EARLY GOVERNOR GENERALS : LORD CORNWALLIS (1786-1793)
LORD CORNWALLIS (1786-1793)
1. Lord Cornwallis, a warrior-statesman, succeeded Warren Hastings as Governor-General in 1786.
2. He was also a close friend of Prime Minister Pitt and of Dundas, the most influential member of the Board of Control.
3. It amended Pitt’s India Act in 1786 so as enable him to overrule the decision of the majority of his council, if necessary.
4. A new tradition of choosing a person from an aristocratic family for the post of Governor General was initiated.
Tipu Sultan and the Third Mysore War (1790-92)
1. The Treaty of Mangalore (1784) exhibited the military strength of Mysore, exposed English weaknesses and increased Tipu’s strength
2. His other designs were to wreak vengeance on the Nizam and on the Marathas as they had betrayed his father during the hour of need
The chief causes for the Third Mysore War were
1. Tipu Sultan strengthened his position by undertaking various internal reforms. This created worries to the British, the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas
2. Moreover, Tipu made attempts to seek the help of France and Turkey by sending envoys to those countries.
3. He also expanded his territories at the cost of his neighbours, particularly the Raja of Travancore, who was an ally of the British.
4. In 1789, the British concluded a tripartite alliance with the Nizam and the Marathas against Tipu
5. War broke out in May 1790 between the English and Tipu.
6. It was fought in three phases
7. English troops and inflicted heavy losses
8. Cornwallis himself assumed command in December 1790. This was the beginning of the second phase of the war.
9. Tipu’s brilliant strategies prolonged the war and Cornwallis was forced to retreat
10. The third phase of the war began when timely aid from the Marathas with plenty of provisions
11. Helped him to resume his campaign and marched against Srirangapattinam again.
12. The English forces occupied the hill forts near Srirangapattinam and seized it in February 1792.
Treaty of Srirangapattinam
Terms of the treaty were as follows
(i) Tipu had to give up half his dominions
(ii) He had to pay a war indemnity of three crore rupees and surrender two of his sons as hostages to the English
(iii) Both sides agreed to release the prisoners of war
iv) The Treaty of Srirangapattinam is a significant event in the history of South India.
(v) The British secured a large territory on the Malabar Coast
(vi) Tipu had been defeated but not destroyed
The internal reforms of Cornwallis can be studied under three main heads.
• Administrative reforms
• Revenue reforms or Permanent Settlement
• Judicial and other reforms
The Permanent Settlement, also known as the Permanent Settlement of was an agreement between the East India Company and Bengali landlords to fix revenues to be raised from land, with far-reaching consequences for both agricultural methods and productivity in the entire Empire and the political realities of the Indian countryside. It was concluded in 1793 by the Company administration headed by Charles, Earl Cornwallis, also known as Lord Cornwallis. It formed one part of a larger body of legislation enacted, known as the Cornwallis Code. The Cornwallis Code of 1793 divided the East India Company’s service personnel into three branches: revenue, judicial, and commercial. Revenues were collected by Zamindars, native Indians who were treated as landowners. This division created an Indian landed class that supported British authority.
Permanent Settlement introduced first in Bengal and Bihar; and then to North district of Madras and district of Varanasi. The system eventually spread all over Northern India by a series of regulations dated 1 May 1793. These regulations remained in place until the Charter Act of 1833.
1. Purification of the civil service by the employment of capable and honest public servants.
2. Abolished the vicious system of paying small salaries and allowing enormous perquisites.
3. Persuaded the Directors of the Company to pay handsome salaries to the Company servants
4. They might free themselves from commercial and corrupting activities.
5. Cornwallis inaugurated the policy of making appointments mainly on the basis of merit
6. Laying the foundation of the Indian Civil Service.
7. Abolished a number of surplus posts
8. The separation of the three branches of service, namely commercial, judicial and revenue.
9. The collectors, the king-pins of the administrative system were deprived of their judicial powers
10. Their work became merely the collection of revenue.
1. At the top of the judicial system, the highest civil and criminal courts of appeal, namely
Sadar Diwani Adalat and Sadar Nizamat Adalat were functioning at Calcutta. Both of them
were presided over by the Governor-General and his Council.
2. There were four provincial courts of appeal at Calcutta, Dacca, Murshidabad and Patna,
each under three European judges assisted by Indian advisers.
3. District and City courts functioned each under a European judge. Every district was provided
with a court.
