Reforms / Acts / Committee


Committees/Commission during British Rule

The Details of few important Commissions during the British Rule are as follows:

Committees/Commission Year Governor General/Viceroy Subjects of the



Terms of Reference and Recommendations
Charles Wood


1854 Lord Dalhousie Education ·         According to the recommendations, it was declared that the aim of the Government’s policy was the promotion of western education. In his despatch, he emphasized on the education of art, science, philosophy and literature of Europe.

·         According to the despatch, for higher education, the chief medium of instruction would be English

·         However, the significance of the vernacular language was no less emphasized as Wood believed that through the mediums of vernacular language, European knowledge could reach to the masses.

·         Further, Wood’s Despatch recommended a system of grants-in-aid to encourage and foster the private enterprise in the field of education.

Hunter Commission 1882 Lord Ripon Education ·         This was to look into the complaints of the non-implementation of the Wood’s Despatch of 1854; the contemporary status of elementary education in the British territories; and suggests means by which this can be extended and improved.

·         It recommended two types of education arrangements at the high school level, in which emphasis should be given on giving a vocational and business education and other such literary education should be given, which will help in admission to the university.

·         It welcomed Private efforts in the field of education, but primary education should be given without him.

Raleigh Commission 1902 Lord Curzon Education ·         Objective was to inquire into the condition and prospects of universities in India and to recommend proposals for improving their constitution and working.

·         As a result of the report of the recommendations of the Commission the Indian Universities Act was passed in 1904.

·         The commission resulted in following changes:

·         Universities were empowered to appoint their own staff including the teaching staff.

·         The Governor-General was now empowered to decide a University’s territorial limits and also affiliation between the universities and colleges.

·         After the implementation of the provisions of the University Act, the number of colleges declined, but the number of students increased considerably.

Sadler Commission 1917 Lord Chelmsford Education ·         Sadler Commission was appointed to inquire into the “conditions and prospects of the University of Calcutta”

·         Covering a wide field, the commission recommended the formation of a board with full powers to control secondary and intermediate education.

·         Further, it recommended that Universities should be freed from excessive official control.

Also, it recommended that, the Government interference in the academic matters of universities should stop.

Hartog Commission 1929 Lord Irwin Education ·          This Committee was appointed to survey the growth of education in British India.

·          It “devoted far more attention to mass education than Secondary and University Education”.

·         The committee was not satisfied with the scanty growth of literacy in the country and highlighted the problem of ‘Wastage’ and ‘Stagnation’ at the primary level.

·         Its recommendations include:

·         Adoption of the policy of consolidation in place of multiplication of schools

·         Fixation of the duration of primary course to four years

·         Improvement in the quality, training, status, pay, service condition of teachers

·         Relating the curricula and methods of teaching to the conditions of villages in which children live and read

·         Adjustment of school hours and holidays to seasonal and local requirements

·         Increasing the number of Government inspection staff

Sargent Plan 1944 Lord Wavell Education ·         The object of the plan was to create in India in a period of not less than forty years, the same standard of educational attainments as had already been admitted in England

·         It provided for:

·         Pre-Primary Education between 3 and 6 Years of Age

·         Primary education should be universal, free and compulsory for the age-group 6 to 14.

·         High School Education should on no account be considered simply as a preliminary to University education, but as a stage complete in itself.

·         The proposed High Schools should be of two main types the Academic and the Technical

·         It raised the standards for University Education.

·         It also proposed for Adult education, to make every possible member of a state an effective and efficient citizen.

·         The Sargent Report assumes that one teacher will be required for every 30 pupils in Junior Basic Schools, for every 25 pupils in Senior Basic Schools and for every 20 pupils in High Schools

·         It even provided for Health education, Education for Specially abled, Employment Bureaus, Departments of Education, and Financial implication of such a scheme.

Campbell Commission 1866 Sir John Lawrence Famine ·         The British Government appointed this Commission to investigate the causes of Famine in Odisha, and suggest ways to prevent its recurrence.

·         It blamed the government machinery for tragedy and suggested relief measures.

Stratchy Commission 1880 Lord Lytton Famine ·         The Campbell Commission report was not taken seriously, and hence the British Government appointed this commission, which made following recommendations:

·         A Famine Code should be formulated

·         Irrigation facilities should be developed

·         Collection of Land Revenue should be suspended immediately, during famines and land revenue should be remitted

·         Data should be collected about the conditions of Indian peasantry and agriculture

·         A Famine fund should be set up.

Lyall Commission 1886 Lord d Elgin-II Famine ·         This commission recommended the development of irrigation facilities.


1900 Lord Curzon Famine ·         This was set up to re-evaluate and recommend changes in report of the previous commission, based on the findings of the recent famine.

·         This Commission recommended that the official machinery dealing with a famine must work around the year so that the scarcity of food grains could be controlled well in time.


Other Committees of importance include:

Committees/Commission Year Governor General/Viceroy Subjects of the



Mansfield Commission 1886 Lord Dufferin Currency
Fowler Commission 1898 Lord Elgin-II Currency
Scott-Moncrieff Commission 1901 Lord Curzon Irrigation
Fraser Commission 1902 Lord Curzon Police Reforms
Babington Smith


1919 Lord Chelmsford Currency
Hunter Committee


1919 Lord Chelmsford Punjab Disturbances
Muddiman Committee 1924 Lord Reading To examine the working

of Diarchy of the



Butler Commission 1927 Lord Irwin Indian States relation with British Crown
Whitley Commission 1929 Lord Irwin Labour
Simon Commission 1928 Lord Irwin To investigate the progress of the

Governance scheme and suggest new steps for reforms.

