The Government of Social Life in Colonial India (Cambridge Studies in Indian History and Society)

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Since Dalhousie had embraced the technological revolution underway in Britain, India too saw rapid development of all those technologies. Railways, roads, canals, and bridges were rapidly built in India and telegraph links equally rapidly established in order that raw materials, such as cotton, from India's hinterland could be transported more efficiently to ports, such as Bombay, for subsequent export to England. Massive railway projects were begun in earnest and government railway jobs and pensions attracted a large number of upper caste Hindus into the civil services for the first time.

The Indian Civil Service was prestigious and paid well, but it remained politically neutral. Historians continue to debate whether the long-term impact of British rule was to accelerate the economic development of India, or to distort and retard it.

In This Article

In , the conservative British politician Edmund Burke raised the issue of India's position: he vehemently attacked the East India Company , claiming that Warren Hastings and other top officials had ruined the Indian economy and society. Indian historian Rajat Kanta Ray continues this line of attack, saying the new economy brought by the British in the 18th century was a form of "plunder" and a catastrophe for the traditional economy of the Mughal Empire.

Marshall shows that recent scholarship has reinterpreted the view that the prosperity of the formerly benign Mughal rule gave way to poverty and anarchy. Marshall notes the British went into partnership with Indian bankers and raised revenue through local tax administrators and kept the old Mughal rates of taxation.

The East India Company inherited an onerous taxation system that took one-third of the produce of Indian cultivators. During the British Raj, India experienced some of the worst famines ever recorded , including the Great Famine of — , in which 6. The first cholera pandemic began in Bengal , then spread across India by Fevers ranked as one of the leading causes of death in India in the 19th century. In there were around , leprosy patients. The central government passed the Lepers Act of , which provided legal provision for forcible confinement of leprosy sufferers in India. Sir Robert Grant directed his attention to establishing a systematic institution in Bombay for imparting medical knowledge to the natives.

By , a new middle class had arisen in India and spread thinly across the country. Moreover, there was a growing solidarity among its members, created by the "joint stimuli of encouragement and irritation. It came too from Queen Victoria's proclamation of in which she had declared, "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. Irritation, on the other hand, came not just from incidents of racial discrimination at the hands of the British in India, but also from governmental actions like the use of Indian troops in imperial campaigns e.

It was, however, Viceroy Lord Ripon 's partial reversal of the Ilbert Bill , a legislative measure that had proposed putting Indian judges in the Bengal Presidency on equal footing with British ones, that transformed the discontent into political action.

Sanjay Joshi

The Swadeshi movement consisted of the usage of natively produced goods. University of Chicago Press. Michael R. This was done so that Mountbatten could attend both ceremonies. Introduction 3 Reiner , p. Historian David Gilmour says:.

The membership comprised a westernised elite and no effort was made at this time to broaden the base. During its first twenty years, the Congress primarily debated British policy toward India; however, its debates created a new Indian outlook that held Great Britain responsible for draining India of its wealth.

Britain did this, the nationalists claimed, by unfair trade, by the restraint on indigenous Indian industry, and by the use of Indian taxes to pay the high salaries of the British civil servants in India. Thomas Baring served as Viceroy of India — Baring's major accomplishments came as an energetic reformer who was dedicated to upgrading the quality of government in the British Raj. He began large scale famine relief, reduced taxes, and overcame bureaucratic obstacles in an effort to reduce both starvation and widespread social unrest. Although appointed by a Liberal government, his policies were much the same as Viceroys appointed by Conservative governments. Gopal Krishna Gokhale , a constitutional social reformer and moderate nationalist, was elected president of the Indian National Congress in Congress "extremist" Bal Gangadhar Tilak speaking in as the party split into the Moderates and the Extremists.

