India Council Act 1909 -| Birth of communal division in India | 1909 Marle-Minto Act

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 India Council Act 1909 – Birth of communal division in India. 1909 Marle-Minto Act

       The Government of India Act 1909, commonly known as the Marley-Minto Reforms. It was this act that started legalizing communal politics in India. Along with this, the matter of appointing Indians to government posts was said in all the earlier Acts but no significant result was revealed on the ground. The reason for passing this act and its purpose and consequences will be discussed in this blog. The purpose of this blog is to provide reliable and useful information to you people.


Events behind the passing of the 1909 Act


     The Congress which was continuously talking of more representation for Indians but the reforms of 1892 disappointed the Congress and its demands were not met.

Lokmanya Balgangadhar Tilak had severely criticized this begging policy of the Congress in these words –

        “Political rights have to be fought. But the liberal leaders of the Congress understand that these can be achieved by inspiration. But we believe that they can be achieved only by pressure.”

        This idea of ​​Chittaranjan Das and Dadabhai Naoroji was proving to be literally true that the country’s poverty is increasing due to the exploitation policy of foreign rulers and the reason for this exploitation policy was to strengthen the British industrialists to strengthen the cottage and small industries of India. Destroying and taking the raw materials of India to England.

    It was repeatedly said by the British government that educated Indians would be given proper representation in government services and governance, but this was only an assurance.

 Lord Curzon’s Reactionary Policy


      The reactionary policy of Lord Curzon had created anger among the Indian intelligentsia. Curzon was a very reactionary and had no sympathy for Indians. He put the Calcutta Corporation under complete government control and in 1899 reduced the corporation’s members to one-third and gave a majority to the Europeans.

      Curzon adopted a similar policy towards Indian universities in 1904 and ended the representation of Indians.

      To break the national unity of Bengal, Curzon partitioned Bengal which completely shook the Indians. Curzon’s policy was termed by the Bengali community as their “disdain, defamation and deceit” and many movements were raised against it.
Inhuman treatment of Indians across the sea

      Indians were treated with a lot of degrading treatment, especially in South Africa, due to which there was discontent among the Indians. The recruits were treated as slaves. Therefore, Indians considered independence as the last option, which inspired nationalism.

outbreaks of famines and epidemics


     In the last days of the 19th century, there was an outbreak of terrible famine and plague, due to which the grief and misery increased greatly among the Indian people. People directly blamed the British government for this calamity because it had not taken any concrete steps to deal with this epidemic and famine.

Role of Indian Newspapers


      Minto wrote to Marley that “we have to find ways to deal with the local newspapers” on Indian newspapers that had been vehemently critical of the British government and its policies since 1882 AD. Thus Indian newspapers played their important role.
Surat split in Congress 1907

    The Indian National Congress split into two parties – the liberals and the extremists. This division took place in 1907 at the Surat Convention. Liberal leaders still understood that their demands would be made through constitutional means, on the contrary, extremist leaders should also boycott all means for independence – foreign goods, trade, government jobs, titles and titles etc. With this, the Swadeshi movement got a boost and the British government got worried about the extremist incidents too.

Sir Syed Ahmed’s policy of appeasement


   The growing Congress instilled a sense of isolation among many Muslim leaders, one of them was Sir Syed Ahmed Khan who asked the Muslims to avoid opposition to the British state. The British also now forwarded the Muslims and a delegation led by Aga Khan met Lord Minton and got assurance of representation on religious lines. It was from here that the British implemented their “divide and rule” policy. Simultaneously, Muslim communalism also started.

    While the Act of 1892 was passed to reduce the national movement of the Congress, the Act of 1909 was passed to make the moderate Congressmen and Muslims the supporter of the British rule.

     The time had come for Lord Marley, who was a staunch disciple of Gladston and then India’s Secretary of State in the liberal government of England, to make some political reforms for India. Lord Marley and Lord Minton both agreed that now some more political reforms should be done in India. Finally Minto wrote this to the Secretary of India:

     “The time has come and we must schedule our plan for implementation, not only of what our reforms will be but also when and how they will be implemented.”

Provisions of the Marley-Minton Act of 1909


  • The size and powers of the central and provincial legislatures were increased by this act.
  • Central Legislature –
  • The number of additional members was increased to 60.
  • Thus now the number of members in the legislature became 69, out of which 37 were government members and 32 belonged to the non-government class.
  • Of the official members, there were only nine ex-officio members, i.e. the Governor-General, and seven executive councilors and one ordinary member. 28 members were nominated by the Governor-General.
  • Out of 32 non-official members, 5 were nominated by the Governor-General and the remaining 27 members were elected.

         “It has been found about these elected members that territorial or territorial representation is not appropriate in India, so the class and special interests should be given representation in the country.”


