Rāj


Rāj
   The Hindi word for “rule,” and a commonly used reference to the British colonial regime on India. The East India Company was founded on December 30, 1600, and company representatives arrived at Surat in 1608, Madras in 1639, Bombay in 1668, and Calcutta in 1690. After 1763, it became the paramount power in India. The Regulating Act of 1774 extended the control of the British government over the East India Company’s possessions in India, which the India Act of 1784 extended when it created a Board of Control. Lord Cornwallis, through his 1793 Code of Forty-Eight Regulations and his Permanent Zamindari Settlement, introduced the concept of alienable private property into Bengal and created a new class of landlords who embraced Western education and became partners of the British. In Madras a settlement directly with the cultivators, the Ryotwari Settlement, was introduced. English common law was introduced and the Rāj was backed up with overwhelming military force. The company founded an “East India College” at Haileybury in 1809 to train administrators to administer this system. From Madras and Bengal the British control extended their presence through the Mysore Wars (1767–1799), the Maratha Wars (1775–1819), the Sikh Wars (1845–1849), and, from 1826, the Anglo-Burmese Wars.
   The Charter Acts of 1793, 1813, 1833, and 1853 extended but modified company rule and it discontinued all commercial operations in 1833. It ruled India on behalf of the British government through the governor-general. After company rule was wound up after the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the Government of India Act of 1858 created a secretary of state for India who assumed direct responsibility through a viceroy who was also the governor-general. The viceroy was assisted by an executive council of which the commander-in-chief was a member. A “collector” headed each of the 235 districts of India, and departments such as accounts, archaeological survey, customs, education, forests, geological survey, jails, meteorological survey, mint, opium, pilot service, post office and telegraph, police, public works, registration, salt, and survey extended the Rāj to every almost every area of Indian life. The Crown of British rule, Queen Victoria, was in 1877 proclaimed Empress of India.
   In 1861, the government passed the first of a number of Indian Councils Acts. Madras and Bombay received legislative assemblies and new councils were created for Bengal in 1862, the North-West Frontier Province in 1886, and Burma and the Punjab in 1897. The Government of India Act of 1909 enlarged the Indian Legislative Council and the provincial assemblies and a nonofficial majority and separate electorates were established. This was the basis of the Government of India Acts of 1919 and 1935. By 1914, the British had created a veritable Rāj that had incorporated India into the global capitalist system, brought modern educational institutions, the British system of representative government, British legal principles, and the English Language.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    James, Lawrence. Rāj: The Making and Unmaking of British India. London: Little, Brown, 1997;
    Judd, Denis. The Lion and the Tiger: The Rise and Fall of the British Rāj, 1600–1947. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
   ROGER D. LONG

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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