• Till well into the twentieth century, British Government in India was basically an autocracy of hierarchically organized officials headed by the Viceroy and the Secretary of State, while the ultimate Parliamentary control was spasmodic and largely theoretical.
    • Developments after 1858 had in fact considerably enhanced the personal role of the Viceroy-Secretary of State combine, while bringing them into much closer contact with each other through the communications revolution symbolized by the submarine cable and the Suez Canal (1865-69).
    • The Indian Councils Act of 1861 had also strengthened the Viceroy’s authority over his Executive Council by substituting a ‘portfolio’ or departmental system for corporate functioning.
    • The Imperial and local Legislative Councils enlarged or setup by the same Act included a few non-official Indians but were essentially decorative. Being entirely nominated bodies till 1892, they even lacked, before the reforms of that year, any statutory powers of discussing budgets or putting questions.
    • The political structure thus concentrated enormous powers in the hands of the Viceroy and the Secretary of State, and so some consideration of their personal attitudes and political affiliations remains relevant


I.  Warren Hastings.

He followed Robert Clive as the governor of Fort William. He was a reformist and the steps he took were:

  1.  Abolished dual government system and the now the Company servants collected revenue on their own.
  2.  Board of revenue was created and collectors were established to collect revenue. The treasury was moved to a safer location of Calcutta from murshidabad. Calcutta soon became the capital of Bengal and then India.
  3.  To remove the highly corrupt judicial system Civil courts were created presided by the collectors and criminal courts by an Indian judge. Appellate courts for civil and criminal cases were there in Calcutta. Highest court of appeal for civil cases was sadar diwani adalat and criminal cases were sadar Nizamat adalat.
  4.  A bank was established in Calcutta. Pre paid postal system was introduced. Police too were created to stop dacoits.
  5.  He was a patron of Indian languages and arts. He was a person of oriental tastes.


Regulating Act, 1773: 

The controller of East India Company [E.I.C] was the court of proprietors and court of directors. The three presidencies were independent and managed by governor and his council. The court of directors was elected annually and managed the affairs of the Company. The mismanagement of Indian territories led to bankruptcy of the Company and the directors asked for a loan. The government passed this act as a precondition for the loan.

It laid the foundations for a centralized administration in India.

Governor of Bengal became the Governor General of Bengal with an executive council of four to assist him. Decisions would be taken by majority and governor general could only vote in case of tie. Presidencies of Madras and Bombay lost their independence and became subordinate to Bengal.

It established a Supreme Court of Justice at Calcutta. It prohibited the servants of E.I.C from accepting gifts and engaging in private trade.


Pitts Act, 1784:    

Board of control was established to control political affairs in India. So a system of dual government was created. The number of members in the governor’s council was reduced to 3. The board of control was responsible to the parliament and controlled political affairs. The court of directors was in control of commercial affairs.

An amendment to this act in 1786 allowed the governor general to overrule the majority of his council.


II. Lord Cornwallis 

He was a respected aristocrat. He led the British army in the war against America. Although he had to surrender he still commanded deep respect amongst his fellow countrymen.

Salient points of his rule were:

  1. He increased the salaries of the Company servants and prohibited their private trade.
  2. He removed collectors from the post of judges of the civil courts. Separated judiciary and administration.
  3. Indians judges were appointed at the lowest judicial levels. District and city courts had European judges. Provincial court of appeals had European judges. Highest court of appeal at civil and criminal courts was governor general in council.
  4. Father of the Police System: He appointed darogas in every thanas for policing.
  5. He was the father of the Indian civil service.
  6. He was responsible for implementing permanent settlement in Bengal and Bihar.
  7. He was responsible for reformation, modernization, rationalization of civil service. He started the covenanted civil service with only Europeans and un-covenanted civil service for others.



III. Richard Wellesley                

He was famous for introducing the subsidiary alliance system.

  1.  Pindaris rose during his regime as the thousands of soldiers who became unemployed as they were dismissed due to the subsidiary alliance. These soldiers became dacoits.
  2.  He was the maker of madras presidency and creator of Agra province.



IV. Lord Hastings

 Salient features of his administration:

  1.  The Nepal and British territories were bordering each other. The Gurkha’s were aggressive and this led to confrontation. Lord Hastings declared war on Nepal and defeated them.
  2.  Ended the menace of the Pindaris.
  3.  Defeated the Marathas.
  4.  He was the maker of the Bombay province.


