Page:Convocation Addresses of the Universities of Bombay and Madras.djvu/526

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233
1887.—Rajah Sir T. Madava Row.

As associated efforts are more productive of good than isolated or individual ones, educated men have properly established various societies or combinations all over the Presidency. This is a prominent and praise worthy feature of the times. As an important consequence a new and unprecedented interest has been awakened in public affairs, which are now better known and more extensively discussed and judged tending to the formation of a sound public opinion which is so potent and salutary a force in the modern world. These associations may do useful work in various directions. As regards the great body of the people, they may disseminate useful general information; they may promote political education; they may correct or dispel errors and delusions; they may promote various reforms; they may make known local wants and wishes; they may afford advice and guidance. As regards the Government, they may make themselves still more useful; they may vigilantly watch the action of Government at all times and in all places, in view to wholesome criticism. The ideal of the Indian Government is happily very high. But to keep it on a level with its own ideal, vigilant criticism is very necessary. High ideals have a natural tendency to decline. The Indian Government is very liable to errors or lapses. It does not sufficiently understand the religions, habits and feelings of the subject-population. It is apt to become high-handed owing to its vast superiority over the subject-peoples. The people are extremely divided and weak. The Home Government is far away. There is temptation to prefer English to Indian interests. The European officers of Government are birds of passage without permanent interest or sympathy in India. There is temptation to overlook their faults and shortcomings few as they may be. There is temptation to favour the stronger races of India at the expense of the weaker ones. There is temptation to treat foreign settlers in some respects with excessive indulgence. There is temptation to prefer foreigners to natives for public employments. Such are some of the reasons which call for and justify watchfulness and criticism. One of the noblest characteristics of the British Government is that it permits, tolerates, and even welcomes such criticism. Such criticism sometimes actually strengthens the Indian Government in the performance of its difficult and sacred duties. Special care should be taken that the facts criticised are correct, and are not exaggerated, and that the criticism itself is just and moderate :

Let three F's characterise the criticism,
It should be Free, Fair, and Fearless.

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