Administrative Changes after the revolt of 1857

What all Administrative changes were made after the revolt of 1857

The next big task for the British after crushing the 1857 revolt was of reorganization of the entire Machinery of Administration. It was required to prevent the possibility of any such mass occurrence.

End of 1857 revolt marked the beginning of Crown rule and an end to Company rule that’s why British attitude changed towards each and every Indian element. Meanwhile, other industrial countries like the USA, Japan, etc. were also emerging and they started scramble of raw material and new markets for finished goods.

1857 Revolt

This gave birth to intense rivalry among imperial powers. New modern developments like Railways extension, trade and banking, coal mining, jute mills, telegraph, shipping and tea plantations were introduced on a smaller scale and were financed by the British capital funds brought from England to India.

Administration Under British Raj got divided into three levels-

  • Central
  • Provincial
  • Local

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Central Administration– {Charter Act of 1858}

  • Passed by British Parliament on 02nd August 1858
  • Abolished Company’s rule
  • Introduced for better Government in India
  • Queen Victoria was declared as the sovereign power in dealing with Indian Matters.
  • Power was transferred from Court of Directors to the Secretary of State for India and the Viceroy.
  • An Indian office was established in London headed by the Secretary of State for India, who was the member of the British Cabinet.
  • The governor general was granted a new title of Viceroy meaning the queen’s personal representative.
  • He was to be assisted by a Council and had to report everything to the Secretary of State for India.
  • This act also directed that the viceroy would have an Executive Council, consisting of members to be charged with different departments.
  • Though these members assisted viceroy and the decision was to be taken by a majority vote but the Viceroy had the Veto power, means he could override any decision.
  • Similar was the case with Secretary, he was assisted by 15 members collectively called Indian Council. This council was divided into committees each under a secretary.


Provincial Administration

  • British governed territories were divided into provinces for administration convenience- Bengal, Madras and Bombay
  • Administered by Governors, directly appointed by the Crown.
  • The central government wielded extreme control over the financial matters of the provincial government.
  • But this supervision was not that successful and therefore it decided to decentralise public finance.

 Financial Decentralization

  • The policy of decentralization was initiated by Lord Mayo in 1870 and enlarged by Lytton.
  • In 1877 the provincial governments were given the control of Expenditure on Financial Services like Excise, Land Revenue Reforms, Law and Justice etc.
  • Whatever amount of revenue was collected from sources like excise, taxes, stamps etc were to be given to provincial governments for meeting the expenses of the latter.
  • In 1882, the system of giving fixed grants to provinces were substituted by the system of Divided Heads- Income from subjects like Excise, stamps, Tones were divided into equal proportion among the central and provincial governments.

In this way financial decentralization came with 3 divisions of revenue-

  1. General- going entirely to center
  2. Provincial- going entirely to provinces
  3. others- to be divided between the center and the provinces.
  •  The actual power regarding finances still remained in the hands of the British Crown.
  • The British Government introduced their structural changes for the purpose of increasing its revenue while keeping down its expenses.

Local Bodies

  • In order to lessen the financial burden, the government went forward for decentralisation and for this purpose, the government started promoting the district boards and municipalities which were to provide civic amenities like sanitation, health, water supply, education, etc. In the local area.
  • The entire expenditure was to be borne by the taxes collected at the district level.
  • This is why the central government got relieved from the responsibility of giving a part of central income to local bodies.

The reasons behind introducing such changes can be summed up as

vFirstly – the over-centralization only increased the financial burden on the exchequer (central government)

vSecondly – the government could no longer neglect these basic services in the wake of rising nationalists demands for the introduction of modern developments in civic life,

Thirdly – the changes brought by the industrial revolution in Europe made it imperative for the imperial nations to transplant them in the colonies too.

Lastly, some Englishmen had emphasized the need for the formation of these local bodies because they believed that this measure prevented the Indians from getting politically active in the social and political life.

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