the old indenture system, under which Indians in Fiji have suffered, are to be remedied. Not a day should be wasted. They cannot wait indefinitely; and they are very simple. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which owns such immense property in Fiji and has made such profits out of Fiji sugar in recent years, is an Australian company, carried on with Australian capital, and conducted by Australian business men. Its headquarters are in Sydney, and Fiji has been its “gold mine,” chiefly owing to the practically unlimited supply of cheap labour from India which it has hitherto been able to obtain. Indeed, I believe it is true to say that this company has been by far the greatest individual exploiter of India, for labour purposes, during the last twenty years. In Fiji itself, its influence has been incredibly great and its powers almost dictatorial. It is known there as “The Company,” and Indians speak of it as they used to speak of >the East India Company in India itself. Railways, telephones, etc., belong to the C.S.R. Company, as well as vast estates and sugar mills.

The Fiji sugar, produced by this Indian indentured cheap labour on the company’s estate, and manufactured by them in the company’s mills, forms a large and increasing proportion of the very sugar which the Australian people continually purchase and eat. The Federal Government of the Australian Commonwealth has entered into a war contract with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which makes the Commonwealth indirectly responsible for the conditions under which the sugar is grown.

Seeing, therefore, that the relationship, both of the Australian people and of the Australian Commonwealth, with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company has become so close (especially during the period of the war)

I felt that it was only right and just to lay the facts concerning the Indian labourers as I had seen them with my own eyes, before the Australian people, before going on to India itself. I was certain that, if I did this, then in the matters which needed immediate remedy, I should have their sympathy and support. Everything with regard to these matters in Fiji depends ultimately on the attitude of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. If they take the lead, all the rest are certain to follow; if they refuse to take steps, it is the hardest thing possible for the planters and the smaller companies to act at all.

As this question is primarily a woman’s question—the recovery of these poor Indian women, along with their children, from a life which has become utterly degraded by a degrading system—I am venturing to make this appeal more directly and personally to the women of Australia. 1 wish to take back to India the news that Australian women would not allow the misery and degradation of Indian womanhood to go on unchecked so close to their own Australian shores. I have a great confidence also that their initial voice in this country, when voiced on behalf of that ideal of womanhood which is sacred all over the world, will not be refused.

Australia and India, India and Australia! In wonderful ways these two great continents, bound together with the most sacred ties of a common, devoted allegiance to one King and Queen, have drawn nearer to one another in the suffering of war! It is from the women of India that the great fountain head of loyalty springs in India itself. It is the women there, whose hearts went out in days gone by to Victoria the Good. It is the women there, whose hearts to-day are touched by the widowhood of Queen Alexandra, so nobly borne; and by the motherhood of Queen Mary, so devoted to her children and so full of sympathy for all—the Mother Queen. These names—the names of these good women—have become household words, and the village folk of India have loved each of these their sovereign rulers for their pure womanly goodness. It is this that has won their hearts and kept their loyalty true.

To-day, in the midst of the war itself, these same Indian mothers are feeling deeply and bitterly the shame and disgrace, which has come upon the honour of their Indian womanhood, owing to the things which are happening to the emigrant women and their little children in Fiji. There could be no worthier gift from the women of Australia, no gifts which

would draw the two countries closer together, than the knowledge that when the claim was made upon them, the women of Australia did not refuse to listen to India's appeal, but that ©ut of pure love and pity they acted promptly and did everything, in their power to help the Indian women in Fiji in their hour of need.




Indentured Labour in Fiji.

When we speak in our present Report of the “Indenture System,” we have specially in mind certain features, which have been common to this form of Indian labour, ever since it was started in Natal eighty years ago. These have given to it the name and character it bears. They may be summed up as follows :—

Recruiting of individuals in India, at the rate of forty women for every hundred men.*

A five years’ term of compulsory, State regulated labour.

The absence of freedom to choose or to change either employment or employer.

A low standard rate of wages, which tends to remain stationary, even when the price of food rises.

The payment of immigration charges by the employer.

In Fiji we were often .asked whether we had a rooted objection to “Indenture” in any form or shape. We were informed that a large number of Englishmen, all over the world, had gone out under “indenture” to the Colonies. These Englishmen had no objection to “indenture.” Why should the Indian object to it?    .

vVhen the matter was brought up in this form our answer was that the whole question turned on the freedom, responsibility and intelligence of those who entered into the agreement. In the case of the European immigrant, there was a natural presumption that he understood the exact terms of the agreement before starting, and that he felt quite clear in his own mind that they were neither oppressive nor degrading. Indeed, so far were his interests safeguarded by those in authority, that in South Africa, we found, the contract itself was not valid until it had been renewed after an interval had been allowed to the immigrant to examine on the spot all the conditions. Only when he was perfectly satisfied, after seeing things with his own eyes, was the contract finally signed. We were told in Australia that no one is allowed to come to the Southern States under contract except with the permission of Government. In Queensland, where European labour is badly needed, the limit that is allowed for an agricultural contract is a single year.

These facts show clearly with what care and precaution the interests of the European immigrants are safeguarded and assured. Furthermore— and this is the chief point of all—the contract is a purely civil one. If the European finds that the terms of the contract are not being faithfully kept, he has an immediate remedy at hand in a court of law. He know*

*[Up to the year 1883 the ratio appears to have been 33 per 100 in all Crown Colonies importing indentured labour, and it remained at this rate still later in Natal.—C.F.A.]

the method by which he can get his agreement cancelled; and if he can

prove that there has been any unfair advantage taken of his ignorance, he can be quite certain of a patient and sympathetic hearing from the magistrate, who is usually a fellow countryman of his own.

The position may be briefly stated as follows. Contracts for personal service, which are made, with ignorance on the one hand and intelligence on the other: or contracts which are brought about by the exploitation of the weak; or contracts which are engaged in for an excessively long period of years—these all tend to reproduce servile features. In these cases the new word “indenture” is nearly equivalent to the old word “slavery” writ large. Indeed, the wish to possess such a form of labour proceeds from the same instinct—the instinct to endeavour to get the service of a fellow human being on compulsory terms.

This, then, is the root objection to the present Indian “Indenture.” It is neither a free, nor an intellgent contract. It is not what a business man would call a “square deal.” It is also fixed for a dangerously long period of years, and thus is liable to lead to the abuse of individual liberty.

From all that we were able to gather from the indentured coolies’ own lips, and also from the free Indians, it is probably not an exaggeration to state that, in the ease of 80 per cent, of‘those who were indentured in India, some deceit was practised by the recruiting agent. This man is actually paid so much per head for his task by the Colonial Emigration authorities at 61 Garden Reach, Calcutta, or elsewhere. He is given an extra bonus for every woman. The price paid in the west of the United Provinces seems to be as high as forty-five rupees for every maa and fifty-five rupees for every woman; in the east of the United Provinces and in Madras we were told the fee was lower. But whatever the price may be is immaterial; such payments made, at so much, per head, for men and women, recall the worst features of the old slave system, and are quite indefensible. They offer a premium to a very low class of agen „ to engage in acts of cunning and fraud.

We have been ourselves into the recruiting areas of India and have questioned the villagers about the activities of the agents of the Colonial Emigration Depots. Allowing for exaggeration on the part of those who are illiterate, there can be no shadow of doubt that the frauds already practised by recruiting agents have been immense. We found out another evil, which makes this unscrupulous recruiting more dangerous still. The agents represent themselves as subordinate Government officials and bring in the name of Government to set forward their own plans. The villagers are often too simple to discover this obvious fraud. Those of us who know the dread, in the ordinary villager’s mind, of the power of the subordinate official, will not need to be told what an instrument of tyranny such a false representation may become. It will also be understood what a prejudice against the Indian Government itself is likely to be raise!. But the evil goes still deeper. A missionary, of long experience in the villages, whose word could be thoroughly trusted in such a matter, tol l us that there was frequent collusion between the recruiting agents and

the police, the latter receiving from the former a commission. The recruiting agent, becoming a ,man of power, carries the exercise of his authority far beyond the limits of recruiting. He is not seldom a blackmailer whom the villagers actually bribe in order to live in peace.

A typical case of this came under our own observation. A villager, named Fakhira,- had his wife and daughter decoyed from him by a re -cruiting agent, who offered to return them to him on the payment of a sum of money. Fakhira had not the sum ready to hand and could not borrow it. The wife and daughter were missing. He never saw them again.

We had a long conversation with a coolie, who had escaped, after being fraudulently recruited. He had been given dhatura. In this case, his mother had almost lost her reason during his absense. The small village to which he belonged was in a state of panic-fear. It is now a clearly indicated fact that, over large areas of the United Provinces, there has been added to the other fears of the villager this new dread of the recruiting agent. The villagers have in some districts actually banded themselves together against their common enemy, and there have been -cases of violent assaults upon the recruiter when he has been found entering a village. Songs in the vernacular are now sung from village to village warning people against the recruiter. The situation is not altogether unlike the Mormon Scare in England, and the object of the villagers is the same, namely, the protection of the chastity of their women and the sanctity of their married life.

It was instructive to find that the actual accounts of the coolies in Fiji as to the manner of their own recruitment tallied exactly with the stories we heard from the villages in the Indian recruiting districts. We listened, as it were, to the same story from both ends—from the fellow villagers and relations of the recruited coolies in India and from the recruited coolies themselves in Fiji.

Piecing together the different stories and eliminating exaggerations, it is clear that the recruiting agent in recent years has begun to fight shy ■of going direct to the villages and inducing people to come to the Depot from their own village homes. He does not bargain with them there. Nearly every coolie we qnestoned in Fiji said he was away from home when he was recruited. Very possibly many such coolies were escaping from justice, or running away from some family quarrel at the time. But others were clearly quite simple village people, involved in no such trouble. They had lost, perhaps, their relations in a crowded railway station. They were on a pilgrimage and did not know the way. They were merely going from one village to another, when the recruiting agent came along and tempted them with his story.

It was noticeable among the women how many were recruited at the pilgrim centres. The common narrative was that the recruiting agent came up, offering to take the women to her relatives, or to show her some, sacred shrine, and then took her to the Depot instead. The evidence given of such practices was far too circumstantial in detail, and far

too frequently given with fresh detail and fresh names of places, to allow of any doubt concerning its substantial accuracy.

The following is an account, written on the spot, of a visit paid by us to Muttra to gather information at first hand about up-country coolie recruiting:—    .

“We found, at the first depot, that all the coolies had been moved off to Calcutta. At the second depot, an Indian with very low features (who appeared to us a dangerous person to be entrusted with the charge of India a women) was manager of the place. The first coolie, whom we saw, was evidently a prostitute. Four men were also there, who told us they were ready to emigrate. One man, of very low caste, was even eager to go. He told us he had been getting only two annas a day in India. He had no idea where Fiji was and said he thought it was about two hundred kos from Muttra. The last coolie was a woman, who was going out again to Fiji. She told us that a man had lived with her in Fiji, but had deserted her as soon as she landed in India. Now she was all alone. No one had anything to do with her. She said that in Fiji there was plenty of money, but in India she could make no money at all. She was in a very wretched condition. Evidently she expected some other man to live with her, if she went out.

“In the third depot, news of our coming had preceded us and feverish efforts had been made to get things straight. There were only two coolies. One did not appear at first, and when he came forward, he would hardly answer any question. We told the manager to leave us alone. Then the coolie began crying and said he was in great trouble. He had been in the depot for four days and had not been allowed to go out at all. He did not wish to go away to Fiji. (When asked previously before the manager, he had said he was willing). He implored us to take him away. We called the manager back and told him this. He went up to the man and began to threaten him. The coolie at once got frightened. We told the manager to speak quietly, and the man then said that he wished to go away. The manager told him to fetch his bundle and go.

“ We then went to see a Gaur Brahman who had gone mad on account of his wife being taken away by the recruiting agent. The whole neighbourhood collected, showing their sympathy and pity. The madman was a pathetic sight to witness.

1 The news had by this time spread widely that we were in the town, and the relatives of those who had been taken away flocked round us. A respectable Jat came up to us. His brother was blind and had an only son, who was taken by the recruiters. The lad was sixteen years of age. Another boy had been taken with him, but had been .rejected on medical grounds. This second boy told the blind father his son’s fate. The Jat informed us that he had gone to the magistrate and asked for an order to stop the boy’s embarkation. The magistrate asked for a deposit of thirty rupees, which was paid, and a telegram was sent to Calcutta. An answer had come from the depot that as the boy was going by his own consent, his embarkation could not be delayed. The Jat thereupon asked the magistrate for an order to enter the Calcutta Depot. He went to Calcutta, and, as he described to us his treatment, we could understand the difficulties which were placed in his way. In the end he was informed that the boy had already sailed for Fiji. If he wished to get him back, a deposit must be made of 465 rupees.

“A Hindu, by caste a Bania, spoke to us concerning his wife. She had been taken by the recruiters, and he was very bitter against them. We asked him if he had made any attempt do get her back. He said he had not, for when once she had been inside the depot she was stained.

"Some correspondence was given us concerning a coolie who had been shipped to British Guiana. The following official letter is of interest:—

“Sir,—With reference to your endorsement, No. 2047 of the 4th inst., I have the honour to inform you that a sum of Rs. 531 will be required lor the repatriation, etc., of Radha Kishan No'. 104, Mutlah 1912. (Details given). It will not be possible for Radha Kishan to return to India till about August or September, 1916.

1 T^e father of Radha Kishan was a villager earning four annas a day. He told us he was going to try to borrow the money, because his son had written to him in very great distress.”

. It was clear from the narratives of the women in Fiji that when cnee they had crossed the threshold of the depot their terror became too great to allow them to turn back. The recruiting agent seemed able to stupefy them with fear. He was then able to coach them in the questions which they had to answer and they very rarely refused to reply according to his directions when the time came.

With the men folk, the methods of the recruiting agents appear to be somewhat different. Here it is the ordinary villager’s cupidity which is the lever most frequently used. If he is of the stupid ignorant type, then Fiji is referred to as a district near to Calcutta, where high wages are to be obtained. Incredible though it may appear, we came across many cases where the indentured coolies informed us, with every appearance of truth, that they were quite unaware of their real destination, until they found themselves tossing and sea-sick in the Bay of Bengal.

If the villager, on the other hand, is of the more intelligent type, then the full details of the indenture are revealed. But the work is made out to be very light indeed, and the most glowing prospects are offered. Nothing is said about the penal laws, or the hard conditions of compulsory labour. If the Fiji conditions were even normally fair and prosperous and wholesome, then little harm might be done by mere exaggerations. The advertisements which attract emigrants from England are often highly coloured. Yet on the whole the English emigrants are satisfied. But in Fiji the amount of satisfaction we found was very limited indeed. Here and there we discovered a set of coolies who were happy on the estates. But this was the exception, not the rule.

The recruiting agent appears not to be content with finding his recruits among the peasant classes only. He deals with all sorts and conditions of men and women. Where he finds a Sikh, or a Jat, who is ready to step into his toils, he pictures Fiji as an ideal place for a soldier or a policeman, if only the thumb mark is placed to the agreement. A whole group of Punjabis was once recruited in this way, under false pretences. When they found out, on arrival, how they had been cheated they broke out into open mutiny and held up a whole district.

Sometimes the recruiting agent finds a raw youth fresh from school, with a smattering of English education and a boyish desire for adventure. He pictures to him employment in Fiji, as a teacher, on fabulous rates of pay—if only the agreement is signed. We were startled every now and then to find in the coolie “lines” a young lad of high caste and

education, whose whole appearance showed that he had no business at all in such a place. The condition of such lads, when they arrive and have to be lodged in the same quarter with men of low moral and unclean habits of life, is pitiable indeed. We have spoken to many of the emigration officers and magistrates, in whose courts the 0001168’ agreements are signed, and not one has expressed himself satisfied with what is gcing on. Each one has told us in turn that he had suspicions of some secret fraudulent dealing, which was very difficult indeed to detect. One who had the fullest opportunity of seeing the work of recruiting in up-country districts spoke of it, in our hearing, as “dirty work.” Our own very limited experience corroborates that statement, and the narratives we heard in Fiji endorse it.

We found, further, on examination, that the agreement which the coolie signs before going out, does not truly represent the facts of "coolie life in Fiji. It is a misleading document. Not a word, for instance, is said concerning the penalties which await the coolie, if, for any rea -on (which he may regard as valid) he refuses to work. Another serious omission from the agreement (seeing that those who sign it are for the most part ignorant and illiterate people) is the failure to record the fact that food-rates in Fiji differ materially from those in India. The coolie is told in the agreement that he will be paid at the minimum rate of twelve annas a day. But he is not told that the purchasing power of twelve annas in Fiji is scarcely equal to that of five annas in India.* He is not told, also, that more is required in the way of clothing and other necessaries of life in Fiji than in India. So that the bare living expenses are nearly three times as high in Fiji as in India itself.

The Indian woman who comes out under indenture has a still more serious charge to make against the signed agreement. These women are simple, ignorant Indian villagers who have been used to fieM work. They are told in the agreement that they will have agricultural work to do in Fiji at the minimum wage of nine annas per day for a completed task. They naturally picture to themselves a state of labour in the field such as they have been used to in India. But when they get to their work in Fiji they find that all is changed. Those who have seen the Indian woman working in the fields in India with her little family playing near her, will realise the change when she is told to leave her family behind in the coolie “lines.” The provision of regulation “flyproof nurseries” is no compensation to her for the privilege of looking after her own children, and living her own natural life in her own natural way. She is not told, also, in the agreement that she will be compelled, under penal clauses, to work incessantly, day in, and day out, with no time to cook her own husband’s meals or look after her own children. She is never told anything also, of the condition of the coolie “lines” in which she will be compelled to live, without any privacy or even decency for five years, with no possibility of change.

[*An anna is equivalent in monetary value to the English penny. A rupee is one shilling and fourpence.]

All this is hidden from the village woman who enters into the indenture agreement in India. In these circumstances, as well as others, it cannot be called a fair contract. For it is made on behalf of one party,, the Fiji Government, who is fully aware of the actual state of affairs as they exist in Fiji, with another, the ignorant coolie woman who is imagining entirely different conditions.

The following are a few out of a very large number of instances which have come under our special notice.

1.    A respectable woman who told us that she had been on a pilgrimage to Benares and had become confused in the strange crowd and separated from her relations. A man had seen her crying and had promised to bring her to her own people. He had taken her instead to the Depot. When she had found out her true plight, she had been too frightened to resist. Asked why she had answered the magistrate’s questions, she said that she was too frightened to do anything else.. Asked whether she was told that she was to go on board ship and settle across the sea, she said, “No.”

[Very many circumstantial narratives of this kind were told us. It was noticeable to us how large a proportion of the women, whom we questioned, were recruited at the pilgrim centres.]

2.    A well educated, delicate lad from a village near Delhi, who

spoke English fluently. He had been promised clerk’s work by the recruit, ing agent. He was told nothing about being obliged to live in the coolie “lines.” When we met him he was very unhappy. He had saved a little money and wished to buy himself out, but was not allowed at the time to do so. His employer had been kind to him and put him on light work, but nothing could remove the depression he felt at being forced to live as a coolie in the coolie “line.”    .    .' . s

3.    A Kayastha, who was met at Allahabad by a man wearing a sacred thread. The man pretended to be a Brahman, and promised the Kayastha work as a Teacher in a school at Puri. He was taken instead to the Calcutta Depot. This man was now out of indenture, and he was doing all he could in Fiji to help those who were still in the coolie “lines.” He gave us a great deal of help, and we found his information accurate on the whole. Though educated in his own vernacular and quite above the “coolie” class in average intelligence he was very deaf and at times appeared almost stupid. He was thus one who could have been easily deceived in the first instance. He told us that he had actually found out his mistake when in the Depot, but he had been too fearful to run away. From all we saw of him, we were convinced that his own narrative was substantially true.

4.    A low caste Hindu, who was brought out under indenture for “agricultural work” and was set to cut up meat in a butchery. When asked by us how he, a Hindu, could engage in such work, he replied that he could not help it, as he was ordered to do it. He seemed much ashamed of himself and hung down his head while he answered our questions. His companions in the butchery were Mhsalmans.

5.    A Kabir Panthi, now out of indenture, who had been originally obliged to do the same kind of work. He told us that he had continually refused, and had been imprisoned. We looked up his record on the estate and found he had been given 692 days’ imprisonment while under indenture. When he came to see us he had clearly lost his moral character _ and his record in the Colony, since he had become a free Indian, was a bad one. He had even been charged with biting a man’s nose in a sordid quarrel, and had been found guilty. But, in spite of this, we found a simple and Hue side to his character. It was not altogether undermined. It is not unlikely that he became a moral wreck through being compelled to do work which was against his instincts and his conscience.

[We found some Madrasis of low caste who actually preferred to do this kind of butcher’s work. But it is quite clear that the Government of India never contemplated such an occupation as butchery under the head of ‘‘agriculture” in the agreement, We therefore gave our own personal opinion to the Fiji authorities, that Hindus, however low in easte, should not be set to do the work of slaughtering animals.]

6.    A Brahmin boy, aged about 15, who came out in 1915. He had been deceived by the recruiting agent as to the nature of the work which he would be required to do. He was told when in India that he would have garden work given him in Fiji. His hands were quite unhardened, and he was very miserable, and seemed to be quite a child still in every way. He begged very pitiably to be allowed to go home to India.

[We found many cases of mere boys being indentured in India and brought out to Fiji. In one case a child came to us, who was under indenture He declared that he was only twelve when he was recruited. He had been out nearly a year, and from his appearance we should regard it as do\ib* ful, if he could have been more than fourteen when we saw him. It is surely open to question whether a boy of such tender age can legally enter into a complicated agreement which binds him for five years and in most cases settle his whole future. When we looked at random into the books of the Immigration Department, we found the following recent cases:—

51500. Akkavu-Ganges 1——1913—aged 15.

51954. Thaiary Nagadu-Ganges 1-1913-aged 16.

56449. Kuda Baksh-Mutlah 1-1915-aged 17.

56296. Bacha-Mutlah-1-1915-aged 17.

■ It should be noted that some of these eases are probably given on the higher side. We found, for instance, a boy, who could hardly be more than 15, entered in Fiji as aged 17. When -we had the Calcutta register examined, we found that he was entered there as 20 years of age. The Fiji official told us that he had seen how impossible the age of 20 was for a mere boy, and had put down the age of 17 in the Fiji register as nearer the mark.]

7. An intelligent coolie, labouring in the mill, told us that he was obliged to work on twelve-hour shifts, and on alternate weeks had to go on night work in the agreement.

[We found out, still further, that a large amount of highly skilled labour was being performed by the indentured coolies at an absurdly low rate of pay. Among the coolies who had been thus engaged in looking after the machinery of the mills were sonje who had been discarded because of some accident. In one mill, three men came up to us who had each lost a limb .and were crippled for life. Yet no compensation had been made to them

for this life-long injury. We only heard of one ease in the whole Colony where such compensation had been given by an employer for serious injurv to a coolie; and in that case the compensation was extracted by Government pressure. Thus the mill-owners so used their labour under the cover of the indenture system that they obtained skilled work from the more intelligent of the coolies at a rate of less than a quarter of the market value, and when those coolies met with an accident in the performance of their duty, refused to pay any compensation whatever except under pressure.]