        Therefore, out of these 27 elected members, 13 should come from the general electorate, in which elected members two each from Bombay, Bengal, Madras, and United Provinces (present-day Uttar Pradesh) and Assam, Bihar and Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab , Madras and Burma one each (5), were elected. This electoral college was only for the elected members of these provincial legislative councils.
    Out of the remaining 14, 12 members used to come from the special class electorate. Among the representatives of these special classes, 6 were elected by the electoral circles of landowners, one each from Bombay, Madras, Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, the United Provinces and the Central Provinces. The other six Muslim constituencies were elected from Madras, Bombay, United Provinces and one each from Bihar and Orissa and two from Bengal. The remaining two seats were given to the Chambers of Commerce of Bombay and Bengal.


reshuffle in provincial legislature


   The increased number of members of the Legislative Councils of different provinces were as follows:

  • Burma : 16
  • East Bengal and Assam : 41
  • Bengal : 52
  • Madras, Bombay and United Provinces: 47 more each
  • Punjab: 25


      The provinces had a majority of non-official members. But it did not mean the majority of the elected members because some of the non-official members were nominated by the governor. Thus government control remained in these provincial legislative councils.

      For example we can see the position of the members of Madras–

          Of the 47 members of Madras, 26 were non-official but of these only 21 were elected and the remaining 5 were nominated by the governor. As expected, these nominated members always took the side of the government. Thus the control of the government remained and this was the situation in all the provinces.

     These elected members also had representation from different bodies. For example, out of 21 elected members of Bombay, 6 were elected by Bombay University and Bombay Municipal Corporation. 8 by general electoral circles consisting of members from municipalities and district boards. The remaining 7 were elected by the class-specific electorate. Out of which 4 were elected only by the Muslims and 3 by the Bhumipatis.

  “The number of executive committees of Bengal, Madras and Bombay was increased to 4. The lieutenant governors were also allowed to appoint their own executives.
Functions of Legislative Councils –

  • The functions of the central and provincial legislative councils were also expanded.
  • Members were given the right to debate and ask supplementary questions.
  • In the Central Legislature, detailed rules were made for the discussion of the budget.
  • The members, though barred from voting, could demand money for local bodies.
  • Members could also propose amendments to taxes, new loans, etc.
  • Before placing the financial statements in the Legislative Council, they were placed in a committee whose members were half between the non-official and the nominated members.
  • Members could discuss matters of the general public.
  • But the government was not bound to accept the proposals of the members whether they were related to public affairs or financial statements.


Evaluation Act of 1909


    The reforms made in the Act of 1909 could neither solve nor emerge from the Indian political question. Limited suffrage, indirect elections, limited powers of the Legislative Council made representative government a slang. The real power remained with the government and the councils gained nothing except to criticize.

Commencement of communal politics


       The doors of communal representation in Indian politics were opened by giving separate electorates and voting rights to the Muslims.

      To this Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru said, “These created a political barrier around them which separated them from the rest of India, thereby sabotaging all the efforts towards unity and reconciliation that had begun over the centuries. . . . …… In the beginning these resistances were small because the electoral circles were small, but as the franchise increased, the whole atmosphere of the political and social circle was polluted, like a disease that affects the whole body. It just affects.”

       Muslims were not only given separate community representation for their (Muslims) political importance, but they were given more representation than their numbers for the service of their British Empire. promised to give more support to him, although he did not get anything special.

     Inspired by the communal representation, the Sikhs also demanded separate representation and they got it in the Act of 1919.

     Similarly, in the Act of 1935, Harijans, Indian Christians, Europeans and Anglo-Indians also got representation.

     In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “The Minto-Marley Reforms destroyed us.”

     Of. In the words of M. Munshi “they killed the emerging democracy.”

     A very important thing which was said in the report of Indian Constitutional Reforms published in 1918, we find it literally true even in the present context.

       “It (separate electorates) is against the teaching of history. It keeps religions and classes alive, leading to the existence of camps that are opposed to each other and do not give them the power to think as a citizen but as a citizen. encourages biases. This allowed the present circumstances to remain unchanged and hindered the development of the principles of self-government.”

      Lord Marley, writing a letter to Lord Minton, said that by establishing a separate electorate, “we are sowing the dragon’s teeth and its fruit will be dire.” (This has also been proved by the genocide before independence)

    The reforms made in the Act of 1909 could not fulfill the wishes of the Indians, so the public opposed them. Because instead of responsible government in it, “friendly autocracy” which had only glimpses of partial democracy.

     Parliamentary system was given in this Act but accountability was not given. Indian leaders made a platform for bitter criticism of the government in the legislatures. With the idea that he would not have to shoulder the responsibility, he only became critical and even more unresponsive.

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