Thursday, June 2, 2011

Adminstrative reform in British India since Clive

Attempts at administrative reform Having thus founded the Empire of British India, Clive sought to put in place a strong administration. The salaries of civil servants were increased, the acceptance of gifts from Indians was forbidden, and Clive exacted covenants under which participation in the inland trade was stopped. Unfortunately this had very little impact in reducing corruption, which remained widespread until the days of Warren Hastings. Clive's military reforms were more effective. He put down a mutiny of the English officers, who chose to resent the veto against receiving presents and the reduction of batta (extra pay) at a time when two Mahratta armies were marching on Bengal. His reorganization of the army, on the lines of that which he had begun after Plassey, neglected during his absence in England, subsequently attracted the admiration of Indian officers. He divided the whole army into three brigades, making each a complete force, in itself equal to any single Indian army that could be brought against it. He had not enough British artillerymen, however, and would not make the mistake of his successors, who trained Indians to work the guns, which were later turned against the British
From 1772 to 1774, Hastings consolidated British control over native authorities, restored order to the province's judicial system, abolished the pension that Lord Clive had paid to the Mughul, and created a new, more efficient procedure for collecting the land revenues, a major source of the company's financial solvency. The English collectors, being inexperienced and extortionate, were removed and replaced with native officers of proven knowledge and ability. Six divisions were created by grouping the districts and subordinating them to provincial councils under the control of non-Indian administrators. This arrangement, like so many of Hastings's ideas, was to become an enduring part of the British ruling tradition in India.
Lord North's Regulating Act of 1773 placed India under three presidencies, with one governor-general, a position held by Hastings from 1774 to 1784, assisted by a newly created council of five, three of whom—strangers to India—were hostile to his policies. Given only a single vote, Hastings frequently found himself overruled in his efforts to curb further corruption and introduce reforms. Eventually his fellow councillors, led by Sir Phillip Francis, conspired against him, fabricating charges of corruption and cruelty that were to culminate in his impeachment. Despite such obstructionism, Hastings launched military expeditions to defeat the Mahrattas conspiracy that threatened Britain's imperial governance, quelled provincial revolts, continued his financial reforms, and founded the Asiatic Society of Bengal and the Calcutta Madrisa, a vital center of Muslim culture. He also had to confront the danger posed by the sultanate of Haidar Ali, who (with the connivance of the French and Dutch) plotted insurrection against British rule. On his own authority, Hastings removed the incompetent governor of Madras and replaced him with the veteran militarist Sir Eyre Coote, who defeated Ali's forces at Porto Novo. Parallel naval action drove the rebels out of the Carnatic (a region in southeastern India). On the death of Haidar Ali in 1782, Hastings negotiated the treaty of Salbai, which acknowledged British supremacy throughout India and calmed the situation in Madras