Next to the United States, India is the largest cotton-producing country in the world, and, with the exception of Galveston and New Orleans, Bombay claims to be the largest cotton market. The shipments have never reached $50,000,000 a year, but have gone very near that point. Every large state in southern India produces cotton, but Bombay and Berar are the principal producers. The area for the whole of India in 1902-3 was 14,232,000 acres, but this has been often exceeded. In 1893-4 the area planted was nearly 15,500,000. The average is about 14,000,000 acres. Cotton is usually grown in conjunction with some other crop, and in certain portions of India two crops a year are produced on the same soil. The following table will show the number of bales produced during the years named:

            Bales of Bales of 
            400 lbs. 400 lbs.

  1892-3 1,924,000 1897-8 2,198,000 
  1893-4 2,180,000 1898-9 2,425,000 
  1894-5 1,957,000 1899-0 843,000 
  1895-6 2,364,000 1900-1 2,309,000 
  1896-7 1,929,000 1901-2 1,960,000

The failure of the crop in 1899-1900 was due to the drought which caused the great famine.

About one-half of the crop is used in the local mills. The greater part of the remainder is shipped to Japan, which is the best customer. Germany comes next, and, curiously enough, Great Britain is one of the smallest purchasers. Indian cotton is exclusively of the short staple variety and not nearly so good as that produced in Egypt. Repeated attempts have been made to introduce Egyptian cotton, but, while some of the experiments have been temporarily successful, it deteriorates the second year.

The cost of producing cotton is very much less than in the United States, because the land always yields a second crop of something else, which, under ordinary circumstances, ought to pay taxes and often fixed charges, as well as the wages of labor, which are amazingly low, leaving the entire proceeds of the cotton crop to be counted as clear gain. The men and women who work in the cotton fields of India are not paid more than two dollars a month. That is considered very good wages. All the shipping is done in the winter season; the cotton is brought in by railroad and lies in bags on the docks until it is transferred to the holds of ships. During the winter season the cotton docks are the busiest places around Bombay.

The manufacture of cotton is increasing rapidly. There are now eighty-four mills in Bombay alone, with a capital of more than $25,000,000, and all of them have been established since 1870, including some of the most modern, up-to-date plants in existence. The people of Bombay have about $36,000,000 invested in mills, most of it being owned by Parsees. There are mills scattered all over the country. The industry dates from 1851, and during the last twenty years the number of looms has increased 100 per cent and spindles 172 per cent. January 1, 1891, there were 127 mills, with 117,922 operatives, representing an investment of L7,844,000. On the 31st of March, 1904, according to the official records, there were 201 cotton mills in India, containing 43,676,000 looms and 5,164,360 spindles, with a combined capital of L12,175,000. This return, however, does not include thirteen mills which were not heard from, and they will probably increase the number of looms and spindles considerably and the total capital to more than $60,000,000.

The wages paid operatives in the cotton mills of India are almost incredibly low. I have before me an official statement from a mill at Cawnpore, which is said to give a fair average for the entire country. The mills of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta and other large cities pay about one-half more. At smaller places farther in the north the rates are much less. The wages are given in rupees and decimals of a rupee, which in round numbers is worth 33 cents in our money.


                     1885. 1890. 1900. 1903. 
  Cardroom - 
    Head mistry 17.00 24.80 34.90 33.00 
    Card cleaner 5.00 5.25 8.70 8.84 
    Spare hands 5.00 5.25 5.90 6.58 
  Muleroom - 
    Head mistry 8.50 19.60 34.00 36.42 
    Minder 5.00 6.37 6.20 7.12 
    Spare hands 5.00 5.00 6.00 6.50 
  Weaving department - 
    Mistry 13.50 18.00 18.80 17.81 
    Healder 5.00 5.50 7.60 7.09 
    Weaver 6.00 10.50 8.62 9.14 
  Finishing department - 
    Washers and bleachers 6.00 18.00 18.70 21.25 
    Dyer 5.00 5.50 5.50 6.08 
    Finishing man 5.00 5.50 6.00 6.53 
  Engineering shop - 
    Boiler mistry 6.00 9.00 9.30 10.16 
    Engine man 8.00 11.00 10.80 14.62 
    Oil man 6.00 6.00 6.20 6.64 
    Boiler man 6.00 6.00 6.90 7.31 
    Carpenter 10.00 10.00 11.10 11.67 
    Blacksmith 11.50 13.50 13.80 15.84 
    Fitter 10.00 11.00 13.98

