The first Swaraj scheme

The outline scheme of Swaraj drafted on the Congress Khilafat Swaraj Party, prepared by Mr. C. R. Das, was laid before a meeting of leading member of the New Party at Bombay on January 29, 1923. There was no time to discuss it properly. Many of the members present (from almost all the larger Congress Provinces) expressed a general approval. Others reserved their opinions. But it was unanimously agreed that the draft should be placed before the Indian people, through the press, and suggestions and criticisms invited … This elaborately drawn scheme, though it served to show to what high pitch the Swarajists had tuned their aspirations, did not draw much attention and within a few days its very existence seemed to have been forgotten. The only point about the Swarajists which lived and spread and developed was that it was a party of destruction, out to fight with the bureaucracy with its own weapon, to destroy it if possible or obstruct it in every turn by all the means at their command.

The Indian Quarterly Journal, July-December 1923, compiled by Prof. H. N. Mitra, pp.145-149

Chapter I—Essential Principles

The principles which guide this outline are those which have been honoured in India from time immemorial and have been reiterated in the Presidential address of the Gaya Congress, in December 1922, thus:

To form a scheme of Government, regard must be had (1) to the formation of local centres more or less on the lines of the ancient village systems of India; (2) the growth of larger and larger groups out of integration of these village centres; (3) the unifying State should be the result of similar growth; (4) the village centres and the larger groups must be practically autonomous; (5) the residuary power of control must remain the Central Government, but the exercise of such power should be exceptional and for that purpose proper safeguards should be provided so that the practical autonomy of the local centres may be maintained and at the same time, the growth of the Central Government into a really unifying State may be possible. The ordinary work of such Central Government should be mainly advisory.

Briefly a maximum of local autonomy carried on mainly with advice and co-ordination from and only a minimum of control by higher centres which will have some special functions besides. To this should be added that every possible care should be taken to ensure that the people’s elected representatives, who will constitute the chief authority for each grade of centre, local and higher, with power to make laws and rules shall not be self-seekers but seekers of the public welfare.

Chapter II—Administrative Divisions

a. Local Centres

  1. The foundations of the whole administration should be in local centres (Grama), small but practically autonomous.
  2. A local centre should ordinarily consist of a number of village of which the population should total about ten thousand souls.

b. Town Centres

  1. Towns (Nagar) should form a separate entities and might, as necessary, be sub-divided into wards or quarters, of about the same population limits as the rural local centres.

c. District Centres

  1. Rural and urban local centres should be integrated into larger groups or district centres (Zila) with populations of from five to twenty lakhs.

d. Provinces

  1. District centres should be integrated into provincial organizations.
  2. Provinces (Sooba) should be demarcated on the linguistic basis. Any which are considered too large may be divided into smaller ones.

e. All-India Organization

  1. The Provincial organizations should be integrated into and be coordinated by an All-India (Bharata Varsha) organization of Hindustan.
  2. Subject to these general principles, each province should draw up its own scheme of administrative divisions to suit provincial variations.

Chapter III—Administrative Functions

Functions should be as below:

  1. (i) Provisions for appropriate education of all educable children and youth of both sexes (Shiksha or Talim), (ii) Provision for recreation (vinoda or dilbashagi) e.g., Public Gardens, Parks, Museums, Playing Grounds, Libraries, Reading Rooms, Art Galleries, Popular Lectures, Recitations, Processions, Pageants, Religious Festivitals (Katha Yatra, Kaakhepam, Kirtana, Ramlila, Krishna Leela, Maulad, Christmas and Easter celebrations etc.,) refining, elevating and instructive Dramas, Cinema and Magic Lantern shows, Games and Sports, etc.
  2. Provision for Protection (Raksha of Hifazat) by means of (i) Police and local Militia and Regular and Military Forces; (ii) Justice and settlement of Dispute, through Arbitration; Courts of Panchayats in the narrower sense and Registration of Deeds; (iii) Appropriate Medical Help and Sanitation.
  3. Provisions for Economic and Industrial Welfare (Jivika or Maash) by promotion of (i) Agriculture (Krishi or Zira-at), (ii) Cattle-breeding (Goraksha or Taraqqi Maweshi) i.e. increase and preservation of domestic animals of all kinds for purpose of milk, wool, plough, transport etc. (iii) Other productive Industries relating to Mines, Forests, Fisheries, Salt, Sericulture, etc. (Akara karna or Madaniyat etc.); (iv) Arts and Crafts and Manufactures of all kinds (Shilpa or Sanaat-hirfat); (v) Trade and Commerce (Vanijya or Tijarat) and (vi) by promotion and regulation of the various means which subserve the above e.g. Railways, Post and Telegraph, Shipping, Roads, Waterways, Canals, Bridges, Ferries, Presses, Public Buildings, Monuments, Rest Houses, Currency, Measures of flood and Famine Relief, Rates and Taxes, Tariff and Customs, Surveys of various kinds (Geographical, Geological and Botanical, Meteorological, Statistical, Archaeological etc), Friendly relations with other Sister States etc.
  4. The above provisions would be made (i) by means of laws and rules which would be framed by the different grades of Panchayats, and would have force within the domains of their respective makers, the enactments of the lower grades of Councils being made with advice from and co-ordination by the higher when needed; (iii) by appointment of executive officials (who would be wholly responsible to the Councils appointing them); to carry out the laws and rules and (iii) by supervision of the work.

