Showing posts with the label Modern Indian History

Government of India Act 1858

The British Administration in India can broadly be divided into two phases. The first phase was from 1772 to 1858 when the East India Company ruled , and the second phase was from 1858 to 1947, when the British Crown ruled. The Charter Act of 1853 allowed the East India Company to rule India until further order. Many in England and in India opposed the rule of the East India Company and wanted to establish the British Crown's rule. The revolt of 1857 provided an opportunity to the British Government to end the company's rule and establish direct rule. The East India Company was blamed for the outbreak of the revolt, though the company tried to defend itself. John Stuart Mill, a well-known scholar, argued in favour of the company and reminded the British Government about the 'great service' the company had rendered both to India and to the Crown. Ross Mangles, the chairman of the company, asserted that an intermediate non-political and perfectly independent body like th

Indian Councils Act 1861

The Indian Councils Act of 1861 was a significant piece of legislation passed by the British Parliament that brought about important changes in the governance of British India following the Indian Rebellion of 1857 . Features of Indian Council Act, 1861 Provisions of Indian Council Act, 1861 1. The Indian Council Act added to the Viceroy's Executive Council, a fifth member who had to be an expert in 'finance' and 'law'. 2. The Act empowered the Viceroy and Governor-General to make rules for the convenient transaction of business by the executive council and authorized any one member to discharge the duties in his absence. The Act also introduced the Portfolio System under which the departments of Government were divided between the members of the council. 3. For the purpose of the legislation, the Viceroy's executive council was expanded by an addition of not less than six and not more than twelve members. The Governor General nominated them for two years.

Indian Councils Act 1892

The Indian Council Act of 1861 had many shortcomings, as discussed above. Nationalist feelings were growing in the late 19th century among the educated middle class. The Congress party, formed in 1885, started demanding, among other things, the expansion and Indianization of the legislative council. Congress leaders also demanded the right to ask questions in the legislative council on any subject and the right to discussion on the Budget. Lord Dufferin, the Governor-General of India between 1884 and 1988, wanted to give more seats to western-educated Indians than the traditional, orthodox Indian rulers. He appointed a committee headed by Sir John Chenny. The committee recommended that the legislative council should be developed as a 'mini parliament.' The Congress party regularly passed resolutions in its annual sessions to restructure the legislative council. Leading newspapers also raised similar demands. Lord Dufferin sent a suggestion, based on the Chenny committee's

The Revolt of 1857: Causes, Nature, Failure and Impact

The Revolt of 1857, also known as the Indian Mutiny, the Sepoy Mutiny, or the First War of Indian Independence, was a major, but ultimately unsuccessful, uprising in India against the British East India Company's rule. Spanning several months from May 1857 to June 1858, the revolt was characterized by widespread but sporadic and uncoordinated insurgencies across northern and central India. Causes of the Revolt of 1857 The causes of the revolt were multifaceted, involving military, political and economic grievances that had been simmering for years. Military Cause The revolt broke out over the issue of greased cartridges when the news spread that the covers of the cartridges were made of cow's and pig's fat. Most of the soldiers in the Bengal Army were Hindus or Muslims, especially of the upper Hindu caste. The soldiers had many more grievances. Some upper-caste Hindu sepoys had earlier revolted on religious issues. In 1852, the 38th Native Infantry refused to go to Bu

The governance reforms of the East India Company up to 1857

The direct rule of the East India Company was established in 1772 when Warren Hastings ended the dual government in Bengal. Until then, the Company enjoyed power without any responsibility. Now, after 1772, the Company had to face the real problem of governance. The East India Company was not trained in this field, as it was a trading company. Therefore, they experimented with many things in revenue, civil, and judicial administration, but in all stages of experimentation, their primary aim was to maximize profit. In their philosophy of administration, if law and order were given preference, it was mainly because they wanted to exploit the natural resources of India without any disturbances. The East India Company started fighting and annexing territories in India from the mid-eighteenth century. The Company created a problem for the British Government. The biggest question in the mind of the British Government was regarding the extent of control they should have over the Company. The

Mahalwari System: Features, Advantages, and Disadvantages Explained

The Mahalwari System was indeed a significant land revenue system implemented by the British in India. Introduced by Holt Mackenzie in 1822 and developed further under Lord William Bentinck in 1833-34, it was applied in the western part of the United Provinces, Punjab, and parts of the Central Provinces. The term “Mahal” refers to a village or a community made from a group of villages. Features of Mahalwari Settlement 1. Land revenue settlement was made with the Mahal or gram. The local zamindar or lambardar was responsible, on behalf of all peasants, for the payment of land revenue. 2. Initially, in 1833, two-thirds of the net produce was fixed as land revenue, but later it was reduced to one-half of the net produce. 3. The peasants had to deposit the revenue to the zamindar. The percentage that each peasant had to pay was the same, but the quantity varied. 4. The peasant was free to sell or mortgage their land. 5. The settlement was made for thirty years and in some places for

Ryotwari Settlement: Land Revenue System in Colonial India

The Ryotwari Settlement was introduced by the British East India Company to streamline land revenue collection and address the administrative challenges posed by the expansion of British rule in India. There were many shortcomings in the system of Permanent Settlement , so it had more opponents than supporters. The problem became more serious when the Company started expanding its empire as it was not sure which settlement should be made in the newly annexed territory. The pioneer of Ryotwari Settlement was Thomas Munro. For him, the benefit to the people was the primary concern of any settlement. Under Ryotwari Settlement, land revenue was collected directly from the peasant, as Ryot itself meant peasant in Persian. It was implemented first in the Madras Presidency in the early nineteenth century. Interestingly, the reason given by Reid, an English officer in Madras, was that there was no big zamindar in Madras, unlike in Bengal, for the settlement. Different systems were prevailing