8.    A Madrasi, came out in 1913 on Sutlej IV., aged 18. Laughed as he narrated to us how he had been deceived by the recruiting agent. Described to us his appearance before the magistrate in India, and how he hurried through the performance of question and answer. His parents did not know anything about where he had gone till he wrote from Fiji, because he thought he was only going to get employment a short way from home and then to return.

9.    A.respectable married man who came out with his wife and two children, finding the struggle for existence very hard in India and hoping to get on better in Fiji. But he found by experience that living was so expensive in the Colony that it was even more difficult than in India to keep his family and himself supplied with proper food and clothing. When his wife was nursing her child (she was the only woman with children in the coolie “lines”) they -were nearly starving. The average cost of food alone for one person in Fiji is not less than 3 rupees per week, and at that time he was earning 4 rupees 2 annas per week. This man was very anxious to return home to Fyzabad, in the United Provinces, where he had been earning 6 annas a day. He told us that he could manage to keep his wife and children better there than in Fiji.

[Even in this war-time, with higher prices for every commodity in Fiji, there has been no substantive advance made in the coolies ’ wages. Some employers have done a little to help on the earnings of the indentured coolies by issuing tickets which can purchase rice and sharps at pre-war rates. We were told by one employer that purchase by means of such tickets ” saved the coolie 6 annas in every three rupees. But the “ticket” process is very cumbrous; and very few coolies took advantage of it. When we asked the general manager of the C. S. R. Co. why the Company did not give the coolie an advance in actual wages, he replied that when wages once rise they have a tendency to keep up and not come down again. The Company, therefore, has devised the “ticket” system. It was obvious to us, from this, that as far as wages are concerned the indenture system places the coolie completely at the mercy of his employers.]

10.    Two young Telugus were interviewed by us in the coolie “lines.” They came out in 1915. What attracted them was the promise of 12 annas a day. They were earning 4 annas a day in India.- They told us that they were no better off in their cost of living in Fiji. In hours of work, their condition was far worse than in India. In Madras their day’s work was always over by noon; in Fiji they had to go on up to five or six o’clock in order to complete their task. In Fiji they were very unhappy, because no one in the coolie “lines” could speak their own language, and they often could not understand the manager’s or the Sardar’s orders. They were very anxious to get back to India.

11.    A Madrasi of very low caste and low features came to us for protection against a Sardar who had locked him up (so he told us) and beaten and starved him. The inspector, to whom we brought the case, was inclined to disbelieve the coolie, because he had already obtained convictions against two Sardars quite recently in the same coolie “lines” for doing the same thing. We suggested that a bad tradition having been once established in the coolie “lines” it would be difficult to get rid of it. At our express wish, therefore, the inspector took up the case, and it resulted in the man’s story being found true. One Sardar was convicted in the magistrate’s Court, another Sardar was acquitted on a technical point of law, but an appeal to the Supreme Court has been lodged by the inspector. The English overseer through whose neglect the cruelties were allowed to go on has been dismissed, owing to the firm action of the Agent-General of Immigration. The case was a striking testimony to us of the genuine desire of Government authorities to obtain justice for the “coolie.” At the same time, it also revealed to us the extraordinary difficulty under which coolies labour whose mother-tongue is not Hindustani. It was, literally, a matter of hours before we could get from this coolie the plain facts of his story; and the feeling that he was not understood made him nervous and excited, and this gave us a false impression. The inspector was in the same difficulty as ourselves.

[The recent immigration of Madrasi coolies, who speak Telugu, Tamil, Malayalam and Canarese, has led to greatest possible confusion. In a trial for murder before the Chief Justice, held while we were in Suva, the accused prisoner only knew Malayalam. The Court Interpreter only knew Tamil and English. A third party, therefore, had to be called in who knew Malayalam. The Chief Justice was, in this way, twice removed by language barriers from the prisoner at the bar. Yet in these faulty circumstances, he was obliged to try the Madrasi for his life, and actually to condemn him to death ]

12.    A Hindustani girl of good caste and respectable Hindu parentage had been decoyed from her father’s house by a neighbouring woman in her village. The pretext was that a telegram had been received from her husband, who was ill and wanted her to go to him at once. Her father, not being on good terms with her husband, had separated her from her husband. She went, therefore, with this woman without letting her father know. Too late she found out how she had been deceived. On board ship her honour was assailed, and only with the greatest possible difficulty had she been able to retain it. Now her only hope is that her father and mother will think that she is dead, because she feels that she has brought disgrace to her family. Though she has been nearly two years in Fiji she has not yet recovered from her first despair. She is afraid even to let her parents know where she is, because of the sense of degradation at her present lot in life.

13.    A Rajput who came out on the distinct understanding that he would be able to join a regiment if he went to Fiji. He spoke under great excitement when we saw him, as he was in prison and condemned to death. His words were not easy to follow at one point, but we gathered that when signing, a Sahib had assured him that this would

be his lot. He said with great emphasis that a Sahib could not tell a lie. He and his brother had been soldiers in India, in Rajputana. They were a military family. Then his brother inherited some land, and left his regiment and became a zamindar. He joined his brother for a time, but was hankering to get back to his old military life when the recruiting agent came and deceived him. When he arrived in Fiji, he was told that he would have to enter the coolie “lines” and serve with the sweepers—as he expressed it. In such compulsory degradation, as he thought it, his life went utterly to pieces. He told us that the insults he received in the coolie “lines” had been unbearable. “They pulled my moustache,” he said* and suited the action to the word. His offence had been an act of murder in a quarrel with a Mahommedan over an abandoned woman. The woman had slapped the Rajput’s face, and he had stabbed her. In spite of his crime, there was a great nobility in his bearing when we saw him. He only broke down when one of us asked him if he would like his parents to be visited and told about him, or if he would wish to send them any message. We were both more deeply affected by his whole story, and by the fortitude with which he spoke to us, than it is possible to express in words. He was condemned to be hanged, but owing to the clemency of the Governor the sentence was commuted to penal servitude. We were very anxious about this Rajput’s fate when we left the Islands. The Governor had not yet consulted his Executive Council. But he was good enough to cable to us, on his own initiative, when our ship reached New Zealand, the news of the reprieve.

In connection with this case, an extract may be given from a petition very fully signed by Indians in Fiji and endorsed by many Europeans.

Respectfully showeth:—

That under the existing system of Indian labour immigration there is a great disproportion between the number of males and females.

That this disproportion is mostly responsible for the abnormal number of murders and kindred crimes among Indians.

That the majority of those found guilty of such crimes are otherwise quiet and law-abiding; and the murders, for which they are condemned to •death, are not due to any murderous instinct in them, but really to sexual jealousy.

* That the proportion of crimes relative to the same class of people in India is, by far, much lower than in this Colony.

That in the Colony of Mauritius, for over five years past, there has not been a single trial of murder by Indians, who, as a mass, belong to the same class as those in Fiji.

That the death sentence does not, as a matter of fact, seem to deter Indians from crime in this Colony, since the whole cause of the trouble here is sexual jealousy.

This petition: was very favourably reported in the Fiji newspapers, and leading Europeans in the Islands very warmly took up the matter of abolishing the death sentence in these murder cases. Many Planters informed us that it was invariably the finest and best Indian coolies who committed these murders, never the worst. This was, to us, very strik-

ing news; its significance will be seen when the criminal statistics are examined later on in the Report.

14.    A Mahommedan Munshi, a cultured man and very intelligent. He had been brought out under the promise that he would be given work in a madrasa. He had been appointed Sardar in the coolie “lines” and showed us his notes which he had kept. He told us that the custom was general of a commission being paid to the Sardar by each coolie. Otherwise the Sardar was able to bring petty tyranny to bear on the coolie wrho did not pay. A much worse information, which he gave, was that the Sardars arranged, according to payment, the location of women with certain favoured men.

[We had further accounts of this at other centres, and from what we saw with our own eyes, within the “lines,’’ concerning the relation of the Sardar to the coolies, it seemed to us not improbable. This Munshi had married, by Mahommedan rites, a wife, while still living in the coolie lines, But this wife would not, in the ordinary course of events, be set free until two years after his own indenture had expired. We did our best to get her “ commuted/ as the situation appeared to us highly dangerous, and the Munshi was a very respectable man.]

15.    A Punjabi, a thorough gentleman in his general bearing. He had served for a considerable time in a Punjab regiment. He had been quartered at Delhi, and gave us the names of his English officers, and spoke of his Colonel with great warmth and affection. He had been brought out under the promise of regimental service abroad. The effect of military discipline in the past was noticeable. He had kept his respectability and neatness and good manners in the midst of the coolie “lines.” He did not complain to us, but took it as his fate.

16.    A young Madrasi Christian, who had kept his good character. He spoke a little English and was fairly educated. This young lad was compelled by the law of indenture to live in the midst of grossly immoral surroundings for five years. There was a missionary near to these coolie “lines” who wished to buy him out and employ him as a catechist and teacher. While we were there he was able to do-so, and the boy is now free. He told us he had been recruited under entirely false information concerning the life to which he was coming out.

17.    A young highly educated Indian, -who could write and speak. English well. He was - soon recognised as unfit for agriculture, and was given important clerical -work under Government. He was, however, kept strictly under indenture, and paid a lower salary than he would be entitled to as a free Indian. Recently he applied for a rise in salary, and asked also to commute his indenture, for he had been able to save up enough money for that purpose. The increase of salary was refused. He was further warned that, unless he gave satisfaction to Government, not only would his request for commutation be disallowed, but he might be sent back to the plantations under the law of indenture.

[The fact that a responsible and well-disposed Government, whose actions were on the whole kindly and considerate (as this Report will show), could

offer such a threat to a highly educated man, struck us very much indeed. It seemed to bear out our contention that a five years’ indenture with penal clauses attached is a bondage.]

These examples may be sufficient to illustrate the fact that recruiting, as at present carried on in India, is frequently unscrupulous, and that the indenture itself is neither a free nor an intelligent contract. So strongly did the facts about fraudulent recruiting come home to us that we felt the necessity to cable direct without delay to India, urging that such harmful practices should be stopped. We thought that this could only be accomplished by strong public opinion expressing itself in vigorous action.

We were often asked, in Fiji, to explain how it was possible for the Indian coolies to pass through the examination of the magistrate and doctor and Emigration Agent in India without ever coming fully to understand what the exact conditions of labour in Fiji were. We have already pointed out the misleading character of the Government agreement itself; how it does not represent the true facts of life in Fiji. It is not unlikely that the doctor and magistrate in India are more ignorant of the whole truth than those who drew up that agreement. But, beyond this, it is also probable that, in many cases, their official work is perfunctorily undertaken. How otherwise should we find a mere child (who could hardly have been more than 14 or 15) registered as 20 years of age? How could educated high-caste boys, whose very hands would show tljat they were unused to hard field labour, be sent out to work at the sugarcane? We cannot avoid this inference from the actual cases that have been brought to our notice in Fiji. A conclusion still more serious was this, that, in addition to collusion with the Police, there was collusion with the subordinate officials of the larger central Depots, in order to keep the hesitating coolies in a state of fear right up to the end. The stories about these subordinate officials and their treatment of the coolies in the Depot, were too circumstantial to leave much doubt in our own minds about the matter. Free Indians, who had no reason for telling us anything but the truth, were equally clear on this point with those who were still under indenture.

There have been lamentable and tragic eases of Indians, both men and women, who have thrown themselves into the Hughli, in order to escape from the emigrant ships, and also of actual suicides occurring on the high seas. It is difficult to give details of these, because -“deaths ” are not separated from “suicides” and “desertions” on the ships’ records. But we heard the account of one voyage in the year 1912 from an eyewitness who could be trusted. He stated to us that one coolie had jumped overboard into the Hughli, and one woman had committed suicide at sea.. We find in the Indian Immigration Report, 1912, in a paragraph referring to the voyage of Ganges I, the record that “two male immigrants from Madras, missing at different dates, were supposed to have

been lost overboard.” This may possibly be the voyage referred to, ihough the statements do not exactly tally.

We found out, in Fiji, another side of the coolie’s difficulties, when he is first brought to the Depot as a recruit. There is nearly always present among this class of Indian villagers (who rarely, if ever, in their lives come face to face with Englishmen) a very potent and peculiar fear of the Sahib. ‘Why did you not ask the Sahib to release you?” was the question, which we very often used to put to individual coolies, who had told us about some fraud of the recruiting agent practised upon them. Th# answer invariably came, “On account of fear.” In one case, a woman told us how the recruiting agent had terrified her about the magistrate, assuring her that if she did not answer the magistrate’s questions in a certain way, which he specified, the Sahib would put her into prison. We have discovered that a great fear comes over the coolies in the strange surroundings of the Depot, and they look with dread on the functions and powers of the Sahib. Their one bewildered, dominant idea seems to be that they should try to please the Sahib at all costs. Sadly enough, they have little idea when they answer, in the way the recruiting agent has instructed them, the Sahib’s questions, that they .are throwing away their last chance of release.

One further important point needs to be mentioned in order to make the picture complete. Besides the growdh, when in the Depot, of all this fear, suspicion and alarm, there is also a sense of hopelessness, like that of an animal who has been caught in a trap and has given up the useless struggle to escape. Again and again the indenture^ coolies explained to us this feeling, and there was a ring of truth about their utterance. It was their “fate,” so they spoke of it to us; and, in that one word “fate” all the despair and misery of the situation seemed to be summed up. Those among them who were respectable women had the overwhelming dread upon them that they would never again be taken back into their homes. Indeed, the recruiting agent appeared to know only too well that, when once he had kept such a woman absent from her husband, even for a single night, the rest of his work would be comparatively easy. The woman would feel instinctively that her fate was sealed, xrd would give up any further efforts to get free.

We found one strangely inaccurate idea current among the Planters in Fiji, namely, that a large proportion of those who have already been out once under indenture, return a second time. This erroneous statement was presented to us again and again as the basis of an argument. It was said that it would be quite impossible for the coolies in the various Depots to remain unaware of the condition of indentured labour in Fiji (even though these were not stated clearly in the agreement), because so many were continually returning under indenture; and such a class of men would not be likely to resist the temptation of telling ail they knew to the others. Also, a second argument was used with us, that the inden-

ture system could not be so black as we painted it, because, in that caser so many coolies would not be likely to return under a new indenture.

It will be well to examine these arguments in the light of facts. »The figures are available for the years 1912, 1913, and 1914. ~

In 1912 there were 3,402 Indian immigrants landed in Fiji, of whom 5 men, 5 women, and 4 children had previously served, or resided, in Fiji, i-e-i 10 adults out of a total of 3,402.    1

In 1913 there were 3,289 Indian immigrants who landed in Fiji, of whom 8 men, 2 women, and 5 children had previously served, or resided, in Fiji, i.e., 10 adults out of a total of 3,289.

In 1914 there wTere 1,572 Indian immigrants who landed in Fiji, of whom 19 men, 9 women, arid 4 children had previously served, or resided, in Fiji, i.e., 28 adults out of a total of 1,572.    .

Taking the year 1912 as a test of the worth of the first argument (viz., that all the coolies in the various depots would be told the exact labour conditions in-Fiji by returning immigrants), it will be seen how very unlikely it would be that five men (some of whom might have decided to go back at the last moment before the ship sailed) could have communicated detailed information about indentured labour in Fiji to 3,402 persons scattered over the depots of North India and Madras Presidency.

Considering the second argument, namely, that the conditions of indentured labour are so popular with those who have once experienced it, that large numbers go out a second time, the figures seem to prove the very opposite. For, although the Indian coolies find by bitter experience that they are outcaste and homeless on their return to India, they scarcely ever decide to go back again to Fiji. In the three years for which statistics are available, only 32 men out of 8,261 immigrants made up their minds to return under indenture.

We met one such, a Natal coolie, who had come out as an indentured immigrant to Fiji. He told us that he had first gone back from Natal to his home in Madras, but had been outcasted. He wished to marry and to settle down in his village, but no one would receive him, or marry him, because he had broken caste. He spent what little money he had brought back from Natal in trying to get back into caste, but all in vain. When all his money was spent he came across a recruiting agent from Fiji, and in despair decided to go out again under indenture.

In the light of such an undoubtedly true narrative as this, it will be seen how little truth there is in the assumption that all those who come back to Fiji under indenture, do so because they are satisfied with the indenture system. This Natal coolie did not sign on again because he liked indentured labour, but because he had given up hope of being ever received back into his community in India. Among the almost infinitesimal proportion who do actually re-indenture in India, there must be some at least who have had that Natal coolie’s experience.

As we have already stated, therefore, the facts, when examined, go against the very arguments which they are used to support. They tell the other way. And the assumptions are also fallacious.

As, in a measure, a confirmation of this conclusion, that the indenture system is almost universally disliked by the coolies themselves, one of us, while talking with the overseer of a large estate in Fiji, mentioned the word “commutation,” suggesting that this should be always permitted {i.e. that coolies should be allowed to commute their time of service by payment of a sum of money). The overseer said significantly, “Why! The coolies in these lines would all commute to-morrow, if only they had the chance.”

There were many evidences in Fiji to show that recruiting in North India had become more and more unscrupulous in recent years. The number of mere lads that were now being sent out was significant. Women, also, had apparently been more difficult than ever to obtain, and the number of women of abandoned character seemed to be on the increase. The reason of this has been clearly the rise of wages in North India. While the minimum wage of the indentured coolie in Fiji has remained stationary for thirty-six years, the wages of unskilled labour in the north of India have gone up, sometimes as much as 200 per cent. It is becoming more and more unlikely that the Indian peasant will go, of his own accord, thousands of miles across the sea to obtain a wage distinctly less in actual value than that which he can get near at hand in his own motherland. Why, for instance, should an able-bodied villager, from Gurgaon or Rohtak, go out across the seas to Fiji in order to get a mere four rupees per week in wages, when he could obtain higher wages by levelling the soil at New Delhi, with wheat selling there at less than half the Fiji price? Clearly the fraud and lying must be very deep indeed, which can induce people to go out to Fiji at a time when labour is so needed and wages are so high in North India. Yet we found coolies who had been taken from the Delhi district. Their story was that they had been deceived by false prospects.

In South India there seems to be less evidence of fraudulent recruiting than in the North. Wages are much lower, and the recruiter’s work may be easier on that account. But it must be remembered also that we could only converse easily with those Madrasis who had picked up ;a little knowledge of Hindustani; and we had practically no opportunity of hearing from the lips of Madrasi women their own account of how they were recruited.*

Perhaps the most disconcerting effect of unscrupulous recruiting in Fiji is the distrust of Government which it has engendered among the indentured and free Indians alike. Government is regarded as having countenanced the deception of the recruiter, and in consequence State

*The Madrasi are comparatively few in number in Fiji. The latest figures are roughly about 50,000 North Indian Hindustanis and 10,000 South Indian Madrasis.

officials are both feared and suspected. It is painful to find that the authorities are not looked upon by the Indians as their friends. Even the Agent-General of Immigration, whose duty it is to protect the interests of indentured Indians, is not exempt from this distrust. This is all the more discouraging, because the Agent himself and his staff have every desire to do the Indians justice. Perhaps the most significant fact of all is that the Indians who are on the staff, although full of sympathy towards their fellow-countrymen, are. regarded with something of the same distrust. They felt keenly the difficulty of this suspicious attitude, and spoke to us about it.

This distrust of Government has evidently started from the coolie “lines.” But it has not by any means stopped there. It has continued to spread among the free Indians, even though there may be little occasion for it. The distrust is kept out of sight, or covered by outward complaisance, because the free Indian cannot get rid of his servile tradition quickly, and is suspicious and afraid. The servile feeling engendered in the coolie “lines” remains deep down in the heart, and it is a menace to successful administration.

To illustrate this point—we found invariably that whenever we went out with the Immigration officers, we could never get from the coolie& any frank and open statements. It is impossible to describe in words their suspicious attitude—their sullen looks, their muttered whisperings. And then, on the other hand, we could see their changed faces, when they were positively certain, at last, that we had nothing to do with Government at all.

One of us had occasion to visit a free settlement of free Indians who were living on their own land. The visit was made in company with an immigration officer who had shown his sympathy with these same Indians on more than one occasion. Yet the whole visit was a failure, simply because of his presence. The free Indians remained silent and uncommunicative. Very early next morning, however, they sent a deputation, privately, to ask for another visit—only the Government official should not be present. In that case they promis'ed to talk freely.

Not only in the country areas, but also in Suva, the capital, this suspicion lies very deep. It has already done untold injury to the contentment of the Colony, and it will do far more unless it is speedily arrested.

The more carefully the whole question of recruitment is considered the more clear it becomes, that to send out people of the coolie class from Iudia as individuals, instead of in families, is wrong in principle. For they have never been accustomed to live as individuals. They have been used to the communal life. Women in India are all married at a very early age, and they are bound up with their families and their homes. Men also, in India, are usually married early, and their life is bound up with their community. To recruit a man here and a woman there, and to send them out to Fiji, away from all their communal and family ties, is certain to lead to misery in India and also to immorality in Fiji. We

found pitiable cases of men who had been living with one woman after another in Fiji, while their own truly married wives and their legitimate .children were deserted in India. We found equally pitiable cases of Hindu and Mahomedan wives reduced to leading a life of shame, while their true husbands were still living in India.    '

We obtained in Fiji a considerable body of evidence with regard to conditions of life on board the large emigrant vessels, which carry the indentured coolies. After discounting a great deal, as probably due to exaggeration, the strong impression was still left in our minds that little care is taken of the privacy of the women and of the manner of cooking the emigrants’ food. We ourselves saw something of these conditions on our way to and from South Africa, and we could understand what the coolies in Fiji told us. Many said that they had been obliged during the voyage out to give up their old Hindu habit of taking only vegetable food. Some, who regarded it as a sin to take animal food, went through tortures of fear; for even if meat were not actually present in the food, they were afraid that animal fat might have been used while cooking it. The strict Hindu suffered accordingly. We were told in Fiji that a very large percentage of Hindus began to abandon their vegetarian habits from the time of the voyage out. It was a strange sight for us to see a butcher’s shop in Suva, where beef as well as mutton was being sold, crowded with Hindus waiting eagerly to obtain their purchases of meat.

Even more serious, on board ship, as far as we could gather on enquiry, was the little care taken of the modesty of Indian women. Abandoned Vvomen were mixed up in the same quarters with those who were respectable. Temptation to evil was ever present. We had facts given to us on this point which were the plain records of eye-witnesses themselves, and not likely to be untrue.

