The provinces of India, earlier presidencies of British India and still earlier, presidency towns, were the administrative divisions of British governance in the Indian subcontinent. Collectively, they have been called British India. In one form or another, they existed between 1612 and 1947, conventionally divided into three historical periods:
In this sense, "British India" did not include the princely states directly ruled by Indian princes, though under a close eye from the British authorities.At Indian Independence in 1947 there were over 500 of these (most extremely small, but with a few very large ones), making up 40% of the area and 23% of the population of the whole British Raj.
In 1608, Mughal authorities allowed the English East India Company to establish a small trading settlement at Surat (now in the state of Gujarat), and this became the company's first headquarters town. It was followed in 1611 by a permanent factory at Machilipatnam on the Coromandel Coast, and in 1612 the company joined other already established European trading companies in Bengal in trade.However, the power of the Mughal Empire declined from 1707, first at the hands of the Marathas and later due to invasion from Persia (1739) and Afghanistan (1761); after the East India Company's victories at the Battle of Plassey (1757) and Battle of Buxar (1764)—both within the Bengal Presidency established in 1765—and the abolition of local rule (Nizamat) in Bengal in 1793, the Company gradually began to formally expand its territories across India. By the mid-19th century, and after the three Anglo-Maratha Wars the East India Company had become the paramount political and military power in south Asia, its territory held in trust for the British Crown.
Company rule in Bengal (after 1793) was terminated by the Government of India Act 1858, following the events of the Bengal Rebellion of 1857.Henceforth known as British India, it was thereafter directly ruled as a colonial possession of the United Kingdom, and India was officially known after 1876 as the Indian Empire. India was divided into British India, regions that were directly administered by the British, with Acts established and passed in British Parliament, and the Princely States, ruled by local rulers of different ethnic backgrounds. These rulers were allowed a measure of internal autonomy in exchange for recognition of British suzerainty. British India constituted a significant portion of India both in area and population; in 1910, for example, it covered approximately 54% of the area and included over 77% of the population. In addition, there were Portuguese and French exclaves in India. Independence from British rule was achieved in 1947 with the formation of two nations, the Dominions of India and Pakistan, the latter including East Bengal, present-day Bangladesh.
The term British India also applied to Burma for a shorter time period: beginning in 1824, a small part of Burma, and by 1886, almost two thirds of Burma had been made part of British India.This arrangement lasted until 1937, when Burma was reorganized as a separate British colony. British India did not apply to other countries in the region, such as Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), which was a British Crown colony, or the Maldive Islands, which were a British protectorate. At its greatest extent, in the early 20th century, the territory of British India extended as far as the frontiers of Persia in the west; Afghanistan in the northwest; Nepal in the north, Tibet in the northeast; and China, French Indochina and Siam in the east. It also included the Aden Province in the Arabian Peninsula.
The East India Company, which was incorporated on 31 December 1600, established trade relations with Indian rulers in Masulipatam on the east coast in 1611 and Surat on the west coast in 1612.The company rented a small trading outpost in Madras in 1639. Bombay, which was ceded to the British Crown by Portugal as part of the wedding dowry of Catherine of Braganza in 1661, was in turn granted to the East India Company to be held in trust for the Crown.
Meanwhile, in eastern India, after obtaining permission from the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan to trade with Bengal, the company established its first factory at Hoogly in 1640.Almost a half-century later, after Mughal Emperor Aurengzeb forced the Company out of Hooghly for its tax evasion, Job Charnock purchased three small villages, later renamed Calcutta, in 1686, making it the company's new headquarters. By the mid-18th century, the three principal trading settlements including factories and forts, were then called the Madras Presidency (or the Presidency of Fort St. George), the Bombay Presidency, and the Bengal Presidency (or the Presidency of Fort William) — each administered by a Governor.
