Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/241

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PROGRESS OF SELF-GOVERNMENT. 237 good work are increasing. At the same time, a ' National Con- gress' of delegates from all parts of India has since 1886 been held each December in one of the provincial capitals, such as Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, and Allahabad. This Congress discusses plans for opening a larger share in the work of legislation and in the higher branches of the executive adminis- tration, to natives of India. In 1892 the British Parliament passed an Act which increased the number of the members of the Legislative Councils, and introduced a stronger non-official element. Under that Act the Local Governments in India worked out a system of electing members to the Legislative Councils in accordance with the needs and conditions of each province. The year 1893 will be memorable for the first general election of representative members to the Indian Legis- lative Councils. Side by side with this political movement, efforts (which to a partial extent were embodied into legislation by Lord Lansdowne) are being made to reform certain evils in the social and domestic life of the Hindus, arising out of the customs of child-marriage and of the enforced celibacy of Hindu widows. The whole tendency of these efforts, under the guidance of the social reformer Mr. Malabari, is to protect young Indian girls and to improve the status of Indian women. Pall in the Rupee, 1893-95. — The continued fall in the rupee from its nominal value of two shillings to an actual value of about is. 2d., with a further downward inclination towards one shilling, seriously embarrassed the Indian finances. India had yearly to remit about 18 million pounds sterling in gold to England,, chiefly in payment of interest on loans, railway material, army charges, &c, and this sum, which would have amounted to 180 million rupees with the rupee equal to two shillings, would amount to 360 millions of rupees with the rupee at one shilling. The remedy proposed by the Government of India was bimetallism ; that is, to establish a fixed ratio between silver and gold for purposes of coinage by international agreement. But as England and the Western nations could not combine to carry out that scheme, the Indian mints were closed for free coinage in 1893, in order to render rupees scarce and so to raise and to keep up their sterling value to if. $d. This