In the previous post, we have read about the coming of Rowlatt Act and Jallianwallah Bagh Massacre. Jallianwallah Bagh incident was the most henious crime of that time. Many innocent people lost their lives. People were suffering due to the exploitative policies of the government.
So, in this situation, British Government once again after a gap of 10 years came back with the new India Council Act of 1919. Montagu was the Secretary of States in 1919. Chelmsford was the Viceroy of India. So, this act was called Montagu-Chelmsford reform.
This was the first step of British Raj which gave some characteristics of the parliamentary system of government in India. The important provisions of the act were,
- The feature of Bicameralism came in India. The Parliamentary system consisting of Upper House and Lower House. Upper House was dominated by the British Officials and Lower House consisting of Indians also.
- After coming of this act, British Exchequer paid the Secretary of State.
- This act came with the feature of lists consisting of the area of work of central and provincial governments. The schedule 7th of the present Indian Constitution also consists three lists, Central, Provincial and Concurrent lists. So, this feature of Indian Constitution came from the Montagu-Chelmsford Reform.
- Montagu-Chelmsford Reform increased the number of members of Legislature. But the official majority was maintained as earlier.
- Separate Provincial Budget came in India first time by the Montagu-Chelmsford Reform.
- This act limited the right to vote to a certain section of society. The voting right was only for those paying income tax on the minimum income of 10000/-, a year or minimum land revenue of 750/-.
- In Allahabad, for the first time in India Public Service Commission established.
Separate Electorate for Sikh and Anglo-Indians
This act further extended the separate electorate for Sikh and non-Hindu community of South India. So, it extended the poison of hatred among masses. Though the poison was already given by the India Council Act of 1909. But this separate electorate for Sikh and Anglo-Indian community further divided the social stratum of India.
Dyarchy in Provinces
The important feature of the Montagu-Chelmsford Reform was the introduction of Dyarchy in Provinces.
Though Montagu-Chelmsford Reform was a good step. Because after this, Indians got the entry in provinces. But again, it disappointed Indian because of the following reasons,
It was not possible to do anything in the field of education and health without the finance. And finance was in the hand of the British Government.
Governor had veto power in case of general subjects. So, nationalists called this act as a mirage. So, in this situation, Gandhi wrote a letter to Lord Reading in which he had appealed to pay attention to the condition of Indians.
Therefore this was the time of re-emergence of Gandhi in politics of the India. The next most important mass movement was Non-Cooperation Movement of 1920-1922. We shall discuss this movement in the next coming post.
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