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История Government in India
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Beginning of the Raj

In 1858, British Crown rule was established in India, ending a century of control by the East India Company. The life and death struggle that preceded this formalisation of British control lasted nearly two years, cost £36 million, and is variously referred to as the 'Great Rebellion', the 'Indian Mutiny' or the 'First War of Indian Independence'.

Inevitably, the consequences of this bloody rupture marked the nature of political, social and economic rule that the British established in its wake.

It is important to note that the Raj (in Hindi meaning 'to rule' or 'kingdom') never encompassed the entire land mass of the sub-continent.

Two-fifths of the sub-continent continued to be independently governed by over 560 large and small principalities, some of whose rulers had fought the British during the 'Great Rebellion', but with whom the Raj now entered into treaties of mutual cooperation.

The 'Great Rebellion' helped create a racial chasm between ordinary Indians and Britons.

Indeed the conservative elites of princely India and big landholders were to prove increasingly useful allies, who would lend critical monetary and military support during the two World Wars.

Hyderabad for example was the size of England and Wales combined, and its ruler, the Nizam, was the richest man in the world.

They would also serve as political bulwarks in the nationalist storms that gathered momentum from the late 19th century and broke with insistent ferocity over the first half of the 20th century.

But the 'Great Rebellion' did more to create a racial chasm between ordinary Indians and Britons. This was a social segregation which would endure until the end of the Raj, graphically captured in EM Forster's 'A Passage to India'.

While the British criticised the divisions of the Hindu caste system, they themselves lived a life ruled by precedence and class, deeply divided within itself. Rudyard Kipling reflected this position in his novels. His books also exposed the gulf between the 'white' community and the 'Anglo-Indians', whose mixed race caused them to be considered racially 'impure'.

While there was a consensus that Indian policy was above party politics, in practice it became embroiled in the vicissitudes of Westminster.

Successive viceroys in India and secretaries of state in London were appointed on a party basis, having little or no direct experience of Indian conditions and they strove to serve two masters. Edwin Montagu was the first serving secretary of state to visit India on a fact-finding mission in 1917-1918.

1,200 civil servants could not rule 300 to 350 million Indians without indigenous 'collaborators'.

Broadly speaking, the Government of India combined a policy of co-operation and conciliation of different strata of Indian society with a policy of coercion and force.

The empire was nothing if not an engine of economic gain. Pragmatism dictated that to govern efficiently and remuneratively, 1,200 Indian civil servants could not rule 300 to 350 million Indians without the assistance of indigenous 'collaborators'.

However, in true British tradition, they also chose to elaborate sophisticated and intellectual arguments to justify and explain their rule.

On the one hand, Whigs and Liberals expounded sentiments most iconically expressed by TB Macaulay in 1833: 'that... by good government we may educate our subjects into a capacity for better government, that, having become instructed in European knowledge, they may, in some future age, demand European institutions. Whether such a day will ever come I know not. ... Whenever it comes, it will be the proudest day in English history.'

On the other hand, James Fitzjames Stephen, writing in the 1880s, contended that empire had to be absolute because 'its great and characteristic task is that of imposing on Indian ways of life and modes of thought which the population regards without sympathy, though they are essential to its personal well-being and to the credit of its rulers.'

What was less ambiguous was that it was the economic interests of Britain that were paramount, though as the 20th century progressed, the government in India was successful in imposing safeguards. For instance, tariff walls were raised to protect the Indian cotton industry against cheap British imports.


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  • - Government in India

    Beginning of the Raj In 1858, British Crown rule was established in India, ending a century of control by the East India Company. The life and death struggle that preceded this formalisation of British control lasted nearly two years, cost £36 million, and is variously referred to as the 'Great Rebellion', the 'Indian Mutiny' or the 'First War of Indian Independence'. Inevitably, the consequences of this bloody rupture marked the nature of political, social and economic rule that... [читать подробенее]