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were able to take their time,' are now employed casually, by the hour ’-nearly rushed to death half their time, and nearly starved to death the other half. They do as much work as ever they did,
. but they do it in less time, for less wages, and are frequently unemployed in consequence. This fact renders the case for compulsory insurance unanswerable.
In my opinion the one and only practical remedy for unemployment—there is no absolute cure—is the expansion of our productive industries through land reform, tariff reform, mining royalty reform, and transit reform; and the most practical method of relieving the sufferings of the victims of unemployment is by compulsory insurance. To these two remedies might be added labour exchanges in order to avoid the weary and exhausting tramp of the unemployed from shop to shop; the Workmen's Compensation Act might be so amended as to stop the elimination and consequent unemployment of elderly and delicate men; the casually employed young men and youths should be encouraged to indulge in military training in their spare time; and the employment of British labour on British ships should be subsidised. By these means we could confine unemployment within reasonable limits, and benefit the real unemployed ; while the sham unemployed and the unemployable could be handed over to the prison and Poor Law authorities.
A RAILWAY TO INDIA
The completion of the Hejaz or pilgrim railway to Medina may prove an epoch-making event for Great Britain. It is the first railway opened in Arabia, and Arabia and Persia are the two countries that block direct access—though in another sense they may be said to actually supply the opportunity for communication-between India and the Mediterranean. Look at the map of Europe and Asia and note the relative positions of Great Britain and her great Eastern Dependency. Between London and Port Said there is no route under British control except the sea. But when one reaches Egypt, the halfway house to the East, the question inevitably suggests itself, Cannot a shorter and more direct route to India be found than the long roundabout way down the Red Sea and across the Indian Ocean to Karachi or Bombay ? A railway following more or less directly the 30th parallel of latitude from Egypt through Northern Arabia and Southern Persia to Quetta or Karachi would traverse the shortest line between Egypt and India and prove an immense convenience to traders, passengers, soldiers, civilians, and others travelling in either direction between those two countries. The immeasurable superiority of this direct route over the lengthy and circuitous sea journey is clear to anyone who will take the trouble to glance at the map of Western Asia.
During a long service in the Geographical Department of the India Office, several schemes and suggestions for shortening the voyage to the East came under my notice. Some, however, were far from direct ; some seemed to take a perverse pleasure in avoiding all British or quasi-British territory and traversing instead the Russian sphere of influence, or tracts where Turkey has ceded the more important concessions to German undertakings. In these days, when national security and the maintenance of our Empire count for so much, is it not worth while making an effort, while yet there is time, to establish an alternative route to India? In case the Suez Canal were blocked-an event which has actually happened more than once, though fortunately not for long at a time—it might be of vital importance for us to have a second string to our bow. And if a sudden rising or disturbance were to take place in India or some adjacent
region, the advantage of being able to convey reinforcements rapidly to Karachi or Quetta is too obvious to need elaborating. Such a line would reduce the minimum time of transit from London to India from fifteen to eight days. These plain facts I mention to show at the outset that the prima facie case is very strong.
But it is necessary to look at the project a little closer. Granted that a railway from the Mediterranean to India is desirable, what are the essentials of such a line? I have conversed with a large number of authorities-explorers, tourists, merchants, military men, civilians, Anglo-Indians, Englishmen whose lot is cast in the Far East, and publicists—and the general approval has been most gratifying. But we must first make it clear to ourselves what are the chief desiderata of the railway. Is it to be political or commercial ? Is it a line destined to open up to remunerative traffic a rich and hitherto unexploited country, and so pay its own way, everything being subordinated to this financial consideration? Or is it to be a far larger and more statesmanlike enterprise, an end-to-end railway, designed chiefly for through traffic and intended to subserve the administrative, political, and Imperial requirements of Great Britain : to link up her scattered possessions and promote her influence in a region which the gradual expansion of her Asiatic Empire has brought within her sphere? Surely the latter is the true aim and object. Of course it would be much better if we could run the whole line along a direct, well-populated and productive country, all within our sphere of influence, and with no physical obstructions whatever en route. But one cannot expect to have every advantage in a matter of this sort, and if the greater postulates are fulfilled, assuredly the local conditions become of less moment.
To describe the route in rather more detail from West to East. The westernmost section would start from Port Said or Ismailia, where it would join on to the Egyptian railway system and traverse Arabia Petræa in a south-easterly direction to the head of the Gulf of Akabah. From thence the line would ascend the Wady el Ithm, one of the lateral gorges leading up to the plateau of Northern Arabia. The ascent is nothing out of the way, for the trains on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway do the same every day up the Western Ghauts. Across the 'neck' of the Arabian peninsula the line would pass due east for eight hundred miles to Basra, a short branch diverging, with a slight southerly trend, to the port of Koweit, near the head of the Persian Gulf. This section is, so to speak, the key of the situation. It is the short cut' of the land route to India, and until I carefully examined the geography of the region, it was never suggested as a feasible route to Karachi or Bombay. At the same time I will not, of course, venture to assert that the idea never occurred to other more distinguished persons. In fact, Mr. Charles M. Doughty, the well-known Arabian explorer, who is specially conversant with this country, wrote to me some time ago :
A railway to India, making us less dependent on the Suez Canal, is truly & patriotic enterprise, which, by way of Northern Arabia, I have often thought
as compared with
of, and which I believe, if money could be found for a political investment, to be quite feasible. The entry mastered, the rest is a high plateau without
serious difficulty, and everywhere there is water enough within reasonable distance. This opinion has been confirmed in a remarkable way by the experiences of the engineers of the new Hejaz Railway, which traverses the country south-west of the tract we are considering. Although their operations lay in a far more mountainous and even more sterile region, they have been able to construct this line with great rapidity and cheapness, and the water difficulty has been successfully surmounted. Wells have been dug at various selected oases and other suitable points, and prospecting for further promising boring sites is in progress. The two sections of our project, traversing the Isthmus of Sinai and Northern Arabia, would practically solve the great problem of railway communication from West to East. They would cover 1000 miles, less than half the entire length of the railway to India, and, by uniting Egypt and her Mediterranean ports with the Persian Gulf, would point the way most unmistakably and provide an immediate stimulus for the western prolongation of the Indian systems, which at present break off short at Nushki, Quetta, and Karachi.
At Basra the railway would cross the Shat-el-Arab on its way to the East, and the Karun River further on. This would constitute the main difficulty of the project, but with swing-bridges it could be successfully effected. The crossing of the great Yellow River in China by the Luhan line in many respects suggests comparison. Circling round the head of the Persian Gulf, the railway would traverse Persia by whatever route might be considered feasible, i.e. either passing through Shiraz, with a branch to Bushire, Kerman, and Nushki, or by a more southern line through Baluchistan as far as Karachi, where it would close on to the Indian systems.
Summarising the time and distance occupied, we get the following comparison between the land and sea routes :
The total distance from the Mediterranean to the Indian railhead (2200 miles) ought to be easily covered in sixty-six hours, or under three days, as compared with 3050 miles or 91 days in a steamship, a saving of 850 miles in point of distance and 61 to 7 days in respect of time.
Such objections as the project has elicited have centred on the following points :
The line would pass through a region where the summer heat would be very great ;