After Robert Clive's victory in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the puppet government of a new Nawab of Bengal, was maintained by the East India Company.However, after the invasion of Bengal by the Nawab of Oudh in 1764 and his subsequent defeat in the Battle of Buxar, the Company obtained the Diwani of Bengal, which included the right to administer and collect land-revenue (land tax) in Bengal, the region of present-day Bangladesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar beginning from 1772 as per the treaty signed in 1765. By 1773, the Company obtained the Nizāmat of Bengal (the "exercise of criminal jurisdiction") and thereby full sovereignty of the expanded Bengal Presidency. During the period, 1773 to 1785, very little changed; the only exceptions were the addition of the dominions of the Raja of Banares to the western boundary of the Bengal Presidency, and the addition of Salsette Island to the Bombay Presidency.
Portions of the Kingdom of Mysore were annexed to the Madras Presidency after the Third Anglo-Mysore War ended in 1792. Next, in 1799, after the defeat of Tipu Sultan in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War more of his territory was annexed to the Madras Presidency.In 1801, Carnatic, which had been under the suzerainty of the company, began to be directly administered by it as a part of the Madras Presidency.
By 1851, the East India Company's vast and growing holdings across the sub-continent were still grouped into just four main territories:
By the time of the Indian Rebellion of 1857, and the end of Company rule, the developments could be summarised as follows:
The British Raj began with the idea of the Presidencies as the centres of government. Until 1834, when a General Legislative Council was formed, each Presidency under its Governor and Council was empowered to enact a code of so-called 'Regulations' for its government. Therefore, any territory or province that was added by conquest or treaty to a presidency came under the existing regulations of the corresponding presidency. However, in the case of provinces that were acquired but were not annexed to any of the three Presidencies, their official staff could be provided as the Governor-General pleased, and was not governed by the existing regulations of the Bengal, Madras, or Bombay Presidencies. Such provinces became known as "Non-Regulation Provinces" and up to 1833 no provision for a legislative power existed in such places.The same two kinds of management applied for districts. Thus Ganjam and Vizagapatam were non-regulation districts. Non-Regulation Provinces included:
At the turn of the 20th century, British India consisted of eight provinces that were administered either by a Governor or a Lieutenant-Governor. The following table lists their areas and populations (but does not include those of the dependent Native States):During the partition of Bengal (1905–1912), a new Lieutenant-Governor's province of Eastern Bengal and Assam existed. In 1912, the partition was partially reversed, with the eastern and western halves of Bengal re-united and the province of Assam re-established; a new Lieutenant-Governor's province of Bihar and Orissa was also created.
|Province of British India||Area (in thousands of square miles)||Population (in millions of inhabitants)||Chief Administrative Officer|
|Central Provinces and Berar||104||13||Chief Commissioner|
In addition, there were a few provinces that were administered by a Chief Commissioner:
|Minor Province||Area (in thousands of square miles)||Population (in thousands of inhabitants)||Chief Administrative Officer|
|North-West Frontier Province||16||2,125||Chief Commissioner|
|British Baluchistan||46||308||British Political Agent in Baluchistan served as ex officio Chief Commissioner|
|Coorg||1.6||181||British Resident in Mysore served as ex officio Chief Commissioner|
|Ajmer-Merwara||2.7||477||British Political Agent in Rajputana served as ex officio Chief Commissioner|
|Andaman and Nicobar Islands||3||25||Chief Commissioner|
At the time of independence in 1947, British India had 17 provinces:
Upon the Partition of British India into the Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan, 11 provinces (Ajmer-Merwara-Kekri, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bihar, Bombay, Central Provinces and Berar, Coorg, Delhi, Madras, Panth-Piploda, Orissa, and the United Provinces) joined India, 3 (Baluchistan, North-West Frontier and Sindh) joined Pakistan, and 3 (Punjab, Bengal and Assam) were partitioned between India and Pakistan.
In 1950, after the new Indian Constitution was adopted, the provinces in India were replaced by redrawn states and union territories. Pakistan, however, retained its five provinces, one of which, East Bengal, was renamed East Pakistan in 1956 and became the independent nation of Bangladesh in 1971.