These wages, however, correspond with those received by persons in other lines of employment. The postmen employed by the government, or letter carriers as we call them, receive a maximum of only 12.41 rupees a month, which is about $3.50, and a minimum of 9.25, which is equivalent to $3.08 in our money. Able-bodied and skilled mechanics - masons, carpenters and blacksmiths - get no more than $2.50 to $3.50 a month, and bookkeepers, clerks and others having indoor occupations, from $4.10 to $5.50 per month. Taking all of the wage-earners together in India, their compensation per month is just about as much as the same class receive per day in the United States.

The encouragement of manufacturing is one of the methods the government has adopted to prevent or mitigate famines, and its policy is gradually becoming felt by the increase of mechanical industries and the employment of the coolie class in lines other than agriculture. At the same time, the problem is complicated by the fact that the greater part of the mechanical products of India have always been produced in the households. Each village has its own weavers, carpenters, brass workers, blacksmiths and potters, who are not able to compete with machine-made goods. Many of these local craftsmen have attained a high standard of artistic skill in making up silk, wool, linen, cotton, carpets, brass, iron, silver, wood, ivory and other materials. But their arts must necessarily decay or depreciate if the local markets are flooded with cheap products from factories, and there a question of serious consequence has arisen.

There is very active rivalry in the tea trade of late years. China formerly supplied the world. Thirty years ago very little was exported from any other country. Then Japan came in as an energetic competitor and sent its tea around everywhere, but the consumption increased as rapidly as the cultivation, so that China kept her share of the trade. About fifteen years ago India came into the market; and then Ceylon. The Ceylon export trade has been managed very skillfully. There has been an enormous increase in the acreage planted, and 92 per cent of the product has been sent to the United Kingdom, where it has gradually supplanted that of China and Japan. Australia has also become a large consumer of India tea, and the loyalty with which the two great colonies of Great Britain have stood together is commendable. In England alone the consumption of India tea has increased nearly 70 per cent within the last ten years. This is the result of careful and intelligent effort on the part of the government. While wild tea is found in Assam and in several of the states adjoining the Himalayas, tea growing is practically a new thing in India compared with China and Japan. It was not until 1830, when Lord William Benthinck was viceroy, that any considerable amount of tea was produced in India. He introduced the plant from China and brought men from that country at the expense of the East India Company to teach the Hindus how to cultivate it. For many years the results were doubtful and the efforts of the government were ridiculed. But for the great faith of two or three patriotic officials the scheme would have been abandoned. It was remarkably successful, however, until now the area under tea includes more than half a million acres, the number of persons employed in the industry exceeds 750,000, the capital invested in plantations is more than $100,000,000 and the approximate average yield is about 200,000,000 pounds. In 1903 159,000,000 pounds were exported to England alone, and the total exports were 182,594,000 pounds. The remainder is consumed in India, and more than a million pounds annually are purchased for the use of the army. Among other consumers the United States bought 1,080,000 and China 1,337,000 pounds. Russia, which is the largest consumer of tea of all the nations, bought 1,625,000 pounds, and this was a considerable increase, showing that India tea is becoming popular there.

The industry in India and Ceylon, however, is in a flourishing condition, the area under cultivation has expanded 85 per cent and the product has increased 167 per cent during the last fifteen years. The cultivation is limited to sections where there is a heavy rainfall and a humid climate, because tea requires water while it is growing as well as while it is being consumed. Where these conditions exist it is a profitable crop. In the valleys of Assam the yield often reaches 450 pounds to the acre. The quality of the tea depends upon the manner of cultivation, the character of the soil, the amount of moisture and sunshine and the age of the leaf at the time of picking. Young, tender leaves have the finest flavor, and bring the highest prices, but shrink enormously in curing, and many growers consider it more profitable to leave them until they are well matured. It requires about four pounds of fresh leaves to make one pound of dry leaves, and black tea and green tea are grown from the same bush. If the leaf is completely dried immediately after picking it retains its green color, but if it is allowed to stand and sweat for several hours a kind of fermentation takes place which turns it black.