Lastly, the number of deaths on board among those who had quite recently been passed by the doctor as medically sound, tells its own story. We were informed by trustworthy people in Fiji, who had themselves made the voyage out as free Indians, that the vice and misery on board the emigrant vessels were deplorable.- The following are the statistics for the years 1912 to 1914 with regard to the deaths on the voyage out and in the Depot on arrival:—

Out of 3,428 emigrants embarked in 1912, 27 “deaths, desertions or missing” occurred on the voyage; 22 deaths (20 of which were children) occurred in the Depot at Suva, and 9 unallotted immigrants died on the Colonial Hospital; a total of 58, or,one immigrant in 60.

Out of 3,306 immigrants embarked in 1913, 21 “deaths, desertions or missing” occurred on the voyage. Eleven deaths (six of which were children) occurred in the Depot at Suva, and 15 unallotted immigrants died in the Colonial Hospital; a total of 47, or one in 70.

Out of 1,572 immigrants embarked in 1914, six “deaths, desertions nr missing” occurred on the voyage. Three deaths (all children)

occurred in the Depot, and two unallotted immigrants died in the Colonial Hospital; a total of 11, or one in 143.

As examples of the lack of freedom in the matter of choice or change of employment and employer, the following examples may suffice to illustrate the difficulties under which the indentured Indian labours when he reaches Fiji:—

1. One of us happened to visit some banana plantations in the main island. Within two miles of each'other there were-two planters employing practically the same number of indentured Indians, viz., Id adults. On one of these plantations the coolies were found to be not only contented, but as happy as the day was long. They spoke of their employer as a devata (i.e., a god), and had not a single complaint to make of either their treatment or their wages.

On the other plantation there was nothing but bitter dissatisfaction expressed. And this was confirmed by the fact that two out of the 16 adults at the time of our visit were imprisoned for two months in gaol for refusing to work, while a third had been arrested by the police on his way to complain against his employer at the Immigration Office in Suva. This planter paid only the statutory wage of 5s. 6d. per week, and was employing a bright and intelligent boy, the son of one of his indentured Indians, as a house servant on the munificent wages of 6d. a week (with certain rations and cloths), working him from, six in the morning till late at night.

When we happened to be in the Immigration Office a week or ten days after this visit, a coolie from this very estate arrived to complain against his employer. He told us that he was a Tamil-speaking man, he found it difficult to understand his master’s orders as he could not speak Tamil, and thus trouble had arisen.

We noticed that on the last visit of the visiting inspector of immigrants to this estate “no complaints were made” to him by the indentured Indians.    .    v

On enquiry from the other employer, who seemed to have completely satisfied his labourers, it was found that he was a man of very wide experience, and paid his labourers by giving them areas to do by contract, treating them to all intents and purposes as free men. He declared that, although the men got exceptionally high wages, he found he got such good work out of them that it paid him to give them far beyond the minimum coolie wage.

Here, then, we have labourers of exactly the same class and experience, working side by side under two masters, one of whom may be regarded as a type of the good master, and the other as a type of the bad master, and yet they are so bound that they cannot during the whole five years of their indenture change from the bad employer to the good one. This shows how the indenture system gives to the employer an unfair hold over his labour.

2. We interviewed one employer, and in the course of conversation he remarked:—“I prefer indentured Indians, of course, .because they can’t get away from you. They are bound for the five years.” Later in the same conversation he said:—“For the life of me I can’t see the difference between being, under indenture and being in gaol!” And when it was suggested that perhaps under indenture the man was more free, he replied, “Oh, no, not a bit of it!”

We were warned not to regard the employer as typical of the planters in Fiji, but that only strengthened the' conviction that it is the bad ■employer who benefits by the indenture system, and that under a free system of labour the bad employer would suffer and the good employer would gain—a perfectly fair and just proposition.

We visited an estate at Navua, where the overseer had not long ago ■committed such atrocities upon the coolies in his “lines” that he was obliged at last to fly from the Colony, fearing a conviction for murder. For months this man had terrorised the coolies on the plantation. Yet these same Indians were compelled by the law of indenture to remain on this estate. Fresh newly-arrived coolies would, in the course of things, be sent direct from the ship to serve on this estate, without any power of refusal.    .

One of the persistent features, which has marked the indenture system from the beginning, has been the low proportion of adult women to adult men. There have been financial reasons to account for this. For, although the cost of the voyage out is the same for a woman as for a man, the amount of work which a woman can do is much less than that of a man. Where, therefore, cheap labour is the first concern, it is inevitable that the employer should aim at getting the largest possible number of men.

Thus, the low proportion of indentured women is not something accidental, which can be abandoned without modifying the system. Rather it is an integral factor in the system itself, which, apart from this paucity of women, could not be run at the high profits required by the employers. The moment that we suggested to the planters in Fiji such reforms as would help to make a decent family life possible among the coolies, we were met on all sides with the word “impossible.” The expense, they declared, would be prohibitive.

The Indian Government has been blamed for allowing such a low proportion as that of forty adult women to every hundred men to continue for so long unaltered. But it should be remembered to Government’s credit that it, and it alone, has prevented the proportion from falling much lower still. If the employers as a body had had their own way in the past there can be little doubt that they would have brought the rate ■down long ago to twenty-five per cent., or even less. Even to-day the temptation is a pressing one to pass out the emigrant ships with something slightly less than the regulation number of women.

This introduces another important consideration which shows still more clearly how the whole Indian indenture system in its practical working hangs together. With the method invariably adopted hitherto of recruiting individuals, rather than whole families, it has been found exceedingly difficult to obtain in India even as many as forty women for each hundred men, without drawing largely on the prostitute class. Out on the plantations, we have been told, it. is this very class which is actually needed in order to make the indenture system work. It is utterly repugnant to us to be obliged to enter into details on such a subject, and we shall do so as sparingly as possible. But it will easily be seen that when the stronger men on an estate have taken to their own possession an equal number of women, the remainder of the adult women find themselves still more unequally matched in number. The disproportion rises as high as one woman to four, or even to five, men. In these circumstances, the remark of one employer can be understood without comment. When one of us spoke to him about recruiting no more abandoned women, he demurred, and answered, “Why!. The system couldn’t go on without them.” We heard of one estate where the overseer made the regular practice, in order to keep peace in the “lines,” of allotting so many men to each single woman. This amounted to regulated prostitution.

We had both of us already witnessed in Natal moral evils in the ■coolie quarter, connected with this disproportion of men to women. We had received, also, invaluable help from Mr. Gandhi, who was the first to make clear to us the far-reaching effects of these evils upon the free Indians. But what we have now seen with our own eyes in Fiji is far worse than anything we had ever seen before. The moral evil in Fiji appears to have gone much deeper.    __

We cannot forget our first sight of coolie “lines” in Fiji. The looks on the face of the men and the women alike told one unmistakeable tale of vice. The sight of young children in such surroundings was unbearable to us. And, again and again, as we went from one plantation to another, we saw the same unmistakeable look. It told us of a moral disease which was eating into the heart and life of the people.

What else coidd be expected? Indian villagers, who have lived the communal life of their own Indian homes, are first taken away, one from here and one from there, by the recruiting agents. They are completely separated from all their old ties and associations. Then they are crowded together on board the great emigrant ships, where decency can hardly be preserved, and every temptation is rife. Lastly, in Fiji itself, they are crowded again into the coolie “lines,” which are more like stables than human dwellings; and there they are forced by law to remain, away from every restraint of custom or religion, during a period of five years. What else could be expected? But that little children should be born and brought up in this-

Though we were no novices to conditions such as these, yet what we met with in Fiji was far worse than we had ever anticipated. There

seemed to be some new and undefinable factor added—some strange unaccountable epidemic of vice. We felt that vice was spreading, like a blight, over the Indian population of Fiji. We began to fear that it would spread still further, to the indigenous Fijian population; and we found that our fears were already shared by others.

The demand was made quite insistently by the planters that wo should explain to them the reason for the suicidal tendency among the indentured coolies in Fiji. The long, never-ending roll of these suicides had shocked the Government; and the planters had felt it deeply also.

We were able to assure the Government on one point. As far as we could see, there was much less actual ill-treatment of indentured coolies than wTe had come across in Natal. The only reports that reached us which approached the Natal plantations in this respect were those that came from Navua.

Furthermore, we were both of us quite clear in our own minds, that the inspection of the plantations was much more carefully carried out by the Immigration Department in Fiji than in Natal.

Thirdly, much less racial feeling existed in Fiji than we had met in South Africa. There was more humanity towards the Indians. The race question did not come up with any great acuteness.

All these important things would have led us to expect that the lot of Indians in Fiji would be happier, and therefore the temptation to commit suicide would be less marked. But, as we have said, our actual experience led us to believe that the moral evil had gained a far stronger hold in the coolie “lines” of Fiji than it had done in Natal. And, unfortunately, Government statistics only confirmed this impression.

It may be well to give a very brief summary of the outstanding facts concerning suicide and crime among indentured Indians in Fiji before commenting on them.

In India itself, which is predominantly Hindu by religion, suicide is a very rare occurrence. The Hindu has a deep religious and moral objection to taking life, regarding it as a sin. For this reason the Indian suicide rate is probably the lowest in the world. Only one in every twenty thousand commits suicide in India, or 50 per million per annum. Among the indentured Indians in Fiji one in every 950 has committed suicide in each year, or over one thousand per million per annum. This is the average taken for the last eight years. To put it in other words, the suicide rate in Fiji is twenty times as great as that of India. These figures remain the same if only the two recruiting provinces of India are taken.

With regard to the crime of murder, the facts are even more startling. In the United Provinces and Madras there is only one conviction for murder in every 250,000 people each year, or four per million per annum. In Fiji, among the indentured coolies, there has been one conviction for murder each year in every 3,000 persons, or 333 per million per annum. That is to say, the murder rate in Fiji is eighty times as high as that of India. It is noticeable that the greater portion of people

murdered are women. On the other hand, almost all the suicides in Fiji are those of men. In India what few suicides exist are generally those of women.

If we make every possible allowance for minor inaccuracies, these figures for suicide and murder remain very disconcerting. They are not the figures for a single year, but an average for a considerable number of years, and it is significant that the last years are the worst.

To take, for instance, the last recorded year, that of 1914—out of 15,603 indentured coolies in Fiji, eleven committed suicide, seven attempted to commit suicide, ten were convicted of committing murder, seven were murdered, twenty-seven were convicted of the violent crime of wound-bag, thirteen were wounded, two were convicted of manslaughter, and three were killed by man-slaughter* The number of coolies actually charged in Court for committing these crimes, together with those who suffered under them, amounted to nearly one hundred persons. This means that one in every 140 of the adult indentured coolies in Fiji during the year 1914 were involved in violent crime, ending in murder, manslaughter, suicide, or violent bodily asshult.

Sadly enough, it is not possible to obtain a complete record even with such authenticated figures as these. For, in spite of the evident desire on the part of Government to give accurate returns, it is practically impossible. to do so in the present condition of Fiji. Magistrates are very few in number, and plantations are often far away from any centre. Hospitals, also, belong to the employers, not to Government. It is all to the interest of the planter to hush up serious crime on his estate; and in recent years, when the indenture system itself has been known by every planter to be in danger, the temptation to hide facts, which might tell against the systetm, must have been very great indeed. That these statistics are as accurate as they are must be put down to the credit of the planters as well to Government. But to give one example of the minimising tendency at work, which came under our own observation. A planter told one of us in the course of ordinary talk the story of an attempted suicide on his estate, and when we asked him if he had informed Government, he said he had not. One actual suicide, also, was reported - to us both, when we were in different parts of Fiji, long before any news of it had reached the Immigration Office. We were ourselves the first to give them the report.    V

Very often a cutting from a newspaper gives the true situation more clearly to an outsider than statistics. For it adds the atmosphere of the place, and is not a bare record of figures. The following is taken from the ‘ ‘ Western Pacific Herald’ ’ .•—

"News has just reached Suva of another of those ‘cutting up’ incidents, so common amongst Indians in Fiji, which occurred on the Waidoi Estate. In this case the motive is the usual one of jealousy, a woman being the victim and a man the aggressor. Although badly hacked, the woman is expected to recover. We understand that the owners of the estate were aware that trouble was brewing, but were prevented by the regulations from removing

the man to another plantation, which action would have prevented the crime, Another aspect of the case is that if the assailant is sentenced to more than six months, his employers suffer by losing the time, as the indentures cannot be extended for a longer period than six months. The law as it stands has an undoubted tendency to encourage the employer to hush up any such cases which may occur amongst his labourers. ’ ’

It is clear from this cutting that, however anxious the Immigration Department may be to get at the true facts, their difficulties in Fiji are exceptional. It will be made abundantly clear in this report how scrupulously just and fair this department itself was. Nevertheless allowance will have to be made for the carelessness and neglect on the part of planters to send to the office every case of crime which occurred on their estate.

When we came to examine further the reasons for the almost complete breakdown of moral sanctions in Fiji, which had resulted in such criminal records, we found ourselves more and more bewildered about the causes, though more certain than ever about the facts.

We were wholly unable to agree with one explanation, which was most frequently put before us, namely, that the Indians, recruited from Fiji, were the criminal class of India. We have already expressed our opinion concerning the Indian women. From them, indeed, we did undoubtedly gain an impression that the number of prostitutes recruited must have been large, perhaps in excess of Natal, or elsewhere. It also appeared to us that this number was increasing rather than diminishing. If so, that might itself account for a great deal.

But the men recruited were rather above than below the type we saw in Natal. The Hindustanis represented a class of villager whom we knew well in India; and these certainly did not come, in any large proportion, from the lowest stratum of Hindu society. Those whom we saw in the Calcutta Depot were villagers of a good class.    The coolies also

in the Madras Depot appeared to be an average type.    It is interesting

to note how the Fiji newspapers have spoken of the recent shiploads of recruits as “an exceptionally fine set” or as “above the average.” Yet it is these very Hindustanis and Madrasis who so quickly go to pieces, and even in their first and second years begin committing suicide and stabbing and murdering their fellow's.

We were told again and again by barristers who practised in the law Courts, by Government officials, and by merchants, that the Indian had become “the criminal of Fiji”; that it would be no exaggeration to say that over 90 per cent, of the violent crime in the islands was “Indian crime” ; that there was a real danger that this disease of “Indian crime” would spread to the aborigines. We found also that the Indians had got the reputation of being “the greatest gamblers in the colony,” and from what w^e saw in the coolie “lines” there can be little doubt that this reputation wras not unfounded.    -

But by far the most terrible fact which met us on every side, like a great blight or devastation, was the loss of any idea of the sanctity of marriage and the consequent sexual immorality that was rampant on

every side. The evil had spread in wider and wider circles from the coolie lines, till it had infected nearly the whole Indian population. Some one has described the condition of the sexes in the coolie lines of Fiji as the “morals of the poultry yard/’ and the phrase sticks in the mind; it is so painfully accurate of much that we were obliged to see and hear.    •

We had at first supposed that these corrupt morals of the “lines” would be thrown off, in a great measure, by a healthy reaction, as soon as the Indian became a free man. In Natal this had been the ease, and we had seen with our own eyes fairly healthy family life springing up in the numerous tiny fruit farms around Durban, where free Indians lived. But we found things far more unsatisfactory in Fiji. There, the morals of the coolie “lines” had become ingrained in the free population. As one Indian explained the matter to usSahib,” he said, “our women have lost all shame; they change their husbands as they change their dress.” Ah abominable trafficking in young girls was prevalent, which the law seemed unable to check. It was a common thing for a father to sell his daughter to one man, allowing the betrothal ceremony to be performed, and then"to sell her to another. Divorces were equally common. Women left their husbands for the sake of jewellery and went to live with other men. They seemed to do just what they pleased, and to live just as they liked. *Castes and religions were mixed together in a common jumble. Hindu girls were sold in marriage to Mahomedans and vice versa.    Sweepers’ children were sometimes married to Brah

mans. If this admixture had been due to enlightened motive of humanity and in accordance with conscience, all might have been well. But it was just the reverse—a matter of greed and lust. As if to make the evil more deep-seated, Gqvernment had done its best to banish Hindu and Mahome-dan religious marriage altogether from the land. % Indian-Christian marriage shared the same fate in the eyes of the law’. A Christian minister of religion, Mr. Bavin, who performed the ceremony of marriage for two Indian Christians in Church, was prosecuted for committing an illegal act. The only valid marriage was said to be that drawn up in the office of the Immigration Department, and this was a mere matter of payment and registration. An Indian had only to go to the immigration office and register his name and that of his intended wife, and pay five shillings. Then, if no objection was lodged, after three weeks he received a eertifi-. cate from the office declaring that he had been married. There wras no ceremony: no solemn declaration; no mutual promise in the presence of witnesses. These Immigration Department marriages are called by the Indians “marit,^ and it was always necessaray in Fiji to ask a man, or woman, if they had a “marit,” for nothing else was legal. In the prosecution referred to above, the insecurity and the degradation to the whole Indian community of this system was exposed in open Court. A new marriage ordinance is now in the making, which recognises the religious ceremony of each Indian religion, and gives to it the respect that is due. But the harm that has been done during the last thirty-two years by this

neglect of the State authorities to give any sanction at all to Hindu, Mahomedan and Indian Christian religious marriages can hardly he overestimated.

The following story -v^as told to us by a missionary, who knew the two brothers concerned, and tried to get their sentences commuted. Two brothers of a respectable Hindu family were guardians of their younger sister. They caused her to be married by Hindu religious rites to a husband whom they regarded as suitable. The Hindu religious ceremony was fully and duly performed. Then another man intervened, and induced the sister to be married to him by means of a “marit” at the immigration office. This “marit” was legal. The Hindu marriage was illegal. There was no redress. When the brother^ knew that there was no other remedy, they went and killed their sister, and gave themselves into custody. They declared at the trial that they had done it for the honour of their family and their religion. They had done it, they said, to preserve Dharma. They were condemned to be hanged.

The following documents may serve to illustrate the confusion which has been reached in the Indian marriage relations in Fiji:—

(1). Memorandum of agreement for separation.

Made this eighteenth day of April, 1913, between Jammu ex Fultala III and Parbati ex Fazilka IV, husband and wife.

It is hereby agreed as follows, after full understanding and consent:—

That in consideration of the sum of £10-0-0 this day paid to Jammu by Parbati, the former relinquishes all his rights over Parbati as wife and gives her permission to go wherever she pleases and live with whomsoever she likes. He will not sue her for damages in any Court of law or take any legal action against her.

(£) That Parbati relinquishes all rights over Jammu as her husband, and gives him permission to go wherever he pleases and live vwith whomsoever he likes. <r She will not sue him for damages in any Court of law or take any legal action against him.

Thumb mark

Government '

Thumb mark

of Jammu.


of Parbati.

[These agreements are, in the actual practice of the Islands, equivalent to a divorce; at least, they are so regarded by all indentured coolies. They are drawn up by certain barristers-at-law practising in Suva and are signed in their presence. The paraphernalia of the Government stamp and the legal form, in which they are inscribed, make the illiterate Indians believe that they are valid in a Court of law. We have been told by lawyers since that they are not worth the paper on which they are written. Yet the charge of £5 is made to the coolies for them.]

(2). A letter to the Agent-General of Immigration.


There is a man called Assu, ex Fultala I, intending to leave for India. His daughter, Jagwanti, has been married to my son, Nathu, according to the law of this Colony.

I have spent £30-0-0 for this marriage and as I apprehend that the girl’s mother, Jamuni, is likely to sell her to someone else than my son, I request

you to be so kind as to help me by taking steps to secure an undertaking by Assu that during his absence nothing will happen to defraud me of my lawful rights.

I beg to suggest that he should be made to give me a written acknowledgment of the expense incurred by the said marriage.,

(3) . Letter threatening legal proceedings.

To Lakshmi ex Fazilka III. .

You are my married wife. You have deserted me without any reason or excuse. I hereby notify to you that you must return and co-habit with me within one week of delivery of this notice; otherwise you must return me the jewellery, valued £20-0-0, which you had from me for wear, also the sum of £30-0-0 in cash taken away by you from our home, also our daughter Sun-derbasia, aged 7 years, with jewellery valued £10-0-0 which she wears.

(Sd.) Indrua, his mark.

(4) . Memorandum of agreement.

Between Idu 36,193 and his wife Rajwantia 36,987 and Lachman ex San-gola Y.

That in consideration of the sum of £5-0-0 paid this day to Idu by Lachman and of the jewellery returned to Idu by Rajwantia, Idu gives up all his rights over Rajwantia, as his wife, etc., etc.

(5) . Charge or complaint.

Fiji to wit.    ,

The charge of Assu in the district of Suva, taken this twenty-seventh day of March in the year of our Lord 1913 before me, who saith that Bhikari, ex Clyde I, now residing with a man called Durganj did, on or about the 26th day of March instant, steal, or convert, to her own use one shikrih

valued 10 shillings, one pair of jhmnka, worth 7 shillings, etc...../........

belonging to one Idu................

(This is one of the very common charges for return of jewellery made by a husband, when his wife leaves him.)


To the Agent-General of Immigration. 22nd June, 1914.

Sir,    •

The bearers Laehmania ex Ganges II and Puran ex Ganges I say as follows:—    ,    ? •    *

That Laehmania has been excused from work since her arrival in the Colony. At first she was told to live with the man called Debi Singh, whos was given up at the instance of the Sardar in favour of the bearer Puran who paid £2-10-0 as the price of the woman’s exemption from work for one year.

The said Sardar now desires the woman to give up Puran, with the intention of keeping the woman for himself.

The woman does not want to give up Puran........ ,


From Immigration Department. 25th June, 1914.

Sir,    ,

I have to state that Puran had previously complained to this department regarding the Sardar’s treatment of the woman Laehmania, and his complaint was inquired into, with the result that his allegations against the Sardar were proved to be false.


* Prom the manager. 18th November, 1914.

(Concerning another woman named Jagwanti and the same Sardar.)

I am in receipt of your letter, which Seems to have been written by you under the misapprehension that Bhola and Jagwanti were husband and wife at the time the Sardar made overtures to the woman to live with him. Bhola has informed me that these overtures were made with his consent. Since Bhola and Jagwanti are now married, the Sardar will have nothing further to do with the woman.    '


From the same Sardar. ‘29th March, 1915.

Dear Sir,—    •

I beg to inform you that Bhola came to me this morning and asked me for the money, but I told him to go to you. I asked Jagwanti to come with me to court for the marriage, but she told me that she will see about it by and by. By this I understand that she wants to live with Madho, after being paid the sum. About the money I have nothing to say. Do, please, as you like. Will you please put this condition more in the agreement between me and Bhola and Jagwanti, that, after having been paid the sum by me, if anybody will keep the woman, he will have to pay me £50.

[We wish to draw no inferences as to the rights and wrongs in this case, but simply to show from it the utterly abandoned morals of the ‘'lines.” We heard of more than one case in which the Sardar sold the women, under his charge, first to one man and then to another.]

It would be impossible to explain in detail, how all these evils connected with marriage have penetrated the home-life of the free Indian population, as well as the coolie “lines.” We had opportunities of studying in Suva these strange marriage relations in that centre of free Indians. We also went carefully through files of correspondence, agreements and settlements, by which Indians were struggling, either to strengthen, or else to relax, these complicated marriage ties. We examined, besides, a large volume of evidence given in the police courts. We were thus able to see in detail how sexual jealousy had broiight about all kinds of misery and crime.