Social reform was in the air by the s. For example, Pandita Ramabai , poet, Sanskrit scholar, and a champion of the emancipation of Indian women, took up the cause of widow remarriage, especially of Brahmin widows, later converted to Christianity. Congress member Gopal Krishna Gokhale founded the Servants of India Society , which lobbied for legislative reform for example, for a law to permit the remarriage of Hindu child widows , and whose members took vows of poverty, and worked among the untouchable community. By , a deep gulf opened between the moderates, led by Gokhale, who downplayed public agitation, and the new "extremists" who not only advocated agitation, but also regarded the pursuit of social reform as a distraction from nationalism.

Prominent among the extremists was Bal Gangadhar Tilak , who attempted to mobilise Indians by appealing to an explicitly Hindu political identity, displayed, for example, in the annual public Ganapati festivals that he inaugurated in western India. Viceroy Curzon — He promoted many reforms but his partitioning of Bengal into Muslim and Hindu provinces outraged the people.

Sir Khawaja Salimullah , an influential Bengali aristocrat and British ally, who strongly favoured the creation of Eastern Bengal and Assam. Surendranath Banerjee , a Congress moderate, who led the opposition to the partition of Bengal with the Swadeshi movement to buy Indian-made cloth. Cover of a issue of the Tamil magazine Vijaya showing "Mother India" with her diverse progeny and the rallying cry " Vande Mataram ".

The viceroy, Lord Curzon — , was unusually energetic in pursuit of efficiency and reform. Curzon's act, the Partition of Bengal —which some considered administratively felicitous, communally charged, sowed the seeds of division among Indians in Bengal and, which had been contemplated by various colonial administrations since the time of Lord William Bentinck, but never acted upon—was to transform nationalist politics as nothing else before it.

The Hindu elite of Bengal, among them many who owned land in East Bengal that was leased out to Muslim peasants, protested fervidly. Following the Partition of Bengal , which was a strategy set out by Lord Curzon to weaken the nationalist movement, Tilak encouraged the Swadeshi movement and the Boycott movement.

The Swadeshi movement consisted of the usage of natively produced goods. Once foreign goods were boycotted, there was a gap which had to be filled by the production of those goods in India itself. Bal Gangadhar Tilak said that the Swadeshi and Boycott movements are two sides of the same coin.

The large Bengali Hindu middle-class the Bhadralok , upset at the prospect of Bengalis being outnumbered in the new Bengal province by Biharis and Oriyas, felt that Curzon's act was punishment for their political assertiveness. The pervasive protests against Curzon's decision took the form predominantly of the Swadeshi "buy Indian" campaign led by two-time Congress president, Surendranath Banerjee , and involved boycott of British goods.

The rallying cry for both types of protest was the slogan Bande Mataram "Hail to the Mother" , which invoked a mother goddess, who stood variously for Bengal, India, and the Hindu goddess Kali. Sri Aurobindo never went beyond the law when he edited the Bande Mataram magazine; it preached independence but within the bounds of peace as far as possible.

Its goal was Passive Resistance. Some joined local political youth clubs emerging in Bengal at the time, some engaged in robberies to fund arms, and even attempted to take the lives of Raj officials. However, the conspiracies generally failed in the face of intense police work. The swadeshi cloth, although more expensive and somewhat less comfortable than its Lancashire competitor, was worn as a mark of national pride by people all over India. The League favoured the partition of Bengal, since it gave them a Muslim majority in the eastern half.

In , when Tilak and Lajpat Rai attempted to rise to leadership positions in the Congress, and the Congress itself rallied around the symbolism of Kali , Muslim fears increased. The Muslim elite, including Dacca Nawab and Khwaja Salimullah , expected that a new province with a Muslim majority would directly benefit Muslims aspiring to political power.

The first steps were taken toward self-government in British India in the late 19th century with the appointment of Indian counsellors to advise the British viceroy and the establishment of provincial councils with Indian members; the British subsequently widened participation in legislative councils with the Indian Councils Act of Municipal Corporations and District Boards were created for local administration; they included elected Indian members.

Upper class Indians, rich landowners and businessmen were favoured. The Muslim community was made a separate electorate and granted double representation. The goals were quite conservative but they did advance the elective principle. He announced the capital would be moved from Calcutta to Delhi. This period saw an increase in the activities of revolutionary groups , which included Bengal's Anushilan Samiti and the Punjab's Ghadar Party.