Local Centres

  1. Local Centres of Communes and Local Panchayats: (a) For each rural or urban centre, or commune there should be one local panchayat of 21 periodically elected members. (b) This panchayat should be in charge of the different functional departments mentioned above, so far as the commune affords scope for them, and should carry on the work by means of Sub-Committees. (c) Under Education: (i) they would maintain local schools giving elementary, cultural and vocational technical instruction and (iii) would provide for suitable recreation. (d) Under Protection: (i) they would appoint their own Chaukidars (watchmen) and would form local Militia out of such Chaukidars and other able-bodied men, and provide for their proper training; (ii) they would arrange for Arbitration Courts (the members of which would be separately elected) which would deal with simple evils including what are now known as rent and revenue (‘divani’ and ‘mal’ or ‘artha vivada’) and criminal (Foujdari or Parushya Vivada) cases; (iii) they would also maintain an adequate Hospital (Chikitsalaya, Shafa-Khana) and Medical Staff which would provide treatment free and be responsible for the proper sanitation of the commune. (c) Under Educational and Industrial Ministration they would see (i) that all arable lands are properly tilled, and village commons, playing grounds, pasture lands, groves, orchards etc., are properly maintained and a sufficiency of necessaries, specially corn, cotton, and cattle (or other forms of food, clothing and accessories, in specially circumstanced tracts) for the use of the commune is always available within their jurisdiction; (ii) that co-operative organizations in the shape of stores, banks etc. maintained in the needed numbers; (iii) that wells, tanks, tals, canals, and all means of supply of good water for drinking and other domestic purposes and for irrigation, and all roads etc. within their commune are properly maintained; (iv) that production of surplus corn, cotton, cattle and other necessaries as well as comforts, and of mineral and other products and means of increasing the wealth of the locality is encourages, cottage industries promoted, and arrangements made for commercial dealing with the produce in such a manner as to avoid competitive waste.

District Panchayats

  1. Intermediate Centres of District and District Panchayats. (a) The District Panchayat should be constituted by each Local Panchayat (or group of Local Panchayats) periodically choosing one member, who may or may not be one of them; provided that the total number of members should not exceed 100 and provided also that at least 2/5 of them should be residents of towns. (b) They would form sub-committees among themselves on lines before mentioned. (c) The District Panchayat would generally advise and not control the Local Panchayat in respect of all functions. Special provision would be made for such control as may be occasionally or absolutely necessary. (d) (i) Under Education: the District Panchayat should maintain one or more higher educational institutions (like colleges and high schools) as may be necessary, which would give cultural as well as technical instruction. (ii) They would also provide Recreation, arranging for the more expensive items, which may not be within the means of the Local Panchayats. (e) Under Protection, they would (i) co-ordinate the Local Police; (ii) arrange to maintain some special Reserve or District Police; (iii) organize and co-ordinate the Local Militia so that they might discharge the functions of a disciplined Army, and (iv) maintain one or more larger Hospitals and supply of medical and sanitary advice to their communes. (f) Under Economic and Industrial Ministration the District Panchayat would (i) co-ordinate the Local Banks and Stores and other local economic and industrial and commercial enterprises; and (ii) organise or promote such independent enterprises.

Town Panchayats

  1. Town Centres and Town Panchayats. (a) Aggregations of dwellings containing ten thousand or more inhabitants should be regarded as Towns. (b) Towns should be organized in the same way generally as the rural Local Centres, and the same general principles should be applied to their functioning as to the rural Local Centres as far as practicable, but regard must be had to the special variations in the economic and other circumstances. (c) For the purposes of the integration of the District Centres and the election of the District Panchayats, the rural and urban Local Centres should be counted side by side as component units; and the headquarters of the seat of the District Panchayats would ordinarily be the largest town of the district. (d) For the purpose of unifying the administration of each town as a single whole, the Town members of the District Councils together with such other members as may be specially elected by the Ward Panchayats, in the proportion of two or more per ward, should form a Town Panchayat (like the present Municipal Boards) which would be intermediate between the Urban Local (i.e., Ward) Panchayat of all the main ryots and the District Panchayat, and would discharge as many of the functions of the District Council towards the whole town as may be conveniently possible.

