Morley Minto Reforms

Indian Councils Act 1909 or Morley-Minto Reform was an extension of the 1892 reform. The Morley-Minto Reforms, so named after John Morley, who was the secretary of state for India (1905-1910 & 1911) and Minto was the Governor General of India (1905-1910). The British Parliament appointed a Royal Commission on Decentralisation in 1907, to inquire into relations between the Government of India and the provinces and suggest ways and means to simplify and improve them. Thus the report of Royal Commission on Decentralization became the basis for Morley-Minto Reform.

Causes behind the introduction of Morley- Minto Reform

  • Extremism was rising within the congress and in order to pacify the Moderates the govt accepted some of the demands of moderates in the form of Morley-Minto Reform.
  • Govt also made efforts to win over the Muslims against the Hindus through Morley-Minto Reform.
  • Congress was also demanding self-governance of Indians and in 1906 Congress demanded home rule for the first time (In Calcutta Session of congress which was presided by Dada Bhai Naoroji the resolution of Swaraj was taken).
  • Through Shimla Deputation, a group of elite Muslims led by the Aga Khan met Lord Minto in 1906 as they observed that neither elections nor nominations are fulfilling the requirements of the Muslims and thus they demanded separate electorate for the Muslims.
  • The group which was part of Shimla Deputation formed Muslim League in 1906 itself. This newly formed organisation intended to preach Loyalty to British Empire and aimed to keep Muslim Intelligentsia away from the Congress in order to get its demand fulfilled.

Provisions of the Morley-Minto Reform

  • The size of the Central Legislature and provincial legislature was enlarged and so were their functions. The number of additional members in the Viceroy's executive council was raised from 16 to 60.
  • The official majority in the Imperial Legislative council was retained.
  • The legislative councils at the centre and the provinces were to have four categories of member i.e. Ex officio members (It included Governor General and members of the executive council), Nominated official members (Governor-General would nominate these officials, and these won t be govt official), Nominated non-official members & Elected members.
  • The Act empowered the members to Discuss the Budget and move resolutions before it was finally approved, ask supplementary questions, discuss matters of public interest, adopt resolutions.
  • The Act empowered the Governor General in council to create executive councils for Bengal and for the Lieutenant Governor's provinces with the prior approval of the secretary of state.
  • Introduction of the communal electorate. The Muslims were favoured by giving them representation disproportionate to their population.
  • This act allowed the inclusion of the Indians to the executive councils and increased the number of members of the Executive councils of Bombay and Madras to four.
  • Separate representation was also given to the chamber of commerce, universities, presidency corporation and the Landholders.
  • Indians for the first time were given membership to the Imperial Legislative Council.
  • The Act for the first time gave recognition to elective principle for the appointment of nonofficial members.
  • Discussions on relations with the princely states or foreign policy were not permitted.
  • Satyendra Prassana Sinha was appointed as the first Indian member of the Viceroy s Executive Council.
  • To the Council of the Secretary of State for Indian affairs, two Indians were nominated.

Negative Impacts of Morley-Minto Reform

  • Separate constituencies were created to widen the ditch between the Muslims and Hindus. This system began an era of gross communalism in Indian polity.
  • Morley-Minto Reform prevented people from concentrating on political and economic problems that were common to all Indians, irrespective of Hindu or Muslim.
  • The size of the councils was increased but their functions and powers were not enlarged.
  • Although non-official majority was there in the Provincial Councils, the actual result was not much appreciable since non-official majority was nullified by the election of nominated members.
  • Under the Act the position of the Governor-General and his veto power remained unchanged.
  • The members could discuss the budget but could not make any substantial change in the Budget.
  • The resolutions were like recommendations and were not binding on the government.
  • They could ask questions but could not force the executives to reply.

Positive impacts Morley-Minto Reform

  • It was a forward step towards the responsible association of elected Indians with the administration.
  • The members for the first time got an opportunity to criticize the executives and make suggestions for the better administration of the country.

As the moderate leaders of Congress supported govt on the matter of implementing the reforms but at the same time they lost their base among the masses. Further Government did nothing substantive for the demand of Self Govt of Congress as Lord Minto himself cleared that Colonial Self Government was not apt for India and he was also not in favor of the introduction of Parliamentary or Responsible Govt.

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