The British authorities were, however, able to crush violent rebels swiftly, in part because the mainstream of educated Indian politicians opposed violent revolution. Mahatma Gandhi seated in carriage, on the right, eyes downcast, with black flat-top hat receives a big welcome in Karachi in after his return to India from South Africa. Muhammad Ali Jinnah , seated, third from the left, was a supporter of the Lucknow Pact, which, in , ended the three-way rift between the Extremists, the Moderates and the League.

The First World War would prove to be a watershed in the imperial relationship between Britain and India. Shortly before the outbreak of war, the Government of India had indicated that they could furnish two divisions plus a cavalry brigade, with a further division in case of emergency. Their participation had a wider cultural fallout as news spread of how bravely soldiers fought and died alongside British soldiers, as well as soldiers from dominions like Canada and Australia. After the split between the moderates and the extremists, organised political activity by the Congress had remained fragmented until , when Bal Gangadhar Tilak was released from prison and began to sound out other Congress leaders about possible reunification.

That, however, had to wait until the demise of Tilak's principal moderate opponents, Gopal Krishna Gokhale and Pherozeshah Mehta , in , whereupon an agreement was reached for Tilak's ousted group to re-enter the Congress. The reforms after the war will have to be such, The Lucknow Session of the Congress was also the venue of an unanticipated mutual effort by the Congress and the Muslim League, the occasion for which was provided by the wartime partnership between Germany and Turkey.

Since the Turkish Sultan , or Khalifah , had also sporadically claimed guardianship of the Islamic holy sites of Mecca , Medina , and Jerusalem , and since the British and their allies were now in conflict with Turkey, doubts began to increase among some Indian Muslims about the "religious neutrality" of the British, doubts that had already surfaced as a result of the reunification of Bengal in , a decision that was seen as ill-disposed to Muslims.

Besant, for her part, was also keen to demonstrate the superiority of this new form of organised agitation, which had achieved some success in the Irish home rule movement , over the political violence that had intermittently plagued the subcontinent during the years — Besant's in the rest of the country, but especially in the Madras Presidency and in regions like Sind and Gujarat that had hitherto been considered politically dormant by the Congress.

Their propaganda also turned to posters, pamphlets, and political-religious songs, and later to mass meetings, which not only attracted greater numbers than in earlier Congress sessions, but also entirely new social groups such as non- Brahmins , traders, farmers, students, and lower-level government workers. The British authorities reacted by imposing restrictions on the Leagues, including shutting out students from meetings and banning the two leaders from travelling to certain provinces.

The year also saw the return of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to India. Already known in India as a result of his civil liberties protests on behalf of the Indians in South Africa, Gandhi followed the advice of his mentor Gopal Krishna Gokhale and chose not to make any public pronouncements during the first year of his return, but instead spent the year travelling, observing the country at first hand, and writing. In tackling the challenge of holding this community together and simultaneously confronting the colonial authority, he had created a technique of non-violent resistance, which he labelled Satyagraha or Striving for Truth.

Also, during his time in South Africa, in his essay, Hind Swaraj , , Gandhi formulated his vision of Swaraj , or "self-rule" for India based on three vital ingredients: solidarity between Indians of different faiths, but most of all between Hindus and Muslims; the removal of untouchability from Indian society; and the exercise of swadeshi —the boycott of manufactured foreign goods and the revival of Indian cottage industry. Gandhi made his political debut in India in in Champaran district in Bihar , near the Nepal border, where he was invited by a group of disgruntled tenant farmers who, for many years, had been forced into planting indigo for dyes on a portion of their land and then selling it at below-market prices to the British planters who had leased them the land.

