UPSC History Expansion Company and Bengal Nawabs NCERT Extracts - Administrative Organization

NCERT Extracts - Administrative Organization

Category : UPSC

 Civil Services


  • The spread of British power to new areas, new problems, new needs, new experiences and new ideas led in the 19th century to more fundamental changes in the system of administration. But the overall objectives of imperialism were never forgotten.
  • The British administration in India was based on three pillars: the Civil Service, the Army, and the Police.
  • Without law and order British merchants and British manufacturers could not hope to sell their goods in every nook and comer of India.
  • The Civil Services was brought into existence by Lord Cornwallis.
  • Clive and Warren Hastings made attempts to put an end to their corruption, but were only partially successful.
  • Cornwallis, who came to India as Governor-General in 1786, was determined to purify the administration, but he realised that the Company's servants would not give honest and efficient service so long as they were not given adequate salaries.
  • He, therefore, enforced the rules against private trade and acceptance of presents and bribes by officials with strictness.
  • At the same time, he raised the salaries of the Company's servants.
  • In 1800, Lord Wellesley established the College of Fort William at Calcutta for the education of young recruits to the Civil Service.
  • The directors of the Company disapproved of his action and in 1806 replaced it by their own East Indian College at Haileybury in England.
  • In 1853 the Charter Act decreed that all recruits to the Civil Service were to be selected through a competitive
  • A special feature of the Indian Civil Service since the days of Cornwallis was the rigid and complete exclusion of Indians from it.
  • This policy was also applied to other branches of government, such as the army, police, judiciary, engineering.
  • Cornwallis believed that "Every native of Hindustan is corrupt".
  • In reality, the exclusion of Indians from higher grades of services was a deliberate policy.
  • The Indian Civil Service gradually developed into one of the most efficient and powerful civil services in the world.
  • In course of time it became the chief opponent of all that was progressive and advanced in Indian life and one of the main targets of attacks by the rising Indian national movement.




  • The second important pillar of the British regime in India was the army.
  • It was the instrument through which the Indian powers were conquered; it defended the British Empire in India from foreign rivals; it safeguarded British supremacy from the ever-present threat of internal revolt; and it was the chief instrument for extending and defending the British Empire in Asia and Africa.
  • Its officers were, however, exclusively British, at least since the days of Comwallis.
  • As a counter-weight, the army was officered entirely by British officials and a certain number of British troops were maintained to keep the Indian soldiers under control.
  • As warfare technology changed from the 1820s, the cavalry requirements of the Company's army declined.
  • This is because the British empire was fighting in Burma, Afghanistan and Egypt where soldiers were armed with muskets and
  • Musket - A heavy gun used by infantry soldiers.
  • Matchlock - An early type of gun in which the powder was ignited by a match.




  • The third pillar of British rule was the police whose creator was once again Comwallis.
  • He relieved the zamindars of their police functions and established a regular police force to maintain law and order. In this respect, he went back to, and modernised, the old Indian system of thanas.
  • Comwallis established a system of circles or thanas headed by a daroga, who was an Indian. Later, the post of the District Superintendent of Police was created to head the police organisation in a district.


Judicial Organization


  • The British laid the foundations of a new system of dispensing justice through a hierarchy of civil and criminal courts. Though given a start by Warren Hastings, the system was stabilised by Comwallis in 1793.
  • In each district was established a Diwani Adalat, or civil court, presided over by the District Judge who belonged to the Civil Service.
  • Comwallis thus separated the post of the Civil Judge and the Collector.
  • To deal with criminal cases, Comwallis divided the Presidency of Bengal into four division, in each of which a Court of Circuit presided over by the civil servants was established.
  • In 1865, High Courts were established at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay to replace the Sadar Courts of Diwani and Nizamat.
  • The Charter Act of 1833 conferred all law-making power on the Governor-General.
  • In 1833, the Government appointed a Law Commission headed by Lord Macaulay to codify Indian laws.


The Rule of Law

  • The British introduced the modern concept of the rule of law.
  • The rule of law was to some extent a guarantee of the personal liberty of a person. Previous rulers of India had been in general bound by tradition and custom.
  • Under British rule, on the other hand, administration was largely carried on according to laws as interpreted by the courts though the laws themselves were often defective, were made not by the people through a democratic process but autocratically by the foreign rulers, and left a great deal of power in the hands of the civil servants and the police.


Equality before Law

  • The Indian legal system under the British was based on the concept of equality before law. This meant that in the eyes of laws all men were equal. The same lawapplied to all person irrespective of their caste, religion, or class.
  • There was, however, one exception to this excellent principle of equality before law. The Europeans and their descendants had separate courts and even laws. In criminal cases they could be tried only by European judges.
  • In practice, there emerged another type of legal inequality. Justice became quite expensive as court fees had to be paid, lawyers engaged, and the expenses of witnesses met. Courts were often situated in distant towns. Law suits dragged on for years.
  • In contrast, the system of justice that had prevailed in pre-British times was comparatively informal, speedy and inexpensive.


