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Indian Unrest by Sir Valentine Chirol

Husain Bilgrami were appointed by Lord Morley in 1907


The appointment of two Indians, one a Hindu and the other a Mahomedan, to be members of the Council of the Secretary of State, generally known as the India Council, in Whitehall. Mr. K.G. Gupta and Mr. Husain Bilgrami were appointed by Lord Morley in 1907. Mr. Bilgrami retired early in 1910 owing to ill-health and his place has been taken by Mr. M.A. Ali Baig.

In principle, the introduction of natives of India into these inner lines of the British Executive power undoubtedly constitutes, as Lord Lansdowne has said, a "tremendous innovation," but it may be doubted whether in practice the consequences will be as considerable as those of the changes effected by the India Councils Act of 1909 in the composition and attributions of the Imperial and Provincial Legislative Councils. These changes are of a twofold character. In the first place the total number of members has been very materially increased--e.g., in the Imperial Legislative Council from 21 to a _maximum_ of 60; in the Madras and Bombay Legislative Councils from 24 to a _maximum_ of 50; in the Bengal Legislative Council from 20 to 50, &c. Room has thus been made for the introduction of a much larger number of elected members, of whom there will be in future not less than 135 altogether in the different Legislative Councils, as against only 39 under the old statutes. Still more important than the mere increase in the number of elected members is the radical change in the proportion they

will bear to official members. Except in the Imperial Council, where, at the instance of Lord Morley, a small official majority has been retained which Lord Minto himself was willing to dispense with, there will no longer be any official majority. The regulations determining the electorates and the mode of election have been framed with praiseworthy elasticity in accordance with local requirements, and care has been taken to provide as far as possible for an adequate representation of all the most important communities and interests. In view of the manifold and profound lines of cleavage which exist in Indian society, it is extremely improbable that all the elected members will ever combine against the official minority except in such rare and improbable cases as might produce an absolute consensus of Indian opinion, and in such cases it is even more improbable that Government would ignore so striking a manifestation. Nevertheless, as a safeguard against the possibility of factious opposition, the right of veto has been reserved to the Provincial Executives and in the last resort to the Governor-General in Council.

Thus the Indian Councils Act of 1909 cannot be said to have actually modified the position of the Indian Legislatures. With regard to the most important of them--viz., the Imperial Council--Lord Morley was careful to make this perfectly clear in his despatch of November 27, 1908, in which he reviewed the proposals put forward in the Government of India despatch of October 1. "It is an essential condition of the reform policy," the Secretary of State wrote, "that the Imperial supremacy should in no degree be compromised. I must therefore regard it as essential that your Excellency's Council, in its legislative as well as in its executive character, should continue to be so constituted as to ensure its constant and uninterrupted power to fulfil the constitutional obligation that it owes, and must always owe, to his Majesty's Government and to the Imperial Parliament." The Indian Executive therefore remains, as hitherto, responsible only to the Imperial Government at home, and the Imperial Council can exercise over it no directly controlling power. The same holds good, _mutatis mutandis_, of the Provincial Executives and their Councils.

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