There are now about 236,000 acres of coffee orchards in India, about 111,760 persons are employed upon them and the exports will average 27,000,000 pounds a year. The coffee growers of India complain that they cannot compete with Brazil and other Spanish-American countries where overproduction has forced down prices below the margin of profit, but the government is doing as much as it can to encourage and sustain the industry, and believes that they ought at least to grow enough to supply the home market. But comparatively little coffee is used in India. Nearly everybody drinks tea.

Three million acres of land is devoted to the cultivation of sugar, both cane and beet. During the Cuban revolution the industry secured quite an impetus, but since the restoration of peace and the adjustment of affairs, prices have gone down considerably, and the sugar of India finds itself in direct competition with the bounty-paid product of Germany, France, Belgium, Austria and other European countries. In order to protect its planters the government has imposed countervailing duties against European sugar, but there has been no perceptible effect from this policy as yet.

The indigo trade has been very important, but is also in peril because of the manufacture of chemical dyes in Germany and France. Artificial indigo and other dyes can be produced in a laboratory much cheaper than they can be grown in the fields, and, naturally, people will buy the low-priced article, Twenty years ago India had practically a monopoly of the indigo trade, and 2,000,000 acres of land were planted to that product, while the value of the exports often reached $20,000,000. The area and the product have been gradually decreasing, until, in 1902, only a little more than 800,000 acres were planted and the exports were valued at less than $7,000,000.

The quinine industry is also in a deplorable state. About thirty years ago the Indian government sent botanists to South America to collect young cinchona trees. They were introduced into various parts of the empire, where they flourished abundantly until the export of bark ran nearly to 4,000,000 pounds a year, but since 1899 there has been a steady fall. Exports have declined, prices have been low, and the government plantations have not paid expenses. Rather than export the bark at a loss the government has manufactured sulphate at its own factories and has furnished it at cost price to the health authorities of the native states, the British provinces, the army and the hospitals and dispensaries.

One of the most interesting places about Calcutta is the Royal Botanical Gardens, where many important experiments have been made for the benefit of the agricultural industry of India. It is one of the most beautiful and extensive arboreums in the world, and at the same time its economic usefulness has been unsurpassed by any similar institution. It was established nearly 150 years ago by Colonel Kyd, an ardent botanist, under the auspices of the East India Company, and from its foundation it was intended to be, as it has been, a source of botanical information, a place for botanical experiments, and a garden in which plants of economic value could be cultivated and issued to the public for the purpose of introducing new products into India. It has been of incalculable value in all these particulars, not only by introducing new plants, but by demonstrating which could be grown with profit.

The garden lies along the bank of the Ganges, about six miles south of the city, and is filled with trees and plants of the rarest varieties and the greatest beauty you can imagine. No other garden will equal it except perhaps that at Colombo. It is 272 acres in extent, has a large number of ponds and lakes, and many fine avenues of palms, mahogany, mangos, tamarinds, plantains and other trees, and its greatest glory is a banyan tree which is claimed to be the largest in the world.

A banyan, as you know, represents a miniature forest rather than a single tree, because it has branches which grow downward as well as upward, and take root in the ground and grow with great rapidity. This tree is about 135 years old. The circumference of its main trunk five and a half feet from the ground is 51 feet. Its topmost leaf is eighty-five feet from the ground. It has 464 aerial roots, as the branches which run down to the ground are called, and the entire tree is 938 feet in circumference. It is large enough to shelter an entire village under its foliage.

Several other remarkable trees are to be found in that garden. One of them is called "The Crazy Tree," because about thirty-five different varieties of trees have been grafted upon the same trunk, and, as a consequence, it bears that many different kinds of leaves. Its foliage suggests a crazy quilt.

