Sample Material of Our IAS Mains History Study Kit
Subject: History (Optional)
Topic: Administration & Economy under the company rule
Fundamentally the British East India Company remained a
trading concern from 1600 to 1757. It became successful in gaining monopoly over
trade in India by adopting all means to appease the British Government and its
influential class. Lord Clive, during his second term as Governor, established
Dyarchy in Bengal in 1765. This system of administration continued there for the
next 7 years. Dyarchy was terminated in 1772. After that some Acts were passed
by the Britishers as per their requirement to administer India. Some important
Acta are as following:-
Regulating Act of 1773
The British Parliament passed the Regulating Act in 1773 by
which changes were introduced in the administrative structure of the Company
both in England and in India. In England only those shareholders were allowed to
vote, who possessed a share of 1000 pounds at least a year before the election.
The Directors of the Company were also required to place before the British
Government all their correspondence from India dealing with revenues and
military administration. In India the Governor of Bengal came to be designated
as the Governor General. A Council comprising of four members, wherein decisions
were to be taken on the basis of majority votes, was constituted to assist the
Governor-General. As per the provision of the Act, a Supreme Court was
established at Calcutta comprising of a Chief Justice and three other judges.
The Court was given the powers of adjudication over the Europeans, all persons
in the Company’s service and the citizens of Calcutta. Soon, the demerits of the
Regulating Act also started coming to the fore. The position of the
Governor-General became tenuous due to the provision of majority vote in the
Pitt’s India Act of 1784
The Pitt’s India Act was passed in 1784 in order to remove
the above demerits of the Regulating Act. The new Act established the control of
the British Government over the Company and all its affairs in India. A Board of
Control consisting of six members was set up by the British Parliament to look
after all civil, military and ‘revenue affairs of the Company baring only its
trading activities. Besides a secret community of three Directors was also set
up which would send important orders to India directly. In India, the number of
members in the Governor-General’s Council was reduced from four to three.
The Charter Act of 1793
Lord Clive was the first to pay attention to the Civil
Services. He prohibited the employees of the Company from undertaking any
private trade or accept any gift and also asked them to sign an agreement with
regard to their service. Since then the word ‘Covenanted Services’ came into
use. Lord Cornwallis used to detest Indians, regard everyone of them as corrupt,
and therefore was not ready to appoint any Indian to a higher post. He
Europeanised the Government Services. He took steps to check corruption among
the Company employees and introduce ban on their accepting bribes or gifts and
carrying out private trade. The highest rank that an Indian could aspire to go
was that of a Subedar in the army and Munif, Sadar Amin or Deputy Collector in
the Civil Services.
The credit for introducing the first steps towards training
of the Company’s Civil Servants to improve their efficiency went to Lord
Wellesley, for which he founded the Fort William College at Calcutta on 24
November, 1800. The Company on the other hand, established in 1806 its own
training College at Haileybury in England in the name of East India College.
The Charter Act of 1813
According to the Charter Act of 1813, nobody in India could
be appointed as a clerk without obtaining a satisfactory certificate from a
recognised institution. The monopolistic right of the British company was
abolished, except the trade with China and the Tea trade.
The Charter Act of 1833
It made the Governor- General of Bengal as the Governor
–General of India, and Lord William Bentic was the first Governor-General of
India. The Charter Act of 1833 by its clause 87 for the first time accepted
educational qualification as the sole basis for appointment in Civil Services.
For the implementation of this clause, a Committee was constituted under the
Chairmanship of Lord Macaulay in 1834, which adopted in principle the system of
a competitive examination for the recruitment of Civil Servants, the minimum age
for which was fixed at 18 years. The Charter Act of 1833 delegated the power of
framing laws to the Governor-General in Council. Trading rights of the company
were completely terminated, including the Tea trade & the trade with China.
However, term of the company was extended for another 20 years.
The Charter Act of 1853
The legislative and executive functions of the
Governor-General’s council were separated. It introduced a system of open
competition as the basis for the recruitment of civil servants of the Company.
In 1853, Charles Wood became the Chairman of the Board of Control. Consequently,
by the Charter Act of 1853, Indians were allowed entry into the Civil Services
through a system of open competitive examinations. But the minimum age
prescribed for this competitive examination was raised to 23 and its centre was
kept in England while the medium of examination was made English.
Economic & Commercial Policy
The British conquerors were entirely different from the
previous conquerors. Through laws and administrative, economic and fiscal
policies, the British government in England and Company’s administration in
India used their powers to the advantage of British manufacturers and to the
detriment of the Indian socio-political and economic fabric. The gradual
“development of underdevelopment’ has been traced through the three stages of
British Colonialism by R. R Dutta in his classic work “India Today”.
Phases of Economic Policy in India
1600-1757: The East India Company was a purely trading
company dealing with import of goods and precious metals into India and export
of spices and textiles.
1757 - 1813 (The Mercantilist Phase)
The East India Company monopolized trade and began direct
plunder of India’s wealth. They could impose their own prices that had no
relation to the costs of production. This was the phase of buccaneering
capitalism whereby wealth flowed out of the barrel of the trader’s guns. The
company used its political power to monopolize trade & dictate terms to the
weavers of Bengal. The company used revenue of Bengal to finance exports oi
1813-1858 (The Industrial Phase)
The commercial policy of the East India Company after 1813
was guided by the needs of the British industry. The British mercantile
industrial capitalist class exploited India as Industrial Revolution in Britain
completely transformed Britain’s economy. Charter Act of 1813 allowed one way
free trade for British citizens resulting in Indian markets flooded with cheap &
machine made imports. Indians lost not only their foreign markets hut their
markets in India too. India was now forced to export raw materials consisting of
raw cotton jute and silk, oilseeds, wheal, indigo and lea, and import finished
products. Indian products had to compete with British products with heavy import
duties on entry into Britain.