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Constitutional Reforms Notes

History Notes > Empire and Nation: Britain and India Since 1750 Notes

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What were the constitutional reforms between 1919 -1946?
Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms (1917) - basis for 1919 Government of India Act 1935 Government of India Act

Why were the British motivated to introduce constitutional reforms in India?
A) Political concessions in light of imperial commitments B) Fiscal autonomy in light of financial crises Objectives of British policy in India:
? Tomlinson defines the objectives of British policy as (i) the maintenance of India's imperial commitment to provide a market for British goods (ii) supply men and materials for imperial defence (iii) obtain the sterling remittance needed to meet Home Charges and interest payments "The devolution of increased political power and responsibility onto Indians was simply a device to buy support" Tomlinson. The secret of successful Indian government was low taxation, hence imperial demands for Indian resources had to be balanced against domestic pressures. The heart of the problems of the Raj was the maintenance of this balance: ever successive imperial crisis in which Indian resources were pressed into imperial service - notably the two world wars and the great depression of 1929-33 - disrupted it, resulting in the need for political concessions to India, which limited the demands that the empire could make upon India in the next crisis. Effects of the First World War
? India's major contributions had been in supplying money, manpower and materials for the war.
? Military expenditure chargeable to Indian revenues rose from PS20 million to PS30 million.
? By 1916, India had, in the words of the Viceroy, been bled "absolutely white".
? The most important effect on the war on Indian affairs was the acceleration of various schemes of constitutional reform, culminating in the Government of India Act of 1919. This legislation was based on the joint report written by the Viceroy Lord Chelmsford and the Secretary of State for India Montagu in 1917, which had argued that the only way to win Indian co-operation for British rule was to give representative Indians a greater measure of responsible executive power. The 1919 Act introduced diarchy.
? Within the British Cabinet, the purpose of the 1919 Act was not to reward India's efforts during the war, or because of any milestone that had been passed in the evolution of Indian political opinion, but because it was feared that popular

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