Latasinha's Weblog

Social and political Values and Systems in India.

“Divide and rule” before Independence in India


Government of India Act of 1858 brought an end to company’s rule and placed India directly under the Crown. With it ended era of expansion and commercial exploitation and India ushered into an era of policy of divide and rule and economic exploitation. Through sophisticated ways, British imperialists created differences between different castes and communities, and developed a complex in Indian minds about their heritage and caste system.

Initially, after establishing their rule in India, British excluded Indians from every honour, dignity or office, which lowest of Englishman could be given. But gradually, it became difficult for them to import enough Englishmen to man large and increasing number of subordinate posts. Therefore, in 1835, British Government in India introduced modern education, so that Indians, Anglicized in terms of both cultural and intellectual attainments could man lower posts in administration. In near absence of industrial, commercial or social service activity, educated Indians depended on Government jobs entirely. It led to a keen competition amongst different sections and created a split in Indian society.

Brahmins and some of upper castes people amongst Hindus were natural learners. They were having a long tradition and undisputed role in field of knowledge and learning. Therefore were quick and far ahead of other communities to avail benefits of new opportunities opened to them and secure an important and respectable position in modern society.

Modern education not only produced persons to fill lower levels of administration, as desired by rulers, but also produced national leaders and reformers. Preponderance of Brahmins in administration and national movemnts alarmed the rulers. It appeared to them as if this small community was governing the country. They planned to raise a strong force to counter Brahmins’ hold in education/administration and to secure a reasonable combination of various races and castes there. Muslims and non-Brahmin castes were resisting vociferously dominance of Brahmins in education and administration.

Muslims had a grudge over loss of their dominant position prior to British rule in India. They found themselves handicapped in competing with Hindus in modern callings and opportunities. They developed a fear of being dominated by majority Hindu Community, if at any point of time India became Independent. British first sowed seeds of communalism during Lord Lytton’s Vice-royalty (1876-80). Sir W.H. Gregory, while appreciating Resolution of Government of India on Muslim education wrote to Dufferin in Feb. 1886, I am confident, that it will bear good fruits, indeed, it seems to have done so already by the complete abstention of the Mohammedan from Brahmins and Baboo agitation. It will be a great matter to sweeten our relations with this portion of the Indian population, the bravest and at one time, the most dangerous.i Then came the first effective dose of communalization of Indian politics in the form of Minto-Morley Reforms (Government of India Act of 1909), which devised a novel method to distribute and balance power.

After gaining loyalty of Muslims, during second half of nineteenth century, British rulers turned their attention towards non-Brahmins castes, most of whom were illiterate, ignorant, poor and backward. On September 2, 1897, George Francis Hamilton, Secretary of State for India, wrote to Viceroy Curzon, I think the real danger to our rule in India, not now but say 50 years hence, is the gradual adoption and extension of Western ideas of agitation and organization. If we could break the educated Hindu into two sections, holding widely different views, we should by such division, strengthen our position against the subtle and continuous attack, which the spread of education must make upon our system of Government.ii In order to uplift non-Brahmin castes and secure their confidence, British slighted role of Brahmins as Indian intelligentsia and reformers, and portrayed them as oppressors and tyrants. Morley Minto Reform of 1909 gave non-Brahmins a boost.

To restrict Brahmin’s entry in Government jobs and make it available to non-Brahmins communities, British rulers started practice of Preferences by giving them financial assistance and preferences in education and Government employment at local and provincial level, so that more non-Brahmins could qualify for jobs. Intelligentia belonging to upper castes were basically non-militant in nature. They did not resist the move of their ouster from the Government services. They migrated to other areas, where they could get opportunity to prosper. It was the start of splitting people of India for political purposes.


August 30, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. The Article is nice. The Policy of divide and rule was the main policy of Britishers who were ruling over India.



    Comment by marry | September 1, 2008 | Reply

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