4. District Judges were appointed.
5. Indian judges or Munsiffs were appointed to all the courts at the bottom of the judicial
6. In criminal cases, Muslim law was improved and followed.
7. In civil cases, Hindu and Muslim laws were followed according to the religion of the litigants
8. In suits between Hindus and Muslims, the judge was the deciding authority.
9. Cornwallis was better known as a law giver than as an administrator.
10. Cornwallis prepared a comprehensive code, covering the whole field of administration, judicial, police, commercial and fiscal. Based upon the principle of Montesquieu
11. The Separation of Powers”, which was popular in the West in 18th century.
12. In order to curb undue exercise of authority Cornwallis made all officials answerable to the courts
1. The effective implementation of judicial reforms required the reorganisation of police administration.
2. The District Judge controlled the police.
3. Each district was divided into thanas or police circles each of which was about 20 square miles
4. It was placed under an Indian officer called the daroga who was ably assisted by many constables.
1. Cornwallis reformed the Board of Trade which managed the commercial investments of the Company.
2. With the aid of Charles Grant, he eradicated numerous abuses and corrupt practices.
3. Fair treatment was given to weavers and Indian workers.
4. He increased the remuneration for honest service.
Estimate of Cornwallis
1. Cornwallis, a blue-blooded aristocrat, was an ardent patriot.
2. He discharged his duties fearlessly, and his life was an embodiment of ‘duty and sacrifice’.
3. He perceived the danger of Tipu’s growing power and curtailed it by boldly discarding the
policy of non-intervention.
4. As an administrator, he consolidated the Company’s position in India and started the tradition of efficient and pure administration.
5. His administrative and judicial reforms were solid achievements He may be regarded the parent of the Indian Administrative Service and founder of an efficient and clean system of administration.
6. Sir John Shore (1793-98) succeeded Cornwallis as Governor General and his administration was uneventful.
The Permanent Settlement
- In 1773, the British Company decided to manage the land revenues directly.
- Warren Hastings auctioned the right to collect revenue to the highest bidders. But his experiment did not succeed.
- The amount of land revenue was pushed high by zamindars and other Speculators bidding against each other; however, the actual collection varied from year to year and seldom came up to official expectations. This introduced instability in the Company’s revenues at a time when the Company was hard pressed for money.
- Neither the ryot nor the zamindar would do anything to improve cultivation when they did not know what the next year’s assessment would be or who would be the next year’s revenue collector.
- The idea of fixing the land revenue at a permanent amount was introduced. Finally, after prolonged discussion and debate, the Permanent Settlement was introduced in Bengal and Bihar in 1793 by Lord Cornwallis.
- Permanent Settlement had some special features i.e.
- The reminders and revenue collectors were converted into so many landlords. They were not only to act as agents of the Government in collecting land revenue from the ryot, but also to become the owners of the entire land (over which they were collecting revenue). Their right of ownership was made hereditary and transferable.
- On the other hand, the cultivators were reduced to the low status of mere tenants and were deprived of long-standing rights to the soil and other customary rights.
- The use of the pasture and forest lands, irrigation canals, fisheries, and homestead plots and protection against enhancement of rent were some of the cultivators’ rights which were sacrificed.
- In fact the tenancy of Bengal was left entirely at the mercy of the zamindars. This was done so that the zamindars might be able to pay in time the exorbitant land revenue demand of the Company.
- The zamindars were to give 10/11th of the rental they derived from the peasantry to the state, keeping only 1/11th for themselves. But the sums to be paid by them as land revenue were fixed in perpetuity.
- At the same time, the zamindar had to pay his revenue rigidly on the due date even if the crop had failed for some reason; otherwise his lands were to be sold.
- John Shore, the man who planned the Permanent Settlement and later succeeded Cornwallis as Governor-General, calculated that if the gross produce of Bengal be taken as 100, the Government claimed 45, zamindars and other intermediaries below them received 15, and only 40 remained with the actual cultivator.
Benefits of Permanent Settlement
- Before 1793, the Company was troubled by fluctuations in its chief source of income, i.e. the land revenue. The Permanent Settlement guaranteed the stability of income.
- The Permanent Settlement enabled the Company to maximize its income as land revenue was now fixed higher than it had ever been in the past.
- Collection of revenue through a small number of zamindars seemed to be much simpler and cheaper than the process of dealing with lakhs of cultivators.
- The Permanent Settlement was expected to increase agricultural production.
- Since the land revenue would not be increased in future even if the zamindar’s income went up, the latter would be inspired to extend cultivation and improve agricultural productivity.