Social and Cultural Policy


  • Till 1813 British authorities also followed a policy of non-interference in the religious, social-and cultural life of the country, but after 1813 they took active steps to transform Indian society and culture.
  • This followed the rise of new interests and new ideas in Britain during the 19th century.
  • The Industrial Revolution were fast changing all aspects of British society.
  • The rising industrial interests wanted to make India a big market for their goods.
  • This could not be accomplished merely by adhering to the policy of keeping peace, and required the partial transformation and modernisation of Indian society.
  • The great French Revolution of 1789 with its message of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity generated powerful democratic sentiments and unleashed the force of modern nationalism.
  • The impact of the new thought - the product of the intellectual revolution of the 18th century, the French Revolution, and the Industrial Revolution - was naturally felt in India and to some extent affected the official notions of government.
  • The early representatives of this attitude were Warren Hastings and Edmund Burke, the famous writer and parliamentarian, and the later ones were the famous officials Munro, Malcolm, Elphinstone and Metcalfe.
  • The conservatives maintained that Indian civilisation was different from European civilisation but was not necessarily inferior to it. Many of them respected and admired Indian philosophy and culture.
  • Realising that it might be necessary to introduce some Western ideas and practices, they proposed to introduce them very cautiously and gradually.
  • The conservation outlook remained influential in England as well as in India up to the very end of the British rule. In fact, the majority of British officials in India were generally of conservative persuasion.
  • This critical approach was used by most of the officials and writers and statesmen of Britain to justify political and economic enslavement of India and to proclaim that it was incapable of improvement and must therefore remain permanently under British tutelage.
  • However, a few Englishmen, known as Radicals, went beyond this narrow criticism and imperialistic outlook and applied the advanced humanistic and rational thought of the West to the Indian situation as the saw it.
  • The doctrine of humanism led them to desire the improvement of Indian people. The doctrine of progress led them to the conviction that Indians were bound to improve.
  • It must, however, be emphasised at this stage that such honest and philanthropic Englishmen were few and that their influence was never decisive so far as the British administration of India was concerned.
  • They had therefore, to follow a delicately balanced policy of partial modernisation, that is, a policy of introducing modernisation in some respects and blocking and preventing it in other respects.
  • In other words, modernisation of India was to be colonial modernisation, carried out within the parameters of, and with a view to promoting, colonialism.


Humanitarian Measures


  • Their biggest achievement was the outlawing of the practice of sati in 1829 when William Bentinck made it a crime to associate in any way with the burning of a widow on her husband's pyre.
  • Many Indian rulers in the past, including Akbar and Aurangzeb, the Peshwas, and Jai Singh of Jaipur, had made unsuccessful attempts to suppress this evil practice.
  • Regulations prohibiting infanticide had been passed in 1795 and 1802, but they were sternly enforced only by Bentinck and Hardinge.
  • In 1856 the Government of India passed an Act enabling Hindu widow to remarry.


Spread of Modern Education


  • For the first 60 years of its dominion in India the East India Company took little interest in the education of its subjects. There were, however, two very minor exceptions to this policy.
  • In 1781, Warren Hastings set up the Calcutta Madrasah for the study and teaching of Muslim law and related subjects.
  • In 1791, Jonathan Duncan started a Sanskrit College at Varanasi, where he was the Resident, for the study of Hindu law and philosophy.
  • Both these institutions were designed to provide a regular supply of qualified Indians to help the administration of law in the courts of the Company.
  • A humble beginning was made in 1813 when the Charter Act incorporated the principle of encouraging learned Indians and promoting the knowledge of modem sciences in the country.
  • The Act directed the Company to spend the sum of one lakh of rupees for the puipose.
  • The two controversies were settled in 1835 when the Government of India decided to devote the limited resources it was willing to spare to the teaching of Western sciences and literature through the medium of English language alone.
  • Lord Macaulay, who was the Law Member of the Governor-General's Council, argued in a famous minute that Indian languages ware not sufficiently developed to serve the purpose, and that "Oriental learning was completely inferior to European learning".
  • To make up for the paucity of expenditure on education, the officials had recourse to the so-called "downward filtration theory".
  • Since the allocated funds could educate only a handful of Indians, it was decided to spend them in educating a few persons from the upper and middle classes who were expected to assume the task of educating the masses and spreading modem ideas among them.
  • The Woods Dispatch (the document dispatched from the Court of Directors and popularly named after Sir Charles Wood, President of the Board of Control) of 1854 was another important step in the development of education in India.
  • The Dispatch asked the Government of India to assume responsibility for the education of the masses.
  • As a result of the directions given by the Dispatch, Departments of Education were instituted in all provinces and affiliating universities were set up in 1857 at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.
  • Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, the famous Bengali novelist, became in 1858 one of the first two graduates of Calcutta University.
  • Of some importance in this respect was the agitation in favour of modem education by progressive Indians, foreign Christian missionaries, and humanitarian officials and other Englishmen.
  • But the most important reason was the Government's anxiety to economise on the cost of administration by getting a cheap supply of educated Indians to man the large and increasing number of subordinate posts at administration and British business concerns.
  • It was manifestly too costly and perhaps not even possible to import enough Englishmen for the purpose.
  • Another motive behind the educational policy of the British sprang from the belief that educated Indians would help expand the market for British manufactures in India.
  • Lastly, Western education was expected to reconcile the people of India to British rule particularly as it glorified the British conquerors of India and their administration.
  • The British thus wanted to use modem education to strengthen the foundation of their political authority in the country.
  • The traditional Indian system of education gradually withered away for lack of official support and even more because of the official announcement in 1844 that applicants for government employment should possess knowledge of English.
  • A major lacuna in the early educational policy was the almost total neglect of the education of girls for which no funds were allotted.
  • The Company's administration also neglected scientific and technical education. By 1857 there were only three medical colleges in the country at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras.
  • There was only one good engineering college at Roorkee to impart higher technical education and even this was open only to Europeans and Eurasians.

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