Essay on Administrative Organization and Social and Cultural Policy made by the British Government

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We have seen in the previous chapter that by 1784 the East India Company’s administration of India had been brought under the control of the British government and that its economic policies were being determined by the needs of British economy. We will now discuss the organisation through which the Company administered its recently acquired dominion.

In the beginning the Company left the administration of its possessions in India in Indian hands, confining its activities to supervision. But it soon found that British aims were not adequately served by following old methods of administration.

Consequently, the Company took some aspects of administration into its own hands. Under Warren Hastings and Cornwallis, the administration at the top was overhauled and the foundations of a new system based on the English pattern lay.

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The spread of British power to new areas, new problems, new needs, new experiences and new ideas led in the nineteenth 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. This was so for two reasons.

For one, the chief aim of British Indian administration was the maintenance of law and order and the perpetuation of British rule.

Without law and order, British merchants and British manufacturers could not hope to sell their goods in every nook and corner of India.

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Again, the British, being foreigners, could not hope to win the affections of the Indian people; they, therefore, relied on superior force rather than on public support for the maintenance of their control over India. The Duke of Wellington, who had served in India under his brother, Lord Wellesley, remarked after his return to Europe:

The system of Government in India, the foundation of authority, and the modes of supporting it and of carrying on the operations of government is entirely different from the systems and modes adopted in Europe for the same purpose. The foundation and the instrument of all power there is the sword.

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