Administrative Organization of the British


Army fulfilled four important functions:

  1. Instrument to conquer Indian powers
  2. Defended the British Empire in India against foreign rivals
  3. Safe-guarded against interinal revolt
  4. Chief instrument for extending and defending the British Empire in Asia and Africa.

Bulk of the army consisted of Indians. In 1857, of the total strength of 311400, about 265900 were Indians. Highest Indian rank was that of Subedar.

British could conquer and control India through a predominantly Indian army because:

  1. There was absence of modern nationalism at that time
  2. The company paid its soldiers regularly and well, as opposed to the Indian rulers and chieftains.


Cornwallis was responsible for the creation of a modern police system in India. He established a system of Thanas (or circles) headed by a daroga. The police:

  1. Prevented organization of a large-scale conspiracy against foreign control
  2. Was used to suppress the national movement.


Though started by Hastings, the system was stabilized by Cornwallis.

Civil Cases

District: Diwani Adalat (civil court) presided over by the District Judge

Provincial Court: Appeal from civil court

Sardar Diwani Adalat: Highest appeal

There were also, below the District Court, Registrar’s Court (headed by Europeans) and subordinate courts headed by Indians known as munsifs or amins.

Criminal Cases

4 divisions of Bengal presidency. Each had a Court of Circuit presided over by the civil servants. Appeals could be made to Sardar Nizamat Adalat.

William Bentinck:

  • Abolished the provincial courts of appeal and circuit
  • Their work was assigned to District Collectors
  • Raised the status and power of Indians in the Judicial service.

In 1865, High Courts were established at Madras, Calcutta and Bombay.

British brought about  uniformity in the system of law. In 1833, the government appointed Law Commission headed by Macaulay to codify Indian Laws. This eventually resulted in the Indian Penal Code, Code of Civil and Criminal Procedures and other codes of laws.

Spread of Modern Education

1781: Hastings set up the Calcutta Madrasah for the study and teaching of Muslim law and related subjects

1791: Jonathan Duncan started a Sanskrit College at Varanasi for the study of Hindu law and philosophy.

1813: Charter of 1813 directed the Company to spend Rs. 1 lakh for promoting modern sciences in the country. This sum was however made available only in 1823.

1835: Macaulay’s minute.

English was made the medium of instruction in schools. Education of masses was however neglected. British advocated the ‘downward filtration theory’ for education. As per this theory, since the allocated funds could educate only a handful of Indians, it was decided to spend them in educating a few persons from the upper and middle classes who were expected to assume the task of educating the masses and spreading modern ideas among them.

1844: Compulsion for applicants for government employment to possess knowledge of English. This made the English medium schools more popular.

1854: Wood’s Dispatch asked the government of India to assume responsibility for the education of the masses. It thus repudiated the ‘downward filtration theory’. As a result, Departments of Education were instituted in all provinces and universities were setup in 1857 at Madras, Calcutta and Bombay.

The main reason why British adopted some measures towards education in India was because:

  1. They needed educated people to man their system of administration. It was not possible to get enough Englishmen to man all the posts.
  2. Another important motive was the belief that educated Indians would help expand the market for British manufactures in India.
  3.  Lastly, it was expected to reconcile the people of India to British rule.

Major drawbacks of the English education system:

  1. Neglect of mass education. Mass literacy in India was hardly better in 1921 than in 1821. High fees in schools and colleges led to the education becoming a monopoly of the rich.
  2. Almost total neglect of the education of girls. As late as 1921 only 2 percent Indian women could read and write.
  3. Neglect of scientific and technical education.
  4. The government was never willing to spend more than a scanty sum on education.

Development of Education


  • Charter act of 1813
    • Sanctioned 1 lakh rupees annually for promoting education and modern sciences
    • Not made available till 1823
  • Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy
  • Lord Macaulay’s minute (1835)
  • Wood’s Despatch (1854)
    • Rejected the downward filtration theory
    • Asked the government of India to assume the responsibility of education of the masses
    • English as medium for higher studies and verinaculars at school level
  • 1857: University of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras
  • Hunter Commission (1882-83)
    • State care required for promotion and spread of primary and secondary education
    • Transfer control of primary education to district and municipal boards
  • Raleigh Commission, 1902
  • Universities Act 1904
  • Saddler Education Commission (1917-19)
    • School course should cover 12 years
    • Less rigidity in framing university regulations
  • Hartog Committee (1929)
    • No hasty expansion or compulsion of education
  • Wardha Scheme of basic education (1937)
    • Vocation based education
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