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An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



The Secretary of State to The Government of India
August 1, 1884

Legal Document No 8


In case of Maharaja Ranbir Singh's death, his eldest son, Mian Pertab Singh, will succeed to the undivided Chiefship the new Maharaja will be called upon to introduce such reforms as many seem to be necessary; and a Resident Political Officer will be stationed in Kashmir. It remains to inform you of the precise steps which the Governor-General in Council desires you to adopt for earring out these arrangements.

So long as Maharaja Ranbir Singh is alive, the Government of India do not propose to make any change in their exiting policy. His Highness should be quietly dissuaded, if he refers to you on the subject, from executing any testament in favour of the partition of his territories; but it will not be necessary for you to make any formal communication to His Highness upon this matter, or to travel beyond existing practice in recommending to him administrative reforms, or other desirable measures. You should abstain from any allusions to the subject of changes in the existing position of the officer on special Duty in Kashmir, and you should avoid as much as possible - anything which is calculated in the Maharaja's present state of health unnecessarily to disturb his mind. It is of course desirable that you should use your influence, as far as you can, even during the life of the Maharaja, for the improvement of tile condition of Kashmir; but the Governor-General in council wishes to treat His Highness with the utmost consideration and, as any substantial reform would probably involve a very unpalatable degree of interference with his proceeding, it will be sufficient if, during the remainder of his life, you can perserve the administration of the State from any material change for the worse.

If at any time Maharaja's death should appear to be very near at hand, you should make arrangements to join His Highness at Jammu, or wherever he may then be, and to prevent, by disorder occurring. If his illness should unfortunately terminate fatally, you should take the earliest opportunity of announcing that the Viceroy is pleased to recognize the succession of Mian Pertab Singh to the Chiefship, and you should formally install the new Chief on the gadi of Jammu and Kashmir.

At the same time you should inform His Highness, and the members of his Durbar, of the views and intentions of the British Government in regard to the future administration of the State. You should give them clearly to understand that His Excellency the Viceroy regards the existing conditions of affairs in Kashmir as most unsatisfactory; and you should warn His Highness and those about him that substantial reforms must be introduced without delay. You should then announce that, with the view of aiding His Highness in the introduction and maintenance of those reforms, the Viceroy has decided to give His Highness the assistance of a resident English officer, and that for the future the British representative in Kahmir will have the same status and duties as the Political Residents in other Indian States in subordinate alliance with the British Government.

It is important, in order to avoid uncertainty and the risk of disorder, that this announcement of the intentions of the Government should take place without delay, and that they should clearly and fully understood both by the Maharaja and by all others concerned when he is installed. The recognition and installation of the new Chief should be as prompt and formal as posssible, and nothing should be omitted that can have the effect of assuring His Highness of the good-will of the British Government, but, while treating the Maharaja with utmost friendliness and courtesy, you cannot speak too plainly in regard to the Viceroy's views and intentions.

Immediately after the news of Maharaja Ranbir Singh's death reaches the Government of India, a letter addressed by His Excellency the Viceroy to the new chief will be sent to you for delivery. A draft of this letter is enclosed for your information. When you receive the signed copy of this draft or before you receive it, if the ceremonies connected with the change of rulers should afford you an opportunity of speaking earlier, you should invite the Maharaja to indicate the reforms which he may consider it necessary or desirable to introduce; and you should ask His Highness to inform you of his views with regard to the persons whom he would propose to place in charge of the administration. It will not be expedient to bring in a Minister from elsewhere if a sufficiently well qualified local candidate can be found; and as far as possible the Governor-General in Council would wish to leave the Maharaja free to form own Government. Any proposals, therefore, which His Highness may put forward on this subject will be tentatively accepted, unless you should see decided reason to object to them as holding out no prospect of success.

You will notice that the draft letter to the Maharaja impresses upon him the necessity for consulting you fully at all times, and following your advice. You should therefore not hesitate to offer your advice freely whenever N'OU may think it desirable to do so; the more particularly because owing to the peculiar conditions under which the Maharaja will succeed to the Chiefship, it will be necessary that his administration should for a time at least be closely supervised; the condition of Kashmir must be thoroughly reformed, and the Governor-General in Council cannot allow this object to tee frustrated by any obstruction or procrastination on the part of the Durbar.

I am now to enumerate, for your information and guidance, the principal measures of reform which appear to the Governor-General in Council to be necessary after any arrangements required for the immediate alleviation of distress, if distress exist, have been adopted and carried out. In the opinion of the Governor-General in Council those measures are: the introduction of a reasonably light assessment of land revenue, collections being made in cash if on examination this seems to be a suitable arrangement; the construction of good roads; the cessation of State monopolies; the revision of existing taxes and dues, especially transit dues and the numerous taxes upon trades and professions; the abolition of the system of farming the revenue, wherever the system is in force; the appointment of respectable officials, if such exist, and their regular payment in coin; the removal of all restrictions upon emigration; the reorganization and regular payment of the army; and the improvement of the judicial administration. In order to afford the Maharaja all possible help in the introduction of such reforms, the Governor-General in Council will if necessary grant High Highness a loan from Imperial revenues, and will also be willing to place at his disposal, for a time, the services of any officers of the British Government who may seem specially qualified to assist the new administration in carrying out the measures contemplated. Such assistance seems to be more particularly required with regard to the revision of the settlement and the construction of roads. The pay of any officers transferred must, however, be found by the Kashmir State.

With reference to the relations existing between Kashmir and the State upon her northern border, the Governor-General in Council does not think it necessary at present to issue any detailed instructions. The question is an important one, and will require your close and constant attention. You should be kept accurately informed of all movements of troops and other noteworthy occurrences in the direction of the frontier, and you should be prepared to advise Maharaja Pratap Singh freely on all matters of frontier policy. But at present the Governor-General in Council has no special instruction to give you on this subject.

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