|Viceroy and Governor-General of India|
Standard of the viceroy and governor-general of India (1885-1947)
Flag of the governor-general of the Dominion of India (1947-1950)
|Residence|| Government House (1858-1931)|
Viceroy's House (1931-1950)
|Formation||20 October 1774|
|First holder||Lord William Bentinck|
|Final holder||Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari|
|Abolished||26 January 1950|
The governor-general of India (from 1858 to 1947 the viceroy and governor-general of India, commonly shortened to viceroy of India) was the representative of the monarch of the United Kingdom and after Indian independence in 1947, the representative of the Indian head of state. The office was created in 1773, with the title of governor-general of the Presidency of Fort William . The officer had direct control only over Fort William, but supervised other East India Company officials in India. Complete authority over all of British India was granted in 1833, and the official came to be known as the "governor-general of India".
The 1947 Indian Independence Act is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that partitioned British India into the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan. The Act received the royal assent on July 18, 1947, and thus India and Pakistan, comprising West and East regions, came into being on August 15.
Governor-general or governor general, in modern usage, is the title of an office-holder appointed to represent the monarch of a sovereign state in the governing of an independent realm as a viceroy. Governors-general have also previously been appointed in respect of major colonial states or other territories held by either a monarchy or republic, such as Japan in Korea and France in Indochina.
Fort William is a fort in Calcutta (Kolkata), built during the early years of the Bengal Presidency of British India. It sits on the eastern banks of the River Hooghly, the major distributary of the River Ganges. One of Kolkata's most enduring Raj-era edifices, it extends over an area of 70.9 hectares.
In 1858, as a consequence of the Indian Mutiny the previous year, the territories and assets of the East India Company came under the direct control of the British Crown; as a consequence the Company Raj was succeeded by the British Raj. The Governor-General (now also the Viceroy) headed the central government of India, which administered the provinces of British India, including the Punjab, Bengal, Bombay, Madras, the United Provinces, and others.However, much of India was not ruled directly by the British Government; outside the provinces of British India, there were hundreds of nominally independent princely states or "native states", whose relationship was not with the British Government or the United Kingdom, but rather one of homage directly with the British Monarch as sovereign successor to the Mughal Emperors. From 1858, to reflect the Governor-General's new additional role as the Monarch's representative in re the fealty relationships vis the princely states, the additional title of Viceroy was granted, such that the new office was entitled "viceroy and governor-general of India". This was usually shortened to "viceroy of India".
The British Raj was the rule by the British Crown on the Indian subcontinent from 1858 to 1947. The rule is also called Crown rule in India, or direct rule in India. The region under British control was commonly called India in contemporaneous usage, and included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom, which were collectively called British India, and those ruled by indigenous rulers, but under British tutelage or paramountcy, and called the princely states. The whole was also more formally called the Indian Empire. As India, it was a founding member of the League of Nations, a participating nation in the Summer Olympics in 1900, 1920, 1928, 1932, and 1936, and a founding member of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.
Bengal is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Geographically, it is made up by the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta system, the largest such formation in the world; along with mountains in its north bordering the Himalayan states of Nepal and Bhutan and east bordering Burma.
The United Provinces of Agra and Oudh was a province of India under the British Raj, which existed from 1902 to 1947; the official name was shortened by the Government of India Act 1935 to United Provinces (UP), by which the province had been commonly known, and by which name it was also a province of independent India until 1950. It corresponded approximately to the present-day Indian states of Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Uttarakhand. From 1856 to 1902, the region had existed as two separate provinces, North-Western Provinces and Oudh State.
The title of viceroy was abandoned when British India split into the two independent dominions of India and Pakistan, but the office of governor-general continued to exist in each country separately—until they adopted republican constitutions in 1950 and 1956, respectively.
The Dominions were the semi-independent polities under the British Crown that constituted the British Empire, beginning with Canadian Confederation in 1867. "Dominion status" was a constitutional term of art used to signify an independent Commonwealth realm; they included Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Newfoundland, South Africa, and the Irish Free State, and then from the late 1940s also India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. The Balfour Declaration of 1926 recognised the Dominions as "autonomous Communities within the British Empire", and the 1931 Statute of Westminster confirmed their full legislative independence.
India, officially the Union of India, was an independent dominion in the British Commonwealth of Nations between 15 August 1947 and 26 January 1950. It was created by the Indian Independence Act 1947 and was transformed into the Republic of India by the promulgation of the Constitution of India in 1950.
