British Policy and the Indian Problem 1919–35

  • B. R. Tomlinson
Part of the Cambridge Commonwealth Series book series


The political and constitutional history of British rule in India is a story of the changing, modifying and rethinking of systems of control. To rule India successfully the British had to devise, and constantly to adjust, a structure of bureaucratic and political institutions which would allow them to control the vital areas of government while ensuring the cooperation or acquiescence of the bulk of their subjects. From the middle of the nineteenth century onwards the British Raj in India was the exception to every rule about the nature of the British empire. In the high Victorian period of informal expansion India had been held under formal, bureaucratic rule: in the later nineteenth century, when Britain’s formal empire was expanding in Africa and elsewhere, the control of India was being secured by increasingly informal techniques. Between 1919 and 1935 British policy makers were faced by the problem of how to create an institutional structure of government which would enable the central government to rule India effectively in a changing political climate. As this chapter will show, they failed to find a solution.


Central Government Round Table British Rule Conservative Party Constitutional Reform 
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  1. 94.
    For an account of earlier attempts to found a socialist party see J. P. Haithcox, Communism and Nationalism in India: M. N. Roy and Comintern Policy 1920–39 (Princeton, 1971 ) pp. 216–9.Google Scholar
  2. 98.
    J. P. Haithcox, Communism and Nationalism in India: M. N. Roy and Comintern Policy 1920–39 (Princeton, 1971 ) p. 219.Google Scholar
  3. 137.
    See letter from B. Desai of 2.4.36 in M. L. Setalvad, Bhulabhai Desai (Bombay, 1965) pp. 168–70.Google Scholar
  4. 146.
    See J. Nehru, Bunch of Old Letters (Bombay, 1958) pp. 188–98.Google Scholar
  5. 162.
    For an account of the attitudes and actions of the British during this episode, see R. J. Moore ‘British Policy and the Indian Problem 1936–40’ in C. H. Philips and M. D. Wainwright (eds), The Partition’of India: Policies and Perspectives 1935–47 (London, 1970) pp.;9–95.Google Scholar
  6. 168.
    J. Nehru, The Unity of India; Collected Writings 1937–40 (London, 1941) p. 62.Google Scholar

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© B. R. Tomlinson 1976

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  • B. R. Tomlinson

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