British Colonial State

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UNIT 14 THE BRITISH COLONIAL STATE
Structu're
14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 Introduction Nature of the Colonial State The Political Economy of the Colonial State . Instmments of Control 14.4.1 14.4.2 14.4.3 14.4.4

The Colonial Military Apparatus The Police Organisation The Judiciary and Law The Bureaucracy - The Steel Frame of the Raj

14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8

Sources of Legitimation Summary Glossary Exercises

14.1

INTRODUCTION

The political structure ~ h i c h evolved in India under the British during the initial phase of their rule was civil in nature due to the East India Company's stress on trade and commerce. However, war and conquest followed soon with the aim of establishing a territorial empire. The British introduced various Acts between 1773 and 1858 to establish parliamentary control over the government in India. After 1858 the administration of the East India Company was dissolved and the Crown was directly empowered to exercise control over the administration. The political authority of the colonial state relied upon many instruments for preserving and enforcing its power which was a pre-condition for the formulation of colonial policy. The frontiers and territorial boundaries had to be demarcated for security which was a prerequisite for the growth and development of colonial state and policy. Certain developments in Britain.found expression in policy making in India. The laissez faire ideology -was responsible for the progressive rise of parliamentary control in government and centralisation which led to political integration in India. The philosophy of liberalism einanated from the doctrine of laissez faire. The influence of liberal ideas was reflected in the administrative and legislative endeavours of Governor General William Bentinck. The British policy at this stage was an attempt to devise a balance between the traditional Indian society and the British Capitalist system based on rule of law. In Britain the ideology of laissez faire gave impetus to industrial capitalism in economy and democracy in politics. The new social and economic exigencies influenced the abolition of the company's trade in 1833 and the Indian market was opened to British industrial manufactures. Thus it became necessary to introduce reforms in administration and decree fresh laws in the changed scenario of the arrival of an increasing number of European settlers (immigrants) in India. The European settlers constituted a group which disapproved of the highly centralised executive administratian. They wished to promote their interests through a separate

legislative authority which paved the way for the growth of representative government in India. The Indian Councils Act of 1861 tried to create a counterpoise between the representative government and the executive bureaucratic administration. , The new Indian middle class of English educated elites who were the support base of the government and the new landed aristocracy joined hands with the European business interests to curtail the power of the executive by pressing for representative legislative authority. Representative government meant an accountable political system controlled by the socially dominant which acted as a link between the bureaucracy and the masses. In the legislative councils the Zamindars, planters and lawyers pursued their own interests. This gave rise to agrarian distress. Therefore the executive government was forced to introduce agrarian reforms to protect the interests of the Raiyats. As a consequence of British policy political associations were constituted (to give opinion on legislation) and the urban middle class elites pressed for the introduction of .representative government through this platform. The Indian Councils Act of 1892 accepted the elective principle in practice but in the guise of recommendation. The legislative councils were a forum for getting information regarding the popular reaction to various legislations. The views of the...
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