National Geographic : 1908 May
PERSIA: THE A royal tribe), clergy, nobles, merchants, and tradesmen. These representatives will be elected by their peers. The na tional council shall deliberate on all im portant affairs of state, and shall have the power and right to express its views with freedom and full confidence in re gard to all reforms which may be neces sary to the welfare of the country. The result of the deliberations of the council shall be submitted through the inter mediary of the First Minister of State to the Shah for His Majesty's signature, and shall then be carried into effect. The rules of procedure of the national coun cil shall be drawn up with the approval of the members and shall receive the Shah's signature. The council, after de termining its rules of procedure, shall then begin to give effect to the sacred laws of Islam and to introduce the nec essary reforms." Thus was accomplished, by an almost bloodless revolution, the same laudable ends that ended in disastrous failure, after months of rapine and outrage, just across the border in "civilized" and "Christian" Russia! Certainly an en couraging and instructive sign of the march of events in the "awakening East." The first Persian national convention was made up of delegates from all over Persia, but most came from the northern provinces, where constant contact with the restless population of the Caucasus had familiarized the people with the principles of liberty and popular govern ment. While not elected by popular suf frage, this body undoubtedly represented the will of the more enlightened and pro gressive inhabitants of the country, espe cially in the great centers of population, Tabriz, Teheran, and Ispahan. RESULTS OF TIIE PARLIAMENT Taking into account the extraordinary circumstances that made the first na tional assembly a possibility, and the apathy of by far the greater number of WAKENING EAST 379 the Shah's subjects where their personal liberties are concerned, the work accom plished by the Persian Parliament after a little more than a year of existence is noteworthy and promising. As in past years, the financial condition of the king dom leaves much to be desired. The Shah's entourage have succeeded in shifting to the shoulders of the people's representatives the constantly recurring question of how to raise rev enue with every natural resource long since hypothecated in favor of foreign creditors. It must be remembered, how ever, that Persia's unfortunate financial situation is largely the result of the fol lies and extravagances of a previous regime, and the present misfortunes that threaten the credit of the country have their root in reckless borrowing and im providence, lasting over a period of twenty years or more. Hopeful signs of internal improve ment are noticeable all over Persia, espe cially in the northern provinces, where the towns and villages have taken steps to form local municipal assemblies mod eled on European lines. Attempts are being made in many provinces to inaug urate a fair system of taxation, and the people are beginning to realize that the passing of the iniquitous system of tax "farming" means the beginning of a new era of prosperity for the poor as well as the rich. Among other signs of the awakening interest of Persian people in the affairs of their country is the sudden and re markable growth of the Persian press. In place of the old "Moniteur Official," Teheran can now boast of no less than. four daily and thirty weekly papers. Most of these.are rabidly progressive in, their tone, nor can their influence be said" to be wholly beneficial to the cause they support. Nevertheless it is a promising sign that the absolute apathy toward public affairs which was a characteristic trait only a few years ago is giving place to a new sense of social responsibility.