british raj


July 5, 2022

The British Raj (from Hindi rāj, which means “reign”; in English: British Raj) is the British colonial regime that the Indian subcontinent experienced from 1858 to 1947. The Raj began in 1858 with the transfer of the possessions of the East India Company to the British Crown in the person of Queen Victoria, proclaimed Empress of India in 1876. It extended mainly to the territories which today form the India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as well as Burma until 1937, bringing together provinces under direct administration and princely states under suzerainty. The Raj was headed by a viceroy appointed by the government of the United Kingdom. During this period, the country was referred to simply as "India" in the legislation and it was under this name that it participated in the Olympic Games of 1900, 1920, 1928, 1932 and 1936 and became a founding member of the United Nations in 1945. There is also talk of the "Indian Empire", a name which appears in particular on the passports of this period. From the beginning of the 20th century, the movement for independence, in which Gandhi put into practice his theories on non-violence, gained momentum. The movement led in 1947 to the partition of India and the creation of two dominions: the dominion of India and the dominion of Pakistan.

Geographic extension

The British Raj extends over almost all of the current territories of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, with exceptions such as Goa, Pondicherry and a few other counters then respectively integrated into the Portuguese colonial empire and the empire French colonial. It also includes Aden from 1858 to 1937, Lower Burma from 1858 to 1937, Upper Burma from 1886 to 1937, British Somaliland from 1884 to 1898 and the Straits Settlements from 1858 to 1867. Burma is separated from the India and administered directly by the British crown from 1937 until its independence in 1948. The Trucial States, a group of emirates in the Persian Gulf, were nominally princely states of India until 1946 and used the rupee as their currency. Among other countries in the region, Ceylon (currently Sri Lanka) was ceded by the Dutch to Great Britain at the Treaty of Amiens in 1802 and was part of the Madras Presidency from 1793 to 1798. Nepal signed with the British the treaty of Sugauli in 1815 and Bhutan is placed under protectorate by the treaty of Punakha in 1910, but these two kingdoms are not integrated into the Raj. The Kingdom of Sikkim was established as a princely state after a treaty in 1861 without the question of its sovereignty being settled. The Maldives, a British protectorate from 1887 to 1965, are not part of the Raj. In 1941, the British Raj had 388 million inhabitants, or nearly 70% of the population of the entire British Empire.


Colonial Administration

The administration of British India comes under a ministerial department in London, the India Office (“India Office”), headed by the Secretary of State for India, a member of the British Cabinet. This system is put in place by the Government of India Act of 1858, after the transfer of the administration of India from the East India Company to the British government. Until 1935, the Secretary of State was assisted by a Council of India (“Council of India”). The executives of the company knew how to enrich themselves considerably. Robert Clive left India with £234,000, which today would be several million. General Warren Hastings remained famous for the huge bribes he took. These practices led to the aggravation of poverty. Poor harvests in 1769 were followed by famines and epidemics which caused ten million deaths. In the first half of