DMPQ- Evaluate critically the impact of Morley-Minto Reforms of 1909.

. The reforms of 1909 afforded no answer to the Indian political problem. Lord Morley made it clear that colonial self-government (as demanded by the Congress) was not suitable for India, and he was against the introduction of parliamentary or responsible government in India. He said, “If it could be said that this chapter of reforms led directly or indirectly to the establishment of a parliamentary system in India, I, for one, would have nothing at all to do with it.”

The ‘constitutional’ reforms were, in fact, aimed at dividing the nationalist ranks by confusing the Moderates and at checking the growth of unity among Indians through the obnoxious instrument of separate electorates. The government aimed at rallying the Moderates and the Muslims against the rising tide of nationalism. The officials and the Muslim leaders often talked of the entire community when they talked of the separate electorates, but in reality it meant the appeasement of just a small section of the Muslim elite.

Besides, the system of election was too indirect and it gave the impression of “infiltration of legislators through a number of sieves”. And, while parliamentary forms were introduced, no responsibility was conceded, which sometimes led to thoughtless and irresponsible criticism of the government. Only some members like Gokhale put to constructive use the opportunity to debate in the councils by demanding universal primary education, attacking repressive policies and drawing attention to the plight of indentured labour and Indian workers in South Africa.

What the reforms of 1909 gave to the people of the country was a shadow rather than substance. The people had demanded self-government but what they were given was ‘benevolent despotism’.

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