The Indian Councils Act 1909 (9 Edw. 7 Ch. 4), commonly known as the Morley-Minto or Minto-Morley Reforms, was an Act
of the Parliament of the United Kingdom
that brought about a limited increase in the involvement
of Indians in the governance of British India
A small educated elite met for the first time as the Indian National Congress in 1885. Provincial associations had already emerged. One of the main grievances of the associations was the difficulties for Indians to enter the civil service. In 1858, Queen Victoria
had proclaimed equal treatment for Indians.
But very few Indians had received an opportunity to be admitted. British officials were hesitant to accept Indians as partners in the administration. With that perspective, it appeared that granting a few concessions of representation in the provincial and imperial legislatures to the native elite would be a lesser evil. The non-monopolising participation of Indians in the legislatures was to be an enhancement for British rule.
Such a limited reform initiated in 1892 clamour by the Indian National Congress for more legislative representation. The process was limited to proposing candidates, whom the government could nominate for the parliaments. Indians were still outnumbered by British members in the legislatures, and their abilities were limited to speeches and debates. Nonetheless, the restricted enterprise attracted the attention of the Indian leadership, and the 1892 charm of the Congress declined.] [
The British Liberal Party won the 1906 general election in Britain. Subsequently, the liberal philosopher John Morley became the British Secretary of State for India and wished to gather moderate Indians because of the armed activities by the young nationalists] [ and thought thar would keep the moderates away from the radical members of the Congress.] The moderates were enthusiastic and expected more from Morley than he had countenanced. Additionally, Morley's judgement was guided by Lord Minto, the viceroy, and H.H. Risley, the Home Secretary. The latter opposed territorial representation and urged representation on the basis of the different interests in what he perceived to be the Indian social structure. [
A 1909 legislative enactment, called the Morley-Minto reforms, conferred some political reforms which encouraged the constitutionalists in the Congress. More Indians could be elected to the legislatures on the basis of the Indian Councils Act.
[ The executive remained under strong British control, and the government's consultative mode remained unchanged. The reforms established Indian dominance in the provincial but not central legislative bodies. Elections, mainly indirect, were affirmed for all levels of society.] The elected Indians were also enabled to debate budgetary and complementary matters and table resolutions. [
Despite the reforms, the members still reeled over electoral apportionment. The provinces were delegated electoral allocations, and administrative changes hindered harmful moves against the British rule. A major hindrance to coalitions was the separate electorates.] [
A momentous introduction in the reforms was the separate electorates, with seats reserved for Muslims in which only Muslims would be polled. The implication that Muslims and their interests could be protected only by Muslims would influence Indian politics in the ensuing decades.
[ The Muslim League had been founded in 1906 by an elite aiming to promote Muslim interests,] [ prevent Hindu dominance over Muslims through a parliamentary system] [ and advance the Muslim perspective in the deliberations regarding constitutional reforms after October 1907. Minto heard in October 1906 a Muslim deputation, which comprised 35 Muslims from all Indian provinces except the Northwest Frontier. The principal organisers of the delegation and main supporters of the movement for separate electorates were Muslims from the UP. The delegation asked that the Muslims be given a fair share in representation. The fair share was to be determined by the numerical position of Muslims, their political significance and the Muslim contribution in defending the British Empire.
The delegation stated that the existing Muslim representation was inadequate and that the election of Muslims was dependent on the Hindu majority and so the elected Muslims could not truly represent Muslims. Minto welcomed their representative character and acknowledged and promoted the separate Muslim politics. The official British sympathy for the delegation aroused suspicion that the viceroy had invited them, instead of only meeting them. However, the British officials shared the Muslim League's fear of legislative outnumbering and accepted any assistance against Morley's democratic inclinations.] [ Contrary to the 'command performance' hypothesis, the evidence demonstrates that the initiative for this meeting was taken by Muhsin-ul Mulk.
British officials persuaded Minto of the deputation's representative character and the danger that Muslim discontent could pose to the British rule. The number of members in the central Legislative Council was raised from 16 to 60. The British believed that by entreating separate Muslim representation, they would simply be acknowledging Indian realities. Separate representation for Muslims was a subsidiary of the government's policy of identifying people by their religion and caste. Muslims were seen as a helpful and possibly-loyal counterbalance to Hindus but they were also feared as extreme because of their role in the 1857 revolt and the assassination in 1872 of the Viceroy, Lord Mayo.
Morley wished a reconciliation between territorial representation and Muslim demands, but Risley backed the separate electorates and either convinced Morley or dampened his disapproval of them.] [ The Muslim League's insistence on separate electorates and reserved seats in the Imperial Council was granted in the Indian Councils Act after the League held protests in India and lobbied London. The party's leadership was successful in converting Minto's unclear support of its 1906 delegation into a political fact.]
*Government of India Act (disambiguation)
*Indian Councils Act 1861
*Indian Councils Act 1892
*Government of India Act 1919
CADIndia Original Text of the Indian Councils Act with brief summary
Category:Legislation in British India
Category:United Kingdom Acts of Parliament 1909
Category:Politics of Gorkhaland