It would be scarcely too much to say that these marriage evils have almost obliterated the ideal of the married life from the memory of Hindus in Fiji. They spoke to us of marriage and of women in a way that would be revolting to Hindus in India. The tragedy of it all was this, that the whole Hindu fabric had gone to wreck on thib one rock of marriage, and .there were no leaders to bring the people back into the right paths. The best Hindus we met were in despair about it.

One other aspect of this same deterioration may be described. The Hindu woman in the coolie “lines,” having no semblance, even, of a separate home of her own, which she can cherish, and divorced from all her old home ties, has abandoned religion itself. The moral ruin is most pitiful on this side. Though there are beautiful and stately rivers in Fiji, no women are seen making their morning offerings; no temples rise on their banks; there is no household shrine. The outward life, which the Hindu women in the “lines” lead in Fiji, appears to be without love and - . *

without worship,—a sordid round of mean and joyless occupations. The contrast with India is seen in its saddest form during some so-called Hindu religious festival in Fiji. Everything that could he recognised as Hindu has departed, and with this, the religious spirit has departed also. The yearly round of the sacred festivals, which form so much of the brightness of a Hindu woman’s life in India, is confined in Fiji^o a couple of days, of which the' greatest is no Hindu festival at all. The impoverishment of life, which has taken place, can hardly be understood in all its pathos, except by Hindus themselves. One who had recently come out to Fiji from Madras, a man of education, wrote as follows“These festivities are meaningless in Fiji, with no object but to partake in sweetmeats and rowdy cries. Indian women are present with no intent to worship, but to a great degree as a spectacle' to the white population, who view with an inborn hateful laugh the coolie Indians and their so-called religion. Hindu degradation could not go lower.”

Yet, as we weal further in our enquiries, we met with hopeful signs of another kind, which showed us that there was still present, below the surface, the instinct and the memory of better things. We saw many lives of Hindu women, which were true to Hindu traditions, winning reverent respect.

A high caste widow and her little daughter, who had passed through the moral dangers of the coolie “lines” unharmed, were reverenced by all the Hindus of the district. When misfortune came upon this widow while we were in Fiji, her Hindu neighbours came to us, offering monetary help up to 4,500 rupees. They wished to purchase for her the small portion of land, which her husband and her father had possessed. A Madrasi Hindu mother, in the north of the main island, had gathered round her, in an out-building, a group of Hindu boys, to teach them their religion, together with a little English.

Among the men, a Swami, loosely attached to the Arya Samaj in India, and now dwelling in Suva, had gained instant respect from the Hindus, and had helped in founding schools, where religion could be taught. On every hand we found a longing for instruction to be given in religion, and this clearly proceeded from a pure desire that the children of Hindu parents in Fiji should not lose all knowledge of their ancestral faith. It was touching to see what emphasis was laid upon religion in their own education schemes.

Two phrases were constantly used in Fiji Avhen thoughtful Indians talked over the whole matter intimately with us. The one implied that all their religion had gone to pieces. The other implied that they had not lost their inner appreciation of their old Hindu life.    '

The Mahomedans were very slightly represented in the main island of Fiji. We should have seen them in much greater strength, if we had been able to go to the Smaller islands; but time would not allow this. In the main island, as far as we could observe, the religious decline had not been so rapid with them as’ amongst Hindus. They held together more,

and even though they did not observe, to any great extent, the stated hours of prayer, yet they were proud of the fact that they were Musal-mans, and this gave them ^ dignity of their own. There were very few leaders among them. They seem capable of getting on by themselves and of keeping some idea of religion. They were equally eager, with the Hindus, to obtain religious education for their children.

The Indian Christians were fewer still in number. Some of them held too much aloof from the main Indian body and were inclined to lean upon European support. But one feature was outstanding. Their home life was good.- Some of our happiest recollections were those of Indian Christian homes.

The brightest side of Indian life in Fiji (which in a measure compensated for its sorrows and gave hope for the future) was the love of India itself, which was ^till kept warm within every heart. There was practically no religious bitterness; Hindus, Mahomedans and Christians lived amicably together side by side, because the one tie of India itself bound them together in one. This love for India kept their lives sweet, even in the midst of so much that was corrupt and diseased.

In so far as it is possible to shorten the passage to India by direct steamer service, and thus give opportunity to the younger generation of Indians to see their motherland, it will be all to the good. For there is na sentiment, at the present time, that is doing more to uphold the selfrespect of Indians in Fiji than this affection for India. With many whom we met,—men who- have lost for a time all the sanctions of religion,—this sentiment itself has become a religion and a worship. Things can never be hopeless with Indians in Fiji, so long as this remains.

There was another aspect of affairs in Fiji, which corrected our earlier unfavourable impression in an important way, and gave us encouragement and hope. We noticed that, whenever those who had come out of indenture were given opportunities to settle on the land, holding it as their own and leading their own free life upon it, the powers of recuperation very soon began to have their effect. We were more and more impressed with this fact, the longer wfe stayed in Fiji. It made us feel quite convinced, that if only the fatal mistakes of the present indenture system could be rectified, the Indian immigrants might then recover them. selves and become a healthy population. We werfe equally convinced by what we saw that this life of settlement on the land could never be made really wholesome, if it were connected with the present coolie “lines.’' For the evils of “lines” extended outwards, and brought degradation to the free Indians who were near at hand. It also made many of the free Indians the mere hawkers and hangers-on of the coolie “lines.”

[It may be well to mention here, in a parenthesis, one of the most marked anA painful features of Indian life in Fiji, which immediately attracted our attention. The whole Indian population is divided up into two classes, an inferior and a superior, called “indentured” and “free’“grimit-walaand “khalas”—to give them their local names.- One does not need to labour the point, that to have people of one race in a small island, some of whom are

free and some of whom are the reverse, is to countenance a most injurious class distinction. *    *

Though we found abundant sympathy among the free Indians, with their less fortunate countiymen, and though we came across noble instances of selfsacrifice on their behalf, yet it was almost inevitable that such an unnatural division should tell, in time, upon them, and should give to the indentured Indians a sense of degradation, and to the free Indians a sense of pride. It was often noticeable to us, how an Indian would bristle up, if ever we made the mistake of asking him if he was under indenture when he was really free; or how, on the other hand, a man would hang his head, if we said to him, “Are you a free man?” when he had not yet obtained his freedom. There would be shame and dejection expressed in the very shake of his head, as he sadly confessed.-to us that he was still under indenture. Few things told us‘ more truly than this what was actually going on beneath the surface of people’s minds.

Far-deeper evils still were connected with this class division, which can only be mentioned very briefly. It brought out too often in the free Indians, not those noble qualities of sympathy and sacrifice which have been referred to, but those meaner qualities of avarice and greed,—the readiness, for the sake of money, to exploit and trade upon the weak and depressed. There is always something very dangerous in the close juxta-position of a privileged and an unprivileged class, a servile and a free population; and it is not to be wondered at, if Indians, withr their morals already corrupted by five years’ indenture, should not be able to resist the dangers of their new position when they became free.]

But where the contact with .the coolie “lines” was not especially marked, the healthy life of settlement on the soil-soon began to have its effect on Indians, who had finished their indenture. This was especially noticeable in certain out-of-the-way settlements, away from the coast, on the north side of the island. Nature has wonderful ..healing powers, and we witnessed them at work. The difficulties concerning the marriage of children were still serious, on account of the complete disproportion of men to women, in Fiji, among free, as well as among indentured Indians. But as life settled down, and more and more children were born, even these difficulties .became successfully siffimounted; and a new life of hopefulness began to spring up in these new Indian settlements far away from anywhere. It was one of the greatest pleasures of our visit to come across some such Indian settlement cleared out of the very jungle. It recalled to our minds many of the best features of village life in India itself.

It was very interesting and instructive to watch the difference between these Indians settled, far away from anywhere, on the land, and those Indians who hung about the outskirts of the coolie “lines.” Among the free Indians, at the coolie centres, there had been little or no purging-out the moral evils of the coolie “lines.” The bad atmosphere of the “lines” still clung round about” them. But face to face with nature, and close to mother earth, the free Indians, while they tilled their own land and built their own villages, in their own way, recovered a healthier and cleaner moral life. The aspect of joy came back into the women’s faces and into the looks of the children at their play. The impression ■of servitude and moral degradation was lost, and a new found happiness

and pleasure in life had clearly taken its place. In one, part of the country we found that a little temple had been built in the middle of such a Hindu village. This showed us that religion itself had begun once more to take its place in Hindu homes.

A few examples may be given of the state of affairs here generally described:—

1 A small cultivator on the north side of the main island had a small holding of his own, purchased by. promissory notes. He was low caste and did work in a store as well as on his own land. He had been eleven years in Fiji and had received 800 rupees for his last crop. He spoke of further transactions in land to the extent of 1,500 rupees. He was very happy and prosperous, and his wife and daughter seemed equally happy as they were seen by us on the day of the Muharram festival.

2.    A village settlement, five miles from Navua, which had originally been formed by a small syndicate of four Indians who were now zamin-dars. The ground was all freehold property and the ci*ops looked very flourishing indeed. There had been unfortunately some quarrel between the Indians about the land. Though there was outward prosperity, there was clearly inward discontent. Probably the settlement was too near to the large coolie “lines” to be completely independent, and NavUa, as a district, bore an evil reputation.

3.    A small settlement of Indians completely isolated and indepen

dent, far in the interior. There was an air of quiet peace and happiness about this village which touched us very deeply, after what we had seen for so long in the coolie “lines.” The men and women spoke with freedom, and the children webe evidently happy.    „

4.    The following are typical cases of prosperous growers of sugar cane among the Indians in the north of the island:—

Lachman has been three years out of indenture and was able to sell his cane last year for Rs. 1,635.

Nathu, who has been five years out of indenture, has grown 531 tons of sugar cane on twenty-three acres of land. He received for his crop Rs. 7,200. This man sold out his interest in the land and its standing crops for Rs. 13,500.

Ram Singh told us that he had received Rs. 12,000 for his last year’s crop. This sum, however, does not represent net profit. An encouraging fact in his case was that he was following the example of the large European planters in his cane cultivation by an extensive use of green manure. The small Indian holders, we were told, had not made sufficient use of scientific cultivation, with the inevitable result that their crops are inferior in quality, and the soil is gradually becoming impoverished.

[In 1914 independent Indian growers of cane supplied to the Company’s mills at Lautolca, on the north side of the island, a total of 32,328 tons of cane, which realised 285,000 rupees, at an average of eleven shillings and eightpence per ton. In. 1915 from the same source the estimate was 47,000 tons of cane which would realise 5,40,000 rupees at an average of fifteen ghillings and four-

pence per ton. In this Lautolca district 34 per cent of the total sugar-cane land is already in Indian hands, and all along the north coast the percentage is ever increasing. In the district of Nadi alone there is a population of 5,000 free Indians and the monthly average applications for leases of land at magistrate's court was fifty. There are thus a large number of free Indians who are now growing sugar-cane, quite independently, on holdings varying from five to three hundred acres in extent. The large Indian cultivators employ numbers of free Indians to carry on the ploughing, manuring, weeding and cutting of the cane.] ■

5. A settlement of free Indians on the border of a small European plantation. These have recently come out of indenture and settled near their old employer. The planter gave to them, at a very low rate, during the last year of their indenture, a piece of ground for growing cane. He now uses their free labour, at the heavy seasons of the year, paying them full wages. In this way, he has been able to reduce the number of coolies . under, indenture oit his estate. The Indians seemed prosperous and contented. The planter was evidently their friend, and they were some distance away from any large coolie “lines.”

From all this it will be clear that every year the interests of the Indian free settler will have to be taken into consideration in an increasing measure. For, in the long run, if the present rate of progress continues, they will be the chief growers and producers of cane in the islands. Indeed, the time may be not far distant, when the European cane grower will give place to the Indian altogether, the organising work at the centres alone remaining in the Europeans’ hands. If the new offer of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to place £100,000 at a low rate, of interest at the disposal of the Fiji Government for Indians’ settlement be accepted and the settlement carried out, this predominance of the Indian cultivator as a grower of sugar-cane for the Company’s mills will be practically assured.    -

While, on the whole, with many drawbacks and difficulties, the Land Settlement of Indians has gone forward, the same cannot be said with regard to Indian Education. Indeed, it would be hardly an exaggeration to state that the policy of the Government of Fiji with regard to Indian Education has been, up till quite recently, one of almost complete neglect. Even with reference to the public school education of European children, Fiji is far behind every other colony in the Empire. With regard to Indian children, in spite of strong warnings from the Indian Government and the Home authorities, the expenditure has hitherto been nil. We have been told further, on reliable authority, that for many years there was the strongest opposition on the part of the Sugar Companies to any education being given to Indians at all. It Avas said that such education would tend to take the Indian coolie away from the soil, and thus make him “spoilt” for labour purposes. If the European sentiment with regard to Indian education has somewhat changed to-day in Fiji, jt is due to two chief causes,—first, the brave struggle which the missionaries made against unenlightened opposition; and, secondly, the strong external

pressure which has been brought to bear upon the Fiji Government by the Colonial Office in London. We may well believe, also, that the criminal statistics of the Indian population have at last begun to make people think. When we were asked to explain the suicide and crime among Indians in Fiji, compared with other colonies, we used to point to the education statistics. The absence of school life means the absense also of educated teachers as well as of the school-house. The teacher and his wife are apt to set the standard to other families round them. Their home is often a centre of great good in an illiterate community.

In the Fiji Blue Book for 1914 two pages only are given Tor education. From the figures it appears that there are only two aided public schools and one Government school in the colony. The rest of the education is left entirely to private enterprise. '

Out of a total revenue of £279,844 in 1914, the sum of only £3,312 was devoted to education, or less than 1.2 per cent, of the total revenue; and none of this was for Indian education. In Suva itself, the capital of the Islands, the anomaly occurred not long ago of rates being actually collected from Indian ratepayers for public school purposes, without permission being given to the children of such ratepayers to enter a public school. On an appeal being made, the Indian ratepayers were informed that they would not be required to pay rates any longer. But admission to the public school was persistently refused on racial grounds, and there is still no Government«school for Indian children in Suva, though the majority of the inhabitants are Indians. This municipal policy of Suva is unfortunately in keeping with other forms of discrimination against the Indian, which have reduced him to a mere cipher in municipal affairs. Not only has the Indian been refused educational facilities for his children, but £,t the same time he has been practically disfranchised.

If Fiji is to come into line with the standard set by the other colonies, she ought to be spending at least £10,000 or £12,000 a year on education. At present the Government of Fiji is throwing the whole of its responsibility for Indian education on the Missionary Societies, whose schools scarcely number more than the fingers on both hands and receive no Government aid.    .

It is indeed pathetic to see the attempt made by the Indians themselves to supply the educational need which ought to be supplied by Government. On the north side of the main island and elsewhere, there are many instances which show how keen is the desire of the free Indian settlers for education.

1.    At Nadi, a small school was discovered which was being held in a stable, behind a small store, with about a dozen small boys learning English from a Hindu woman. This woman had learned English at a mission school in the Madras Presidency before coming out to Fiji, under indenture, some 12 years ago.

2. Near Ba there is a small school with about 20 boys on the roll who are taught English by an aged Maulvi. At Ba itself, near one of the few mosques we saw in Fiji, two or three boys are daily taught from the Quran.

3.    At the same centre, Ba, the Indians themselves (both Hindu and Musalman) subscribed and built a school-house a year ago. This unfortunately has beeil empty ever since, for want of a suitable te.acher, although the Indians are willing to contribute liberally towards the support of a qualified man.

4.    At another indian settlement in the interior of the island, on the banks of the Rewa river, a similar school-house has been built by voluntary contributions. But this,, too, is almost useless for want of a suitable teacher.

5.    We were told of an attempt to start a school in a country district in the south of the main island. After a short time, however, the funds gave out and the school was closed. The head teacher was then paid by the Mission ■and the school was re-opened by them.

6.    An enthusiastic effort was made in Suva to found a school in which Hindus and Mahomedans should be taught together. A two-storied building was given for the purpose by a leading Musalman, on the understanding that the upper storey should be used for a mosque. We attended many discussions with regard to this school. The opinion we formed was, that though there were good intentions in abundance, yet there was very little practical leadership.

The Fiji Government is at last beginning to awake to its responsibility for educating the increasing Indian population; for it sees more clearly than before that an unlightened people is a danger to the wellbeing of the Colony. But so far it has been unable to. secure properly qualified men on account of the low salaries offered. Certainly there could be no finer opportunity for young men of education and ideals who are anxious to serve their fellow-countrymen, than to go out in educational service to Fiji. For, there, they would have the chance of helping to shape a new country’s development which may eventually become an Indian colony. Not only Government, but also the Colonial Sugar Befining Company, has begun to take up the matter with some feeble interest, The company has just offered £300 and a site to each of the missionary institutions in -order to relieve itself of the responsibility of running schools of its own. The Vancouver Mill at Navua also gives a small contribution to the mission school there.    .

But the subject of education needs to be taken up much more thoroughly and seriously if the need is adequately to be met. For the whole future of Fiji depends largely upon such a system of education being built up, amongst the Indian population,- as will render it a useful and stable element in the life of the colony.

When we were asked by ‘the Fiji authorities what system and method of education would be best suited for Indian needs, we expressed very strongly the opinion that it would be a mistake for Government to place everything in the hands of the missionaries, and merely give grants-inraid to them. We had abundant opportunities of reaching the real opinion of the Indian community in Fiji, and we were certain that such a policy would be looked upon as a 'very serious infringement of the principle of religious neutrality.

At the same time, we found no wish, on the part' of Indians, to. exclude the missionaries from education altogether, or to ask for purely secular schools. They had a great and natural respect for the work that ^ the missionaries had done. They recognised that the missionaries had

been their friends and had made known their grievances at a time when they, themselves were mute and helpless. The mission schools, also, had struggled on without any help from Government, at a critical period when European sentiment in the colony was set against Indian education altogether. The Indian community in Fiji, however ignorant and illiterate, was generous and liberal in its appreciation of those who had helped in the hour of need. There were no two English names more frequently on their lips than those of Miss Dudley and Mr. Burton. They spoke of these two friends and helpers with an affection amounting to reverence, It was the work of missionaries like these, struggling against overwhelming odds, that had saved the whole Indian community from falling to the lowest level of ignorance and vice.

We can both of us recall vividly the scene we saw one afternoon in a Christian orphan home irf Fiji, the only Indian orphanage in the islands. The house was beautifully situated on a slightly rising ground near the banks of the broad Rewa river opposite some crowded coolie “lines.” We had just come from the indentured coolie quarters, and had seen the condition of the little children, living in the midst of sights and sounds which innocent children ought never to see and hear. Then, in this home across the river, we watched a group of tiny children at their play. One baby was pointed out to us, whose mother had been murdered in a quarrel in the “lines,” and whose putative father had been hanged for the murder. There were other children in the home who had a somewhat similar history. We could not help contrasting the happiness and innocence of these littles ones with the evil and impurity of their former surroundings, and we were only too thankful for this haven of pure child hood, which had been offered to them for shelter.

While, therefore, the Indian community gave all due respect to the missionaries for what they had done and were doing, they were convinced that it would be harmful to allow the whole Indian education of the island to come into missionary hands. They wished rather to have Government schools side by side with missionary schools.

Our own-decided opinion was in favour of this policy also. Apart from the question of religious neutrality, which missonary institutions by* their very character cannot observe, mission schools, if left to themselves, have a tendency to become educationally inefficient. False economies are often made, and unqualified teachers, taken from the ranks of catechists, are put in charge. On the other hand, Government schools, if left to themselves, have a tendency to become educationally extravagant. Useless expense is not seldom incurred according to the whim of some new director, or inspector. But when the two systems exist side by side—the Government'and the missionary,—they are able to counteract one another. The weakness of the one system is the strength of the other. Liberty of conscience is also in a far greater measure preserved by such a combination.    *

If such a combined system were adopted in Fiji, two further ‘things would be necessary. There should be the right of entry into every school

for accredited ministers of religion. There should, also, be especially liberal grants allowed to any educational venture, Hindu, Musalman, or Christian, that proceeded direct from the Indian community itself and was financed by Indian money.    .

It seemed more and more clear to us, the longer we stayed in the islands, that there was no side of Indian life in Fiji, where the Government and the people of India might offer more practical help, at this juncture, than by pressing forward the urgency of a comprehensive educational policy with regard to Indians in Fiji,—a policy large and wide enough to cover the whole of the islands.

Medical aid to the Indian community has not shared the same fate as that of Education. Owing to the express regulations, sanctioned by the Government of India and enforced throughout the colony, the medical treatment of the Indian indentured population has been, on the whole, satisfactorily undertaken. The present head of the Government medical department for the island, Dr. Lynch, has taken the utmost pains to carry out the Government regulations, not only in the letter, but in the spirit in which they were drawn up. The result has been a low death-rate among indentured Indians. One unsatisfactory feature remains— the very high death-rate among infants. But this will never be put right so long as the mother is forced by the very law of indenture to neglect her owrn children.

We were impressed by the ability, not only of the head of the department, but also of the staff which he had under him; though it appeared to us to be too small for such a highly important work. The hospital arrangements were also satisfactory. We were not ourselves able, on account of the shortness of our visit, to see any of the outlying islands, where medical aid must be much more difficult to provide adequately. But what we'did see was good. We heard also from the Indians themselves about the truly noble work that was being done among the lepers on the leper island.

The real medical difficulties among Indians (which Dr. Lynch was himself the first to point out to us) are to be found mainly with the free population. These, both in India itself and in the coolies’ lines, have been used to receiving practically free medical assistance in times of sickness, and they cannot reconcile themselves to beginning, late in life, to provide and pay for their own medical treatment. They are very ignorant indeed, and not seldom very poor (though some are prosperous) and it is regarded by them as a great hardship when they are compelled to pay heavy medical fees.

To give examples, when free Indians ask for admission into the hospitals, which are built for the indentured population, they have to pay two shillings a day, unless they can prove that they are destitute. To prove this,- they have to obtain special order from the magistrate, or immigration officer. The delay and hindrances in getting this, during times of sickness, are often so great that, in order to obtain immediate medical aid, money is borrowed somehow, and the high fees of an English

doctor are paid. Then, afterwards, the family of the Indian who has been ill is weighed down by a heavy burden of debt. We were told by one man that his wife’s confinement had cost him over Rs. 150 in medical fees, and that he had been in debt ever-since. Not seldom, in such cases, hopelessly unskilled treatment is called in, and the poor woman suffers agonies and even death. It should be remembered that there is not a single qualified Indian doctor in the whole of Fiji.

In Suva there is an excellent hospital, which admits free Indians without any such heavy charges. It was a great pleasure to us to visit this, and to find how friendly the Fijians and Indians had become towards one another under its common roof. In earlier days, for the sake of peace and quietness, they had to be kept in different wards, but now they were quite happy, even when one ward overflowed into another and both races were mixed together.