Pakistan, also called the Dominion of Pakistan, was an independent federal dominion in South Asia that was established in 1947 as a result of the Pakistan movement, followed by the simultaneous partition of British India to create a new country called Pakistan. The dominion, which included much of modern-day Pakistan and Bangladesh, was conceived under the two-nation theory as an independent country composed of the Muslim-majority areas of the former British India.
Until 1858, the governor-general was selected by the Court of Directors of the East India Company, to whom he was responsible. Thereafter, he was appointed by the sovereign on the advice of the British Government; the secretary of state for India, a member of the UK Cabinet, was responsible for instructing him or her on the exercise of their powers. After 1947, the sovereign continued to appoint the governor-general, but thereafter did so on the advice of the newly-sovereign Indian Government.
Governors-general served at the pleasure of the sovereign, though the practice was to have them serve five-year terms. Governors-general could have their commission rescinded; and if one was removed, or left, a provisional governor-general was sometimes appointed until a new holder of the office could be chosen. The first governor-general of British India was Lord William Bentinck, and the first governor-general of the Dominion of India was Lord Mountbatten.
Lord William Henry Cavendish-Bentinck, known as Lord William Bentinck, was a British soldier and statesman. He served as Governor-General of India from 1828 to 1835. He has been credited for significant social and educational reforms in India including abolishing Sati, the suppression of female infanticide and human sacrifices, and ending lawlessness by eliminating Thuggee – which had existed for over 450 years – with the aid of his chief captain, William Henry Sleeman. Along with Thomas Babington Macaulay he introduced English as the language of instruction in India.
Many parts of the Indian subcontinent were governed by the East India Company, which nominally acted as the agent of the Mughal emperor. In 1773, motivated by corruption in the Company, the British government assumed partial control over the governance of India with the passage of the Regulating Act of 1773. A governor-general and Supreme Council of Bengal were appointed to rule over the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal. The first governor-general and Council were named in the Act.
The Regulating Act of 1773 was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain intended to overhaul the management of the East India Company's rule in India. The Act did not prove to be a long-term solution to concerns over the Company's affairs; Pitt's India Act was therefore subsequently enacted in 1784 as a more radical reform.
Supreme Council of Bengal was the highest executive authority under Company rule in India from 1774 till 1833 when Charter Act of 1833 established Council of India. The Council was established in 1773 by the Regulating Act of 1773. It was designed to consist of five members, including the Governor General, and was appointed by the Court of directors. At times it also included the Commander-in-Chief of India, who was also at times the Governor General. The council was also known as Governor-General-in-Council and was subordinate only to the East India Company's Court of Directors and to the British Crown.
The Charter Act 1833 replaced the governor-general and Council of Fort William with the governor-general and Council of India. The power to elect the governor-general was retained by the Court of Directors, but the choice became subject to the sovereign's approval.
After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the East India Company's territories in India were put under the direct control of the sovereign. The Government of India Act 1858 vested the power to appoint the governor-general in the sovereign. The governor-general, in turn, had the power to appoint all lieutenant governors in India, subject to the sovereign's approval.
India and Pakistan acquired independence in 1947, but governors-general continued to be appointed over each nation until republican constitutions were written. Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, remained governor-general of India for some time after independence, but the two nations were otherwise headed by native governors-general. India became a secular republic in 1950; Pakistan became an Islamic one in 1956.
The governor-general originally had power only over the Presidency of Fort William in Bengal. The Regulating Act, however, granted them additional powers relating to foreign affairs and defence. The other presidencies of the East India Company (Madras, Bombay and Bencoolen) were not allowed to declare war on or make peace with an Indian prince without receiving the prior approval of the governor-general and Council of Fort William.[ citation needed ]
The powers of the governor-general, in respect of foreign affairs, were increased by the India Act 1784. The Act provided that the other governors under the East India Company could not declare war, make peace or conclude a treaty with an Indian prince unless expressly directed to do so by the governor-general or by the Company's Court of Directors.
While the governor-general thus became the controller of foreign policy in India, he was not the explicit head of British India. That status came only with the Charter Act 1833, which granted him "superintendence, direction and control of the whole civil and military Government" of all of British India. The Act also granted legislative powers to the governor-general and Council.
After 1858, the governor-general (now usually known as the viceroy) functioned as the chief administrator of India and as the Sovereign's representative. India was divided into numerous provinces, each under the head of a governor, lieutenant governor or chief commissioner or administrator. Governors were appointed by the British Government, to whom they were directly responsible; lieutenant governors, chief commissioners, and administrators, however, were appointed by and were subordinate to the viceroy. The viceroy also oversaw the most powerful princely rulers: the Nizam of Hyderabad, the Maharaja of Mysore, the Maharaja (Scindia) of Gwalior, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir and the Gaekwad (Gaekwar) Maharaja of Baroda. The remaining princely rulers were overseen either by the Rajputana Agency and Central India Agency, which were headed by representatives of the viceroy, or by provincial authorities.