When Gandhi was ordered to leave by the local British authorities, he refused on moral grounds, setting up his refusal as a form of individual Satyagraha. Soon, under pressure from the Viceroy in Delhi who was anxious to maintain domestic peace during wartime, the provincial government rescinded Gandhi's expulsion order, and later agreed to an official enquiry into the case. Although the British planters eventually gave in, they were not won over to the farmers' cause, and thereby did not produce the optimal outcome of a Satyagraha that Gandhi had hoped for; similarly, the farmers themselves, although pleased at the resolution, responded less than enthusiastically to the concurrent projects of rural empowerment and education that Gandhi had inaugurated in keeping with his ideal of swaraj.

The following year Gandhi launched two more Satyagrahas—both in his native Gujarat —one in the rural Kaira district where land-owning farmers were protesting increased land-revenue and the other in the city of Ahmedabad , where workers in an Indian-owned textile mill were distressed about their low wages.

The satyagraha in Ahmedabad took the form of Gandhi fasting and supporting the workers in a strike, which eventually led to a settlement. In Kaira, in contrast, although the farmers' cause received publicity from Gandhi's presence, the satyagraha itself, which consisted of the farmers' collective decision to withhold payment, was not immediately successful, as the British authorities refused to back down.

The agitation in Kaira gained for Gandhi another lifelong lieutenant in Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel , who had organised the farmers, and who too would go on to play a leadership role in the Indian independence movement. In , in the face of new strength demonstrated by the nationalists with the signing of the Lucknow Pact and the founding of the Home Rule leagues , and the realisation, after the disaster in the Mesopotamian campaign , that the war would likely last longer, the new Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford , cautioned that the Government of India needed to be more responsive to Indian opinion.

After more discussion, in August , the new Liberal Secretary of State for India , Edwin Montagu , announced the British aim of "increasing association of Indians in every branch of the administration, and the gradual development of self-governing institutions, with a view to the progressive realisation of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British Empire. Earlier, at the onset of World War I, the reassignment of most of the British army in India to Europe and Mesopotamia , had led the previous Viceroy, Lord Harding , to worry about the "risks involved in denuding India of troops.

However, since the Government of India wanted to ensure against any sabotage of the reform process by extremists, and since its reform plan was devised during a time when extremist violence had ebbed as a result of increased governmental control, it also began to consider how some of its wartime powers could be extended into peacetime. Consequently, in , even as Edwin Montagu, announced the new constitutional reforms, a committee chaired by a British judge, S.

Rowlatt, was tasked with investigating "revolutionary conspiracies", with the unstated goal of extending the government's wartime powers. With the end of World War I, there was also a change in the economic climate. By the end of , 1. To combat what it saw as a coming crisis, the government now drafted the Rowlatt committee's recommendations into two Rowlatt Bills. The Government of India was, nevertheless, able to use of its "official majority" to ensure passage of the bills early in Meanwhile, Montagu and Chelmsford themselves finally presented their report in July after a long fact-finding trip through India the previous winter.

In particular, rural candidates, generally sympathetic to British rule and less confrontational, were assigned more seats than their urban counterparts. The principal of "communal representation", an integral part of the Minto-Morley Reforms , and more recently of the Congress-Muslim League Lucknow Pact, was reaffirmed, with seats being reserved for Muslims, Sikhs , Indian Christians , Anglo-Indians , and domiciled Europeans, in both provincial and Imperial legislative councils.

The Jallianwala Bagh massacre or "Amritsar massacre", took place in the Jallianwala Bagh public garden in the predominantly Sikh northern city of Amritsar. After days of unrest Brigadier-General Reginald E. Dyer forbade public meetings and on Sunday 13 April fifty British Indian Army soldiers commanded by Dyer began shooting at an unarmed gathering of thousands of men, women, and children without warning. Dyer was removed from duty but he became a celebrated hero in Britain among people with connections to the Raj. Earlier, in Madurai , on 21 September , Gandhi had adopted the loin-cloth for the first time as a symbol of his identification with India's poor.

Hindus and Muslims, displaying the flags of both the Indian National Congress and the Muslim League , collecting clothes to be later burnt as a part of the non-cooperation movement initiated by Gandhi. Photograph of the staff and students of the National College, Lahore , founded in by Lala Lajpat Rai for students preparing for the non-co-operation movement. Standing, fourth from the right, is future revolutionary Bhagat Singh.

