Kashinath Trimbak Telang’s Lecture on "Free Trade and Protection from an Indian Point of View" (1877)

 Introduction: K. T. Telang (1850-1893) was a brilliant Sanskrit scholar who contributed his translation of the Bhagavadgita (1882) to the Sacred Books of the East edited by F. Max Mueller (1882). He also translated Lessing’s „ Nathan the Wise“ into Marathi. Telang was also a great lawyer. From 1889 he served as judge of the Bombay High Court and in 1892 he became vice-chancellor of the University of Bombay.
(see also AHOI, Ch.6, section: The fate of Indian industry)

It is well know that several articles, which in days gone by were exported from India for the use of the rest of the world, are not now produced in India, having been supplanted by the products of machinery turned out in Europe and elsewhere. We have, therefore, the melancholic spectacle of old manufacturing industries either dying out or already dead and no new ones taking their place.... If then we are to follow what may be called the Laissez faire policy in this matter, if we are to hold all Government help .. to be unjustifiable in principle, and mischievous in practice, then reasoning from our experience of the past, the conclusion as regards our future prospects seems to me to be obvious. Our general want of enterprise, our ignorance of the resources of our own country, our ignorance of the modes by which these resources are to be developed – all these will reduce us to the condition of a nation of pure agriculturists, with no manufactures worth the name...

.. It is a mockery and a delusion to speak of liberty, when the native endeavouring to develop the resources of his country, can be undersold and commercially ruined by the unlimited competition of the foreigner. You may just as well speak of the prisoner, surrounded by a deep and wide moat which he cannot cross over, as enjoying liberty, because forsooth, he has no fetters on his person. We must have a more real liberty than unlimited competition can give us. And we must also be artificially nourished and protected, till we are able to stand with our own strength, and then throw the doors open for the bracing air of Free Trade.

(K.T. Telang, Select Writings and Speeches (Bombay 1916), pp. 97-181)


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