BURMA REFORMS : The Tribune India

Lahore, Saturday, April 17, 1920


THE Government of India have published the text of the despatch dated the 25th March, which they have forwarded to the Secretary of State, embodying a scheme of constitutional reforms for Burma. When the question of Indian reforms was considered, the Viceroy and the Secretary of State purposely kept out the case of Burma on the ground that its problems were altogether different. Subsequently i.e., in 1918, the Lieutenant Governor of Burma revised a scheme of reforms, separating Burma from India and stating it in the matter of constitutional advance at a stage at which India was nearly twenty years ago. He proposed a scheme of local self-government in all towns and a system of training a number of Burmese in the art of bureaucratic government by making each of them nominal presidents of four administrative boards to initiate people into the mysteries of the oligarchic form of rule. He claimed that his scheme was a preliminary advance towards responsible self-government that would pave the way for further “progress” with the growth of experience and capacity among the people. This scheme, however, was not approved by the Government of India, though they recognised the main principles on which it was based. They admit “the impossibility of imposing on Burma a constitution on the Indian model” and state that the people are at least a generation behind Indians in education and public spirit. The Burmese, they say, have no electoral experience and even in filling up higher offices in Government departments, Europeans and Indians have largely to be requisitioned. The total number of Burma graduates is only 400 and neither in the civil service nor in the legal and other learned professions are they prominent. This is why they are to be given now a constitution which is designed on the model of a political school.

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