The Chamber of Princes was an institution established in 1920 by a Royal Proclamation of King-Emperor George V to provide a forum in which the princely rulers could voice their needs and aspirations to the government. The chamber usually met only once a year, with the viceroy presiding, but it appointed a Standing Committee, which met more often.
Upon independence in August 1947, the title of viceroy was abolished. The representative of the British Sovereign became known once again as the governor-general. C. Rajagopalachari became the only Indian governor-general. However, once India acquired independence, the governor-general's role became almost entirely ceremonial, with power being exercised on a day-to-day basis by the Indian cabinet. After the nation became a republic in 1950, the president of India continued to perform the same functions.
The governor-general was always advised by a Council on the exercise of his legislative and executive powers. The governor-general, while exercising many functions, was referred to as the "Governor-General in Council."
The Regulating Act 1773 provided for the election of four counsellors by the East India Company's Court of Directors. The governor-general had a vote along with the counsellors, but he also had an additional vote to break ties. The decision of the Council was binding on the governor-general.
In 1784, the Council was reduced to three members; the governor-general continued to have both an ordinary vote and a casting vote. In 1786, the power of the governor-general was increased even further, as Council decisions ceased to be binding.
The Charter Act 1833 made further changes to the structure of the Council. The Act was the first law to distinguish between the executive and legislative responsibilities of the governor-general. As provided under the Act, there were to be four members of the Council elected by the Court of Directors. The first three members were permitted to participate on all occasions, but the fourth member was only allowed to sit and vote when legislation was being debated.
In 1858, the Court of Directors ceased to have the power to elect members of the Council. Instead, the one member who had a vote only on legislative questions came to be appointed by the sovereign, and the other three members by the secretary of state for India.
The Indian Councils Act 1861 made several changes to the Council's composition. Three members were to be appointed by the secretary of state for India, and two by the Sovereign. The power to appoint all five members passed to the Crown in 1869. The viceroy was empowered to appoint an additional six to twelve members (changed to ten to sixteen in 1892, and to sixty in 1909). The five individuals appointed by the sovereign or the Indian secretary headed the executive departments, while those appointed by the viceroy debated and voted on legislation.
In 1919, an Indian legislature, consisting of a Council of State and a Legislative Assembly, took over the legislative functions of the Viceroy's Council. The viceroy nonetheless retained significant power over legislation. He could authorise the expenditure of money without the Legislature's consent for "ecclesiastical, political [and] defense" purposes, and for any purpose during "emergencies." He was permitted to veto, or even stop debate on, any bill. If he recommended the passage of a bill, but only one chamber cooperated, he could declare the bill passed over the objections of the other chamber. The Legislature had no authority over foreign affairs and defence. The president of the Council of State was appointed by the viceroy; the Legislative Assembly elected its president, but the election required the viceroy's approval.
Until 1833, the title of the position was "governor-general of Bengal". The Government of India Act 1833 converted the title into "governor-general of India". The title "viceroy and governor-general" was first used in the queen's proclamation appointing Viscount Canning in 1858.It was never conferred by an act of parliament, but was used in warrants of precedence and in the statutes of knightly orders. In usage, "viceroy" is employed where the governor-general's position as the monarch's representative is in view. The viceregal title was not used when the sovereign was present in India. It was meant to indicate new responsibilities, especially ritualistic ones, but it conferred no new statutory authority. The governor-general regularly used the title in communications with the Imperial Legislative Council, but all legislation was made only in the name of the Governor-General-in-Council (or the Government of India).
The governor-general was styled Excellency and enjoyed precedence over all other government officials in India. He was referred to as 'His Excellency' and addressed as 'Your Excellency'. From 1858 to 1947, the Governor-General was known as the Viceroy of India (from the French roi, meaning 'king'), and wives of Viceroys were known as Vicereines (from the French reine, meaning 'queen'). The Vicereine was referred to as 'Her Excellency' and was also addressed as 'Your Excellency'. Neither title was employed while the Sovereign was in India. However, the only British sovereign to visit India during the period of British rule was George V, who attended the Delhi Durbar in 1911 with his wife, Mary.[ citation needed ]
When the Order of the Star of India was founded in 1861, the viceroy was made its grand master ex officio. The viceroy was also made the ex officio grand master of the Order of the Indian Empire upon its foundation in 1877.
