Sunday, November 9, 2008

British Raj

British Raj

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For usage, see British rule in India

India under the British Raj
Crown Rule


1858 – 1947


FlagCoat of arms
FlagCoat of arms
God Save The Queen[citation needed]

Location of India
The British Indian Empire, 1909
CapitalCalcutta (1858 - 1912)
New Delhi (1912 - 1947)
Language(s)Hindustani, English and many others
Emperor/Empress of India (1876-1947)
 - 1858-1901Victoria¹
 - 1901-1910Edward VII
 - 1910-1936George V
 - 1936Edward VIII
 - 1936-1947George VI
 - 1858-1862The Viscount Canning
 - 1862-1863The 8th Earl of Elgin
 - 1864-1869Sir John Lawrence
 - 1869-1872The Earl of Mayo
 - 1872-1876The Lord Northbrook
 - EstablishedAugust 2, 1858
 - DisestablishedAugust 15, 1947
CurrencyBritish Indian rupee
¹ Reigned as Empress of India from May 1, 1876, before that as Queen of the United Kingdom.
² Governor-General and Viceroy of India

History of South Asia

(Indian Subcontinent)

Stone Age70,000–3300 BCE
Mehrgarh Culture• 7000–3300 BCE
Indus Valley Civilization3300–1700 BCE
Late Harappan Culture1700–1300 BCE
Iron Age1200–300 BCE
Maha Janapadas• 700–300 BCE
Magadha Empire• 545 BCE - 550
Maurya Empire• 321–184 BCE
Middle Kingdoms300 BCE–1279 CE
Chera Empire• 300 BCE–200 CE
Chola Empire• 300 BCE–1070 CE
Pandyan Empire• 250 BCE–1345 CE
Satavahana• 230 BCE–220 CE
Kushan Empire• 60–240 CE
Gupta Empire• 280–550
Gurjara Empire• 740–1018
Pala Empire• 750–1174
Chalukya Dynasty• 543–753
Rashtrakuta• 753–982
Western Chalukya Empire• 973–1189
Hoysala Empire1040–1346
Kakatiya Empire1083–1323
Islamic Sultanates1206–1596
Delhi Sultanate• 1206–1526
Deccan Sultanates• 1490–1596
Ahom Kingdom1228–1826
Vijayanagara Empire1336–1646
Mughal Empire1526–1858
Maratha Empire1674–1818
Sikh Confederacy1716–1799
Sikh Empire1799–1849
Company rule in India1757–1858
British Raj1858–1947
Modern States1947–present
Nation histories
MaldivesNepalPakistanSri LankaTibet
Regional histories
Himachal PradeshOrissaPakistani Regions
North IndiaSouth IndiaTibet
Specialised histories
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British Raj (rāj, lit. "reign" in Hindustani[1]) primarily refers to the British rule in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947;[2] it can also refer to the period of dominion, and even the region under the rule.[3] The region, commonly called India in contemporary usage, included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom,[4] as well as the princely states ruled by individual rulers under the paramountcy of the British Crown. After 1876, the resulting political union was officially called the Indian Empire and issued passports under that name. As India, it was a founding member of the League of Nations, the United Nations, and a member nation of the Summer Olympics in 1900, 1920, 1928, 1932, and 1936.

The system of governance was instituted in 1858, when the rule of the British East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria (and who, in 1876, was proclaimed Empress of India), and lasted until 1947, when the British Indian Empire was partitioned into two sovereign dominion states, the Union of India (later the Republic of India) and the Dominion of Pakistan (later the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the eastern half of which, still later, became the People's Republic of Bangladesh).



[edit] Geographical extent of the Raj

The British Raj extended over all regions of present-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.[citation needed] In addition, at various times, it included Aden Colony (from 1858 to 1937), Lower Burma (from 1858 to 1937), Upper Burma (from 1886 to 1937), British Somaliland (briefly from 1884 to 1898), and Singapore (briefly from 1858 to 1867).[citation needed] Burma was directly administered by the British Crown from 1937 until its independence in 1948.[citation needed]

Among other countries in the region, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), was ceded to the United Kingdom in 1802 under the Treaty of Amiens. Ceylon was a British Crown Colony, but not part of British India. The kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan, having fought wars with the British, subsequently signed treaties with them, were recognized by the British as independent states.[5][6] The Kingdom of Sikkim was established as a princely state after the Anglo-Sikkimese Treaty of 1861. However, the issue of sovereignty was left undefined.[7] The Maldive Islands were a British protectorate from 1887 to 1965, but not part of British India.

