This book is about how power was wielded by the British in India. It goes from the time of the East India Company to the time of direct rule by the British as a colony. It demonstrates how the people did not have sovereignty and the resources of India were used to enrich share and bondholders. Because the profits were not used to better the lives of those in India, Ambedkar makes a case for sovereignty.
The administration of the East India company had three branches. The first was the Court of Proprietor which consisted of all shareholders. The Court of Directors which had twenty-four members who would be in the governor and supreme council roles. The Board of Commissioners were company employees to decided on the policy that would run the company controlled territories.
As stated earlier the pick the governor and three of four Supreme Council members. The supreme council expanded in later years, but the company retained ultimate power. To further quell the will of the people the governor could unilaterally initiate and enact legislation.
The governors spilt India into three presidencies. Bengal was the principle presidency that had more power than Madras and Bombay. These governments simply enacted company policies on the people and collected taxes. Ambedkar goes into detail on how various industries were taxed. The common thread was that the taxation policy was designed to benefit share and bondholders at the expense of the people.
The British finally dissolve the company after the mutiny of 1857. Contrary to popular belief the mutiny did not spurn the dissolution of the company. The British had been trying to destroy the company to stop their monopoly on Indian products.
The colonial government that was formed on the condition it assumed the East India Companies debt of 69 M pounds. The debt further hamstrung the government in improving the lives of poverty-stricken Indians.
Ambedkar does give the British credit for the modernization of India. However, he buffers his praise by explaining that the life of the average Indian did not improve. The ideal scenario would be that the resources of India be used to enhance the status of the average Indian. The goal of those in charge would be to work toward the betterment of India.
The full document can be read HERE
Leave a Reply