In , after the British government refused to back down, Gandhi began his campaign of non-cooperation , prompting many Indians to return British awards and honours, to resign from the civil services, and to again boycott British goods. In addition, Gandhi reorganised the Congress, transforming it into a mass movement and opening its membership to even the poorest Indians.

Although Gandhi halted the non-cooperation movement in after the violent incident at Chauri Chaura , the movement revived again, in the mids. The visit, in , of the British Simon Commission , charged with instituting constitutional reform in India, resulted in widespread protests throughout the country. Foreground, fourth from left, is B. Ambedkar representing the " Depressed Classes. A first-day cover issued on 1 April commemorating the separation of Burma from the British Indian Empire. At its annual session in Lahore , the Indian National Congress, under the presidency of Jawaharlal Nehru , issued a demand for Purna Swaraj Hindustani language : "complete independence" , or Purna Swarajya.

Gandhi subsequently led an expanded movement of civil disobedience, culminating in with the Salt Satyagraha , in which thousands of Indians defied the tax on salt, by marching to the sea and making their own salt by evaporating seawater. Although, many, including Gandhi, were arrested, the British government eventually gave in, and in Gandhi travelled to London to negotiate new reform at the Round Table Conferences. Fewer and fewer young men in Britain were interested in joining, and the continuing distrust of Indians resulted in a declining base in terms of quality and quantity.

By Indians were numerically dominant in the ICS and at issue was loyal divided between the Empire and independence. Epstein argues that after it became harder and harder to collect the land revenue. The Raj's suppression of civil disobedience after temporarily increased the power of the revenue agents but after they were forced by the new Congress-controlled provincial governments to hand back confiscated land.

Again the outbreak of war strengthened them, in the face of the Quit India movement the revenue collectors had to rely on military force and by —47 direct British control was rapidly disappearing in much of the countryside. In , after the Round Table Conferences, Parliament passed the Government of India Act , which authorised the establishment of independent legislative assemblies in all provinces of British India, the creation of a central government incorporating both the British provinces and the princely states, and the protection of Muslim minorities.

The future Constitution of independent India was based on this act. A voter could cast a vote only for candidates in his own category. The Act provided for more autonomy for Indian provinces, with the goal of cooling off nationalist sentiment. The act provided for a national parliament and an executive branch under the purview of the British government, but the rulers of the princely states managed to block its implementation. These states remained under the full control of their hereditary rulers, with no popular government.

To prepare for elections Congress built up its grass roots membership from , in to 4. In the elections Congress won victories in seven of the eleven provinces of British India. The widespread voter support for the Indian National Congress surprised Raj officials, who previously had seen the Congress as a small elitist body. The Muslim League, in contrast, supported Britain in the war effort and maintained its control of the government in three major provinces, Bengal, Sind and the Punjab. Jinnah repeatedly warned that Muslims would be unfairly treated in an independent India dominated by the Congress.

On 24 March in Lahore, the League passed the " Lahore Resolution ", demanding that, "the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in majority as in the North-Western and Eastern zones of India should be grouped to constitute independent states in which the constituent units shall be autonomous and sovereign. The Congress was secular and strongly opposed to having any religious state. The Hindu and Muslim belong to two different religions, philosophies, social customs and literature [sic]. They neither intermarry nor interdine together and indeed they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions.

Their aspects on life and of life are different To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state. They played a major role in numerous campaigns, especially in the Middle East and North Africa. Small warships were built, and an aircraft factory opened in Bangalore. The railway system, with , employees, was taxed to the limit as demand for transportation soared.

The British government sent the Cripps' mission in to secure Indian nationalists' co-operation in the war effort in exchange for a promise of independence as soon as the war ended. Top officials in Britain, most notably Prime Minister Winston Churchill , did not support the Cripps Mission and negotiations with the Congress soon broke down. Congress launched the Quit India Movement in July demanding the immediate withdrawal of the British from India or face nationwide civil disobedience.