[edit] British India and the Native States

The British Indian Empire (contemporaneously India) consisted of two divisions: British India and the Native States or Princely States. In its Interpretation Act of 1889, the British Parliament adopted the following definitions:[8]

The expression British India shall mean all territories and places within Her Majesty's dominions which are for the time being governed by Her Majesty through the Governor-General of India, or through any Governor or other officer subordinate to the Governor-General of India. The expression India shall mean British India together with any territories of an Native Prince or Chief under the suzerainty of Her Majesty, exercised through the Governor-General of India, or through any Governor or other officer subordinate to the Governor-General of India. (52 & 53 Vict. cap. 63, sec. 18)

(It should be noted that in general the term "British India" had been used (and is still used) to also refer to the regions under the rule of the British East India Company in India from 1600 to 1858.[9] The term has also been used to refer to the "British in India."[10])

Suzerainty over 175 Princely States, some of the largest and most important, was exercised (in the name of the British Crown) by central government of British India under the Viceroy; the remaining, approximately 500, states were dependents of the provincial governments of British India under a Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or Chief Commissioner (as the case might have been).[11] A clear distinction between "dominion" and "suzerainty" was supplied by the jurisdiction of the courts of law: the law of British India rested upon the laws passed by the British Parliament and the legislative powers those laws vested in the various governments of British India, both central and local; in contrast, the courts of the Princely States existed under the authority of the respective rulers of those states.[11]

[edit] Administrative Divisions of British India

The British Indian Empire and surrounding countries in 1909.

[edit] Major Provinces

At the turn of the 20th century, British India consisted of eight provinces that were administered either by a Governor or a Lieutenant-Governor. The following table lists their areas and populations (but does not include those of the dependent Native States):[12] During the partition of Bengal (1905–1911), a new province, Assam and East Bengal was created as a Lieutenant-Governorship. In 1911, East Bengal was reunited with Bengal, and the new provinces in the east became: Assam, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.[12]

Province of British India[12]Area (in thousands of square miles)Population (in millions of inhabitants)Chief Administrative Officer
Bengal (including present-day Bangladesh, West Bengal, Bihar and Orissa)15175Lieutenant-Governor
United Provinces (present-day Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand)10748Lieutenant-Governor
Central Provinces (including Berar)10413Chief Commissioner
Assam496Chief Commissioner

[edit] Minor Provinces

In addition, there were a few minor provinces that were administered by a Chief Commissioner:[13]

Minor Province[13]Area (in thousands of square miles)Population (in thousands of inhabitants)Chief Administrative Officer
North West Frontier Province162,125Chief Commissioner
British Baluchistan (British and Administered territory)46308British Political Agent in Baluchistan served as ex-officio Chief Commissioner
Coorg1.6181British Resident in Mysore served as ex-officio Chief Commissioner
Ajmer-Merwara2.7477British Political Agent in Rajputana served as ex-officio Chief Commissioner
Andaman and Nicobar Islands325Chief Commissioner

[edit] Native states

[edit] Organization of British India

The proclamation to the "Princes, Chiefs, and People of India," issued by Queen Victoria on November 1, 1858. "We hold ourselves bound to the natives of our Indian territories by the same obligation of duty which bind us to all our other subjects." (p. 2)

An 1887 souvenir portrait of Queen Victoria as Empress of India, a full 30 years after the Great Uprising.

Following the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the Act for the Better Government of India (1858) made changes in the governance of India at three levels: in the imperial government in London, in the central government in Calcutta, and in the provincial governments in the presidencies (and later in the provinces).[14]

In London, it provided for a cabinet-level Secretary of State for India and a fifteen-member Council of India, whose members were required, as one prerequisite of membership, to have spent at least ten years in India and to have done so no more than ten years before.[15] Although the Secretary of State formulated the policy instructions to be communicated to India, he was required in most instances to consult the Council, but especially so in matters relating to spending of Indian revenues.[14] The Act envisaged a system of "double government" in which the Council ideally served both as a check on excesses in imperial policy-making and as a body of up-to-date expertise on India.[14] However, the Secretary of State also had special emergency powers that allowed him to make unilateral decisions, and, in reality, the Council's expertise was sometimes outdated.[16] From 1858 until 1947, twenty seven individuals would serve as Secretary of State for India and direct the India Office; these included: Sir Charles Wood (1859 - 1866) , Marquess of Salisbury (1874 - 1878) (later three-time Prime Minister of Britain), John Morley (1905 - 1910) (initiator of the Minto-Morley Reforms), E. S. Montagu (1917 - 1922) (an architect of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms), and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence (1945 - 1947) (head of the 1946 Cabinet Mission to India). The size of the advisory Council would be reduced over the next half-century, but its powers would remain unchanged; in 1907, for the first time, two Indians would be appointed to the Council.[17]

