British Raj

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 31, 2022, 5:13

The period when the British colonized and ruled countries in South Asia is called the British Raj. The British Crown exercised direct rule on the Indian subcontinent between 1858 to 1947.

The British initially ruled over India through its trading company, The East India Company. Due to the revolts against the establishment, the British took over directly governing India, giving rise to the British Raj.

Contribution of the British Raj to India

India was the "Jewel in the crown" for the British Empire for a long time due to its vast natural resources. The British built railway lines, roads, and communication systems to easily transport the goods.

India was a highly profitable colony for the British Raj for a long time. However, the systems like the railways set up for efficiency brought the country together. Ease of travel and communication aided the freedom struggle.

Beginning of the British Raj

The First War of Independence in 1857 exposed the inability of the East India Company to rule the vast subcontinent efficiently. Following the sepoy mutiny, the British Parliament passed the Government of India act of 1858.

This act ended the powers of the East India Company to rule India, and the country became directly governed by the British Crown. The British Raj began then.

The critical role of control on the Government of India belonged to the Viceroy. The power of the East India Company was reduced significantly and had no role to play in the governance. The entire set of government officials were Britons, and the Viceroy headed the group. There was no Indian representation in the Government of the British Raj.

Government Structure During the British Raj

In 1861 the Indian Councils Act was passed in the British Parliament. This act made the governors and the Viceroy the executive council responsible for governing India. This executive group was also a part of the Imperial Legislative Council.

The British Raj organized India into eleven provinces. Each province had a governor and its legislative council. In 1876 following the establishment of the British Raj and noting its success, the Royals Title Act was passed in the British Parliament.

This act made Queen Victoria the Empress of India. These changes established the British Raj as the sole and legitimate ruler of the Indian subcontinent.

The Rebellion Against the British Crown

While the British Crown tightened its control on India, there was a rise in the national sentiment among Indians. Indians began showing a keen interest in politics and involvement in governing India.

This sentiment gave rise to the creation of The Indian National Congress in 1885. The increasing influence of the Indian National Congress saw Dadabhai Naoroji and Sir Mukherjee Bhownaggaree join the British Parliament.

The End of the British Raj

After World War I, the British Crown involved Indians in every administrative branch. They found it necessary to have Indian representation in the government to retain control over India.

World War II saw a rise in nationalism, and demand for self-rule increased intensity. The Crown involved India in the world war without consent from the Indians. This decision started mass protests and diminished the trust in the Crown and the military. These revolts finally ended the British Raj.

A divided India made the British Crown rule India and turn it into one of the most profitable colonies in the British Empire. The British chose to divide and rule and kept India from uniting for a cause.

The world wars gave rise to an increasing sentiment of nationalism and revolts, both violent and non-violent, that led to the downfall of the British. India and Pakistan gained independence in 1947, marking the end of British rule.

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FAQs on British Raj

Q1: When was the British Raj formed?

A: The British Raj was formed in 1958 after the First War of Independence or Sepoy Mutiny in 1957.

Q2: How many provinces was India divided into during the British Raj?

A: India was divided into eleven provinces during the British Raj.

Q3: Who was the first Viceroy of the British Raj?

A: Lord Canning was the first Viceroy of India.

Q4: What did the Royal Title Act of 1876 pass during the British Raj achieve?

A: The Royal Title Act of 1876 passed during the British Raj officially made Queen Victoria the "Empress of India."