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The Management under the East India Company


The chief aim of the British administration in India was the maintenance of law and order and perpetuation of its rule. The Governor General exercised his power and responsibility in the army, police, civil service and the judiciary

Under the Regulating Act of 1773, a Council of four members was appointed and the first Governor-General Warren Hastings (1774-85 AD) was empowered to conduct the Company's affairs with the Councils advice. The Governors of Bombay and Madras were placed under the control of the Governor-General of Calcutta. Under this Act, periodical reports on the civil and military administration had to be submitted to the British Prime Minister. The second important step was taken by the Regulating Act, 1773. Through this parliamentary act, the British government became directly involved in the affairs of India by removing political power from the hands of the trading community.

By the Pitts India Act of 1784, Britan set up a Board of Control in Britain, which could fully control the company's civil, military and revenue affairs in India. However, the company had the monopoly of trade and could appoint and dismiss its officials. From this the Dual Government of the British in India began and continued till 1858. The presidencies of Bombay and Madras were brought under the Governor-General.

Governor-General Wellesley (1798-1805), introduced the Subsidiary system. Under this the Indian rulers entered into treaties with the Company acknowledging its supremacy; permitting its troop to be stationed in their kingdom and paying the cost of their armies, or ceding a part of their territory. Governor-General William Bentinck (1828-35) brought many reforms like suppression of Sati (burning of widows alive in the funeral pyres of their dead husband) and he also suppressed the thugs (a band of murderous decoits who were a terror to the travellers.)

Trade and Industry

Britain was more than just an imperial power. It saw the greatest economic and technological advance in the history of the world: the Industrial Revolution. From 1600 to 1757, the East India Company was a trading corporation and encouraged Indian exports. However, the Industrial revolution of the eighteenth century changed the entire pattern of trade. India fitted perfectly into Britain's scheme of things. India's function was to primarily supply raw materials and buy back cheap industrially produced ready made goods which the British dumped in the Indian markets. They simultaneously closed their markets for endogenously produced Indian goods by imposing prohibitive duties; depriving millions of their livelihood.

Social and Cultural policy

The British followed a policy of non-interference in the religious, social and cultural fields till 1813, when a delicately balanced policy of partial modernization was adopted. This change was advocated by Christian missionaries in a hope that it would eventually lead to the country's conversion to Christianity.