Extracts from the report on the affairs of the State of Jammu and Kashmir by the Resident of Kashmir on March 5, 1888
I have had more opportunities of studying the Maharaja’s character than perhaps any other officer in the country. My intercourse with him, official, private, and social, has boon frequent; my relations with him have been always friendly, there has never been any friction or tension between us. He has never failed in personal courtesy to me, nor ever refused to see me at any time or on any occasion; therefore I can fairly say that I am not actuated by any feelings of personal dislike tow-arcs His Highness.
I think, however, that the Government of India should be under no illusion as regards Maharaja Pertap Singh. From first to last I have failed to discover in him any sustained capacity for governing his country, or any genuine desire to ameliorate its condition, or to introduce those reforms which he has acknowledged to be necessary. More than two years have passed since his accession, but not only has he achieved nothing, but he has opposed beneficial measures proposed by others. The progress made has been in spite of him. I do not believe he is loyal, but fortunately he is powerless to carry his country with him. And I am convinced that the Government will commit a serious mistake if it believes that the reforms which the country urgently needs will ever be effected by Maharaja Pertap Singh. He will never, of his own free will, establish a capable and honest administration: nor, if any power of interference is left him, will he permit any administration appointed by the Government of India to carry on the business of the country. He will thwart and oppose it in every way he dares; the only restraint will be the limit of his powers and his fears; therefore I do not earnestly advise that the Maharaja be made plainly to understand that he has had his chance, and that he will not be allowed any longer to stand in the way. I would assign him a liberal income, to be placed at his absolute disposal, and treat him with full honour as titular Chief, but I would exclude him from all real power. He may reign, but not govern. A great danger with the
Maharaja is that his notorious weakness of character and purpose render him and easy tool in the hands of an unscrupulous adviser, and therefore it is essential that he should be controlled by some agency upon which the Government of India can place confidence. I consider that a reduction of the Maharaja’s authority on these lines is an essential condition precedent to all other necessary measures.
Next, as to the form of Government. One plan is to appoint Raja Amar Singh Prime Minister, on condition of his undertaking to carry out in all respects the policy of the Government of India. He has not got sufficient experience or solidity of character to execute a task of this magnitude without the aid of a resolute and experienced adviser, and it would be necessary to constitute some such office as “Secretary to Government”, and to nominate to it a suitable British Officer Native or European. I have great doubts whether Raja Amar Singh can be trusted, and, unless he has strong officer at his elbow to keep him straight, I do not think it would be safe to employ him. He has never forgotten his father’s intentions on his behalf, and the object he is working for is to become Maharaja of Kashmir. Once he gets power into his own hands he will use it without scruple to attain this end. At present the Maharaja is friendly to Raja Amar Singh, because he wishes to Break the bond which unites the two younger brothers and Diwan Lachman Das, but there is no genuine affection or confidence between them; and the well-known fact that the Late Maharaja would have liked to supersede Partab Singh in favour of his youngest brother, is a special cause of jealousy. And I Should expect that, after a short time, all the influence which the Maharaja possesses, especially Zenana influence, would be brought to bear against Amar Singh. Another probable result of his elevation would be a feud between him and his brother Ram Singh, thereby raising against him another hostile party.
Another plan is to bring in a Prime Minister from elsewhere. There is no one in the Maharaja’s employ fit for the post, and the selection would need particular care. The situation is this: no Native could administer the affairs of Jammu and Kashmir unless he is not only the exceptionally strong Character but also exceptionally honest; and, in any case he would require besides the full support of the Government of India. If a weak man is chosen he will succumb to local intrigue, notwithstanding all the support which tile Government may give him; and, if he is not honest, he will yield to the temptations with which the place abounds, and go with the swim. But, if a Native Minister is brought in from outside, I recommend precautionary measures being adopted with the Young Rajas. I should order each of them to take up his residence in his own Jagir, and so occupy the same position as. Raja Moti Singh of Punch. It is not right that these young men should be given large jagirs which they never visit. It ought to be a condition of the grant that they reside on their property and be personally responsible for its administration. They might pay yearly visits to Jammu just as Moti Singh does. Another good result of this measure would be to lay ther foundation of class such as exist in the Rajput States. As long as Raja Ram Singh continues to command the State Army there is no hope of any serious-reorganisation; and if Raja Amar Singh were to remain at Jammu, he would not leave a stone unturned to render the Prime Minister’s position untenable.
A third plan is to continue the existing Council, Making the Resident its temporary head and strengthening it by the addition of two selected Natives. An administration so constituted would probably be strong enough to introduce all needful reforms, and to set the country in order. Three years would suffice to set things straight, and the Resident might then withdraw from the headship of the Council, and an administration be established on ordinary Native lines.
I believe that, sooner or later, the Government will have tot choose one or other of these three plans or some modifications of them. But, whatever plan is adopted, there is one measure which must under any circumstances be prescribed. This is, first, the immediate removal of the band of incompetent corrupt, and mischievous men who are at the bottom of most: of the intrigues by which this unfortunate State is torn; and, secondly, the appointment of an adequate number of trained. native officials on reasonable salaries who can be trusted, to carry out the orders given to them. Until the entire Kashmir establishment has been recast, and honest and competent servants substituted for the fraudulent and incapable men now employed, no reforms can be carried out, nor can any mere alteration of the Government be of any use.