First War  Of Independence

  • The year 1857 witnessed the first war of independence, which is perhaps one of the defining moments of Indian freedom struggle.
  • Scholars and historians ascribe many causes and among these causes one that triggered the chain of incidents was reaction of the Indian soldiers of the East India Company’s army, to the grease of the new kind of cartridge they were compelled to use.
  • Perhaps the more important causes were people’s discontentment with the land taxes taken by the British government, the seizure of many kingdoms and princely states by the British, and above all, people’s desire for freedom from foreign rule.

First War  Of Independence – Result

  • The  main significant result of the uprising of 1857 was the end of the rule of the East India Company and assumption of the government of India directly by the crown.
  • This was done by the Government of India Act of 1858.
  • It transferred the power to govern India from East India Company to British Crown.

The Government of India Act of 1858

  • Features
  • Abolished the East India Company.
  • The British crown assumed sovereignty over India from the East India Company , this started the Crown Rule in India.
  • The designation of Governor-General of India was changed to the Viceroy of India.
  • The last Governor-General of India was Lord Canning.
  • The first Viceroy of India was Lord Canning.
  • A new position called Secretary of State for India was created and the powers of the crown were
  • Exercised by the Secretary of State for India.
  • The Secretary of state for India is a member of British Cabinet and is responsible to the British Parliament.
  • The Secretary of state for India was assisted by a council called ‘Council of India’ that contained 15 members.
  • The Council of India was composed exclusively of people from England.
  • The secretary of state of India who was responsible to the British Parliament governed India through the Governor-General, assisted by an executive council which consisted of higher officials of the government

Indian Councils Act of 1861

  • Features
  • Executive Council was enlarged by addition of 5th member..
  • The Viceroy was empowered to appoint an additional 6 to 12 members to his council.
    • Changed to 10 to 16 in 1892, and to 60 in 1909.
  • The Viceroy of India would nominate 3 Indians to the legislative council (out of 12).
  • In the year 1862 Lord Canning nominated Raja of Benaras, the Maharaja of Patiala and Sir Dinakar Rao to the legislative council.
  • There were appointed for a period of 2 years. Out of these, at least half of the additional members were to be non-official (British or Indian).
  • Their functions were confined to legislative measures.
  • Any bill related to public revenue or debt, military, religion or foreign affairs could not be passed without the Governor-General’s assent.
  • The Viceroy had the power to overrule the council if necessary.
  • Portfolio system approved
    • Lord Canning introduced Portfolio system in the year 1859.
  • This act also empowered the Viceroy to issue ordinances
  • Legislative powers to Madras and Bombay presidencies.

Indian Councils Act of 1892

  • Features
  • Representation by way of indirect election was accepted with some limitation to the provincial councils.
    • Zamindars, municipalities, universities, chamber of commerce could recommend members.
  • Central legislative council expanded from 12 to 16
  • 3 types of members in the CLC:
    • Official members
    • Non official members (nominated)
    • Non official members
  • The members of CLC could ask Questions to the ‘executive’ members(cabinet) on public interest after giving 6 days’ notice.
  • In the provinces also, the number of additional members was increased with additional powers.
    • No discussion on answer given by executive.
      • The speaker could reject the demand for asking question
  • This act was a big achievement of INC

Indian Councils Act of 1909

    • Also known as (Morley- Minto Reforms)
  • Features
  • Morley – Secretary of State.
  • Minto – Viceroy.
  • Indians in Viceroy’s executive council for first time.
  • The first Indian to join the Viceroys Executive council was Satyendra Prasad Sinha
  • Central and provincial legislative councils expanded. Centralfrom 16 to 60 members
  • Allowed Indiansdiscussion’ on economic matters and some voting rights in the councils.
  • A system of communal representation for Muslims by accepting the concept of ‘Separate Electorate’.
  • Under the ‘Separate Electorate’ the Muslim members were to be elected only by Muslim voters.
  • For the 1st time the seeds of separatism were sown
  • The 1909 act *legalized communalism.
  • Minto was regarded as the “Father of Communal Electorate”.
  • The Act introduced communal representation in Indian politics. This was intended to stem the growing tide of nationalism in the country by dividing the people into communal lines. The culmination of this step was seen in the partition of the country along religious lines. The effects of differential treatment of different religious groups can be seen to this day

Indian Councils Act of 1919

  • Also known as Montague- Chelmsford Reforms
  • Features
  • Montague – Secretary of state.
  • Chelmsford – Viceroy.
  • Montague had declared to bring ‘Responsible government’ in India.
  • o Home Rule League movement was going on at that.
  • People thought that India would also get dominion status like Ireland, but got only disappointment.
  • Bicameralism introduced at the centre.
    • Upper House – Council of states – 60
    • Lower House – Central Legislative Assembly – 145
  • Diarchy or dual government.
    • Diarchy was introduced at the provinces
    • Some departments were given to Indians, some were kept with the governor.
  • The concept of elections was introduced.
    • Limited Franchise introduced.
  • Only landholders, tax payers, officers, title holders allowed voting rights.
  • This act provided for the establishment of Public Service Commission for recruiting Civil Servants
  • Communal representation for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Europeans and Anglo-Indians. (Apart from Muslims).
  • The 1919 reforms failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people in India and this led to “Swaraj” or “Self-government” agitation under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi.

Simon Commission- 1927

  • The Simon Commission was appointed by the British Government in November 1927.
  • 7-member Commission
  • Chairman – Sir John Simon
  • Purpose- to report on the condition of India under the new constitution (GOI 1919)
  • All the members of the committee were British. Hence all the parties boycotted the Commission.
  • The Simon Commission recommended for the abolition of diarchy and extension of electorate.

Government of India Act of 1935

  • Features
  • It was the longest Act of (British) Parliament ever enacted until Greater London Authority Act 1999 surpassed it.
  • Abolition of provincial diarchy and introduction of diarchy at centre.
  • Provision for an All India Federation with British India territories and princely states.
    • But, it never became reality, as Princely states didn’t agree.
  • Increase in size of legislatures, extension of franchise (voting rights), division of subjects into three lists and retention of communal electorate.
  • Provincial autonomy increased.
  • Direct elections for first time (in 1937)
  • Communal electorates retained.
  • Separation of Burma from India
  • The GOI act 1935 divided the powers into:
    1. Federal List (59)
    2. Provincial  List (54)
    3. Concurrent List (36)
  • Bicameralism in 6 out of 11 provinces.
    • Legislative Assembly+ Legislative Council.
  • Establishment of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in the year 1935.
    • Recommended by Hilton-Young Commission.
  • The Act was a milestone in the development of a responsible constitutional government in India.
  • The Government of India Act 1935 was replaced by the Constitution of India after independence.

Indian Independence Act of 1947

  • Features
  • Ended the British rule and declared India as an independent and sovereign state from August 15, 1947.
  • Freedom to the princely states either to join India or Pakistan or to remain independent.
  • Punjab and Bengal partitioned.
  • Till constitution was made- rule according to G.O.I. act of 1935
  • After Independence, Governor General was made head of state of India, till Constitution was made:
  • Last Governor General – C. Rajagopalachari


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