XIX. WHEN A
GOVERNOR IS GOOD
Whilst on the one hand social service work of the kind
I have described in the foregoing chapters was being
carried out, on the other the work of recording
statements of the ryots' grievances was progressing
apace. Thousands of such statements were taken, and they
could not but have their effect. The ever growing number
of ryots coming to make their statements increased the
planters' wrath, and they moved heaven and earth to
counteract my inquiry.
One day I received a letter from the Bihar Government
to the following effect: 'Your inquiry had been
sufficiently prolonged; should you not now bring it to an
end and leave Bihar?' The letter was couched in polite
language, but its meaning was obvious.
I wrote in reply that the inquiry was bound to be
prolonged, and unless and until it resulted in bringing
relief to the people, I had no intention of leaving
Bihar, I pointed out that it was open to Government to
terminate my inquiry by accepting the ryots' grievances
as genuine and redressing them, or by recognizing that
the ryots had made out a #prima facie# case for an
offical inquiry which should be immediately instituted.
Sir Edward Gait, the Lieutenant Governor, asked me to
see him, expressed his willingness to appoint an inquiry
and invited me to be a member of the Committee. I
ascertained the names of the other members, and after
consultation with my co-workers agreed to serve on the
Committee, on condition that I should be free to confer
with my co- workers during the progress of the inquiry,
that Government should recognize that, by being a member
of the Committee, I did not cease to be the ryots'
advocate, and that in case the result of the inquiry
failed to give me satisfaction, I should be free to guide
and advise the ryots as to what line of action they
Sir Edward Gait accepted the condition as just and
proper and announced the inquiry. The late Sir Frank Sly
was appointed Chairman of the Commitee.
The Committee found in favour of the ryots, and
recommended that the planters should refund a portion of
the exactions made by them which the Committee had found
to be unlawful, and that the #tinkathia# system should be
abolished by law.
Sir Edward Gait had a large share in getting the
Committee to make unanimous report and in getting the
agrarain bill passed in accordance with the Committee's
recommendations. Had he not adopted a firm attitude, and
had he not brought all his tact to bear on the subject,
the report would not have been unanimous, and the
Agrarian Act would not have been passed. The planters
wielded extraodinary power. They offered strenuous
opposition to the bill in spite of the report, but Sir
Edwin Gait remained firm up to the last and fully carried
out the recommendations of the Committee.
The #tinkathia# system which had been in existence for
about a century was thus abolished and with it the
planters' #raj# came to an end. The ryots, who had all
along remained crushed, now somewhat came to their own,
and the superstition that the stain of indigo could never
be washed out was exploded.
It was my desire to continue the constructive work for
some years, to establish more schools and to penetrate
the villages more effectively. The ground had been
prepared, but it did not please God, as often before, to
allow my plans to be fulfilled. Fate decided otherwise
and drove me to take up work elsewhere.