Company rule in India refers to the rule or dominion of the British East India Company on the Indian subcontinent. This is variously taken to have commenced in 1757, after the Battle of Plassey, when the Nawab of Bengal surrendered his dominions to the Company, in 1765, when the Company was granted the diwani, or the right to collect revenue, in Bengal and Bihar, or in 1773, when the Company established a capital in Calcutta, appointed its first Governor-General, Warren Hastings, and became directly involved in governance. The rule lasted until 1858, when, after the Indian rebellion of 1857 and consequent of the Government of India Act 1858, the British government assumed the task of directly administering India in the new British Raj.
The Central Provinces and Berar was a province of British India and later the Dominion of India which existed from 1903 to 1950. It was formed by the merger of the Central Provinces with the province of Berar, which was territory leased by the British from the Hyderabad State. Through an agreement signed on 5 November 1902, 6th Nizam Mahbub Ali Khan, Asaf Jah VI leased Berar permanently to the British for an annual payment of 25 lakhs Rupees. Lord Curzon decided to merge Berar with the Central Provinces, and this was proclaimed on 17 September 1903.
A princely state, also called a 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. 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.
Berar Province, also known as the Hyderabad Assigned Districts, was a province in British India, ruled by the Nizam of Hyderabad. After 1853 it was administered by the British, although the Nizam retained formal sovereignty over the province. Azam Jah, the eldest son of the 7th Nizam, held the title of Mirza-Baig ("Prince") of Berar.
The Bengal Presidency, officially the Presidency of Fort William and later Bengal Province, was a subdivision of the British Empire in India. At the height of its territorial jurisdiction, it covered large parts of what is now South Asia and Southeast Asia. Bengal proper covered the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. Calcutta, the city which grew around Fort William, was the capital of the Bengal Presidency. For many years, the Governor of Bengal was concurrently the Viceroy of India and Calcutta was the de facto capital of India until 1911.
Khandesh District was a district, administrative division of Bombay presidency of British India under British rule, which included the present-day Jalgaon, Dhule and Nandurbar districts and a portion of Nashik District in Maharashtra.
The Orissa Tributary States, also known as the Garhjats and as the Orissa Feudatory States, were a group of princely states of British India now part of the present-day Indian state of Odisha.
Chhattisgarh Division was a former administrative division of the Central Provinces of British India. It was located in the east of the Central Provinces and encompassed the upper Mahanadi River basin, in the central part of present-day Chhattisgarh state of 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 Berar Division, formerly Berar Province, was one of the former administrative divisions of the Central Provinces and Berar of British India. Ellichpur (Achalpur) was the capital and the administrative headquarters of the division.
The Ceded and Conquered Provinces constituted a region in northern India that was ruled by the British East India Company from 1805 to 1834; it corresponded approximately—in present-day India—to all regions in Uttar Pradesh state with the exception of the Lucknow and Faizabad divisions of Awadh; in addition, it included the Delhi territory and, after 1816, the Kumaun division and a large part of the Garhwal division of present-day Uttarakhand state. In 1836, the region became the North-Western Provinces, and in 1904, the Agra Province within the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh.
The Council of State was the upper house of the legislature for British India created by the Government of India Act 1919 from the old Imperial Legislative Council, implementing the Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms. The Central Legislative Assembly was the lower house.
General elections were held in British India in 1934. The Indian National Congress emerged as the largest party in the Central Legislative Assembly.
General elections were held in British India in 1920 to elect members to the Imperial Legislative Council and the Provincial Councils. They were the first elections in the country's modern history.
General elections were held in British India in November 1923 for both the Central Legislative Assembly and Provincial Assemblies. The Central Legislative Assembly had 145 seats, of which 105 were elected by the public.
General elections were held in British India between 28 October and late November 1926 to elect members of the Imperial Legislative Council and the Provincial Legislative Councils.
The States Reorganisation Act, 1956 was a major reform of the boundaries of India's states and territories, organising them along linguistic lines.
The New Year Honours 1914 were appointments by King George V to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by members of the British Empire. They were announced on 2 January 1914.
Assam Province was a province of British India, created in 1912 by the partition of the Eastern Bengal and Assam Province. Its capital was in Shillong.