Critically analyse the reforms of 1909 introduced by British Government in India

The real purpose of the Morely-Minto reforms (1909 reform) was to divide the nationalist ranks and to check the growing unity among Indians by encouraging the growth of Muslim communalism. To achieve the latter objective, the Reforms introduced the system of separate electorates under which Muslims candidates in constitutional specially reserved for them. This was done to encourage the notion that the political, economic and cultural interests of Hindus and Muslims were separate and not common. The institution of separate electorates was one of the poisonous trees which was to yield a bitter harvest in later years.

British in order to ‘divide and rule’ introduced ‘separate electorate’ which was to prison Indian electoral system in years to come and which became a basis for the creation of Pakistan. This notion was unscientific because religion could not be the basis of political and economic interest or political grouping.

Thus reforms of 1909 poisoned the Indian electoral system and in all subsequent reforms till independent ‘seperate electorate’ could not be done away with and which ultimately culminated in the formation of Pakistan.

The ‘poison’ of reform of 1909 could be done away with, only when new constitution of India was adopted in which Article 325 read ‘No person to be ineligible for inclusion in, or to claim to be included in a special, electoral roll on grounds of religion, race, caste or sex and there shall be one general electoral roll for every territorial constituency for election.

The Indian Council Act of 1909 proved to be the most short lived of all of Britain’s constitutional experiments in India, being totally raised within nine years by the Montague Chelmsford reform of 1919.

Thus by poisoning Indian electoral system by introducing ‘separate electorate’ for Muslims the reforms of 1909 introduced cardinal problem and ground of controversy at every subsequent revision. Jawaharlal Nehru commented: ‘Political barriers was created round them, from the rest of India and reversing the unifying and amalgamating process which had been going on for centuries… The barriers was a small one at first, for the electorates were very limited, but with every extension of franchise it grew and affected the whole structure of political and social life like some centres which corrupted the entire system.

March 14, 2016

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