We consulted with Doctor Lynch at great length concerning the possibility of introducing Indian doctors. into the islands, at suitable rates of pay, who might be able to come in close touch with the whole Indian population:' Doctor'Lynch was himself entirely in favour of such an introduction. We also discussed with him the question of a complete State system of free medical and sanitary aid for all Indians alike, similar to that which we were suggesting to the Fiji Government with regard to education. In our own minds, one of the great additional advantages of two such schemes would be that these would provide the Indians in the colony with a respected class of their own fellow-countrymen, whom they might look up to as their natural leaders.

If a considerable number of such qualified doctors were introduced from India, in addition to qualified teachers engaged in education of the young, then in a perfectly natural manner the illiterate and depressed Indian population would obtain that very leadership which it now so sadly requires. As such men, by their very profession, would have a good standing in the colony, they would give the Indian community a weight and dignity which is wholly lacking at present. They would restore to the Indians themselves, not only health and knowledge, but also self-respect. %

The emphasis which we have laid on the need of building \^p, entirely anew, from the very beginning, what we have called the' “leadership” of the Indian community in Fiji, may appear strange to those who have not witnessed with their own eyes the present condition of Indians in the islands. To us, as we saw things on the spot, this one question of “leadership” seemed to be more important, in dealing with the future, than any other. Assuming that the present fatal disproportion of the sexes *will be altered and the indenture system abolished, there ,js one thing further that will be required, namely, the recovery of self-respect. The free Indian population has to be built up into a self-respecting community—a community in which such vices as now are rampant will be condemned in no uncertain way by public opinion. But such public opinion can only be formed by leaders; and at present no leaders exist.,

It is a relief to turn from this chequered picture of light and shade to describe what we expect for, the future.

First, our whole experience in Fiji has taught us to place a great faith in the powers of Nature and of mother earth to bring back a wholesome moral life to those Indians who settle on the land. Again and again the evidence of this fact cheered us in Fiji, and it is one of the most striking pieces of evidence which we have brought back with us. l or countless generations in India the villager has lived close to the soil, and he has gained certain ^moral qualities thereby. He has lost these, for the moment, by the unnatural life in the coolie “lines” of Fiji. But he has not lost them altogether. They are far too deep-seated for that. They may be very rapidly recovered. And when they are recovered we could hardly imagine any country in the world which could give them more scope than Fiji.

It was wonderful to notice how Nature, with all its beauty, appealed still to the Indian coolies, even in the midst of their squalid surroundings. They often used to speak to us about it. “Sahib,” one woman said to us, “this place is more beautiful than India. But man is much worse here.” This, indeed, was a commonly expressed opinion. We heard it- on all sides.

The land of Fiji is still virgin soil over vast areas. Only a fringe of the coast and of the river valleys has been touched by cultivation. The climate is very healthy indeed. It was a pleasure to see the chubby little Indian children in the free Indiah settlements, so different from those we knew in malaria-stricken Bengal and in the up-country districts of India. The crops of rice and maize are good where th'ey have been sown, and there is no over-crowded population.

Not only is there a natural aptitude in the Indian settler £0 build up a healthy family life on the land, when the artificial hindrances are removed, but, in the matter of land settlement, the Government is now fully awake to its own responsibilities. The Sugar Companies, also, have seen the great advantage to themselves of a fyee resident population occupying the soil in the neighbourhood of their cane-crushing mills. Hitherto there have been great difficulties and hardships owing to the leases being held by the Fijian communal tribes. A lease could only be entered into with the whole tribe. But Government, while observing strictly the rights of the Fijians, is now at last acting for them on a great scale in the matter of leases. Thus "the Indian villager, in future, will be able to obtain his land direct from Government, a method of ownership which he has been used to in India itself. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company has placed fifteen lakhs at the disposal of Government for Indian settlement alone-—the rate of interest charged being only four per cent. They would be prepared to offer still greater amounts of money to Government if this first adventure turns out to be a success. The Company’s capital, invested in the islands, already amounts to five crores, so that they are able to do things on a large scale. They have now found out, by practical experience, the great value of the Indian

settler as a cultivator of the soil, and are anxious to retain him. Therefore, from a strictly business point of view, it is certain that they will offer to him every inducement to become an independent farmer, sending his sugarcane to their mills.

Our second cause of hopefulness is the character of the administration in Fiji. There has been very much indeed in the past which has been mistaken and even foolish. The continuance of the old marriage regulations for over thirty years is a case in point. There has been a strange negligence in getting expert advice from India, which has frequently led to disaster. The difficulty of the problem of Indian immigration was hardly realised, and things were allowed to go on in an haphazard way. All this, and more, might be said with regard to the past.

But we found to-day in Fiji a just and enlightened Government, sincerely anxious to do its duty by the Indians. We discovered, on our arrival, that they had already taken in hand in a liberal and broadminded spirit,- some of the very reforms which our own experience in Natal had made us anticipate to be necessary in Fiji. The question of land settlement was one of these. The complete revision of the Marriage Law was another. The practical abolition of all penal clauses from the present Law of Indenture was a third. Many other questions of great interest to the Indian population had been carefully considered. There were two separate committees in session dealing with these matters while we were in the islands.

We would wash, at this point, to express our sense of the very great benefit which has come to the Indian community in Fiji owing to the visit of the Government of India’s Commission to the islands more than two years ago. It will be seen by those who have read the Commission Report that the conclusions arrived at by the two Commissioners did not go so far as our own. Nevertheless, there were facts mentioned above excessive prosecutions, frequent suicides and sexual immorality, which were serious enough to make the thoughtful reader pause. And so far as the Cimmissioners had been able to reach the facts, they had attempted fairly to face them. They suggested also important improvements.

From the time of the Commission onwards, all these Recent changes have taken *place, and all these new schemes have been carried forward, especially those with regard to land settlement and marriage—the two subjects which appeared to us of vital importance for Indians in Fiji. There have been valiant attempts, also, to bolster up the indenture system itself, in order to make it look respectable. Fines are to take the place of imprisonment, commutation of indenture is to be allowed, schools are to be built, coolie “lines” are to be pulled down. The activity has been great since the Government of India’s Commission came. Though we cannot but regard all these things as palliatives, while indenture is still in force there will be much that can be utilised for further progress when indenture is abolished.

Along with legislation, both immediate and prospective, we found that administration had gone forward also. We had a continually increasing experience, as soon as we were able to make a comparison with the past, that justice towards the Indian, both on The estates and in the Courts of law, was much more impartially administered than it hail been in days gone by. The old scandals of administration had almost disappeared.    k

The following*examples may serve to illustrate some of the general statements which have been made in the preceding paragraphs:—

1.    We were much struck by the genuine kindly feelings towards those Indians who had taken up domestic service with Europeans. We found by chance an Indian lad in Suva Hospital, suffering from consumption. He told us with touching affection how the ‘‘Mem Sahib” had sent him down extra diet of cream every day, and how the Sahib had been down to visit? him. When we asked the Sahib’s name we found him to be a leading member of His Majesty’s Government.

2.    We were deeply interested, in the north of the island, to see the earnest endeavour made by the manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to help forward in every way those capable and industrious Indians had evidently bestowed great pains andwho wished to settle on the land. He forethought over this matter; and, qs figures quoted elsewhere will show, he had met with considerable success.

3.    We found an extremely well-conducted Indian Police Force in Suva. These Indians, who were Sikhs, were paid a good monthly wage, and expressed themselves, on the whole, contented with their position. They had come out under afi agreement, but there was nothing about it which was servile. Their passage out was quite different from that of ordinary coolies. One of them told us he had travelled second class. They were treated well by their superior officers, who spoke highly of their men.

But the most striking thing about them was that they did not take bribes. We found out from all classes of Indians that there was practically no bribery among the Indian Police in Fiji. We asked very frequently the question, ‘‘Do the Police take bribes?” and the answer invariably was “No, Sahib.” We felt at once that this was a very remarkable fact,, and we determined to enquire into it thoroughly. The more we did so the more clearly we discovered that it was chiefly a question of self-respect— that, and a decent living wage. With these Indian Police self-respect had been preserved. They could live in a respectable manner, and they were treated with respect by their officers. With the Indian labourers under indenture almost' every particle of self-respect seemed to have vanished.

One of the Sikh policeman put the same thing very tersely to us, from another point of .^iew. “Sahib,” he said, “these junglis (Fijians) respect ns, but they do not respect our brothers (the indentured Indians). ”

Some of these policemen had come from Shanghai and Hongkong. They told us that the Fiji Police service was the best.

In corroboration of this estimate of the Fiji Indian police, we met an indentured "labourer from Fiji, soon after our return to India, whose first complaint to us in India was that the police in his district took bribes'and committed “zulmbut they had nothing like tha't in Fiji.

4.    We came across very little marked racial prejudice in the island. The population is too cosmopolitan to allow much of this. It is usually when only two different races are face to face with one another in large numbers that the strongest race principle arises. When there are many races, the prejudice is likely to be less. In Fiji this “mingling of all races” is bound

: 1 i

to increase very rapidly, as it had done in Honolulu, and it is sure to bring with it the ‘cosmopolitan’’ rather than the racial” spirit. Japanese, Chinese, and Samoans are coming into Fiji in considerable numbers as traders and market gardeners. There appears very little chance indeed of any very-large increase of the Australian population. We were told that Fiji would never become a ‘ white man’s country. ’ ’    *

There is little danger, therefore, that strong racial feeling will develop in Fiji from the Australian side, and if only the Indian were raised out of his present degradation, there would be no danger at all. It was interesting to see the way in which the young Australian police officers respected the Indian policemen. One of these told us that they themselves were quite ready to propose Indian commissions.    1

5.    We were able to watch the administration of justice at more than one centre. We found that there was a great amount of ignorance of Indian habits and Indian vernaculars, but we found also a very true independence from outside influence among the magistrates in giving their decisions. The Chief Justice of the islands has evidently done his best to increase the efficiency of the Courts and to punish malpractices. Where we felt a real weakness existing was with regard to some barristers, who made their money out of Indian lawsuits ■ and the drawing up of quasi-legal agreements. Here, unquestionably, greater strictness would be wholly beneficial. The ignorant, illiterate coolie needs protection against practices which the lawyer’s profession itself should be the first to discountenance.

To show the desire for justice—in the case of a coolie at Navua, who had complained of ill-treatment while we were there, the Immigration Department took up the case for coolie and the Acting Governor sent down the Attorney-General to act on his behalf. , As far as we were able to judge, every step had been taken in order to ensure justice. The case ended in the coolie’s complaint being found true, and the offender being punished.

6.    We were much struck by the perfect freedom allowed to us by a European gentleman (at whose house we were staying) to bring Indians— often from the ordinary coolie class—into his house in order to hear their long stories. He would come up himself and join with us in talk, as far as his knowledge of the vernacular allowed. It would have been impossible for Indian coolies to have been treated more courteously and freely; and the trouble caused to him by such a daily stream of visitors, from morning till night, was by no means inconsiderable. Yet he put up with it all with the Utmost consideration. The Indians who came felt his kindness as much as ourselves.

7.    We went very carefully into the case of a European overseer who

had been found guilty of committing offences with the women in the coolie lines.” The man was dismissed, and an undertaking given to Government that he should never be allowed to be in charge of coolie “lines” again. YTe were told on high authority that this was- always done, wherever a case was clearly proved, and that this offence has grown far less frequent in the colony. We felt, however, that with the state of morals among the Indian women, which clearly existed (through no fault of their own, but because of the indenture system), it was altogether wrong to employ unmarried European overseers and unmarried Indian sardars. The temptation of such a position was too great.    f

8.    One excellent law is in force throughout the whole colony, which prevents any intoxicating Jiquor being sold to Indians, under any circumstance whatever, without a written doctor ’s order. There was considerable grumbling among some of the Indians in Suva concerning this law, because it did not apply to Europeans also. But, however that may be, there can be no question whatever that the law has had a very beneficial effect.

These are examples which might be multiplied a hundred times over from our own experience. They gave us a strong general impression that, whatever might have been the case in the past, the Fiji Government was now wide awake to its responsibilities, and would only be too anxious to do anything that was possible to remedy the moral evils which prevailed among the Indian population. And) what was equally important, there appeared to be no strongly marked racial prejudice which would stand in the way of ultimate Indian citizenship.. We are confident that the Indians of the colony will win, in good time, their full civic rights, j-ust as the Fijians are noAV well on the way to win theirs. What is most needed is a body of responsible and educated Indians, of good position in the islands, who will be able to represent their community when fuller rights of citizenship are given.

A third consideration, which makes for greater hopefulness, is the changed outlook towards India which has been spreading in recent years over the whole of the South Pacific, and has given rise to kindlier feelings and more intelligent views.

This change began more than three years ago, when “Gitanjali” was first published by the great Indian poet, Sir Rabindranath Tagore. We were often .told in Australia how unique was the appeal which that one small volume made to thoughtful Australian men and women. It went direct to the heart, and won its way by its' own inner beauty. Amid the rush and noise of modern life, in a vast and undeveloped country, it brought a message of peace; Wherever we went we came in contact with those who were looking out upon the world with different eyes, and upqn India with newer, kindlier sentiment^, since they had read “Gitanjali.” Its influence has been like a seed growing secretly. For a»time it may pass almost unnoticed. But Avhen the seed is full grown it will bring forth much fruit.

The war had carried forward this change of outlook towards India in quite a different direction^ It had touched the imagination of the masses, and had given them a new conception of'the bravery of the Indian soldiers. The old attitude of the common people, which prevailed before the war, was one of blank ignorance of India, not unmixed with contempt. The new attitude is one of almost unmixed admiration.

Gallipoli had touched the masses. There could be no doubt about that. Stories of the bravery of the Gurkhas wrnre on everybody’s lips. The shops had silver kukris, made up into .brooches, and Australian girls were wearing them. The man in the street had “discovered” India. He had found out that India was not a land of down-trodden coolies, but a land of bravery and romance. What was more—India was suddenly found to be the next-door neighbour to Australia itself.

It is quite possible that much of this new attitude of the masses will be a war sensation only, which may die down again when the Avar is over. But two things appeared to us to be tending towards closeness of a more permanent kind. First, the educated classes 'in Australia have

now been deeply moved towards India in intellect and thought, and this movement is not likely to die down. Secondly, the geographical closeness of Australia to India has been more clearly understood by all. The modern appliances of steam and electricity are making this nearness a patent and obvious fact. When the trans-continental railway is completed, in a year’s time, Melbourne and Sydney will only be twelve days distant from Colombo. As the barriers of land and sea are thus broken down, the barriers of ignorance and prejudice will be overpassed also.

We felt that this new and friendly attitude of Australia towards India was of great importance to the* Indians in Fiji. Australian influence is already strong in the colony, because most of the European settlers come from Australia. Indeed, it is not at all unlikely that the islands may pass under the direct administration of Australia and New Zealand at the end of the war. This wras openly talked of in Australia as one of the probable “war changes.” However that may be, the growth of respect for India in the South Pacific is bound to leave its mark upon the Indians settled in the islands. A more kindly feeling and a greater willingness to help them is certain to ensue.

A fourth consideration, which gives hope, is the present attitude of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. As the amount of their capital invested in the islands is over five crores of rupees, their relation to Indian settlers cannot fail to be of very great importance.

One of the most difficult parts of our enquiry was to get at the real soul of this Company—if a money-making business can ever be said to possess a soul. The composite personality of the Company seemed to be something like the character of Dr. Jekvll and Mr. Hyde in Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel.

On the one side, the Company appeared to be a hard business concern, exacting the last farthing of profit, grinding down the faces of the poor with less than a living wage, refusing to allow compensation for labourers who had been maimed for life in the performance of their duty, while the shareholders were receiving profits so large that they had to be carefully concealed. So much for the harsher side. Then, on the other hand, we found the same Company in the character of a benevolent philanthropist, offering huge sums of money for Indian settlement on the land, preparing schemes for colonisation, and carrying them out in practice, appearing before the Indian Government authorities with pamphlets to prove that the coolie on the estates was cared for like a favoured child of fortune—and actually believing its own statements.

Just as in the novel, so with the" Company, the extraordinary thing was this—that not one, but both, characters were true. When, therefore, we write of the present attitude of the Company as hopeful, we mean that the benevolent gentleman in the concern is apparently overcoming for the time being the harsher element. Certainly in the past two years, since the Government of India’s Commission, this philanthropic side has been more than usually in evidence. One thing' is certain—the help that the Napoleonic finance and business capacity

of the Company may give to the solution of the Indian problem in Fiji may be very great indeed.‘

The last and greatest cause of hope lies in the changed attitude of educated Indians themselves towards the whole question of Indian emigration. The people of India will clearly never allow such things to happen again, as have been allowed to pass unnoticed before. If to-day a regulation were proposed by the Government of India that forty women should emigrate with every hundred men, it would be at once put out of court as unthinkable. The simple fact, by itself, may serve to mark the change which has taken place.

In the future every act of the Crown Colonies, which employ Indian labour, will be scrutinised with eyes that nothing will escape. We are certain that the public conscience will never rest content till it has swept away the last of the abuses, which have flourished like rank weeds wherever indentured labour has gone. We have now witnessed with our own eyes, in two different parts of the world, what this awakened public conscience can accomplish. We base on this, therefore, more than on any other single cause, our strongest hopes for the future.    .

We would not wish to end this Report, without paying one more tribute of respect to the Indian coolies themselves, whom we have now seen working under indenture, both in South Africa and in Fiji.

v Owing to the conditions under which they have been obliged to live, we found them, men and women alike, in a degraded state. We have had to speak quite plainly and openly about that degradation. But we came away with a feeling, not so much of pity as of respect. Their patience and fortitude and simplicity won our continual regard. Through all the evil and misery of their fate, they had kept the soul of goodness. Every now and then some beautiful action would' come to light,, which showed that the sweetness of human relations had not been lost, and the pure ideal of womanhood still held its ground. The one action which seemed to us most typical of this has already been mentioned. Yet it will bear repeating, because it sums up the whole picture which we would wish to leave impressed on the mind.

It was the scene of that group of Indians who had come many miles to see us, and brought with them the widow and her little daughter, whom they reverenced and loved. With an extravagance that was out of all proportion to their wealth, they were willing to pay any sum of money asked for, if only the wish of the widow might be granted, and she might not be compelled to leave the piece of ground where her husband had lived and died.

We left Shantiniketan, Bolpur*, on September 15, 1915, in order to go out to Fiji. The memory and inspiration of the Ashram, and of those who dwelt there, was with us through all our long journey. The freedom of its life made us the more sensitive to the misery which we witnessed in the coolie “lines.” We remembered also constantly the

[*The school of the Indian poet, 'Sir Rabindranath Tagore.]

' villagers of India. whom we had left behind. These memories gave colour to our thoughts, and their influence will be felt in all that we have written. Now, when we return to India, after the voyage is ended, and see its fields and its villages once more, the longing rises that the day may not be far distant when the Indian homesteads in the beautiful islands of the Pacifie shall be a true image of the best village life of India itself.

It is impossible for us to return thanks by name to all the many friends, both Indian and European, who have helped us with their counsel and given us their hospitality. We met with a courtesy throughout «our visit to Fiji that was practically unbroken. We were treated by the Government authorities and by the planters with a generous freedom which left nothing to be desired. , We felt this trust all the more deeply because we came without any credentials or letters of introduction.

Great political and commercial interests are bound up with the -question of Indian labour in Fiji. Many secondary reasons may be brought forward to postpone the immediate abolition of indenture. Yet we would urge, with all the strength that is in our power, that* the pathetic appeal which the Indians made to us so unceasingly for help in their distress, should be lifted above the level of these lownr interests, and made to depend upon the higher sovereign claims of humanity itself.    *

-    C. F. ANDREWS:


February, 1916.


The following notes may help to elucidate some of the points which have been mentioned in the Report to show the state of things which we found in Fiji:—

.    NOTE I. *


4 One of the features in the relation between the Indians * in Fiji and their employers that struck us very much was the widespread ignorance displayed by the latter with regard to the Indians themselves. We were at first astonished, as we passed Indians on the road, to observe them remove their turbans, just as an English villager removes his cap tc. the squire. On enquiry we were told by the Indians that the sahibs had ordered them to do so, little knowing that, according to the Indian ideas, to remove one’s turban is no sign of respect at all. This ignorance goes, however, far deeper than mere externals, and is illustrated by the way in which, throughout the colony, it was assumed that the coolie class in India are a criminal and vicious class which the Government of India must be glad to get rid of. Little seemed to be known of the communal life of the village people of India, or of the strong moral obligations imposed upon them by caste and communal ties. The idea of sending picked men to India to study, on the spot, the ways of life and the customs of the population, from which the labouring classes in Fiji have been drawn, never seemed to have crossed the mind, even of that efficient business concern, the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. - This company spares neither money nor trouble in studying the conditions under which sugar-cane can be grown so as to “produce the maximum amount of pure cane sugar. The company will send experts to other sugar-growing countries to study conditions of cane cultivation there, and, if in the cane-crushing mills defective machinery or wrong chemical combinations cause waste in production, the company will think nothing of spending thousands of pounds in an effort to reduce that waste. Bur although there has been obvious defect in the machinery of their labour, and an obvious waste through murders and suicide arid all the friction that murders and suicide imply under the surface, the company has never sent a labour expert to study the conditions under which the Indian labourers live in India itself. A man of experience who had seen in Fiji the wasteful results caused by the murderous and suicidal tendency amongst the labourers, could by one year’s careful study of the* conditions of their life, in their own Indian surroundings, have put his finger on the weaknesses of the system by which labour was being introduced. By rectifying that system, they could have so improved conditions amongst the labourers, ’that not only would they have been better working units,'but untold misery and vice would have been spared. But this idea seems never to have entered into the minds of the Company’s responsible officials.





Actual suicides.

Attempted suicide.


.. 18



.. 20



.. 11

7 '

1915 (11 months) .

. . 17

No figures avail


able, except 2 in the Navua district.

One more suicide must be added to 1915, making the total 18; for a suicide of a young indentured coolie took place in the north of the island in November, but had not been officially reported before our departure on December 9th.

We found that attempted suicides are not in every case reported. One such attempted suicide was related to us as happening in 1914. The planter himself told us about it in November, 1915, and when asked if he had reported it, he said he had not; he had merely given the boy u. good scolding.    .

The significance of these figures may be seen in the following way. In the four years 1912-1915 no less than, one in every 930 of the coolies tinder indenture has committed suicide. And when the years 1908 to 1912 are taken, the proportion is scarcely appreciably lower.

In the report published by the Immigration Department for 1912, it is stated as “probable that in the majority of cases sexual jealousy was the principal factor.” Though this may be true of the majority of suicides, yet in a certain number of cases, especially where the immigrant is quite young, depression and home sickness seem to be the more likely cause. Out of the 17 cases reported for 1915, five occurred during the coolies’ first year of indenture; while out of 9 cases, which have taken place in the Navua plantations since 1912, six cases occurred during the first year out from home, two of these being in the first month, a state of things which is a most serious reflection on the condition of indentured immigrants on the Navua plantations. In additon to these there have been four cases of attempted suicide in the Navua district since January, 1914.    .