In Calcutta, the Governor-General remained head of the Government of India and now was more commonly called the Viceroy on account of his secondary role as the Crown's representative to the nominally sovereign princely states; he was, however, now responsible to the Secretary of State in London and through him to British Parliament. A system of "double government" had already been in place in the East India Company rule in India from the time of Pitt's India Act of 1784.[17] The Governor-General in the capital, Calcutta, and the Governor in a subordinate presidency (Madras or Bombay) was each required to consult his advisory council; executive orders in Calcutta, for example, were issued in the name of "Governor-General-in-Council" (i.e.the Governor-General with the advice of the Council).[17] The Company's system of "double government" had its critics, since, from the time of the system's inception, there had been been intermittent feuding between the Governor-General and his Council; still, the Act of 1858 made no major changes in governance[17] However, in the years immediately thereafter, which were also the years of post-rebellion reconstruction, the Viceroy Lord Canning found the collective decision-making of the Council to be too time-consuming for the pressing tasks ahead.[17] He therefore requested the "portfolio system" of an Executive Council in which the business of each government department (the "portfolio") was assigned to and became the responsibility of a single Council member.[17] Routine departmental decisions were made exclusively by the member, however, important decisions required the consent of the Governor-General and, in the absence such consent, required discussion by the entire Executive Council. This innovation in Indian governance was promulgated in the Indian Councils Act of 1861.

If the Government of India needed to enact new laws, the Councils Act allowed for a Legislative Council—an expansion of the Executive Council by up to twelve additional members, each appointed to a two-year term—with half the members consisting of British officials of the government (termed official) and allowed to vote, and the other half, comprising Indians and domiciled Britons in India (termed non-official) and serving only in an advisory capacity.[18] All laws enacted by Legislative Councils in India, whether by the Imperial Legislative Council in Calcutta or by the provincial ones in Madras and Bombay, required the final assent of the Secretary of State in London; this prompted Sir Charles Wood, the second Secretary of State, to describe the Government of India as "a despotism controlled from home."[19] Moreover, although the appointment of Indians to the Legislative Council was a response to calls after the 1857 rebellion, most notably by Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan, for more consultation with Indians, the Indians so appointed were from the landed aristocracy, often chosen for their loyalty, and far from representative.[20] Even so, the "tiny advances in the practise of representative government were intended to provide safety valves for the expression of public opinion which had been so badly misjudged before the rebellion." (Bayly 1990, p. 195). Indian affairs now also came to be more closely examined in the British parliament and more widely discussed in the British press.[21]

Although the Great Uprising of 1857 had shaken the British enterprise in India, it had not derailed it. After the rebellion, the British became more circumspect. Much thought was devoted to the causes of the rebellion, and from it three main lessons were drawn. At a more practical level, it was felt that there needed to be more communication and camaraderie between the British and Indians; not just between British army officers and their Indian staff, but in civilian life as well. The Indian army was completely reorganised: units composed of the Muslims and Brahmins of the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, who had formed the core of the rebellion, were disbanded.[22] New regiments, like the Sikhs and Baluchis, composed of Indians who, in British estimation, had demonstrated steadfastness, were formed. From then on, the Indian army was to remain unchanged in its organization until 1947.[23]

It was also felt that both the princes and the large land-holders, by not joining the rebellion, had proved to be, in Lord Canning's words, "breakwaters in a storm."[22] They too were rewarded in the new British Raj, by being officially recognised in the treaties each state now signed with the Crown.[23] At the same time, it was felt that the peasants, for whose benefit the large land-reforms of the United Provinces had been undertaken, had shown disloyalty, by, in many cases, fighting for their former landlords against the British. Consequently, no more land reforms were implemented for the next 90 years: Bengal and Bihar were to remain the realms of large land holdings (unlike the Punjab and Uttar Pradesh).[23]

Lastly, the British felt disenchanted with Indian reaction to social change. Until the rebellion, they had enthusiastically pushed through social reform, like the ban on suttee by Lord William Bentinck.[22] It was now felt that traditions and customs in India were too strong and too rigid to be changed easily; consequently, no more British social interventions were made, especially in matters dealing with religion, even when the British felt very strongly about the issue (as in the instance of the remarriage of Hindu child widows).[23]

[edit] Famines, Epidemics, and Public Health

See also:‎ Chalisa famine, Doji bara famine, Agra famine of 1837–38, Orissa Famine of 1866, Rajputana famine of 1869, Bihar famine of 1873–74, Great Famine of 1876–78, Indian famine of 1896–97, and Indian famine of 1899–1900