Permanent Settlement: Impact on Land Ownership in Colonial India

The Zamindari System, also known as the Permanent Settlement, was a land revenue policy implemented by the British East India Company in 1793. It marked a significant shift in land ownership and revenue collection in colonial India, particularly affecting Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Banaras, and parts of Tamil Nadu. Background of Permanent Settlement Ever since the direct rule was established in Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa (1772), the East India Company had to face a most complicated problem, which was how to administer revenue. It was a private trading company, having no knowledge of India, especially its revenue or judicial administration. In 1772, Warren Hastings, the Governor-General, leased the right to collect the revenues to the highest bidders for five years. This quinquennial settlement proved to be a failure. At the time of bidding, the zamindars promised to give high revenue, but most of them failed at a later stage. In 1777, the quinquennial settlement was removed, and the sys

De-industrialisation: Causes and Impacts

De-industrialisation means the ruining of industries. One of the major debates in modern Indian history revolves around this question. Nationalist historians like R.C. Dutt, R.P. Dutt, Tarachand, etc. wrote that due to various economic policies of the British and the Industrial Revolution in England, traditional Indian industries heavily suffered, though slowly but certainly. The colonial historians, however, refute this charge. Morris D. Morris, a US scholar, called de-industrialisation a myth. It is also interesting to note that de-industrialisation was never seriously discussed by the nationalist leaders as they discussed the drain of wealth . Even the literature of that period did not show any great concern on this issue. Statistically too, it is not easy to prove the extent of industrial ruin in the colonial regime as documents from villages, district towns related to local industries, the total number of employed people in it, and its role in revenue generation, are not available

Drain of Wealth: The Economic Impact of Colonial Exploitation

Drain of wealth means a part of India's national wealth was being exported to England for which India got no adequate economic or material returns. For many nationalist scholars, it was the root cause of poverty in India. The issue was raised for the first time in the second half of the 19th century and brought the nationalist leaders onto one platform. Dada Bhai Naoroji, the grand old man of India, was the first person who exposed the true nature of British rule in India through his paper "England's Debt to India," which he read before a meeting of the East India Association on May 2, 1867, in London. He wrote that "out of the revenues raised in India nearly one-fourth goes clean out of the country, and is added to the resources of England." He presented some more papers on the same subject like "The Wants and Means of India" (1870) and "On the Commerce of India" (1871) in London. But the book which drew the attention of both the Indian

The Carnatic Wars: A Turning Point in Indian History

The first French company to successfully establish permanent trade relations with India was Compagnie des Indes, chartered by King Louis XIV and planned by Colbert, the minister, in 1664. Its initial factory was founded at Surat in 1668 by Coron, a Dutchman in the French Service, and another was established at Masulipattinam in 1669. Francois Mortin founded Pondicherry, which became the capital of French India, in 1674. In Bengal, its first factory was set up at Chandranagar in 1690-92 on the bank of the River Hughli. In 1725, they acquired Mahe (Malabar), and in 1739, Karikal (Coromandel). The king provided the company with a loan of 3,000,000 livres, free of interest. The French East India Company was granted a monopoly for twenty-five years to trade from the Cape of Good Hope to India and the South Seas. The French obtained a firman from Aurangzeb, granting them permission to trade on the coast of Gujarat. The Carnatic Wars were fought between the English East India Company and t

The Rise and Fall of Bengal: A Historical Journey

Bengal was the richest province in the eighteenth century. The English East India Company benefitted most from this province. It is, thus, natural for the English East India Company to strengthen its position in Bengal. They had some advantages there as the headquarters of the Company in India was at Calcutta. The Dutch and the French were present in Bengal only through their subordinate factories, like Chinsura of the Dutch and Chandernagore of the French. In 1756, Siraj-ud-Daula became the successor of Alivardi Khan. He was young and inexperienced; besides, he had many enemies within his family. The English East India Company and the French were fighting in the South. The English started fortifying Calcutta without the permission and knowledge of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula. Siraj ordered them to stop their enhancement of military preparedness, but the Company refused to do so. The English were also misusing Dastak (free permit) based on the Mughal Firman, issued to them in 1717 by Farrukh

Anglo-Maratha Wars: Defining Conflicts of Colonial India

The word "Confederacy" is derived from the Anglo-French word "Confederacie," which means a league or union, whether of states or individuals. After the death of Shivaji in 1680, there was no great leader among the Marathas who could unite them. Sahu, the grandson of Shivaji, was under Mughal custody (between 1689 and 1707), which made him weak, passive, and dependent on others. The emergence of the Peshwa as the 'de facto' ruler is directly linked with the weak character of Sahu. When Balaji Vishwanath served as Peshwa (1713-1720), he made the king a puppet in his hands and made his own post hereditary. However, the Maratha Confederacy really began during the Peshwaship of Baji Rao I (1720-1740), son of Balaji Vishwanath, when the Maratha empire expanded in North and South India. The Peshwa put large areas under the control of his subordinates, such as Gwalior under Ramoji Sindhia, Baroda under Damaji Gaekwad, Indore under Malhar Rao Holkar, and Nagpur unde