Provincial Panchaayats

  1. Provinces and Provincial Panchayats. (a) The Provincial Panchayats should consist of members elected by the District Panchayats in the proportion of one for every two lakhs of the population, provided that the total number should not fall below 21 nor exceed 100; and provided also that at least half the number should be urban residents. They may or may not be members of the District Panchayats. (b) The Provincial Panchayat would advise the District Panchayats and would co-ordinate them and their work, using residuary power of control under proper safeguards. (c) Its special work would be, (i) to maintain advanced Educational Institutions (in the nature of Vidya Pithas, Dar-ul-Ulems, “Seats of Learning,” “Centres of Knowledge,” Universities) which would give expert culture and technical training and promote research; (ii) to maintain special Police and Military Forces for the guarding of Frontiers, Sea Boards, etc; (iii) to make provision for justice in special cases; (iv) to administer Provincial Railways, Water-works, Canals, Roads etc.

The All-India Panchayat

  1. The All-India Panchayat. (a) The All-India Panchayat should consist of members elected by the Provincial Panchayats in the proportion of one for every thirty lakhs of population, but provinces which may have a total population of less than thirty lakhs would send one representative. At least three-fifths of the members should be urban. (b) The functions of the All-India Panchayat would be similar to those of the Provincial Panchayats, mutatis mutandis, a special one would be to deal with neighbouring States (including Indian States) and foreign countries. (c) The All-India Panchayat should create a consulting Senate, consisting of eminent men and women of thought and special knowledge, belonging to all parts of India, who would be elected by the Indian Panchayat, from time to time, without restriction of numbers etc., and who would be asked for advice on any subject, as needed, by the India Panchayat or the Provincial Panchayats. (d) The language of the India Panchayat should be Hindustani while the provinces would use their mother tongues.
  2. Special Provision for filling up vacancies. Generally if a member of lower Council is elected to a higher his place may be filled up by a new election by the same electorate.

Chapter IV—The Qualifications of the Choosers and the Chosen

  1. Every individual of either sex who has resided in India for at least seven years, and is at least 25 years of age if a man, and 21 years if a woman, should be entitled to elect to the Local Panchayat.
  2. The members of the Local Panchayat should elect to the District Panchayat.
  3. The members of the District Panchayat should elect to the Provincial Panchayat.
  4. The members of the Provincial Panchayat should elect to the All-India Panchayat.
  5. The members of all four grades of Panchayats should be permanent residents of the country, preferably of the particular centre, and should be chosen irrespective of their creed, caste, class, colour, race or sex, but subject to adjustment, where unavoidably necessary, for purposes of creedal or communal representation.
  6. Such representatives should ordinarily be not less than 40 years of age; should have done some good work in any walk of life, should, if rural, be at least literate, and if urban, should possess higher educational qualifications and, in the case of rural and urban members of the Provincial and All-India Councils, should have a corresponding higher and superior educational qualification or equivalent expert experience, should have retired form competitive business or other professional life of bread-winning or money-making, and be able to support themselves on their own savings, or be assured of all necessaries and personal requirements by their families or friends; should give practically all their time to national work, and should do so without any cash remuneration. But their travelling and other ex-officio expenses, which might be necessary to enable them to discharge their public duties, should be met from State funds, and their status as members of Panchayats should be regarded as having greater honour attached to it than any salaries office, so that they would receive precedence at public functions.
  7. The members of each Panchayat should possess, between them, experience of all the main departments of the communal life which they have to administer.
  8. No one should offer himself or canvass for himself as a candidate for election, but if requested by electors he might publicly signify his consent to accept the burden of office, if elected.

Chapter V—Separation of Functions

  1. Throughout the whole administration Legislative Judicial, and Executive functions should be kept separate from one another.

Chapter VI—Finance

  1. The revenues needed to meet the necessary expenditure should be raised by the Local Panchayats by means of taxation with advice from the upper Panchayats.
  2. State factories might be opened as necessary with a view to prevent waste by individual competition, over-production, bad production etc. to cheapen to commodities and to reduce taxation, but not so as to create monopolies and stifle private enterprise.
  3. Where practicable, Local and District Councils should make such improvements in the locality as might result in addition to the communal income e.g., public wells, tanks, canals, roads, groves of timber and fruit trees etc., and thereby lead to reduction of taxation.
  4. Contributions would be made by the Local Panchayats to make up the revenues of the District Panchayats by them to the Provincial, and by the Provincial to the All-India Panchayat.
  5. Special taxation might be imposed by the Provincial and All-India Panchayats.

Chapter VII—Proprietership

  1. Private property would be recognized and maintained and the growth of individual wealth, both moveable and immoveable, would be permitted but so as not to encroach on or make impossible or impracticable the growth of public possessions as well; and the owners of individual wealth, who spends it on pious works, i.e. works of public utility as requested by a Panchayat would receive special marks of honour.


In the The Indian Quarterly Journal, chapters 4, 5, 6 and 7 are numbered respectively as 5, 6, 7 and 8.  There is no Chapter 4. Unless a chapter has been missed, this can be presumed to be an error and has been altered here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *