IT IS not necessary, for the purpose of understanding modern India, to study in detail the stages by which India moved towards independence, but there are four aspects Of that progress which require our attention, since they govern conditions in India to-day. First, the fact that, notwithstanding the struggle between the British Government and the Congress over three decades, the final transfer of power was a voluntary act, in no way extorted by force, has had a profound effect on relations between Britain and independent India. Secondly, the gradualness of the progress towards self-government gave time for parliamentary institutions to take root, and for Indians to be trained in higher administration. Thirdly, the parliamentary character of the self-governing institutions introduced by Britain made partition unavoidable; while, finally, the long-drawn-out transition led to the consolidation of the Congress into the powerful party, firmly committed to a planned semi-socialist economy, which rules India to-day.
It is a significant fact that the first, short step towards far- distant self-government was taken when Britain was in a position of absolute and unquestioned authority. The Mutiny had been completely crushed and not even an incipient nationalist movement had yet come into being. Wise administrators nevertheless recognised that the British rulers were dangerously out of contact with their Indian subjects, and Bartle Frere wrote of 'the perilous experiment of continuing to legislate for millions of people, with few means of knowing, except by rebellion, whether the laws suit them or not'. To remedy this lack of contact, in 1861 the Legislative Council was for the first time expanded to include a small number of non-officials nominated by the Governor-General and similar Councils were established in the Provinces. Although the Governor-General's choice was not limited by statute, in practice the majority of non-officials nominated by him were, right