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The Cornwallis code comprised following points —

  1. Separation of revenue and justice administration.
  2. European subjects were brought under jurisdiction.
  3. Government servants were made accountable to civil courts for actions done in their official capacity.
  4. The principle of rule of law was emphasized and imposed.
  • He organized a regular police force as a part of civil services to enforce law and order. He did this by modernizing the old Indian system of Thanas (circles) in a district under a daroga who was an Indian and a Superintendent of Police as the head of a district.
  • Thus he relieved the zamindars of their policing duties. When Cornwallis handed over to his lieutenant John Shore in 1793 he left him an Indian state which now had a visible shape and form.
  • It covered Bengal and Bihar as far as Benares and had dependencies of Madras and Bombay. The system of the Raj thus developed had at the top the Governor-General, now supreme in his council and subject only to the authority of the Directors and the President of the Board of council in London.
  • In fact he was secure so long as he had the support of the President and the cabinet. He had direct control over the Bengal presidency, which was the main block of the Company state, and supervisory and over-ruling powers in Madras and Bombay.
  • The Company army had Indian regiments with European officers and some European troops; there were also royal troops which were called in the times of crises. The services were now Europeanized in the middle and upper cadres and divided into the revenue, judicial, and commercial branches.
  • The members were regularly paid and had begun to acquire standards of integrity. The country was divided into twenty three districts in which a new police force maintained law and order, a judge administered the law, and a collector was responsible for revenue collection.
  • He worked mainly through local magnates. The land revenue, which most closely affected the life of the people, was collected along traditional lines, though with new personnel at the top and enhanced power for the zamindars.                                                CORN WALLIS CODE 1793
  • True, there had been; some displacement of classes. The old Muslims governing class was now in retirement with broken fortunes and the mainly Hindu zamindars were about to follow them.
  • A new class of moneyed men had arisen in the towns, acting as the go between of the new rulers. There was a lack of such patronage of religion and art as even the late government had practiced, a rush of wealth and disregard for piety which all lovers of the old ways deplored.
  • But these things mainly affected the towns and life was unchanged nor were the Indian ideas or customs dared. The new state was in fact in the framework of the Indian tradition.
  • It had little in common with English institutions; the checks and balances of eighteenth-century England were in fact the very things which had been cast aside in the previous twenty years. A ‘constitutional’ governor became a virtually absolute governor-general, independent presidencies became subordinate.
  • But when a comparison is made with the Mughal and Nawabi regimes which preceded it the story is quite different. We find the head of the state comparable to the emperor or the Subedar.
  • Each had his great show of authority, his inner ring of advisers, the public opinion of his own officials to consider.
  • The governor-general, it is true was subordinate to London was distant and pre­occupied and he had in practice a large latitude of action.
  • His position resembled that of a Bengal Subedar nearly a century before, who, while subject in a very real sense to the Emperor Aurangzeb in the distant Deccan, could enjoy a large liberty of action so long as he obeyed orders, collected the revenue.                  CORN WALLIS CODE 1793

Cornwallis was the first Governor-General to bring an organized Civil service into existence.  He tried to check corruption through these measures‑

  • He raised salaries of Company’s servants.
  • He strictly enforced rules against any private trade.
  • He prohibited the civil servants from taking presents and gifts.
  • He enforced the criteria of seniority to promote the employees of the Company.


Modern History

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