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  • The British started to feel threat from the rising profile of congress and therefore started pondering over propping up an effective opposition.
  • It was considered to wean away Muslims from the nationalistic wave started by the congress. Mount Stuart Elphinstone advised the British government on this matter.
  • It was to follow the old roman motto of “Divide et Imperia” which means “Divide and Rule”. India was already divided into princely states.
  • Many of these states had suffered during the revolt of 1857 and because of this found their interests aligned to the British rule. And British too found the princely states to be bulwarks against any rebellion.
  • This led them to stop the policy of annexations and appease the local rulers. Thus British helped Raja Shiv Prasad Singh of Benaras to organise an anti-congress United Patriotic Association.
  • However, now there was a strong opinion to pit different communities against each other. British had already suffered in the revolt of 1857 due to strong ties between Hindus and Muslims.
  • Moreover since the last quarter of 19th century, Sir Syed Ahmed Khan was modernising the thought of Muslims and leading them towards nationalism and unification.
  • This added to the anxiety of British authorities. They did not want a recurrence of popular revolt led by the union of both communities.                            DIVIDE AND RULE POLICY
  • British had suppressed Muslims in retaliation to their participation and leadership in revolt of 1857. This suppression had rendered Muslims too weak to rebel independently.
  • The British sought to reverse their policy of appeasing Hindus (Anglo Hindu alliance) to now appeasing Muslims (an Anglo-Muslim alliance).
  • The importance of Anglo-Muslim alliance was emphasised by a publication – Indian Mussalmans (1871) – by Sir William Hunter. He pointed out that Muslims have been suppressed under the British government.
  • This had deprived them of power and position and therefore leaving them impoverished. They have been denied basic education and livelihood.
  • Thus, he laid stress on ameliorating the condition of Muslims. He urged the British not for the cause of social justice but to gain favour of Muslims as bulwarks against any rebellion.
  • This became the presurcor of changed British attitude. They actively patronized Muslims and their institutions like Moammedan Anglo-Oriental College at Aligarh.
  • Sir Sayed Ahmed Khan was urged not to let Muslims participate in political agitation n. The Muslim leaders gradually became hostile to Congress except some like Badruddin Tyabji and Abdul Rasool.
  • This later led to formation of Muslim League which created a permanent schism in the Indian society to the detriment of freedom movement.                  DIVIDE AND RULE POLICY


Modern History

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