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The salient features of this Act were —

  1. The number of additional members in Imperial Legislative Councils and the Provincial Legislative Councils was raised. Now the governor-general could have 10 — 16 non-official members in Imperial Legislative Council (previously there were 6 — 10 non-official members as introduced by Councils Act of 1861)
  2. An element of election was introduced for the first time as some of these additional members could be indirectly elected
  3. Questions could be asked and Budgets could be discussed The shortcomings of this Act were —
  4. The non-official voice was ineffective as officials still were in majority in the council
  5. The new Imperial Legislative Council met for only average 13 days per year during its tenure till 1909. Also the number of non-official Indian members were only 5 out of 24
  6. The budget could not be amended nor could it be voted upon
  7. Answers could not be discussed further, neither could supplementary be asked

Thus this was another cosmetic measure introduced to placate the moderates.

However, they understood the ineffectiveness of these measures and criticized the act in congress sessions.

It was during this time that congress demanded:

  1. Elected Indians in the councils who should be in majority
  2. Power to vote and amend the budget
  3. They raised the cry of ‘No taxation without representation’.

They also raised the issue of lndianisation of Civil services on various grounds –

  • Political – British officers were receiving higher emoluments and pensions which were remitted to Britain, thus causing economic drain of Indian wealth.
  • Economic – Indians received lesser salary which meant more economical operation of government.
  • Moral – It was morally wrong to keep Indians away from higher positions of authority as it showed presence of mistrust.

In addition to raising demands for lndianisation of civil services they also criticised the oppressive and indifferent bureaucracy.                            INDIAN COUNCILS ACT 1892

Here are some other administrative issues raised by them‑

  1. They pointed out the flaws in judicial system which was time-consuming and costly affair.
  2. They pushed for better living conditions of Indian labour in other British colonies abroad.
  3. They strongly protested against the imperialist attitude of government which followed an aggressive foreign policy. The expansionist policies of British had resulted in annexation of Burma, oppression of tribals in North-East and a war with Afghanistan.
  4. They lobbied for greater share of expenditure in public welfare like education , health, agriculture etc
  • The Congress which, according to the British, was an outlet for pent-up frustrations of politically active Indians was successfully able to transform the councils from being impotent bodies to active forum for criticising British government policies.
  • Leaders like Dadabhai Naoroji (Congress president in 1904), Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1905), and Lokmanya Tilak (1906) widened the scope of debate by raising demands for self rule. Gokhale and Pherozeshah mehta were ardent critics of British policies.                  INDIAN COUNCILS ACT 1892
  • The simmering public opinion against British was visible when there was a huge public outcry protesting the arrest of Tilak among other leaders and journalists in 1897.


Modern History

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