Benares is the center of the opium traffic of India, which, next to the land tax, is the most productive source of revenue to the government. It is a monopoly inherited from the Moguls in the middle ages and passed down from them through the East India Company to the present government, and the regulations for the cultivation, manufacture and sale of the drug have been very little changed for several hundred years. There have been many movements, public, private, national, international, religious and parliamentary, for its suppression; there have been many official inquiries and investigations; volumes have been written setting forth all the moral questions involved, and it is safe to say that every fact and argument on both sides has been laid before the public; yet it is an astonishing fact that no official commission or legally constituted body, not a single Englishman who has been personally responsible for the well-being of the people of India or has even had an influential voice in the affairs of the empire or has ever had actual knowledge and practical experience concerning the effects of opium, has ever advocated prohibition either in the cultivation of the poppy or in the manufacture of the drug. Many have made suggestions and recommendations for the regulation and restriction of the traffic, and the existing laws are the result of the experience of centuries. But anti-opium movements have been entirely in the hands of missionaries, religious and moral agitators in England and elsewhere outside of India, and politicians who have denounced the policy of the government to obtain votes against the party that happened to be in power.

This is an extraordinary statement, but it is true. It goes without saying that the use of opium in any form is almost universally considered one of the most dangerous and destructive of vices, and it is not necessary in this connection to say anything on that side of the controversy. It is interesting, however, and important, to know the facts and arguments used by the Indian government to justify its toleration of the vice, which, generally speaking, is based upon three propositions:

1. That the use of opium in moderation is necessary to thousands of honest, hard-working Hindus, and that its habitual consumers are among the most useful, the most vigorous and the most loyal portion of the population. The Sikhs, who are the flower of the Indian army and the highest type of the native, are habitual opium smokers, and the Rajputs, who are considered the most manly, brave and progressive of the native population, use it almost universally.

2. That the government cannot afford to lose the revenue and much less afford to undertake the expense and assume the risk of rebellion and disturbances incurred by any attempt at prohibition.

3. That the export of opium to China and other countries is legitimate commerce.

The opium belt of India is about 600 miles long and 180 miles wide, lying just above a line drawn from Bombay to Calcutta. The total area cultivated with poppies will average 575,000 acres. The crop is grown in a few months in the summer, so that the land can produce another crop of corn or wheat during the rest of the year. About 1,475,000 people are engaged in the cultivation of the poppy and about 6,000 in the manufacture of the drug. The area is regulated by the government commissioners. The smallest was in 1892, when only 454,243 acres were planted, and the maximum was reached in 1900, when 627,311 acres were planted. In the latter year the government adopted 625,000 acres as the standard area, and 48,000 chests as the standard quantity to be produced in British india. Hereafter these figures will not be exceeded. The largest amount ever produced was in 1872, when the total quantity manufactured in British India was 61,536 chests of 140 pounds average weight. The lowest amount during the last thirty-five years was in 1894, when only 37,539 chests were produced. In addition to this from 20,000 to 30,000 chests are produced in the native states.

The annual average value of the crop for the last twenty years has been about $60,000,000 in American money, the annual revenue has been about $24,000,000, and the officials say that this is a moderate estimate of the sum which the reformers ask the government of India to sacrifice by suppressing the trade. In addition to this the growers receive about $5,500,000 for opium "trash," poppy seeds, oil and other by-products which are perfectly free from opium. The "trash" is made of stalks and leaves and is used at the factories for packing purposes; the seeds of the poppy are eaten raw and parched, are ground for a condiment in the preparation of food, and oil is produced from them for table, lubricating and illuminating purposes, and for making soaps, paints, pomades and other toilet articles. Oil cakes made from the fiber of the seeds after the oil has been expressed are excellent food for cattle, being rich in nitrogen, and the young seedlings, which are removed at the first weeding of the crop, are sold in the markets for salad and are very popular with the lower classes.

No person can cultivate poppies in India without a license from the government, and no person can sell his product to any other than government agents, who ship it to the official factories at Patna and Ghazipur, down the River Ganges a little below Benares. Any violation of the regulations concerning the cultivation of the poppy, the manufacture, transport, possession, import or export, sale or use of opium, is punished by heavy penalties, both fine and imprisonment. The government regulates the extent of cultivation according to the state of the market and the stock of opium on hand. It pays an average of $1 a pound for the raw opium, and wherever necessary the opium commissioners are authorized to advance small sums to cultivators to enable them to pay the expense of the crop. These advances are deducted from the amount due when the opium is delivered. The yield, taking the country together, will average about twelve and a half pounds, or about twelve dollars per acre, not including the by-products.