During the British Raj, famines in India, often attributed to government policies, were some of the worst ever recorded, including the Great Famine of 1876–78, in which 6.1 million to 10.3 million people died[24] and the Indian famine of 1899–1900, in which 1.25 to 10 million people died.[24]

[edit] Timeline

ViceroyPeriod of TenureEvents/Accomplishments
Charles Canning1 November 1858–21 March 18621858 reorganization of British Indian Army (contemporaneously and hereafter Indian Army)
Construction begins (1860): University of Bombay, University of Madras, and University of Calcutta
Indian Penal Code passed into law in 1860.
Upper Doab famine of 1860–61
Indian Councils Act 1861
Establishment of Archaeological Survey of India in 1861
James Wilson, financial member of Council of India reorganizes customs, imposes income tax, creates paper currency.
Indian Police Act of 1861, creation of Indian Police Service.
Lord Elgin21 March 1862–20 November 1863Dies prematurely in Dharamsala
Sir John Lawrence12 January 1864–12 January 1869Anglo-Bhutan Duar War (1864–1865)
Orissa famine of 1866
Rajputana famine of 1869
Creation of Department of Irrigation.
Creation of Imperial Forestry Service in 1867 (now Indian Forest Service).
Lord Mayo12 January 1869–8 February 1872Creation of Department of Agriculture (now Ministry of Agriculture)
Major extension of railways, roads, and canals
Indian Councils Act of 1870
Creation of Andaman and Nicobar Islands as a Chief Commissionership (1872).
Assassination of Lord Mayo in the Andamans.
Lord Northbrook3 May 1872–12 April 1876Mortalities in Bihar famine of 1873–74 prevented by importation of rice from Burma.
Gaikwad of Baroda dethroned for misgovernment; dominions continued to a child ruler.
Indian Councils Act of 1874
Visit of the Prince of Wales, future Edward VII in 1875–76.
Lord Lytton12 April 1876–8 June 1880Baluchistan established as a Chief Commissionership
Queen Victoria (in absentia) proclaimed Empress of India at Delhi Durbar of 1877.
Great Famine of 1876–78: 5.25 million dead; reduced relief offered at expense of Rs. 8 crore.
Creation of Famine Commission of 1878–80 under Sir Richard Strachey.
Indian Forest Act of 1878
Second Anglo-Afghan War.
Lord Ripon8 June 1880–13 December 1884End of Second Anglo-Afghan War.
Repeal of Vernacular Press Act of 1878. Compromise on the Ilbert Bill.
Local Government Acts extend self-government from towns to country.
University of Punjab established in Lahore in 1882
Famine Code promulgated in 1883 by the Government of India.
Creation of the Education Commission. Creation of indigenous schools, especially for Muslims.
Repeal of import duties on cotton and of most tariffs. Railway extension.
Lord Dufferin13 December 1884–10 December 1888Passage of Bengal Tenancy Bill
Third Anglo-Burmese War.
Joint Anglo-Russian Boundary Commission appointed for the Afghan frontier. Russian attack on Afghans at Panjdeh (1885). The Great Game in full play.
Report of Public Services Commission of 1886-87, creation of Imperial Civil Service (later Indian Civil Service, and today Indian Administrative Service)
University of Allahabad established in 1887
Queen Victoria's Jubilee, 1887.
Lord Lansdowne10 December 1888–11 October 1894Strengthening of NW Frontier defense. Creation of Imperial Service Troops consisting of regiments contributed by the princely states.
Gilgit Agency leased in 1899
British Parliament passes Indian Councils Act of 1892 opening the Imperial Legislative Council to Indians.
Revolution in princely state of Manipur and subsequent reinstatement of ruler.
High point of The Great Game. Establishment of the Durand Line between British India and Afghanistan,
Railways, roads, and irrigation works begun in Burma. Border between Burma and Siam finalized in 1893.
Fall of the Rupee, resulting from the steady depreciation of silver currency worldwide (1873-93).
Indian Prisons Act of 1894
Lord Elgin11 October 1894–6 January 1899Reorganization of Indian Army (from Presidency System to the four Commands).
Pamir agreement Russia, 1895
The Chitral Campaign (1895), the Tirah Campaign (1896-97)
Indian famine of 1896–97 beginning in Bundelkhand.
Bubonic plague in Bombay (1896), Bubonic plague in Calcutta (1898); riots in wake of plague prevention measures.
Establishment of Provincial Legislative Councils in Burma and Punjab; the former a new Lieutenant Governorship.
Lord Curzon6 January 1899–18 November 1905Creation of the North West Frontier Province under a Chief Commissioner (1901).
