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The relations between the court of directors and the board of commissioners for the affairs of India, 1784 - 1816

Chandra, Prakash (1932) The relations between the court of directors and the board of commissioners for the affairs of India, 1784 - 1816. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.a0r2ygoyrwd0


This is a study of that system of Home Government of India which came into existence with Pitt's India Act in 1784 and lasted with few material alterations till 1858. The striking fact about that system was the setting up of a 'dyarchy', that is to say, the establishment of two bodies with overlapping jurisdiction. How it worked in practice, over what issues the two bodies came into conflict, and by what methods open friction between the two was, as a rule, avoided is the aim of this Thesis to show. It is clear that the subject is fascinating as well as of some importance. Hitherto the relations between the Directors and the Board of Control have not received adequate attention. The subject is one which lies mainly outside the domain of regular Indian History. Such account of their relationship as is given by Mill and Kaye hardly does justice to the Board of Control, while Auber, who scrupulously refrains from taking sides, is no more than a dull chronicler. Among the modern writers who have worked on parts of the subject mention must be made of Sir William Foster, the late Lord Curzon, and Mr. P.E. Roberts. It is hoped that the survey presented in these pages fills a long-felt gap. That it is complete cannot, owing to insufficiency of material, and the limitations of time and capacity, be pretended. The "Melville Papers" which were expected to shed considerable light on the subject have been scattered in various hands. In reply to my enquiry, the National Library of Scotland wrote that they had obtained some fresh material, but that it would take about six months before it was made accesible to readers. This was in May. Subsequently I received another letter saying that the material was ready for inspection, but it did not seem to promise much information on the subject. A visit to Mr. Francis Edwards, 83, High Street, Marylebone, who kindly placed at my disposal all the MSS. still in his possession proved equally fruitless. Nevertheless the MSS. at the India Office Library, the Parliamentary Papers, and the Papers printed for the use of the Proprietors have been freely consulted. As the issues over which the Board and the Court came into conflict had their roots in many cases in past history, I have devoted some space to discussing the initial position. It would thus be found that each chapter is something more than a mere narrative of controversies. With regard to the general plan of the Thesis, I might mention that the first chapter recapitulates the events leading up to the Act of 1784, and the second chapter which discusses the general features of the system is designed to serve as 'an introduction. Each subsequent chapter is then devoted to a case or a group of cases illustrating the relationship of the Board and the Court of Directors. The series terminate with the case of Major Hart, a landmark in their relations. My thanks are due to my professor, John Coatman, Esq., C.I.E., for valuable guidance and constant encouragement, and Sir William Foster for occasional advice, as also to the officials of the British Museum and the India Office Library.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1932 Prakash Chandra
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
Supervisor: Coatman, John

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