DMPQ- Trace the drawbacks of Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms and Government of India Act, 1919.

. The reforms had many drawbacks:

  • Franchise was very limited. The electorate was extended to some one-and-a-half million for the central legislature, while the population of India was around 260 million, as per one estimate.
  • At the centre, the legislature had no control over the viceroy and his executive council.
  • Division of subjects was not satisfactory at the centre.
  • Allocation of seats for central legislature to the provinces was based on ‘importance’ of provinces—for instance, Punjab’s military importance and Bombay’s commercial importance.
  • At the level of provinces, division of subjects and parallel administration of two parts was irrational and, hence, unworkable. Subjects like irrigation, finance, police, press and justice were ‘reserved’.
  • The provincial ministers had no control over finances and over the bureaucrats; this would lead to constant friction between the two. Ministers were often not consulted on important matters too; in fact, they could be overruled by the governor on any matter that the latter considered special.

The Congress met in a special session in August 1918 at Bombay under Hasan Imam’s presidency and declared the reforms to be “disappointing” and “unsatisfactory” and demanded effective self-government instead. The Montford reforms were termed “unworthy and disappointing—a sunless dawn” by Tilak, even as Annie Besant found them “unworthy of England to offer and India to accept”.

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