Indian famine of 1899–1900.
Return of the bubonic plague, 1 million deaths
Financial Reform Act of 1899; Gold Reserve Fund created for India.
Punjab Land Alienation Act
Inauguration of Department (now Ministry) of Commerce and Industry.
Death of Queen Victoria (1901); dedication of the Victoria Memorial Hall, Calcutta as a national gallery of Indian antiquities, art, and history.
Coronation Durbar in Delhi (1903); Edward VII (in absentia) proclaimed Emperor of India.
Francis Younghusband's British expedition to Tibet (1903-04)
North-Western Provinces (previously Ceded and Conquered Provinces) and Oudh renamed United Provinces in 1904
Reorganization of Indian Universities Act (1904).
Systemization of preservation and restoration of ancient monuments by Archaeological Survey of India with Indian Ancient Monument Preservation Act.
Inauguration of agricultural banking with Cooperative Credit Societies Act of 1904
Partition of Bengal (1905); new province of East Bengal and Assam under a Lieutenant-Governor.
Lord Minto18 November 1905–23 November 1910Creation of the Railway Board
Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907
Government of India Act of 1909 (also Minto-Morley Reforms)
Appointment of Indian Factories Commission in 1909.
Establishment of Department of Education in 1910 (now Ministry of Education)
Lord Hardinge23 November 1910–4 April 1916Visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911: commemoration as Emperor and Empress of India at last Delhi Durbar
King George V announces creation of new city of New Delhi to replace Calcutta as capital of India.
Indian High Courts Act of 1911
Indian Factories Act of 1911
Construction of New Delhi, 1912-1929
World War I, Indian Army in: Western Front, Belgium, 1914; German East Africa (Battle of Tanga, 1914); Mesopotamian Campaign (Battle of Ctesiphon, 1915; Siege of Kut, 1915-16); Battle of Galliopoli, 1915-16
Passage of Defence of India Act 1915
Lord Chelmsford4 April 1916–2 April 1921Indian Army in: Mesopotamian Campaign (Fall of Baghdad, 1917); Sinai and Palestine Campaign (Battle of Megiddo, 1918)
Passage of Rowlatt Act, 1919
Government of India Act of 1919 (also Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms)
University of Rangoon established in 1920.
Lord Reading2 April 1921–3 April 1926University of Delhi established in 1922.
Indian Workers Compensation Act of 1923
Lord Irwin3 April 1926–18 April 1931Indian Trade Unions Act of 1926, Indian Forest Act, 1927
Appointment of Royal Commission of Indian Labour, 1929
Indian Constitutional Round Table Conferences, London, 1930-32, Gandhi-Irwin Pact, 1931.
Lord Willingdon18 April 1931–18 April 1936New Delhi inaugurated as capital of India, 1931.
Indian Workmen's Compensation Act of 1933
Indian Factories Act of 1934
Royal Indian Air Force created in 1932.
Indian Military Academy established in 1932.
Government of India Act of 1935
Creation of Reserve Bank of India
Lord Linlithgow18 April 1936–1 October 1943Indian Payment of Wages Act of 1936
Burma administered independently after 1937 with creation of new cabinet position Secretary of State for India and Burma
Indian Provincial Elections of 1937
Cripps' mission to India, 1942.
Indian Army in Middle East Theatre of World War II (East African campaign, 1940, Anglo-Iraqi War, 1941, Syria-Lebanon campaign, 1941, Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran, 1941

Indian Army in North African campaign (Operation Compass, Operation Crusader, First Battle of El Alamein, Second Battle of El Alamein)
Indian Army in Battle of Hong Kong, Battle of Malaya, Battle of Singapore
Burma Campaign of World War II begins in 1942.

Lord Wavell1 October 1943–21 February 1947Indian Army becomes, at 2.5 million men, the largest all-volunteer force in history.
World War II: Burma Campaign, 1943-45 (Battle of Kohima, Battle of Imphal)
Bengal famine of 1943
Indian Army in Italian campaign (Battle of Monte Cassino)
British Labour Party wins UK General Election of 1945 with Clement Atlee as prime minister.
1946 Cabinet Mission to India
Indian Elections of 1946.
Lord Mountbatten21 February 1947–15 August 1947Indian Independence Act 1947 (10 and 11 Geo VI, c. 30) of the British Parliament enacted on 18th July 1947.
Radcliffe Award, August 1947
Partition of India
India Office changed to Burma Office, and Secretary of State for India and Burma to Secretary of State for Burma.

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