Sapru Commission 1935 Lord Linlithgow Unemployment
Hilton young


1939 Lord Linlithgow Currency
Chatfield Commission 1939 Lord Linlithgow Army
FIoud Commission 1940 Lord Linlithgow Tenancy in Bengal


  1. The Regulating Act, 1773
    • The British Parliament passed its first important Act in 1773 called the Regulating Act to control the Company’s Administration.
    • The Act made changes in the constitution of the Company at home; the whole of the territories in India were subjected to some degree of control.
    • Changes were made in the Constitution of the Court of Directors of the Company. It was required that it should submit to the Government all communications about civil and military affairs received from Bengal and revenues of India.
    • In the field of executive government, the status of Governor of Bengal was raised to Governor General. His Council would consist of four members.
      • The Governor General in Council was given the power to superintend and control the presidencies of Madras and Bombay in matters of war and peace.
    • The Act also provided for the establishment of a Supreme Court of Justice at Calcutta to give justice to Europeans, their employees and citizens of Calcutta
    • Legislative powers were granted to the Governor General and Council to make rules, ordinances and regulations for the civil government of Fort William and subordinate factories.
    • Evaluation of the Act
      • The Regulating Act did not work smoothly in practice.
      • Its defects and weaknesses were exposed when it was put to working.
      • Supervision of the British government was ineffective.
      • The Governor General had to face the opposition of his council, who united against him.
    • Disunity of the Council prevented it from solving external and internal problems of a serious nature.
    • They had to often face deadlocks which impeded smooth working of the administration.
  1. PITT’S INDIA ACT, 1784
    • It allowed the Court of Directors to manage the commercial affairs, but created a new body called Board of Control to manage the political affairs. Thus, it established a system of double government.
    • The Governor General and council were made subordinate to British Government.
    • They were forbidden to declare war and enter into any treaty without the sanction of the directors or the secret committee
    • Evaluation of the Act
      • By reducing one member of the Executive Council of the Governor General, his position was
      • The possessions of the Company in India came under the supremacy of the British Parliament.
      • The Act laid the foundation of a centralised administration-a process which reached its climax towards the close of the nineteenth century.
      • However, the act divided authority and responsibility.
        • The Governor General had two masters, the Court of Directors and the Board of Control. Out of this conflict of authority emerged the view of the primacy of the man on the spot
  1. Charter Act of 1793
    • The Charter of the Company was renewed for 20 years and it was declared that it would be allowed to continue with the possession of all territories for the next 20 years.
    • The Governor General’s and Governors’ powers to overrule their council were emphasised and explained
    • A regular code of all regulations that could be enacted for the internal Government of the British territory in Bengal was framed.
      • The Regulation applied to the rights, persons and property of the Indian people and it bound the Courts to regulate their decisions by the rules and regulations contained therein.
    • Evaluation of the Act
      • The Act of 1793 thus laid the foundation of government by written laws and regulations in British lndia in place of the personal rule of the past rulers.
      • The concepts of a civil law enacted by a secular human agency and applied universally, was an important change.
  1. Charter Act of 1813
    • The Act of 1813 renewed the Company’s Charter for 20 years, but it asserted the sovereignty of the British Crown over the lndian territories held by the Company.
    • The Company was deprived of its monopoly of trade with India.
    • It was allowed to continue with its monopoly of trade with China for 20 years. The lndian trade was thrown open to all British merchants.
  1. Charter Act of 1833
    • The Act of 1833 was a great landmark in the constitutional history on India
    • The monopoly of tea trade with China was abolished.
    • The Company was to have only political functions. lndia was to pay the Company’s debts.
    • The lndian possessions of the Company were to be held in trust for the British Crown.
    • Governor General of Bengal became the Governor General of India, and the act vested in him all civil and military powers. William Bentick was the first governor-general of India
      • The Governor General in Council was to control, superintend and direct the civil and military affairs of the Company.
      • By the Act of 1833, the Governor General in Council were given the power to legislate for the whole of the British territories in India
    • The Act provided for the codification of laws in India.
      • By this Act the Governor General was empowered to appoint the Law Commission to study, collect and codify various rules and regulations prevalent in India. The lndian Penal Code and Codes of Civil and Criminal Law were enacted by the efforts of lndian Law Commission.
  1. Charter Act of 1853
    • This was the last of the series of Charter Acts passed by the British Parliament between 1793 and 1853
    • It separated, for the first time, the legislative and executive functions of the Governor-General’s council.
      • It provided for addition of six new members called legislative councillors to the council. In other words, it established a separate Governor-General’s legislative council which came to be known as the Indian (Central) Legislative Council.
    • It introduced an open competition system of selection and recruitment of civil servants.
      • The covenanted civil service was thus thrown open to the Indians also.
      • Accordingly, the Macaulay Committee (the Committee on the Indian Civil Service) was appointed in 1854.
    • It introduced, for the first time, local representation in the Indian (Central) Legislative Council.
      • Of the six new legislative members of the governor general’s council, four members were appointed by the local (provincial) governments of Madras, Bombay, Bengal and Agra.
    • The act known as the Act for the Good Government of India, abolished the East India Company, and transferred the powers of government, territories and revenues to the British Crown.
    • It provided that India henceforth was to be governed by, and in the name of, Her Majesty. It changed the designation of the Governor-General of India to that of Viceroy of India
      • Lord Canning thus became the first Viceroy of India.
    • The Board of control and court of Directors were abolished. Their place was taken by the Secretary of State of lndia and his Council. They were to govern lndia in the name of her majesty.
    • The Act created an lndia council of fifteen members. It was to advise the Secretary of State who could overrule its decisions.
      • The council was an advisory body. The secretary of state was made the chairman of the council
    • Evaluation
      • The Act of 1858 was, however, largely confined to the improvement of the administrative machinery by which the Indian Government was to be supervised and controlled in England.
      • It did not alter in any substantial way the system of government that prevailed in India.