Transport In Modern India – K.P. Bhatnagar, Satish Bahadu,D.N. Agrawal, S.C. Gupta

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The Government of India all along patronised British shipping, to the exclusion of Indian companies. All Government stores, in coastal waters or in overseas trade, and mails were the sole monopoly of the British lines. In 1921, the Scindias were denied the right even to quote for the carriage of coal of a million tons from Calcutta to Rangoon. All Government servants and others travelling on Government account had necessarily to travel on P. & O. Liners. Everything was done in the name of Empire shipping, which in actual practice meant British shipping only.The British shipping monopolists had important politi cal influences in the Government of India as well as in Britain. The B.I.S.N Company chief, Lord Inchcape was a powerful and dominating figure on the Indian and British political scene. From 1889 to 1893, he was the President of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and the leader of the European business community in India. In 1891, he was nominated a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council, and in 1900, was elected to the Board of the East Indian Railway and the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China. From 1897 to 1911, he was on the India Council in London, maintaining influential contacts with the India Office. In 1908, he had acquired so much political influence that he was cven mentioned a successor to Lord Minto, as the next Viceroy of India. In Britain, he was the President of the British Chamber of Shipping and for 30 years he was on the Board of the Suez Canal. In 1916, the amalgamation of the P. & O. and the B. I. S.N. Companies, he had under his control a combined flect of 2 million tons and directed “a single traffic system which touched every conceivable port of the British Empire”.In India,he was the Chairman of the Railway Reorganisation Committee in 1907-08 and again in 1922-32, the Chairman of the Indian Retrenchment Committee. A diehard imperialist, he was a bitter opponent of the Indian national movement. The general political and economic awakening following the First War made the people of India conscious of their dependence on foreign shipping, and the demand for an Indian Mercantile Marine, owned, controlled and manged by Indians was voiced by the people in, as well as outside the Legislature. At the instance of P. S. Sivaswamy Iyer, the Government appointed on the 3rd February, 1923, the Indian Mercantile Marine Committee with Mr. Headlam, the Director of Royal Indian Marine as the Chairman. This Committee reported in March 1924, with a dissenting note by the representative of the shipping interests.

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