Most governors-general and viceroys were peers. Frequently, a viceroy who was already a peer would be granted a peerage of higher rank, as with the granting of a marquessate to Lord Reading and an earldom and later a marquessate to Freeman Freeman-Thomas. Of those viceroys who were not peers, Sir John Shore was a baronet, and Lord William Bentinck was entitled to the courtesy title 'lord' because he was the son of a duke. Only the first and last governors-general – Warren Hastings and Chakravarti Rajagopalachari –as well as some provisional governors-general, had no honorific titles at all.
From around 1885, the Viceroy of India was allowed to fly a Union Flag augmented in the centre with the 'Star of India' surmounted by a Crown. This flag was not the Viceroy's personal flag; it was also used by Governors, Lieutenant Governors, Chief Commissioners and other British officers in India. When at sea, only the Viceroy flew the flag from the mainmast, while other officials flew it from the foremast.
From 1947 to 1950, the Governor-General of India used a dark blue flag bearing the royal crest (a lion standing on the Crown), beneath which was the word 'India' in gold majuscules. The same design is still used by many other Commonwealth Realm Governors-General. This last flag was the personal flag of the Governor-General only.
The governor-general of Fort William resided in Belvedere House, Calcutta, until the early nineteenth century, when Government House was constructed. In 1854, the lieutenant governor of Bengal took up residence there. Now, the Belvedere Estate houses the National Library of India.
Lord Wellesley, who is reputed to have said that ‘India should be governed from a palace, not from a country house’, constructed a grand mansion, known as Government House, between 1799 and 1803. The mansion remained in use until the capital moved from Calcutta to Delhi in 1912. Thereafter, the lieutenant governor of Bengal, who had hitherto resided in Belvedere House, was upgraded to a full governor and transferred to Government House. Now, it serves as the residence of the governor of the Indian state of West Bengal, and is referred to by its Bengali name Raj Bhavan.
After the capital moved from Calcutta to Delhi, the viceroy occupied the newly built Viceroy's House, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Though construction began in 1912, it did not conclude until 1929; the palace was not formally inaugurated until 1931. The final cost exceeded £877,000 (over £35,000,000 in modern terms) –more than twice the figure originally allocated. Today the residence, now known by the Hindi name of 'Rashtrapati Bhavan', is used by the president of India.
Throughout the British administration, governors-general retreated to the Viceregal Lodge (Rashtrapati Niwas) at Shimla each summer to escape the heat, and the government of India moved with them. The Viceregal Lodge now houses the Indian Institute of Advanced Study.
A viceroy is an official who runs a country, colony, city, province, or sub-national state, in the name of and as the representative of the monarch of the territory. The term derives from the Latin prefix vice-, meaning "in the place of" and the French word roy, meaning "king". A viceroy's territory may be called a viceroyalty, though this term is not always applied. The adjective form is viceregal, less often viceroyal. The term vicereine is sometimes used to indicate a female viceroy suo jure, although viceroy can serve as a gender-neutral term. Vicereine is more commonly used to indicate a viceroy's wife.
Emperor or empress of India, shortened to king-emperor or queen-empress, was a title used by British monarchs from 1 May 1876 to 22 June 1948. The image of the emperor or empress was used to signify British authority—his or her profile, for instance, appearing on currency, in government buildings, railway stations, courts, on statues etc. "God Save the King" was the former national anthem of British India. Oaths of allegiance were made to the emperor or empress and his/her lawful successors by the governors-general, princes, governors, commissioners in India in events such as imperial durbars.
His Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for India, known for short as the India Secretary or the Indian Secretary, was the British Cabinet minister and the political head of the India Office responsible for the governance of the British Indian Empire, Aden, and Burma. The post was created in 1858 when the East India Company's rule in Bengal ended and India, except for the Princely States, was brought under the direct administration of the government in Whitehall in London, beginning the official colonial period under the British Empire.
A princely state, also called native state, feudatory state or Indian state, was a vassal state under a local or indigenous or regional ruler in a subsidiary alliance with the British Raj. Though the history of the princely states of the subcontinent dates from at least the classical period of Indian history, the predominant usage of the term princely state specifically refers to a semi-sovereign principality on the Indian subcontinent during the British Raj that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by a local ruler, subject to a form of indirect rule on some matters. In actual fact, the imprecise doctrine of paramountcy allowed the government of British India to interfere in the internal affairs of princely states individually or collectively and issue edicts that applied to all of India when it deemed it necessary.
