Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/482

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l89
1885.—The Honorable P. O'Sullivan.

Recent legislation has conferred large powers upon local Management of local bodies bodies. If these powers are exercised in an enlightened spirit the problem of Local Self-Government will be, in a great measure, settled, but the difficulties in the way are so numerous and formidable that nothing short of the strenuous and zealous exertions of the intelligent and wealthy classes of the community, acting in concert for the public welfare, will render Local Government an immediate success. If the duties now entrusted to Municipal and District Boards are performed in a satisfactory way, doubtless other and larger powers will be added, and the governing authorities will be left at liberty to devote more attention than they can now do to other departments of administration. In the development of education the Local Boards have taken a warm and increasing interest. There were in the year 1883-84 about 106,000 pupils receiving education in schools maintained in Municipalities in this Presidency, and about 342,000 pupils under Local Fund Boards.

There are three questions which at present excite considerable attention Three important questions in the Hindu community in this part of India, namely, the education of females, the education of the poorer classes, and the remarriage of widows. Female education has, in recent years, made noteworthy progress in this Presidency, and Female Education something has been done towards educating the poor. There is no difference of opinion, I believe, as to the expediency of these reforms, and what is henceforth wanted is more energetic action. The number of Hindu girls who attended the various Schools in the Madras Presidency for the year 1883-84 was, in round numbers, 47,000; of these 31,000 were Hindus and nearly 2,000 Mahomedans. Upon the re-marriage Marriage of widows. question there are strong differences of opinion; there is the party of reform which is desirous of removing all impediments, social and legal, to the marriage of widows; and there is the party of resistance, which is opposed to change and adheres to the old ways. It is estimated that upwards of twenty millions of human beings are directly concerned in the settlement of the marriage question. They are now, by the pressure of prevailing opinion and usage, doomed to an ungenial, if not an ascetic existence, from which many Hindus would wish to save them. The party of reform

includes many of the most distinguished Native gentlemen in the Presidency; a large if not preponderating proportion of the educated class support it, and some of the most eminent of