(In the table giving the death-rates, published by the Fiji Medical Department, Navua has a very bad record also. For the years 1912-15 it has had an adult death-rate practically double that of r;the highest recorded death-rate of any other district in Fiji.)





























1912 ...... '





















1 .









3 (manslaughter) 2

In the report on Indian Immigration for 1914 we have a table showing the number of indentured coolies murdered each year from 1905-1914 inclusive. The average works out to about one in every 3,000, The worst year comes up to the rate of one in every 1,500.

.> These figures for violent crime are hardly less startling than those with regard to suicide. Qut of a total of 41 adults murdered, 29 were females, a fact which seems to bear out the almost unanimous opinion (expressed to us both by planters and magistrates) that sexual jealousy is responsible for most of the murders among the indentured Indians.

While the suicide rate is more than twenty times as high as that of the United Provinces and Madras, the murder rate is more than eighty times as high as that of these two provinces from which the indentured coolies are taken.

' ;•    . NOTE 3.


With reference to the profits made by C.S.R. Company it is difficult to arrive at an accurate estimate, owing to the fact that a large proportion of the profits has been used in developing the business and not disclosed in the published accounts. This can be clearly seen from tho unwilling admissions made by Mr. Edward Knox, the chairman of the C.S.R. Company, in his evidence before the Royal Commission on the sugar industry.

The paid-up capital of the company is £3,000-1)00. of which £625.000 represent capitalised profits (see statement made by Mr. Knox, p 10008,. Sugar Commission’s Report.)

To this sum must be added a further amount of “betwe'en £2,000,000 .and £3,000,000 representing the whole of the assets outside Australia, or in “Fiji” which Mr. Knox declared in answer to question 27,345 to “have been covered by undivided profits” (sep also question 27,918). Or to put it in the words of the chairman of the Sugar Commission (Questions 27,347—50) addressed to Mr. Knox:

“The paid-up cash capital is only £2,375,000. After paying your dividend you put aside £3,000,000 plus £625,000 capitalised profits in shares.” “The actual amount of cash paid up by shareholders is £2,375,000. Then they received shares from capitalised profits £625,000. That makes £3,000,000, the stated capital of the company. In addition there are £3,000,000 of inner reserves.”

Mr. Knox acknowledged these statements to be correct. ‘Thus the profits of the company have been so large that it has been able to j^ay not only 10 per cent, on its actual paid-up capital of £2,375,000, but also • on its capitalised profits of £625,000, and also it has accumulated out of its profits £3,000,000, which has 'been used to develop its business “outside Australia.”    v

In question 27,356 the profits for Fiji and New Zealand alone, for the year 191,1, were calculated by the chairman of the Commission from statements made by Mr. Knox to be £345,000. The year 1911 was referred to as an exceptional year because the company received £2 a ton more for their sugar. (Q. 27,361 and 27,362).

Since the beginning of the war in August, 1914, we hear on good authority that they have been receiving £5 a -ton more for their sugar and in twelve months produced 90,000 tons of sugar' in Fiji" alone (representing an increase of £450,000 for the sugar sold in addition to the ordinary profit).

/Taking the estimated profits of company for 1911, viz., £775,000 on the capital actually paid up, it is found to be equivalent to a dividend of 32|- per cent, per annum (see question 27,366). The dividend ih wartime would b®" still greater.

Compare with these figures the amount of the savings transmitted by Indians in Fiji to India which, taking the figures available for the three years 1912-1914, average only £4,836 a year (equal, to about 6/8 per head for the indentured population). The larger amounts, e.g., £16,760 in 1913), declared by Indians returning to India, represent the savings of free and not indentured Indians.



The following extract from the report of the Immigration Department for 1914 will make clear how the land settlement scheme put forward by the C.S.R. Company is intended to work. (This scheme must be distinguished from their large offer of £100,000 to Government at 4 per cent, for purchase of Fijian leases.)    .

The report says as follows:—

“A step which promises, I think, to be of considerable value to the indentured Indians, has been taken by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, Limited; it should help to render easy for the labourers the transitition from indentured to free residence. Many Indians coming out of indenture drift into habits of comparative idleness, while others exhaust savings in overcoming the well-known difficulties experienced in an effort to acquire the lease of a piece of native land.

The step referred to is a scheme started by the Company, during the year, for the settlement on ready-made farms of Indians serving the last year under indenture, and for their occupation when their indentures have "expired.

The company has, at all its mill centres, set apart large areas in *which fields have been sub-divided into plots varying from two and a half to four acres. Each man has assigned to him at take-over value One plot under plant cane; a second under ratoons; a third ready for planting for the following year; a fourth, which is temporarily retained by the company, for fallowing under green manure and preparation for future planting. The above rotation ensures to each man a regular annual crop of plants and ratoons.

Men in their fourth or fifth year of indenture are taking up these holdings. Whilst they remain under indenture, they continue to live in the “lines” and are subject to the immigration laws; but they soon free themselves and their wives, settle on the outskirts of the plantation, and devote their energies to the hand cultivatiop of their plots. Horse cultivation is done for them by the Company at fixed rates, and the cost, together with other advances mqde on the crops, rent, etc., are deducted from the proceeds after harvest. The result depends largely on the industry of the individuals themselves; some do very well, while others appear to do only moderately well; but the following figures show what the 47 men who have taken up settlement in the Lautoka district, have achieved during 1914:—The total take-over value of the property amounted to £3,182; they cropped 278 acres yielding 6,920 tons of cane to the value of £4,264. These men, after paying all expenses and a proportion of their take-over debt, drew cash at the rate of £28 per head in addition to having received the statutory wage of 5/6 per week during the year. After liquidating their take-over debt their incomes will be proportionately increased.”    *

So far as ifr is possible to judge at this early stage of the experiment there can be no doubt that it is a great advantage to the Indian to have the benefit of horse ploughing, green manuring, and the scientific experience of the Company to improve his crop. For none of these could be applied to his own land, if he took up a small holding on his own account. "

The chief criticism of the scheme, offered by the Indians themselves, is that they find the oversight which the Company feels bound, in its own interests, to exercise, very irksome. (As they put it—“It is not muqh

-different froin being under indenture.”) Many of them would prefer a lower return on their holdings, if it meant a gi'eater freedom of action. This, however, is a matter which ought easily to be adjusted, in process of time, when experience has taught both the Company and the Indian cultivator to understand and appreciate each other’s point of view.

It is, in any ease, an admirable experiment, and shows how the Company has learnt to value the Indian as a settler, and not merely as an indentured coolie.

~ NOTE 5.


The following statement made by Mr. Crompton, counsel for the defence, in the case Rex v. Bavin, at the Suva Police Court, October 2nd, 1913, will show the chaos of the Fiji marriage law with regard to Indans. It is taken from a summary of his concluding speech at a famous trial in the islands, which caused a great sensation at the time:—

“Mr. Crompton said that the gist of the action against the accused was that a Christian minister, for marrying two Christian Indians, .according to Christian rites, was to be subjected to penal servitude for a term of five years, or to a fine of £500 because, before he married them he did not obtain a certificate from Mr. Coates, the Agent-General of Immigration, to say that they had been already married. Even the most hardened criminals received far less punishment on conviction than that. It was a public scandal to subject a minister of religion to a greater punishment than these, because he had performed the Christian ceremony of marriage.”



The following facts and figures which possess conditions similar


Population. Fiji .. . v 155,000



Barbados .


. £213,000

B. Guiana . .

. 290,000


Jamaica ..



, gathered from other Crown colonies, to Fiji, are given for purposes of

Education particulars.

1 Government and 2 aided public schools with average attendance of 365. Total expenditure for 1914, £3,312.

166 grant-aided schools. Total expenditure for 1910, £19,209.

224 grant-aided schools with average attendance of 21,555. Expenditure £28,294.

693 grant-aided schools with average attendance of 61,669. Expenditure £60,503. No serious crime in the colony. No capital punishment in 1911-12.

Leewards ..    128,000    £164,000    24,573 on the roll of grant-aided

,    and'Government schools; also 7 sec

ondary schools aided.

Mauritius .    369,000    £720,000    67 Government and 90 grant-aided

.    schools.

Trinidad ..    368,000    £948,000    210 grand-aided schools with aver

age attendance of 47,000. Expenditure £51,111.



If family life is to be restored among the coolies in Fiji, one of the first matters to be set right will be the condition under which the people now live in the “lines.” One intelligent lad summed up the whole present situation in the words ‘ *Estabal ke nuiafiqi.e., like a stable. The indentured coolies told us that they could hear every word which was said through the thin wooden partition. They could tell exactly what a man or woman was doing next door, at all hours. A coolie could even get up on a box and look over the partition into the next room, so that the privacy of married life became impossible, and all sense of shame and decency was lost. We frequently went into the quarters where the coolies lived, and found that this was the case.



The vital issue appeared to us more and more to be summed up in one main point, namely, the removal of all compulsion whatever from the conditions of Indian labour. To imprison for refusal to work: to impose fines with imprisonment always in the background, in case of non-payment: to insist that the labourer shall do so much compulsory labour on the estate, if he is unable to pay the fine—all these appeared to us equally objectionable, as having compulsion in some form or other involved in them.    .

An agreement wiiich seemed to us to be quite workable in a small colony such as Fiji may be described as follows:—

’’    (1) The Indian labourer, in return for the full payment of pas

sage out for himself and his family, engages to undertake agricultural work as a wage-earner, during the first two years of his residence in the colony, and not to engage in private business.

(2)    The labourer may go to any employer who is in need of labour and enter with him on a monthly agreement. If either he himself, or his employer, wishes to end this agreement before the month is over, then the labourer will forfeit his month’s pay if he should wish to terminate the agreement, or the employer will pay the labourer a full month’s wages should he wish to do so.

(3)    With regard to the payment of passage out, the Government of Fiji will be responsible, and not any individual employer. Government

so wholesome as a breath of fresh seaJ air for driving away outward conventions and making human life free and courageous.

NOTE 10.


We had not been long in Fiji before it was made quite clear to us that, bound up with the question of indenture, was the far broader issue of colonisation. It was the deliberate intention of the Government of Fiji to make the islands into an Indian colony. If the present rate of increase of population should continue, this might easily be accomplished in the present generation. For, at a time when the indigenous population remains stationary, and even shows signs of dying out, the Indian population has increased out of all proportion.

It might be true, as was often told us, that the further Success of the gyeat Sugar Companies was necessary for the full prosperity, of the islands. But we found it also true, in a much wider and larger sense, that the prosperity of the islands depended on the morals of the Indian immigrants. In other words, ultimate success in colonisation was far more a moral issue than a financial one. The good citizenship of the Indian settlers was a greater asset than any sugar industry, however flourishing.

A simple illustration may be taken fromAhe sugar estates in Queensland. There the method of encouraging European immigration has been adopted by the Queensland Government. So far, conditions are similar. But, when further comparison is made, a remarkable difference of treatment is at once apparent. In Queensland every possible care is taken beforehand to make the environment of the European- labourer healthy and wholesome. For it is fully realised that he will become the permanent settler on the soil, and bring up his children as the future citizens of the. country. No interests of capital, therefore, however important in a secondary sense, are allowed to interfere with this result. It is thought far better to develop the country more slowly, and bring up a race of morally and physically healthy citizens than to develop the country rapidly by allowing a small group of private capitalists to make rapid profits by exploitation.    .

Assuming that the problem of colonisation in Fiji is tlievsame .as that of Queensland, then it is clear that the moral welfare of the Indian labourer should be regarded as*a primary consideration in Fiji. For he comes, not merely to fill a gap in the supply of labour, but as a colonist. And, if the Indian labourer in Fiji tends to become more and more degraded, then the future of Fiji will become more and more degraded also. Quick returns made by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, even if shared by the Indians themselves, could do nothing to mitigate the evil, if once moral degradation should set in. They would rather tend to increase it. The money that would accrue to Indians, under bad conditions, would be spent in vicious ways, and vice gains an alarming power of reproduction in a new colony. Indeed, when once colonisation

has taken a wrong turn and been given a bad start, then it sometimes happens that all the palliatives in the world cannot stop the evil.

' In the case of the Indian settlers in Fiji, there was need of more than ordinary care in planning out beforehand the manner of immigration. For the village life in India is a complex whole, which needs to be transplanted bodily, or not at all. To transfer broken units merely, and then to expect these units to sort themselves and come together again—this was to court disaster from the first. When, on the top of this, a breakdown of the marriage relation was added, disaster was inevitable. But no one seemed to understand what was happening, and so the evil went on, until the suicide and murder rates disclosed it to the civilised world.    -

The warning was frequently given us in Fiji, that the colony would be ruined if the indentured system of Indian labour were discontinued. Our deliberate conclusion, from what we have seen with our own eyes, is this, that the colony would be ruined the indentured system of Indian labour were allowed to go on. ’    .

NOTE 11.


Perhaps an even more important question than the relation between Indians and Europeans is that of the attitude of the Indians towards the Fijians. The population of Fiji, at present, is made up roughly of. 90,000 Fijians, 60,000 Indians, 3,000 Europeans, and 8,000 of other races, including half-castes.

The Fijian has only recently emerged from savagery and cannibalism. Practically the whole of the islands are now Christian, and their conversion to Christianity has had a remarkably good effect on their morals. Immorality is not common. The Fijians are a distinctly moral people. Crime is singularly rare. They are great singers and churchgoers, and they enjoy their religious services. They are very strict Sabbatarians, and the keeping of Sunday very carefully, as a sacred day, forms a considerable part of their new religion. At first the Fijians utterly despised the Indians who came to the island under the bond of indenture. They looked upon them as slaves, and thoroughly disliked them. The Indian, on his side, was inclined to return scorn with scorn. He called the Fijian, from the first, “jungli,” and the name still sticks.

At one time it appeared as if a strong and bitter race prejudice would spring up between the two communities, but that time has long ago passed by. The Indian, now, is much more kindly disposed towards the Fijian. And the Fijian has learnt that the Indian is far more clever than himself, though not morally superior. On all sides we found the fear expressed by good and thoughtful men, that the Fijian, now that he has become more friendly towards the Indian, may get contaminated by his morals.    %

recovers this money from the whole body of employers by charging them a fee according to the average of. labour shown in each employer's monthly wages bill.

(4)    If the Indian labourer wishes to terminate his agreement with Government, and engage in private business, before the two years are completed, then he is ^free to do so after payment of the balance of the passage money. But this money will only be recoverable by a civil action for damages in a court of law. In no case will there be penal consequences. But any property that the labourer has may be attached.

(5)    There shall be no law put into force preventing the labourer from going from one island to another in search of work, or from returning to India itself at his own expense.

(6)    A registered certificate will be given to each immigration labourer showing, from the monthly wages returns, how far he has completed his term of service as a wage-earner. Employers who may wish to employ immigrant labour will be registered also.

(7)    While a minimum wage may be fixed by Government there shall be no statutory wage which cannot be exceeded. 'the labourer shall be free to make his own terms with the employer, and the employer with the labourer, so long as the minimum wage limit is not transgressed.

(8)    Government shall fulfil its own responsibilities towards this immigrant labour, by adequate inspection of all labour conditions on the estate as heretofore. It shall be able to exclude from its own list of registered employers any employer who transgresses the Government j labour regulations. v t

In such a free labour contract there would be, of course, a certain risk incurred by Government. Each year there would be a percentage of loss through labourers running away* and all trace of them being lost. There would also be a number of bad debts. But these losses would in no case fall upon a single employer: they would be spread over the whole body, and the well-known industrious habits of the Indian labourers would make any heavy loss under these heads unlikely. For, when once the labourers get settled on estates, and are treated well by their employers, they are, in nine cases out of ten, content to stop where they are and not go further. Only a very small proportion have enterprise and initiative enough to wish immediately to laundh forth into adventure on their own account. And Indian labourers are, for the most part, faithful in their observance of agreements and in their payments of money due to Governrhent.

*    NOTE 9.


The following statement is mad§ in the Indian Year Book for 1915:—

“It is difficult to get reliable statistics as to agricultural labour, as the rates vary so enormously in different parts of India, being compara-

lively low in South India, and in certain districts of North India remarkably high.”    '    „    •

This is especially true of the districts which have been opened up by irrigation, as the following figures (obtained from the Encyclopaedia Britannica Year Book for 1913) show:—

“In harvest time, labour fetches Rs. 2 a day, and in one year the single district oi Lyallpur remitted £147,000 by money order to other districts.”

The numbers of IndiaA settlers on irrigated areas increase with great rapidity every year.

The Chenab colony has a total area of 3,900 square miles, and was, until >1892, sparsely inhabited by nomad pastoral tribes, whose total numbers wrere estimated at less than 70,000. Immigrant peasants, in-» eluding men from the best agricultural districts in the Punjab, began to settle in the colony in such numbers that in September, 1912, the total population had risen to over 1,111,000.

The following quotation from “The Indian Year. Book” for 1915, page 224, shows that this Vise in wages is general all over India:—    *

“But the rise in wage of industrial labour has not been so great as [' in the case of agricultural labourers and village artisans. . . . . An examination of Indian wages statistics during the last decade shows that this is certainly the labourers’ day.”

In recent times the question has frequently been raised whether all emigration should not be stopped, in order to meet adequately these . indftstrial needs of India itself. An important sectioq of the educated Indian community has begun to hold strongly this opinion, and to suggest that only educated Indians should go abroad, while coolie emigration should be discouraged.

But it is well to consider whether, under more favourable conditions, the emigration of a small proportion of the agricultural classes may not be good on the whole. What India appears to need at the present time is the spirit of enterprise and adventure. This will not penetrate the' somewhat stagnant life of the villages of India, if only educated Indians go abroad. The spirit of adventure is needed in the villages themselves. If it be urged that enterprise and adventure may' be found by passing from one part of India to another, and that this form of internal emigration will give all that is needed, there is considerable force in the argument. But an indefinable something is added by voyages aoross the sea, by travels to distant lands, by meeting strange people, by overcoming all kinds of new difficulties in foreign countries, whi/di cannot be obtained by passing from Bengal to Bombay, or from the Punjab to Madras.

It appears to be true of Indian history, as well as of English history, that the period of maritime adventure, when Indian ships traversed the seas and left the mark of Indian civilisation on distant lands, was a golden age. It produced great poetry and great art. There is nothing

NOTE 12.


The importance of Fiji in the Pacific has hardly yet been realised by people in India. Fiji has become an outlying naval base, a kind of “Heligoland,” for Australia and New Zealand. It is also a chief port of call for the great liners, which pass to and fro from America to Australia. We do not wish to enter into the political Question, namely, the danger of colonising such an important outpost with a weak and degraded population, though much might be said upon that subject. But we cannot pass over the relation of the Fiji Indian population to the place which India itself holds in the eyes of the civilised world. For that question is more than political, it affects the moral intercourse of the rations of the world.

Fiji is, at present, like a great flaring advertisement, saying, in big letters, to all who travel to and fro across the Pacific—“This is India.” Each traveller from America and Australia goes home to spread the news about India which he has learnt in Fiji. We felt, more than we can express, the terrible wrong which was being done to India by sueh a false advertisement. We found ourselves protesting every day of our journey to our fellow-passengers—“This is not India.” But the patent fact remained. The advertisement went flashing across the Pacific, “This is India.” It was the only “India” which the travellers in the Pacific saw.    *

If the fair name of India is to be saved from further disrepute, it is abundantly evident that this degradation should not be allowed to go on for a day longer. But there is a higher appeal still. It is this. By strange neglect and indifference in the past, India has permitted, these weakest of her own children to sink lower and lower. Now, at last, the wrong that has been done has been seen with clear eyes. Humanity itself makes the claim that this wrong should be set right with all possible speed.


It will be unnecessary to repeat all the facts concerning the breakdown in Indian married life which were detailed in our earlier Report. To both of us, on our first visit, this was by far {he most tragic part of the evidence that was set before us. I have read through very carefully what we then wrote, and I feel to-day that the situation remains substantially the same. It is, if anything, an understatement of the case.

I would call special attention to the favourable evidence, in that ‘Report, which Mr. Pearson brought back from the north side of the main island concerning domestic conditions there. After a long stay on that coast, I have found his own estimate singularly correct. In one very important particular (namely, that in some of the free settlements the old Hindu life, with its purer domestic morals, was reasserting itself) I have been able fully to verify his facts. I regard this as the most 'hopeful piece of news which I can carry back to India, and report on my arrival.

But, even when making the fullest possible allowance for this encouraging factor, it would still be difficult to overstate the gravity of the immediate situation. The murders, suicides and violent crimes still go on with unrelieved monotony. The murder record, since we left the islands, two years ago, has gone up instead of down. The abominable trafficking in young girls for marriage—the selling of them, now to one husband, now to another—still is rife. Wives still desert their husbands and pass from one man to another, with appalling frequency. The actual consummation of (so-called) marriage with tiny girls of nine and ten and eleven years of age is still constantly practised, and parents encourage it. The fouler vices, of an unnatural kind, cannot be spoken of in detail; but there is evidence of them on every hand, though, it is a relief to say, they do not seem yet to have infected the whole popu- . lation. In mentioning these things quite plainly, as one is obliged to do, it is not meant, for one moment, to lay the blame primarily on the Indian people concerned. The root of them all is the crime against humanity, which has been perpetrated during the past forty yeai’S for the sake of monetary gain, by the importation of labour, under unnatural conditions, without any due regard for marriage or sex.

Again and again, with monotonous frequency, Indian fathers have come up to me and said, “Sahib, I intend to get my son married in India, not in Fiji. This country is altogether bad,” and I have known exactly what they meant by that Avord “bad.” Others have come to me about their daughters, telling me that they wished to take them back to India, and to get them safely married there. “Sahib,” they have said to me, “here in Fiji all women become bad” —and again I have easily understood just what that word “bad” implied. There are, I believe, literally thousands Avho would go back to India to-morrow in order to get free from their marriage entanglements and troubles. In every part of Fiji that

I have visited the same story is told me. “Sahib/’ they say, “there way be plenty of money to be obtained in Fiji, but there is no peace of mind.” “Sahib, what am I to do with these young children? My wife has deserted me.” “Sahib, I had my boy married by Indian rites, and spent two hundred rupees on the wedding, and now the father has taken her away and married her to someone else. What am I to do? There is no justice in Fiji.” This same repetition has gone on now month after month unceasingly, each story having its own tragic detail. It has bt en very noticeable to me that, while on my first visit, a large proportion of the cases which came before me were concerning “land” troubles, on this occasion the marriage troubles are far more numerous. I do not think it would be exaggeration to put them down as high as ninety per cent. What has been noticeable to me, also, is the volume of the growing discontent which I have found on both sides of the main island. This was quite unexpected, for I had imagined that, with the closing down of the indenture and the stoppage of all immigration, immediate relief would have been felt. But to-day the marriage troubles seem everywhere to be the one absorbing topic, and the bitterness goes very deep indeed. Probably the fact that there is no steamer now arriving to take people back to India accounts for a great deal. Men and women come up to me in the street and on the road asking the question—“Sahib, when is the ship coming in to take us back?” There is a sense of injustice—a feeling as if they had been trapped—when the answer is given, that there can be little hope of going away till after the war.

