Wednesday, 25 April 2012


In 1909

Indian nationalism was very different from what  it had been in 1885 and 1892.Many of its exponents were now extrimities denouncing the British Raj. Lord Minto , Viceroy from 1905-1910 decided that while extremism should be firmly repressed,a further and substantial  concession should be made to the more moderate nationalists. Minto was met half way by the Secretary Of State. The oucome was the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909.  BY the Indian Council Act that of year the principle of elections at the Centre as well as in the Povinces  was now recognised and legalised, but the constituencies were still to be communities and group of various kind and not general consitituencies of the normal democratic type. A small official  majority was retained at the Centre; but in the Provinces the officials were outnumbered by the nominated plus elected members, and in Bengal the elected members had a clear majority.Yhe possibility of Indians holding the highest offices in the administration,was realised by the appointment of an Indian not only in each Provincial Executive Council but to the Governor General's too

Though the Act of 1909 brought the constitutional advancebegun by the act of 1861to the threshold of representative government, the idea that this advance was comparable wiyh that had happened in England or the colonies was firmly rejected by the British statesmen and officials.The Legialative Council still regarded as Durbars rather than parliament.Lord Curzon's  chief criticism of the new councils was taht they would invitably become parliamentary bodies.

Throughout this period of advancing claim s of the Congress had not ignored the problem of Muslim minority. The article of the constitution which allocated the seats for the all India Congress  Committee pescribed that as far as possible 1/5 of the total number of representative shall abe Muslimsm .
On the issue of seperate electorate the Muslim Leadrers were equally unyielding. Seperate electorate were the indispensable safegaurds without which they would not have acquiesced in the Reforms of 1909.  but their disagreement with the Congress went deeper than that. Like Morley they would have nothing to do whith those reforms they had been design to lead on the colonial precedent towards a parliamentry system, yet that was precisely how the Congress ,ignoring Morley disclaimer had interpreted them . This fundamental cleavage of opinion was soon made manifest. 

main features of Act
1. The number of the members of the Legislative Council at the Center was increased from 16 to 60.
2. The number of the members of the Provincial Legislatives was also increased. It was fixed as 50 in the provinces of Bengal, Madras and Bombay, and for the rest of the provinces it was 30.
3. The member of the Legislative Councils, both at the Center and in the provinces, were to be of four categories i.e. ex-officio members (Governor General and the members of their Executive Councils), nominated official members (those nominated by the Governor General and were government officials), nominated non-official members (nominated by the Governor General but were not government officials) and elected members (elected by different categories of Indian people).
4. The right of separate electorate was given to the Muslims.
5. Official members were to form the majority but in provinces non-official members would be in majority.
6. The members of the Legislative Councils were permitted to discuss the budgets, suggest the amendments and even to vote on them; excluding those items that were included as non-vote items. They were also entitled to ask supplementary questions during the legislative proceedings.
7. The Secretary of State for India was empowered to increase the number of the Executive Councils of Madras and Bombay from two to four.
8. Two Indians were nominated to the Council of the Secretary of State for Indian Affairs.
9. The Governor General was empowered to nominate one Indian member to his Executive Council.

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