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British Administration

British Administration


  • In the beginning, the Company left the administration of its possessions in India in Indian hands, confining its activities to supervision. But soon found `that British aims were not adequately served by following old methods of administration. Consequently, the Company took all aspects of administration in its own hand.
  • Under Warren Hastings and Cornwallis, the administration of Bengal was completely overhauled and found a new system based on the English pattern.
  • The spread of British power to new areas, new problems, new needs, new experiences, and new ideas led to changes in the system of administration. But the overall objectives of imperialism were never forgotten.

Strength of British Administrative System

  • The British administration in India was based on three pillars −
    • The Civil Service,
    • The Army, and
    • The Police.
  • The chief aim of British-Indian administration was the maintenance of law and order and the perpetuation of British rule. Without law and order, British merchants and British manufacturers could not hope to sell their goods in every nook and corner of India.
  • The British, being foreigners, could not hope to win the affections of the Indian people; they, therefore, relied on superior force rather than on public support for the maintenance of their control over India

Revenue Administration & District Administration Under British Rule

  • After the battle of Buxar ended with the treaty of Allahabad,the company obtained “Diwani” rights from Shah Alam II and was legally authorised to issue dastaks in the name of the King thus paving the way for the company officials to enter revenue assessments and collection duties.
  • This very event began the evolution of the system of district arrangement that we see today. The District Collector’s office was established in 1772 and it played a leading role in stabilising the company’s hold over the revenue at local levels. 1780 saw the establishment of a Revenue Board created as the apex advisory body for suggesting scheme of Land Revenue Settlement. This is where we see the shift of the company majorly from commercial activities to administrative control in india. The revenue Board’s recommendations culminated into : Permanenet Settlement Act in Bengal,Orissa and areas of Assam, Ryotwari arrangement in Presidencies of Maharashtra and Bombay, Mahalwari system in areas under the control of North India.

Local Self Government Under British Rule

  • This term originated during British rule. Lord Ripon is called the father of local self government in India but was unable to push for major reforms. They lacked autonomy and gradually declined by way of establishment of local civil and criminal courts,revenue and police organisations,increased communication, and starting of the Ryotwari system where peasants paid directly and individually instead of collectively or under the zamindar.Panchayats maintained the local social order according to the socio-political norms prevailing.
  • The Montague Chelmsford reform in 1919 made it a transferred subject under the dyarchy that led to the establishment of a number of panchayats in all villages to have a proper and efficient local self government/administration as well as revenue collection for the British but was still under the total control of the District collector and red tapism and corruption plagued it and funds crunch was always there as a deliberate attempt by the British to stranglehold the provincial Indian governments from having control over them and so had to depend on the centre/British government for everything.

So, the local self government though had control over certain aspects but in the others it was just a pawn of the British government for their colonial benefits.


Public Administration by G.Rajput

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