On 8 August the Raj arrested all national, provincial and local Congress leaders, holding tens of thousands of them until The country erupted in violent demonstrations led by students and later by peasant political groups, especially in Eastern United Provinces , Bihar, and western Bengal. The large wartime British Army presence crushed the movement in a little more than six weeks; [] nonetheless, a portion of the movement formed for a time an underground provisional government on the border with Nepal. It did not slow down the British war effort or recruiting for the army. Earlier, Subhas Chandra Bose , who had been a leader of the younger, radical, wing of the Indian National Congress in the late s and s, had risen to become Congress President from to As the war turned against them, the Japanese came to support a number of puppet and provisional governments in the captured regions, including those in Burma , the Philippines and Vietnam , and in addition, the Provisional Government of Azad Hind , presided by Bose.

Bose's effort, however, was short lived. In mid the British Army first halted and then reversed the Japanese U-Go offensive , beginning the successful part of the Burma Campaign. Bose's Indian National Army largely disintegrated during the subsequent fighting in Burma, with its remaining elements surrendering with the recapture of Singapore in September Bose died in August from third degree burns received after attempting to escape in an overloaded Japanese plane which crashed in Taiwan, [] which many Indians believe did not happen.

In January , a number of mutinies broke out in the armed services, starting with that of RAF servicemen frustrated with their slow repatriation to Britain. Although the mutinies were rapidly suppressed, they had the effect of spurring the new Labour government in Britain to action, and leading to the Cabinet Mission to India led by the Secretary of State for India, Lord Pethick Lawrence , and including Sir Stafford Cripps , who had visited four years before. Also in early , new elections were called in India.

Earlier, at the end of the war in , the colonial government had announced the public trial of three senior officers of Bose's defeated Indian National Army who stood accused of treason. Now as the trials began, the Congress leadership, although ambivalent towards the INA, chose to defend the accused officers. Jinnah proclaimed 16 August , Direct Action Day , with the stated goal of highlighting, peacefully, the demand for a Muslim homeland in British India.

The following day Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in Calcutta and quickly spread throughout British India. Although the Government of India and the Congress were both shaken by the course of events, in September, a Congress-led interim government was installed, with Jawaharlal Nehru as united India's prime minister. Later that year, the Labour government in Britain, its exchequer exhausted by the recently concluded World War II, and conscious that it had neither the mandate at home, the international support, nor the reliability of native forces for continuing to control an increasingly restless British India, [] [] decided to end British rule of India, and in early Britain announced its intention of transferring power no later than June As independence approached, the violence between Hindus and Muslims in the provinces of Punjab and Bengal continued unabated.

With the British army unprepared for the potential for increased violence, the new viceroy, Louis Mountbatten , advanced the date for the transfer of power, allowing less than six months for a mutually agreed plan for independence. Ambedkar representing the Untouchable community, and Master Tara Singh representing the Sikhs , agreed to a partition of the country along religious lines in stark opposition to Gandhi's views.

This was done so that Mountbatten could attend both ceremonies. The great majority of Indians remained in place with independence, but in border areas millions of people Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu relocated across the newly drawn borders. In Punjab, where the new border lines divided the Sikh regions in half, there was much bloodshed; in Bengal and Bihar, where Gandhi's presence assuaged communal tempers, the violence was more limited. In all, somewhere between , and , people on both sides of the new borders, among both the refugee and resident populations of the three faiths, died in the violence.

At independence and after the independence of India, India has maintained such central British institutions as parliamentary government, one-person, one-vote and the rule of law through nonpartisan courts. One major change was the rejection of its former separate princely states. Metcalf shows that over the course of two centuries, British intellectuals and Indian specialists made the highest priority bringing peace, unity and good government to India.

For example, Cornwallis recommended turning Bengali Zamindar into the sort of English landlords that controlled local affairs in England. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see India disambiguation. For other Indian empires, see History of India. This article is about the rule of India by the British Crown from to British rule on the Indian subcontinent, — Main article: Presidencies and provinces of British India.

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