The Radcliffe Line was the boundary demarcation line between the Indian and Pakistani portions of the Punjab and Bengal provinces of British India. It was named after its architect, Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who, as the joint chairman of the two boundary commissions for the two provinces, received the responsibility to equitably divide 175,000 square miles (450,000 km2) of territory with 88 million people.
The Bengal Presidency (1757–1912), later reorganized as the Bengal Province (1912–1947), was once the largest subdivision (presidency) of British India following the dissolution of the Mughal Bengal, with its seat in Calcutta. It was primarily centred in the Bengal region. At its territorial peak in the 19th century, the presidency extended from the present-day Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan in the west to Burma, Singapore and Penang in the east. The Governor of Bengal was concurrently the Viceroy of India for many years. Most of the presidency's territories were eventually incorporated into other British Indian provinces and crown colonies. In 1905, Bengal proper was partitioned, with Eastern Bengal and Assam headquartered in Dacca and Shillong. British India was reorganised in 1912 and the presidency was reunited into a single Bengali-speaking province.
The Government of India Act 1919 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was passed to expand participation of Indians in the government of India. The Act embodied the reforms recommended in the report of the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Montagu, and the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford. The Act covered ten years, from 1919 to 1929. This Act represented the end of benevolent despotism and began genesis of responsible government in India. It was set to be reviewed by the Simon Commission in 10 years.
The India Office was a British government department established in London in 1858 to oversee the administration, through a Viceroy and other officials, of the Provinces of British India. These territories comprised most of the modern-day nations of Bangladesh, Burma, India, and Pakistan, as well as Aden and other territories around the Indian Ocean. The department was headed by the Secretary of State for India, a member of the British cabinet, who was formally advised by the Council of India.
The Provinces of India, earlier Presidencies of British India and still earlier, 'Presidency towns', were the administrative divisions of British governance in India. Collectively, they were called 'British India'. In one form or another, they existed between 1612 and 1947, conventionally divided into three historical periods:
The Council of India was the name given at different times to two separate bodies associated with British rule in India.
The Imperial Legislative Council was a legislature for British India from 1861 to 1947. It succeeded the Council of the Governor-General of India, and was succeeded by the Constituent Assembly of India and after 1950, was succeeded by Parliament of India.
The Singranatore family is the consanguineous name given to a noble family in Rajshahi of landed aristocracy in erstwhile East Bengal that were prominent in the nineteenth century till the fall of the monarchy in India by Royal Assent in 1947 and subsequently abolished by the newly formed democratic Government of East Pakistan in 1950 by the State Acquisition Act.
The Star of India refers to a group of flags used during the period of British Raj in the Indian subcontinent. British India had a range of flags for different purposes during its existence. The Princely states had their own flags which were to be flown alongside the British flag as a symbol of suzerainty. The official state flag for use on land was the Union Flag of the United Kingdom and it was this flag that was lowered on Independence Day in 1947. The flag of the Governor-General of India was defaced with the Star of India. The civil ensign and naval ensign, were the Red Ensign or Blue Ensign respectively, defaced with the Star of India emblem.
The Viceroy's Executive Council was the cabinet of the government of British India headed by the Viceroy of India. It is also known as the Council of the Governor-General of India. It was transformed from an advisory council into a cabinet consisting of five members heading revenue, military, law, finance and home by the Indian Councils Act 1861 giving recognition to the portfolio system introduced by Lord Canning in 1859. In 1874, a sixth member was added to be in charge of public works.
The Saint Helena Act 1833 or the Government of India Act 1833 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
The Legislatures of British India included legislative bodies in the presidencies and provinces of British India, the Imperial Legislative Council, the Chamber of Princes and the Central Legislative Assembly. The legislatures were created under Acts of Parliament of the United Kingdom. Initially serving as small advisory councils, the legislatures evolved into partially elected bodies, but were never elected through suffrage. Provincial legislatures saw boycotts during the period of dyarchy between 1919 and 1935. After reforms and elections in 1937, the largest parties in provincial legislatures formed governments headed by a Prime Minister. A few British Indian subjects were elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, which had superior powers than colonial legislatures. British Indian legislatures did not include Burma's legislative assembly after 1937, the State Council of Ceylon nor the legislative bodies of princely states.
The Bengal Legislative Assembly was the largest legislature in British India, serving as the lower chamber of the legislature of Bengal. It was established under the Government of India Act, 1935. The assembly played an important role in the final decade of undivided Bengal. The Leader of the House was the Prime Minister of Bengal. The assembly's lifespan covered the anti-feudal movement of the Krishak Praja Party, the period of World War II, the Lahore Resolution, the Quit India movement, suggestions for a United Bengal and the partition of Bengal and partition of British India.
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