THE EMPIRE OF INDIA
Comparing the material condition of India in 1904 with what it was ten years previous, we find that the area of soil under cultivation has increased 229,000,000 acres. What we call internal revenue has increased 17 per cent during the last ten years; sea borne foreign commerce has risen in value from L130,500,000 to L163,750,000; the coasting trade from L48,500,000 to L63,000,000, and the foreign trade by land from L5,500,000 to L9,000,000. Similar signs of progress and prosperity are to be found in the development of organized manufactures, in the increased investment of capital in commerce and industry, in dividends paid by various enterprises, in the extended use of the railways, the postoffice and the telegraph. The number of operatives in cotton mills has increased during the last ten years from 118,000 to 174,000, in jute mills from 65,000 to 114,000, in coal and other mines from 35,000 to 95,000, and in miscellaneous industries from 184,000 to 500,000. The railway employes have increased in number from 284,000 to 357,000 in ten years.
A corresponding development and improvement is found in all lines of investment. During the ten years from 1894 to 1904 the number of joint stock companies having more than $100,000 capital has increased from 950 to 1,366, and their paid up capital from L17,750,000 to L24,500,000. The paid in capital of banks has advanced from L9,000,000 to L14,750,000; deposits have increased from L7,500,000 to L23,650,000, and the deposits in postal savings banks from L4,800,000 to L7,200,000, which is an encouraging indication of the growth of habits of thrift. The passenger traffic on the railways has increased from 123,000,000 to 195,000,000, and the freight from 20,000,000 to 34,000,000 tons. The number of letters and parcels passing through the postoffice has increased during the ten years from 340,000,000 to 560,000,000; the postal money orders from L9,000,000 to L19,000,000, and the telegraph messages from 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 in number.
The income tax is an excellent barometer of prosperity. It exempts ordinary wage earners entirely - persons with incomes of less than 500 rupees, a rupee being worth about 33 cents of our money. The whole number of persons paying the income tax has increased from 354,594 to 495,605, which is about 40 per cent in ten years, and the average tax paid has increased from 37.09 rupees to 48.68 rupees. The proceeds of the tax have increased steadily from year to year, with the exception of the famine years.
There are four classifications of taxpayers, and the proportion paid by each during the last year, 1902, was as follows:
Salaries and pensions 29.07
Dividends from companies and business 7.22
Interest on securities 4.63
Miscellaneous sources of income 59.08
The last item is very significant. It shows that nearly 60 per cent of the income taxpayers of India are supported by miscellaneous investments other than securities and joint stock companies. The item includes the names of merchants, individual manufacturers, farmers, mechanics, professional men and tradesmen of every class.
The returns of the postal savings banks show the following classes of depositors:
Wage earners 352,349
Professional men with fixed incomes 233,108
Professional men with variable incomes 58,130
Domestics, or house servants 151,204
The interest allowed by the savings bank government of India is 3-1/2 per cent.
Considering the awful misfortunes and distress which the country has endured during the last ten years, these facts are not only satisfactory but remarkable, and if it can progress so rapidly during times of plague and famine, what could be expected from it during a cycle of seasons of full crops.