V. William Bentinck

He was the first governor general to believe in serving the Indian people.

Salient features of his administration:

  1.  He followed a policy of non intervention and non aggression with Indian princely states.
  2.  He abolished the provincial court of appeals.
  3.  Introduction of local languages in lower courts and English in higher courts.
  4.  Responsible for abolition of sati, female infanticide and suppression of thugs.
  5.  English became the official language of India. Calcutta medical college was established.
  6.  Introduction of English education.

Charter Act, 1813: It reduced monopoly of EIC to trade with India. But it kept monopoly for trade with china. It also allocated an amount of Rs. 1 lakh for promotion of Indian education.

Charter Act, 1833: Ended all monopolies of EIC with respect to trade. Governor General of Bengal became the Governor General of India. It laid the foundation of Indianization of public services.


VI. Lord Dalhousie

He was the youngest governor general.

Salient features of his administration:

  1. He followed the policy of annexation by annexing Punjab, lower Burma, Oudh and central provinces to the British Empire.
  2.  He annexed the princely states if the rulers died without natural heirs. His doctrine of lapse was the reason many kingdoms were added to the British Empire. This policy was one of the reasons for princes joining the 1857 mutiny.
  3.  The annexation of Oudh affected the sepoy’s of the British army as many came from Oudh. They had privileged positions in the army but after the annexation they became same as the remaining population. This too became a reason for 1857 mutiny.
  4.  He molded the new provinces into a centralized state. He shifted the Bengal artillery to Meerut and Shimla became the permanent headquarters of the army.
  5.  Railways were started in India by him. The reasons were commercial, administrative and defense.
  6.  Telegraph line was laid from Calcutta to diamond harbor. Telegraph and railways were very useful for crushing the 1857 mutiny.
  7.  Post stamps were introduced. Uniform rate of half Anna was charged on post throughout the country.
  8.  The universities of Calcutta, Madras and Mumbai were founded in 1857. John Wilson was first chancellor of Mumbai university and KT Telang was first Indian chancellor.
  9.  He modernized the public works department and laid foundation for engineering service in India.

    He introduced the process of modernization in India and is hailed as The Maker of Modern India.


VII. Lord Lytton

Salient features of his administration:

  1. The vernacular press act was passed to muzzle periodicals in Indian languages and curtail freedom of the press.
  2.  Arms act was passed to prevent Indians from keeping arms without license.

Lytton’s reactionary policies such as reduction of maximum age limit for the I.C.S. examination ‘from 21 years to 19 years (1876), the grand Delhi Durbar of 1877 when the country was in the severe grip of famine, the Vernacular Press Act (1878) and the Arms Act (1878) provoked a storm of opposition in the country.

VIII. Lord Ripon


  1.  Repealed the vernacular press act.
  2.  Father of local self government. Started telephone in Kolkata in 1881.
  3.  Appointed hunter commission for expansion and improvement in elementary education for the masses.
  4.  Passed the factory act to improve working conditions in factory.
  5.  Tried to pass the Illbert bill which would have allowed Indian magistrates to try Europeans. But the bill was rejected due to the popular protest against it. Lord Ripon took this as a personal failure and resigned.


IX. Lord Curzon

  1.  Passed the universities act that brought all universities under government control.
  2.  Police training schools were started for officers and constables.
  3.  Passed the legislation making it mandatory for government to protect archaeological monuments.
  4.  Partition of Bengal was done by him.

        The first census and statistical survey of India was conducted by Lord Mayo.

Chapter Review

Score more than 80% marks and move ahead else stay back and read again!


Q1:The first census and statistical survey of India was conducted by






Q2: Partition of Bengal was decided by




Q3:Illbert bill which would have allowed Indian magistrates to try Europeans was introduced by

Q4:Supreme Court of Justice at Calcutta was established by Which Act
1.Pitts Act
2.Regulating Act
3.Lex Loci
4.Charter Act

Q5:Lex loci Act allowed
1.only europeans could have weapons
2.europeanization of civil service
3.allowed christian converts to inherit property
4.allow indian judges to try europeans in courts