By far the most serious feature of the whole situation (concerning which overwhelmingly strong evidence has been brought before me) is this—that the children are growing up without any discipline and with no decent moral habits. They have been reared in the very midst of evil, and they have become so accustomed to it that it has become commonplace. In a great number of cases, the father of the child is scarcely known; the mother has had to work all day in the fields; some woman of the coolie “lines” has been paid by the employer to look after their children in batches; family life has been an impossiblity. I was anxious to see, on my arrival, whether the overwhelmingly bad impression of the coolie “lines”—the revolting sense of moral and physical impurity— would be as strong this time as on my earlier visit. I found very little difference. It is true that, on the northern side of the island, there has been a certain amount of sanitary improvement and oversight. But the faces of the men and women, and the neglected children, told me much the same story as before—the story of depravity and vice.

I did not wish to trust merely to my own impression on this very important point. I have made enquiries, therefore, on every hand, and the verdict has been the same. For example, I was told by one responsible authority that there had been an alarming increase in petty crime in recent years, especially juvenile crime. Again, all those who have been engaged in school work agree on one point, that there is practically no help given from the side of the parents. Educated Indians,

who know their own people, speak very pessimistically about the home life. An English lady in Suva, about whom all Indians speak with rever-01 ce for her motherly care of their children—a lady who has lived in India and knows the dark side of Indian life there—has given me a description of what her experience has been in Fiji. She carefully weighed every word, as she gave me her evidence, telling me about the environment and home conditions of one after another of h^* pupils. The general opinion she had formed was just that which I have stated. I made a further enquiry from one of the most trustworthy missionaries, who has lived and worked in India. He told me that the condition of home life in Fiji is incomparably worse than that which he had seen in India itself. Indian childhood in Fiji is in danger of being ruined for one generation at least by the evil habits which are becoming ingrained in the domestic life of the people.

In all that I have written above, I have tried to keep closely to the evidence contained in my notes. If any definite facts can be brought before me, modifying the picture which I have described, I will gladly insert them in my substantive Report. But, so far, this is the gist of all that has been told me by responsible people, and it is written down at last after a long and detailed enquiry.

From the evidence in front of me, I come back again and again to the conclusion, that on the side of Indian married life, things are growing worse instead of better, except where Indian families have gone right away into the interior and started a new village life of their own.

It is necessary now to go briefly into the main causes of this increase of evil, before suggesting any definite remedies. I must here repeat certain things which we stated in our earlier Report of February 19th, 1917.    '    4-

The first cause has undoubtedly been the altogether vicious system of recruiting. This system has been allowed to grow up in India itself, like some noxious weed, till clinging hold on the people and its ramifications among the police (who have become parties to it), have made any responsible control difficult. It should be noted that the agents of this recruiting are all in the pay and service of the Crown Colonies, so that these Colonies must share with the Indian Government the responsibility for the evils. In our Report we stated our belief that as many as 80 per cent.' of those who came out had been fraudulently recruited. I feel now, after further enquiry, that 60 per cent, would have been nearer the true figure, though I find that educated Indians in Fiji, who have made enquiries, would regard our former estimate as more accurate. BuCuven if the lower estimate be accepted, it seems almost incredible that such a trafficking in women should have been permitted to go on in the twentieth century, in modern India, under British rule the recruiter being paid, per head, so much more for a woman than for a man. I have direct evidence which goes to prove that in certain cases a woman s chastity was deliberately ruined before she consented to go out to Fiji.

The second cause has been the great disproportion of the sexes. There is no need to write further on this point; but, as an historical record of the incredible laxity of the Government of India in the past and the willingness of the Fiji Government to give way to the employers of Indian labour, I would mention one single fact. I have seen with my oAvn eyes the official correspondence of the Fiji Government, printed in the year 1883, in which the Colonial Secretary of Fiji insists that the proportion of women sent out in each ship shall not exceed 33 per 100 men. In this same correspondence the Emigration Agent in Calcutta asks permission from the Colonial Secretary, Fiji, to raise the number of women to 40 per hundred; though (he adds significantly) such a high percentage of women may not easily be found. The official correspondence ends with a curt letter from the Colonial Secretary, Fiji, commanding the Emigration Agent, Calcutta, in spite of his protest, to reduce the number of women in future to 33 per 100 men.

Such a record as this needs no comment. It 'is easy to understand ■where the pressure came from, which caused the Fiji Government to insist on the lower ratio of women being sent out. ‘

The third cause, which helps to account for the breakdown of Indian family life, has been the condition and arrangement of the coolie ‘‘lines” at the mills and on the plantations.

It is difficult to speak in temperate language of the way in which morals have been sacrificed to money in this matter, especially when one remembers the profits which have been'made out of the great sugar industry in recent years. To give an example, I asked a planter’s meeting the question whether it was true that the planters of Fiji had put £100,000 extra profits in their pockets since the war began, and I was answered in the affirmative. Indeed, afterwards, I was told by the highest authority at headquarters that I might have put the figure much higher. Yet even this is not by any means the whole amount of the profits obtained, because this does not take into account the gains of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company itself and the two other companies; and, from all one can gather, the profits of the C.S.R. Company (which are carefully kept secret) must have been fabulous. Yet scarcely more than a few pounds of these profits have been spent as yet on the obvious duty of putting up separate quarters for the married couples. I have only heard of two estates which had taken this in hand before I reached Fiji. (I have heard also of another estate which has erected a separate washing place for the women, and there may have been a few more such voluntary improvements.) But it is probable that a couple of hundred pounds would cover the whole cost of what has been done. If this sub ject is mentioned, the answer is given that it is the duty of the Indian Government to state what improvements should be made, and that it would not be a good thing for any single planter to act on his own initiative. In this way the evil is allowed to go on and the profits to accumulate.    .

I am thankful to be able to add that there is now a genuine movement on the north of the main island to provide separate married quarters for the people who work on the estates. The proposal has been sent up to the Fiji Government that the planters are prepared to put up separate reed huts, with sanitary arrangements; and, in the course of time,, this or some similar scheme is likely to be brought into operation. It has been agreed at the same time to raise the daily wage of the indentured labourer 3d. per day, on account of the higher cost of living during the war.    .

What the state of the coolie “lines” must have been only a few years ago, before certain modifications (such as separate kitchens) were insisted on by the Government, can better be imagined than described. I have often sat inside one of the cubicles, or partitions, which are built to accommodate either one whole family or three adult unmarried men, but the air was usually so foul as to be hardly breathable for long, and vermin of all kinds abounded. Under a specially watchful employer these “fines” may be kept fairly clean, but that is the exception, not the rule. It is true that, in later years, much has been done to improve the drainage and sanitary arrangements, but almost no pains have been taken to improve the moral sanitation. In one “lines” which I visited I was told that there were twenty-four men living with six women; in another there were nineteen men and six women, and these disproportionate figures are not unfrequentty met with. I have found a married couple in one compartment of the lines, and unmarried men—three- in each cubicle—on either side of the married couple, \&th such a thin partition between them that every least sound passed through. Under such conditions, family life loses all decency, all privacy, all possibility of healthy development. Yet it only required a few hundred pounds at the most, on each estate, out of the enormous war profits, to provide for many years to come suitable, healthty, separate houses for the married people.

A fourth cause of the moral degradation has been the misery of life on the plantations, especially under the old conditions of what was, to all intents and purposes, forced labour. This misery has driven many to commit suicide, though the more frequent cause is some quarrel about a woman in the “lines.” The men, under these hard, monotonous conditions, take to vice just as the same class in England take to drink. They have nothing else to do—no amusement, no recreation, no religious or other interests. The women, also, in their hopelessly inferior numbers and,isolation from the outside world, are practically compelled to give themselves over to the men. To mak,e the degradation complete, not infrequently in the past the overseers themselves were isolated, un married men, who shared in the general vice of the place. It is a relief to add that now married employers have become the rule on most of the estates, but the evil effects of the old regime cannot be obliterated in a day.

A fifth cause, which was dealt with very fully in crur Report, lias been the persistent refusal by the Fiji Government to recognise religious

marriage as binding. This bas led to a fatal conviction, among Hindu women, that Hindu religious marriages can be cast off with impunity. Women pass on from one man to another without any sense of disgrace, and there is always at hand a hungry crowd of wifeless faen ready to bribe them and tempt them away.

Beyond all these causes, yet arising out of them all, there has come about a sense of despair in marriage matters among the Indians in Fiji, which has led to things being permitted and countenanced such as would never be allowed for one moment in India itself. These evils have spread like some moral plague, and certain centres appear to be the plague spots from which infection and contamination go forth. In many of the larger coolie “lines,” especially those nearer the mills, the vicious atmosphere seems to have reached the point of saturation. Each new family that comes out from India and enters this atmosphere seems to catch the disease. The husband is told that he must allow his wife to be used for immoral purposes, because of the number of men who are vifeless; it is the Fiji dustur (custom). If, at first, the husband vehemently objects (as is usually the case) he is told that this place is not India, but Fiji;’ and in Fiji the dustur is such and such. The word “dosti” (literally, “friendship”') is used for this relation of unmarried men to a married wife, and in Fiji the word “dosti” has nearly always a bad significance. It is out of these “dosti” relations that fnost of the violent crimes among Indians occur. The woman is nearly always the victim. The same evils, in a more aggravated form, are repeated in the case of children. A great number of young girls of tender age are married to grown-up men, the number of adult women being so small. This makes a perpetual shortage of girls for mating with those boys who have just reached the marriageable age. On account of this shortage in Fiji fathers are desperately anxious to get brides for their sons as soon as possible. A little girl of eight or nine years old will usually be chosen, 5.1 nd the marriage duly performed. But, seeing that this marriage has no validity in the eyes of the law, the boy’s father is in continual dread lest the girl should be given to some other youth.    This fear almost

invariably makes the boy’s" ,father claim    that the little

girl shall come and live at his house, and cohabit with his son, long before the age of puberty is reached. Cases are known in Fiji of young Indian girls of eleven and twelve bearing children that are so diminutive as scarcely to appear human offspring at all. This custom has spread like some baleful plague.

At first the things that I have mentioned seemed to me almost incredible, and for some time I refused to believe them; but they have been proved incontestably to be the case, and they seem to evoke little or no shame. There is no public conscience. Sometimes the young girls are sold four or five times over before they have reached the age of fourteen; and yet not a voice is lifted up against it, not a door is closed to the offender. It is this vitiated moral atmosphere which I fear most, when I think of more labourers, of the helpless and dependent

type, coming out again—however easy the terms of the agreement may be. Will they have sufficient independence to resist the Fiji dus/ur ? It is necessary to recall some of the salient features of Indian village life before answering that question. The village community of India is a very compiex growth, and because of its self-contained character and suitability to its environment, if has withstood the shock of centuries of invasion and conquest. The marriage relations within its circle are adjusted with extreme care; indeed, the village and caste organisations are largely occupied with this duty, and their ruling is rarely disputed or gainsaid. Added to this, among men and women alike, there is a special religious sanctity attached to marriage. To the man, the marriage tie is sacred, because through his son, born in wedlock, the ancestral worship can be carried on to a new generation. To the woman, the faithtful conduct of the married life forms the supreme act of her worship. On its perfect fulfilment her own salvation depends. This religious marriage ideal is held with all the fervour of a creed, in every Hindu village, where caste is observed, throughout the North of India that is to say, throughout those villages from which most of the earlier emigrants came in Fiji.

In order to illustrate the almost incomprehensible weight of authority which lies behind this marriage strictness, the statistics concerning widow re-marriage may be quoted. In spite of the fact that these marriages have long ago obtained the fullest    sanction    of    the law and    also of

educated public opinion, yet so strongly is the    popular Hindu    feeling

against them—as detracting somewhat from the Hindu sacramental marriage ideal—that out of the twenty-five million widows in India to-day only a few hundred came forward each year to get married again.

The high average happiness of Indian village life, in spite of its e-\treme poverty, is due in a very large    measure    to    the chastity    of the

women and their devotion to their own    husbands.    This makes    a bed-,

rock foundation for society, upon which life itself can be built up securely. The longer I have lived .jn India, the more deeply has this fact been borne in upon my mind. In the towns, indeed, there can be little doubt that much immorality exists; there is also a lower moral standard among the non-caste people. But the village life of India has remained on the whole remarkably pure, and the village women of India are chaste in their domestic affairs.

Here, then, are some of the facts concerning the village life in Northern India. I do not think they could be seriously challenged by ^anyone who knew his subject. In the face of all this, we have to ask ourselves again and again the question—how can it possibly have happened that these very same women in Fiji have become so unspeakably coiTupt in their married life themselves, and are to-day teaching and training their daughters to follow a like course?

I have already written about the main causes—the evil system of recruiting in India, the low proportion of emigrant women, the crowded coolie ‘‘lines/’ which have become hotbeds of immorality, the breaking down of the Hindu woman's modesty, the flouting of the Indian religious idea of marriage by the Fiji Marriage Ordinance, the epidemic of vice that has resulted. All these things have borne their part in the general moral collapse, and yet there is something beyond, something which still remains unexplained—so complete has been the downfall. The explanation, which Mr. Gandhi gave me after he had seen the notes we had taken on our previous visit, appears to me now to go deepest of all and to be most convincing. It is this: There are two marked stages, he says, in human progress—the “communal” and the “individual.” The interval between these two stages, when human life passes from one to the other, is most critical. The gap must be bridged over very carefully and thoroughly, if those who have been accustomed to the communal condition are to pass on safely to the individual.

The Indian village woman has been used to the communal life of her own village community, with its religious and social traditions and customs. These all helped, in a thousand ways, to preserve the chastity of her married state. But the recruiting agent for indentured labour in the Colonies came her way, and she fell a victim. The recruiter collected his units here and there in a haphazard manner, according as opportunity presented. The whole process was clumsy and unscientific, ruthless and immoral. It tore up by the roots the old healthy communal life, and put nothing but disintegration in its place. It snatched one ignorant woman from this village and another from that, and then proceeded to cast forth these broken lives, without any regard or discrimination, into the vice and impurity of the coolie “lines” of Fiji.

Castes, creeds, races, religions wrere jambed and jumbled together jn chaotic confusion. Mohammedans eohabited with Hindus, and Sweepers with Brahmins. Out of the wreckage of the old Indian village life, with its traditional marriage purty, a pitifully crippled, maimed, and diseased humanity struggled with feeble effort to build itself up afresh. The evil done to the villages of India, through the breaking up /of village homes by the recruiters, wjts scarcely less tragic than the evil wrought upon the Indian village women when they reached Fiji.

Here, then, according to Mr. Gandhi, lay the root of all the mischief. It consisted in the ruthless and violent uprooting of the village communal life. Those who introduced the indenture system never paused for a moment to consider the Indian character, or to study Indian conditions. They had one object in view—they wanted to make money quickly. The human lives of the Indian women—their married happiness and chastity—were nothing to them. In pursuit of gold, they trampled on things that were sacred.

Such are some of the facts that thoughtful Indians are remembering to-day with bitterness in their hearts. They are now unitedly determined that the honour of their women shall never be exposed to such dangers and temptations again.- The Indian people as a whole are among the most patient and long-suffering of mankind. They will hear poverty and -want and outward oppression as no other people can bear them. But there are two things that they will never endure—the one thing is, any insult to the chastity of their women; the other is any interference with the rites and customs of their religion.

But it is asked,—why, then, did the people of India allow this low sex proportion, with all its evil consequences, to go on so long without demur? Why was it not put an end to by the Indian Government many years ago ?    v

The answer is, that the people of India had no real representative Government before Lord Morley’s Reformed CounciTs Act of 1908-1909. One of the very first resolutions, after that Act was passed, was Mr. Gokhale’s motion urging the total abolition of indenture. That measure received the unanmous support of Mr. Gokhale’s Indian colleagues, but was voted out at the command of the Viceroy by the Government Official Majority. . In a correspondence between the Secretary of State and the Viceroy, recently published, the striking- acknowledgement is made, that though the resolution against indenture had been voted down once, yet it could not, with any show of justice, be voted down time after time, yagainst the unanimous wish of the Indian members. Seven years have elapsed since Mr. Gokhale brought forward his motion, seven of the most eventful years in Indian history, during which nothing less than an internal revolution has been occupying and absorbing Indian minds. Yet, never for any very long time together, has the indenture question been allowed to fall into the background of Indian politics. With insistent uteration, the same subject has been brought forward, year after year, at each National Congress, in all the Provincial Congress meetings, in every gathering of the All-India Muslim League, in the Imperial Legislative Council. The two large recruiting areas of India—Madras and the “United Provinces”—were becoming daily more and more bitter, resentful and even violent. Volunteers on all sides, were ready to court imprisonment, and the picketing of the depots had begun, when the end suddenly came.

Yet, all this while, not one serious step was taken by the companies or by the planters, in Fiji, to deal directly with the moral evil itself. Shipload after shipload continued to come out from India in the same vicious proportion. Even as late as the beginning of the present year, at a time when the shipping rates were fabulously high and every ship was needed for the help of the mother country, strenuous efforts were made to charter a vessel, in order to bring out a new cargo of men and women in the, same ratio of a hundred men to forty women.

It may be argued,—“Yes, this may all be true, and we are ready to grant that mistakes have been made in the past. But we are determined to do better in the future, and we are certain that our own British fellow countrymen, at home and in India, will never leave in the lurch a loyal British colony such as Fiji. We have large vested interests at stake, and we shall claim as our right the continuance of imported labour from India, under such conditions as the Home Government, consultation with the Indian Government, thinks fit to impose.

If this attitude is taken, it will only mean a further delay and a further mis-reading of the signs of the times. Such a weapon of compulsion is as out of date as matchlocks would be in modern warfare. It was easy for the Viceroy to order the Official Majority to vote down tin Indian non-official members in the year, 1910-1911; but it would be folly, of which no Viceroy would he guilty, to use the official vote for a smilar purpose, on the same question, in 1917.

It cannot be too often repeated, to the companies and the planters in Fiji, that the only way to meet the new India of to-day—the India which is still incensed at the wrongs of the past inflicted upon her when she wTas inarticulate and helpless, the India which now, in the midst of the present war and on account of the present war, is rising to the height of her new-found freedom—the only way to meet this India, reasonably, generously, fairly, is for those, who have done the wrong to her in the past, to throw energy of sincere and honest endeavour into repressing these acknowledged moral evils, without any self-excuse or useless recrimination. It will mean a considerable sacrifice of war profits. It will also mean considerable, personal service. But when nearly eight million pounds sterling are being spent each day in the great European struggle by Great Britain and Ireland alone, and hundreds of thousands of lives are being freely given in service in the same cause, it is surely a time when an extra personal effort may be asked for from the employers of Indian labour in Fiji, in order to clear away a recognised evil from their own very doors.

I do not wish to overlook the fact that considerable improvements of a material kind have been made in the past few years, which have cost the planters some extra expense and extra trouble. There has been, for instance, a reduction in the “tasks” which the men and women on the estates are expected to perform in order to obtain the standard wage. There has also been a remission of the harsh and unjust penal laws, which compelled the indentured labourers, either to do their full task each day, or else be treated as criminals. Certain sanitary improvements have also been introduced, which have diminished the unhealthiness of the old -coolie “lines.” Most recently of all, with some dissentients, a rise in wages was generally given to the extent of threepence per day. Furthermore, a certan number of the planters, and, as far as I am able to gather, two of the companies, have agreed to erect small grass-huts for the married couples.

Credit should be given for this change of attitude, especially where it represents a voluntary action. And even where pressure from the outside,—such as the Home Government’s definite command, or the Indian Government’s clearly marked opinion,—has been the compelling •cause, yet the change, however brought about, has been so much to fhe good.

In many ways the conditions of Indian labour are milder and less oppressive than they were in earlier years. At one time the labourer could rarely get through his appointed task till nearly sunset, though

he worked hard all day. But now, on very many of the estates, practically the whole day’s work is finished between three and four o’clock in the afternoon. Again, both the planters and the companies have, for some time past, been ready to offer even their indentured labourers “piece work” during the cane cutting season, when it is all important to g©t the trucks loaded quickly. Great dexterity is shown by some of these cane-cutters, and I have watched with interest the men come up for their wages on a Saturday afternoon, and some receive as much as fifteen to eighteen rupees in wages, while the average cane-cutter will receive not less than nine or ten rupees.

At the same time, lest any fancy picture should be drawn of fabulous wages, it should be added that the actual earnings per man, per working day, throughout the whole group of Islands, last year, did not reach tbirteenpence per day, and in 1915 it was slightly lower still—a sum which (taking into account the price of food) would be roughly equivalent to five annas in India.

I must emphasise again the fact that the extra profits of the planters alone have probably largely exceeded one hundred thousand pounds sterling during the war. If the profits of the various companies were placed at another nine hundred thousand pounds, it would probably be well within the mark. We then obtain the estimate, that, although probably little short of £1,000,000 was made in profits during the war, chiefly by Indian labour, and though Indians have suffered most acutely owing to the rise in prices, yet not one penny of this was added to the Indian labourer’s standard wage of one shilling a day, till August 4, 1917.

Nevertheless, in spite of much that can be said to the contrary, I very gladly bear witness to the fact that the Indian labourer is now treated more humanely than in the past. There is a very common phrase in Fiji to-day, which is repeated on both sides of the Islands. It is to the effect that the darkness of night has now broken, and the first rays of dawn are beginning to appear. An immense load has been lifted from the minds of the whole Indiqn community by the knowledge of the complete abolition of indenture. Again and again the words have been said to me, “Now, at least, we can hold up our heads.”

One of the greatest changes that has improved the Indian position in the Islands, has been the new policy of the C.S.R. Co. to lease out their lands to responsible employers of labour, who have knowledge of Indian conditions, instead of working them from a common centre by paid agents. Especially on the north side of the Island, where such enormous profits have been made, year after year, a general air of prosperity has become evident, and the milder treatment of the Indian labourers well marked.

With regard to what happened in the old days, the most accurate and detailed accounts have reached me from overseers themselves who had been obliged to take part in what was, for all practcal purposes, “forced labour” of the very worst kind. There was in operation a system, which went by the name of “speeding up,” whereby one over-

seer was pitted against another, to get his special area of work completed at a fraction less cost. Each reduction of expense in one area was insisted on in other areas also. This meant, that the very last ounce of labour was taken out of the coolie,—too often by flogging.

Since this system has been done away with, and each employer has been in a position to take a personal interest in his labourers, the -cases of actual suicide, owing to overwork, or ill-treatment, have been much fewer than before. Indeed, -were it not for the terrible frequency with which Indians still commit suicide because of their marriage troubles, the 11 dustier’' of hanging would, I feel sure, rapidly die out of Fiji.