The raw opium arrives at the factory in big earthen jars in the form of a paste, each jar containing about 87-1/2 pounds. It is carefully tested for quality and purity and attempts at adulteration are severely punished. The grower is paid cash by the government agents. The jars, having been emptied into large vats, are carefully scraped and then smashed so as to prevent scavengers from obtaining opium from them, and there is a mountain of potsherds on the river bank beside the factory.

Each vat contains about 20,000 pounds of opium, lying six or eight inches deep, and about the consistency of ordinary paste. Hundreds of coolies are employed to mix it by trampling it with their bare feet. The work is severe upon the muscles of the legs and the tramplers have to be relieved every half hour. Three gangs are generally kept at work, resting one hour and working half an hour. Ropes are stretched for them to take hold of. After the stuff is thoroughly mixed it is made up into cakes by men and women, who wrap it in what is known as opium "trash," pack it in boxes and seal them hermetically for export. Each cake weighs about ten pounds, is about the size of a croquet ball, and is worth from ten to fifteen dollars, according to its purity under assay.

The largest part of the product is shipped to China, but a certain number of chests are retained for sale to licensed dealers in different provinces by the excise department. In 1904 there were 8,730 licensed shops, generally distributed throughout the entire empire. But it is claimed by Lord Curzon that the average number of consumers is only about two in every thousand of the population.

The revenue from licenses is very large. No dealer is permitted to sell more than three tolas (about one and one-eighth ounces) to any person, and no opium can be consumed upon the premises of the dealer. Private smoking clubs and public opium dens were forbidden in 1891, but the strict enforcement of the law has been considered inexpedient for many reasons, chief of which is that less opium is consumed when it is smoked in these places than when it is used privately in the form of pills, which are more common in India than elsewhere. Frequent investigation has demonstrated that opium consumers are more apt to use it to excess when it is taken in private than when it is taken in company, and there are innumerable regulations for the government of smoking-rooms and clubs and for the restriction and discouragement of the habit. The amount consumed in India is about 871,820 pounds annually. The amount exported will average 9,800,000 pounds.

Opium intended for export is sold at auction at Calcutta at the beginning of every month, and, in order to prevent speculation, the number of chests to be sold each month during the year is announced in January. Considerable fluctuation in prices is caused by the demand and the supply on hand in China. The lowest price on record was obtained at the June sale in 1898, when all that was offered went for 929 rupees per chest of 140 pounds, while the highest price ever obtained was 1,450 rupees per chest. The exports of opium vary considerably. The maximum, 86,469 chests, was reached in 1891; the minimum, 59,632, in 1896.

The consumption in India during the last few years has apparently decreased. This is attributed to several reasons, including increased prices, restrictive measures for the suppression of the vice, the famine, changes in the habits of the people, and smuggling; but it is the conviction of all the officials concerned in handling opium that its use is not so general as formerly, and its abuse is very small. They claim that it is used chiefly by hard-working people and enables them to resist fatigue and sustain privation, and that the prevailing opinion that opium consumers are all degraded, depraved and miserable wretches, enfeebled in body and mind, is not true. It is asserted by the inspectors that the greater part of the opium sold in India is used by moderate people, who take their daily dose and are actually benefited rather than injured by it. At the same time it is admitted that the drug is abused by many, and that the habit is usually acquired by people suffering from painful diseases, who begin by taking a little for relief and gradually increase the dose until they cannot live without it.

In 1895 an unusually active agitation for the suppression of the trade resulted in the appointment of a parliamentary commission, of which Lord Brassey was chairman. They made a thorough investigation, spending several months in India, examining more than seven hundred witnesses, of which 466 were natives, and their conclusions were that it is the abuse and not the use of opium that is harmful, and "that its use among the people of India as a rule is a moderate use, that excess is exceptional and is condemned by public opinion; that the use of opium in moderation is not attended by injurious consequences, and that no extended physical or moral degradation is caused by the habit."