It is important to understand the causes of these suicides of despair, in order to realise- the changed conditions to-day. In the old times, these invariably took place, so I am told, between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. in the morning, soon after the coolie had been awakened from sleep by the persistent clanging of the gong. The hated sound of that gong would enter into his dull, tired brain; the pulse of his life itself would be beating at its lowest point; the misery of year after year of this forced labour, from which there was no escape, was overwhelming; and in consequence when the Sirdar came to drive the coolie out to his work, he found him hanging from the rafter, dead. There was always one appalling feature. The knees were almost, but not quite, touching the ground,—-the feet being draAvn up convulsively. It would have been the easiest possible tbing for the man, at the last moment, to lower his feet again and save himself. But, even in the death agony, the “will to die” was stronger than the “will to live.” Many who have seen the bodies after death have described these suicides to me, and all have told me the same thing, -that the feet were drawn up tightly, when they could have easily touched the ground.

One of the greatest miseries of the old conditions was the difficulty -of cooking the food when the hours of working were so long and exhausting. The work began at daybreak, and there were often two miles to go to the plantations. The men were obliged to get up long before dawn to cook the food, which they took with them to the work. In the steaming hot damp weather, the rice of one day’s cooking would be left over to the next, in order to save trouble. The rain would fall in torrents; the men would come in, dog-tired, wet through and through, too weary to cook before they fell asleep exhausted. Their feet, too, would get ■cracked with wet and swollen with disease. Yet the task had always to be done, and the task-master was always at hand. I had an account, from one who saw him, of a coolie who had lain out in the soaking field all night, because his feet were too swollen and cracked for him to walk the long distance to and from the cane field. He was in such fear of the overseer, that he would not speak about it, but lay out there the whole night till next day’s work began.    "    ,

If, from the very first, an equal number of women with the men had been insisted on from India, and if lighter work had been given to the

■women, so that they might return in time to prepare their husbands’ meals, there is no doubt whatever that very many of these suicides of despair would have been prevented, and far better work at the same time ivould have been done by the men. For, in that case, there would have been no rancid, fermenting, unpalatable food for the husband to eat, but a proper meal prepared in the morning, to take away with him into the fields, and a good hot meal for him when he came back .from the fields in the afternoon. In the long run, it would have paid the employer over and over again on the economic side, while, on the moral side, it would have done away with half the evils. Yet the only single record I can find of such a suggestion being made, is a belated resolution of the local Ba planters, in 1913, stating that they would be glad if more women could be brought out. The motion was the result, I think, of Mr. McNeil’s advice when he was in the neighbourhood. But it was still-born, and seems never to have reached as far as Suva.

,1 would turn once more to the brighter side and give the meed of praise due to the Medical Department of Fiji, which has done so much in recent years to add to the health and comfort of the Indians in Fiji. It must have required continued vigilance on the part of Dr. Corney and | Dr. Lynch and their assistants, in an understaffed department, to have | prevented the spread of any single epidemic during all these years, and to have checked so successfully the diseases with which Indans are j infected. To one who knows the malarial condition of the villages of the United Provinces, it will appear nothing less than marvellous, that there | has been no outbreak of malaria in Fiji. What is equally remarkable is, that Indians who are thoroughly infected with malaria, got no such attack of fever in Fiji, as they had in India. Just an occasional day’s fever,— that is all. And after a very short stay in Fiji, even that disappears. The children have never known what fever was. They are so healthy, especially in the north side of the Island, where the climate is drier,— [ that it does one good to look at them.

Hookworm, brought out. from India by the emigrants, became at one time terribly prevalent in the damp hot climate of the Navua coast and up the Rowa River; but long before the recent American scientific enquiry, it was' successfully combated by some remarkably thorough medical work; now with the additional aid of the new research, there is a fair hope that it may eventually disappear from the Islands alto' gether. Leprosy, again, at one time was on the increase. But segregation, under the care of a devoted medical staff, has already reduced the evil, j The only disease, which shows danger of spreading at the present time : is syphilis.

With islands so small in area, prevention of diseases must always be better than cure. It would appear to me that' the prevention of any serious epidemic could inmost be guaranteed in Fiji, it the diseases of free Indians were taken in time, and the same care could be exercised in their case as with*the Fijians. What is sorely needed is a full and

efficient staff of Indian medical practitioners and Indian-trained nurses and mid wives.    ■

It is impossible to speak too strongly of the immediate need of a supply of matrons for the plantation hospitals. I have already spoken of this need in connection with the causes of the moral breakdown of the Indian women in Fiji. The present employment of male hospital superintendents who have charge of Indian women’s wards and attend Indian women patients, is a blow directly dealt at the self-respect of every Indian in Fiji, which is bitterly and deeply felt. To argue from an English standpoint in such a matter is absurd. Such arguments are useless and futile. Each people has its own code of women’s modesty and self-respect; and there is nothing'on which Indians are more sensitive than concerning the treatment of their women by men, except in cases of extreme medical or surgical urgency where a specialist is required.

But, entirely apart from this question of- self-respect the presence of a good matron in a hospital always makes for efficiency, especially in those little unnoticed points of cleanliness, tidiness and refinement which are so conducive to health and also much in education to those who may experience this benefit.

Certain districts of the main Island and Yanua Levu are now purely Indian settlements. Indeed, one may travel for miles and never see a European. These areas sometimes go by the curious name of the “Free,” and Indians are mentioned as living out on the “Free.” Such out of the way parts have often been very neglected as far as Government improvements are concerned,—such as roads, bridges, communications. Yet this enforced isolation has had one advantage. For, in these purely Indian districts, the marriage question has become somewhat less acute. Wives do not run away from their husbands so frequently, and parents do not sell their daughters so often to different bridegrooms. The one standing grievance is the arbitrary and irritating nature of the taxation of a different licence, small in monetary value, being required for all kinds of different things. This taxation becomes a perpetual trouble and annoyance to illiterate people who find it difficult to master all the rules of payment.

Of all the larger districts that I have visited, the situation at Nadi, on the north side of the main Island, appears to me most worthy of favourable mention. The Indians in that 'district are more contented and prosperous than elsewhere. I will transcribe from my notes, in some detail, an account of an Indian Red Cross Day, at the centre of this district, at which I had the good fortune to be present.

"There were some two thousand Indians on the ground, dressed in very gay colours, as if for an Indian "Mela.” The children looked the very picture of health. For pure enjoyment it would ho difficult to beat what I saw that day even in North India,—the home of the Mela. The arrangements had been made by the Indians themselves. It was thejp own "Indian Day.”

The Europeans were their guests and the Indians showed them every courtesy and hospitality.

‘ ‘ What I was specially glad to notice was the good-humoured chaff that went on between Indians and Europeans, and also the kindly freedom and naturalness with which the women of the races intermingled. It was a racial scene quite unthinkable in South Africa, and very rare, I should imagine, in India itself.

1 There was a first-rate wrestling match, which was the great event of the afternoon. Two champions, of rival districts, were the combatants. But, though feeling ran high, there was never any loss of temper, either on the part of the crowd or of the wrestlers themselves. A European planter was the umpire, and one of his own plantation labourers was the champion for one of the two districts. The match went against him. A very muscular Mussalman (the son of a rich Indian Zemindar) won the first bout after a great struggle. There was great excitement. Afterwards, some cattle were sold at auction, and the cheap prices astonished me,—a milking cow being auctioned for twenty-seven rupees. But I was told that the cattle were usually sold at about those rates. At the end of the day, it was found that £275 had been collected for the Red Cross Society.

‘ ‘ The District Magistrate was keenly interested in the whole affair. He is very greatly respected by all the Indians of the Madi district. Another popular figure was one of the overseers of the Lautoka Mill, who was asked by the Indians to be their auctioneer. He carried out his task in a most amusing style to the great enjoyment of the crowd.

Another district where good feeling prevails between Indians and Europeans in Fiji, is Penang, in Ragi Ragi, where the Melbourne Trust Sugar Company are the chief owners of the soil. This company has never made such immense, profit as the great C.S.R. Co., but it has given from the very first, comparatively easy terms, and there has been, in consequence, a general air of contentment.    .

A remarkable case of Indian prosperity is that of the Honourable Badre Maharaj, who came out to Fiji thirty years ago, under indenture from the North of India. He has gained a name for uprightness of conduct and steady industrious work. Little by little, he has built up a prosperous sugar plantation, working it in connection with the Penang Melbourne Trust Mill. He pays his men, who are free, a reasonable wage, and he has started a school for'his children. Both his sons have gone to New Zealand for their education. They have done well there, and do not appear to have lost any of their Indian patriotism on account of their English training. One boy is still at school; the other hopes to go to Oxford after the war. Mr. Badre Maharaj himself has been nominated as first Indian member of the Fiji Legislative Council.

Among the planters and overseers, there are quite a considerable proportion who hold an honourable name among Indians. To give an example from the past, the two brothers Gordon, on the Rowa River, were regarded with great esteem both by their own Indian labourers and also by others with whom they had to deal. It would be invidious to single out names from among those who are employing Indians to-day, but I would wish to state generally, that I have met and stayed with those for whom my respect deepened the longer I knew them. During

visits of this kind I have been able quite freely to see them while engaged in their daily round of duties, and I have noted the frankness of the relationship which existed between employer and employed.

At the same time it is quite necessary to state openly and plainly that cases of brutality are still, even to-day (as far as my own observation gives me the right to judge) not infrequent, and immoral relations with Indian women are not merely a thing of the past. The cases are fewer to-day: that is the best that can be said.

There are many things which may be mentioned as helping to relieve the pressure of the present domestic moral evils, but it can hardly be doubted that the greatest of all needs is, that sufficient women should come out to the colony so as to equalise the sexes.

The complete abolition of indentured labour has been the first step taken with this end definitely in view. That system was inextricably bound up with the unnatural disproportion of women. During all the eighty years that it had been in operation, this was a perpetual factor. Even in the present year, 1917, in spite of all the warnings which had been given and all the indignation that had been expressed, the companies and planters of Fiji were still ready to receive, if they could have them, so many hundreds more able bodied men, in the prime of life, with only forty women for each hundred men. On February 24th I received a telegram in Delhi, from Calcutta, informing me that women were waiting in the depot along with men, in this very disproportion, ready to embark for the Crown Colonies. No offiical intimation, as far as I am aware, came from any of the Colonies asking that the low proportion should be altered,. and only married men with their wives should be allowed to come out.

Now that indentured labour has ceased, the natural increase of the Indian population will very slowly equalise the sexes. To accelerate this, I would propose that as soon as a ship can be obtained, free return passages should be given to unmarried men i?i Fiji to go to India and bring back their ozun wives, and to parents that they might go to India and find wives for their sons.

It would be very difficult, but perhaps not impossible, for other women, besides these, to be found in India, who might be willing to go out to Fiji and marry there; but of this I would say nothing for certain, until I had made full enquiry in India itself. The dangers involved in any such steps being taken are obvious, but the situation in Fiji is nothing less than critical.

I would urge that this one form of emigration, viz., the bringing out of more women to Fiji, is the primary remedial measure, and that no expense or pains should be spared to accomplish this end. Apart from this, there are certain changes which should be immediately made in Fiji itself.

(1) At the first possible moment, all present indentures should be cancelled and the whole of Indian labour in Fiji should be declared


“free.” This would at once raise the self-respect of Indians in the Islands, and, with this, would inevitably follow a rise in the moral standards of living'.    *

(2)    The present coolie “lines” should be utterly demolished. Out of the material, decent separate dwellings for married people should be built. When a building has become thoroughly infected with plague ff is best to pull it down. The coolie “lines” in Fiji are thoroughly saturated with vice. Half measures are useless. It will pay the employer over and over again, in the long run, to build quarters entirely different from those now existing. The more self-respecting Indians .with their families, might gladly come and work for a planter, at a decent wage, if a proper home was provided. But very few such men would come and live in the old “lines.”

(3)    The immoral relations between Europeans (in charge of Indian labourers) and Indian women must be stamped out altogether. This depends upon the firm and unflinching co-operation of the companies and planters and Government.

(4)    Matrons should have charge in every hospital where Indian women are admitted.

(5)    The children who are growing up now, should be taken in hand immediately, and everything done to give them better homes, education, and healthier environments. The gambling and drinking habits which are now invading the country districts, need the most careful public supervision and restricton; for these are rapidly infecting the young, as I have seen Avith my own eyes. A far stricter censorship of the picture shows is also needed.

(6)    Those Avho have interests connected with Indian labour should co-operate with Government in fostering the growth of village councils, whose main duty would be the regulation and removal of these present marriage difficulties.

(7)    The proposed amended Marriage Ordinance needs the most

careful consideration before being passed into law. As it now stands, it is doubtful if it will be successful in checking the present illegal marriages of girls at eight and nine and ten years of age. It may be best that the full evidence of Avhat is‘now the marriage condition in Fiji should be presented to the authorities in India at first hand, and their advice taken before a final decision is reached in Fiji, I know that this may mean a fresh delay.    But the matter is so vital, that this delay

appears to be necessary.    The advice of a leading responsible Hindu,

like Mr. Gandhi (who has had twenty years’ experience of Indian life in the Colonies) would be especially valuables The two questions of first-rate importance are:—

(a)    The selection and appointment of marriage priests.

(b)    The age at which a girl may legally marry.


• , ^ ' . subsidised steamer service and no Government-legalised and regulated recruiting. The absence of these two factors would automatically prevent any emigration to the Crown Colonies on the part of the Indian villagers. Moreover, the Government have efficient and complete machinery at their command for preventing any emigration for purposes of labour, whenever that should be deemed desirable.

9. In conclusion we would express the earnest hope that whatever the outcome- of the Conference in London, indenture will be finally abolished on or before the 31st May, in accordance with the universal prayer of the many meetings both of men'and women, which have been held, and are being held, throughout the length and breadth of India.

Delhi, March 12, 1917.



Citizens of India, I think we represent almost every province, here to-night. The words that you have heard from the previous speakers must have made your hearts bleed. Let the blood of your hearts blot out the shame that your women have suffered abroad. The words that you have heard tonight must have kindled within you a raging fire. Men of India, let that be the funeral pyre of the indenture system. (Applause.) Words from me tonight! No, tears from me to-night! Because I am a woman, and though you may feel the dishonour that is offered to your mothers and sisters, I feel the dishonour offered to me in the dishonour to my sex. I have travelled far, gentlemen, to come to you to-night, only to raise my voice, not for the men, but for women, for those women whose proudest memory is that Sita would not stand the challenge to her honour, but called upon mother earth to avenge her and the earth opened up to avenge her. I come to speak on behalf of those women, whose proudest memory lies in this, that Padmini of Cluttoor preferred the funeral pyre to dishonour. I come to speak on behalf of those women, who like Savitri, have followed their men to the gates of death and have won them back by their indomitable love. I come to speak to you in the name of one woman who has summed up in her frail body all the physical sufferings the women of India have endured abroad—the broken body, the shattered health, of Mrs. Gandhi. (Applause.) I ask you in the name of that murdered sister, that sister about whom Mr. Andrews told us, who found in death the only deliverance from dishonour. I ask you in the name of those two brothers, who preferred to save the honour of their family and their religion, in the blood of their sister, rather than let her chastity be polluted.

Do you think you who are clamouring for self-government to-day—do you think you are patriotic, if you cannot stop the agony that is sending its echoes to you night and day? Self-Government—for whom? And for what? For a dishonoured nation that does not know how to avenge the insult offered to its mothers? Self-Government,—for whom? For men whose hands are folded while their women shriek, men whose voices are silent even in the face of the most terrible insult that can be offered to man? Wealth! What is wealth to us? Power! What is power to us? Glory! What is glory to us? How shall the wealth and power and glory of a nation be founded save on the immutable honour of its womanhood? Are we going to leave to posterity a wealth got with dishonour? Are we going to leave it to the unborn generations a sorrow and shame that we have not been able to wipe out? Men of India, rather the hour of doom struck than that after to-night you should live to say: ‘We heard the cries and yet we were deaf. We heard the call for help, but we had not the courage. We felt in our hearts the challenge to our national honour and yet we were cowards. If, after to-night, men of India, if after to-night I say, it is possible for the most selfish interests to use the humanity of India to enrich, almost as a manure, the sugar plantations of the Colonies, if it is possible, I say, to let the forces of this greatest evil on earth daunt you, you are hot only unworthy and degenerate sons of our mothers, whose name stood for glory in the past, but you are the murderers of national honour and national progress. You discount the future, nay, you slay the future. There can be no future for a nation when present men and women do not know how to avenge their dishonour.

I have come to-day to speak, but I think the fire within me is so strong that it bids me be silent, because words are so weak. I feel within me to-day the anguish that has been from year to year the lot of those women who had better be dead. I feel within me the shame, the inexpressible, the

(8) The conditions of legal practice in Fiji appear to need drastic inspection and revision. Large sums of money are being made in the LaAv Courts out of these Indian marriage difficulties, and litigation is fostered and encouraged. Wherever possible these marriage questions should be settled by the Indian community, and not in the Law Courts at all.

(9 The present Hut Tax, which leads to overcrowding, with immoral consequences, should be abolished by Government, and a direct education rate levied in its place, to provide for universal compulsory Indian education.

(10) The Land Settlement Scheme for Indians, which may be expected to attract them to the country districts and keep them from congregating in towns, should be brought into operation as speedily as possible.

It has been my one great regret throughout that I have been alone on this visit, without the aid of my colleague, Mr. Pearson. This fact must of necessity make my own point of view, expressed in these pages, an individual impression only. I can only assure those who read them that I have done my best to hear both sides of the question.



(By the Indian Non-official Members of the Viceroy’s Legislative Council.)

1.    As we have been invited by the Honorable the Member for Commerce and Industry to state our views on the problem of labour emigration from India in the future, we submit them hereunder:—

2.    After bestowing our most careful consideration on the existing condition of Indian labour in the country and on the variety of facts, social, economic and moral, as revealed in a number of documents and papers having reference to Indian labour in the Colonies, for a considerable time past, we are of opinion that no such alternative system is practicable as will carry Avitli it a guarantee of the moral well-being of the Indian labourers concerned. Our main reasons for the conclusion wc have arrived at are stated beloAv:—

3.    It is a known fact that the general body of Europeans in the Colonies consider Asiatics as racially and fundamentally inferior to them. When, therefore, such men obtain privileged control over Asiatics the position of the latter is reduced to that of mere eattle, and even the most humane planter does not succeed in lifting his Asiatic employee in the social or moral scale. So long as such a view continues to be entertained by the European planters, no Indian who has any regard for the moral Avell-being of his fellow-men can possibly contemplate with equanimity a continuation of such a system of service, and whatever may be the safeguards for the protection of the ser\rant.

4.    The Indian village life is a very complex whole. The villagers are generally ignorant of conditions outside their own villages, and much more so of those in foreign countries. When this communal village life is broken up by the villager being carried to a strange and distant land, and its agelong social restraints and religious sanctions are removed, then in the bulk of cases demoralisation must set in, as has actually been admitted to be the case.

5.    The placing of the Indian emigrants, such as would go out under any new system of labour, side by side with the old indentured emigrants, Avill certainly lead to the infection of the neAV labourers with th6 evils of the old. It would also lead to an invidious class distinction between the old and the new, which would in every way be disastrous to both.

6.    The recruiting of Indian villagers, in their extreme simplicity and ignorance, for such a Avholesale change of life as emigration to the Colonies implies, is practically certain to involve fraud and deception. The moral evils of such recruitment cannot be gainsaid.

7.    There are, besides, economic and political considerations (which are of great importance in the eyes of the Indian public), Avhich demand the absolute discontinuance of the emigration of Indian villagers to the Colonies. As the Government of India have dealt with some of these in their despatch, it is unnecessary for us to dilate upon them here. We feel very strongly indeed that the moral considerations alone, to which we have referred above, and which must always be paramount, are sufficient to support the conclusion that no alternative scheme of emigration is practicable.

8.    It has been urged that if no State-regulated system of emigration is substituted for the system of indentured labour, labourers will be led, by fraud and inducement, to emigrate, with consequences far more serious than the present system entails upon them. We do not share this apprehension. We would point out that for such emigration there would be no Government-

immeasurable, the inalienable shame, gentlemen, that has brought the curse of the indenture system to our women. And who is responsible, men of India, for this, that our men should have to go abroad for bread? Why is not your patriotism sufficient to have resources enough to give bread to them who go to seek bread abroad? Why is not your patriotism so vigilant, so strong, and so all comprehensive, that you are able to guard the ignorance of them, that go abroad, not merely to death—for death, gentlemen is tolerable—but to dishonour? Ours has been the shame, because ours has always been the responsibility. But we were asleep or we were dreaming, of academic powers, we were discussing from platforms the possibilities in the future, we were not awake to the degradation of the present. Therefore the shame is ours in a measure that can never be wholly wiped out either by our tears or by our blood. So, to-night, if our patriotism means more than the curiosity to come by thousands, to hear a few speakers, if it means more than the hysteria of the moment, if it means more than the impulse to pity, then I charge you, men of India—I do not appeal to you, I charge you, I lay upon you this trust, I entrust you with this burden, on behalf of those suffering women. I entrust you with this mission, to wipe out the dishonour that lies on our name. It is we who suffer, gentlemen, not those degraded people—it is the honour of the women in your homes who cannot show their faces. That mark of crime is written here on us, because we have no destiny apart from our sisters. Our honour is indivisible, so must be our dishonour. That is, our destiny is one, and whether for glory or for shame we share alike. And we women who give our sons to the country, we cannot endure our sons to think that their mothers belong to a generation part of whose motherhood was dishonoured.

Have I not said enough to stir your blood? Have I not said enough to kindle within you such a conflagration that must not merely annihilate the wrongs of the indenture system, but recreate in the crucible a new stirring, a new purpose, a new unity of self-respect, that will not sleep, that will not rest, that will be a sword to avenge, that will be a fire to burn. It will be the trumpet call to liberty that only comes when a nation grows bitter, that only comes when a nation says, the health within me lias become rotten. It is the bitterness that comes when we feel that we have let ourselves sleep.

Is national righteousness possible, when the chastity of your womanhood is assailed? Is national righteousness possible, when the men of India sit still and see such crimes? Is national righteousness possible, till every man amongst you becomes a soldier of the cause, a devotee, a fanatic, everything and anything which means destruction of the wrong and triumph of the right? Gentlemen, it is a stormy sea that we have to cross, a storm-tossed sea in a crowded boat that may or may not stand the burden, of our sorrow. But like Khusru of old shall we not say,—even when the night is dark, when the waves are high, when there is a rush in the boat, when there is no pilot with us,—shall we not say—

Nakhuda dar kashteeay magar net bets had gu ma bash,

Ma khuda dareetn ma ra nakhuda, darkar nest.

“What though there be no pilot to our boat? Go, tell him, we need him not. God is with us, and we need no pilot.