The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834

By B. B. Misra | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THE CIVIL SERVICE

AMONG the contributions of British rule in India the creation of the Indian Civil Service is one of the most remarkable. It constituted in fact the spine of the Indian body politic, and to it the people generally looked for the protection of person and property, of life and liberty. Its form and character developed under the rule of the East India Company.

The Company's civil service differed fundamentally from that of the Mughal government. The latter service was military in its origin, and although with the passage of time it became rooted in the soil, it retained its military character to the last. 'Every official of the Mughal government had to be enrolled in the army list; he was given a mansab [rank] as the nominal commander of so many horsemen, which determined his pay and status. Civil servants, judges of canon law, superintendents of post, excise or customs, and even clerks and accountants of the higher grades were all ranked as mansabdars, i.e. members of the army.'1 From its commercial origin, the administrative service of the English Company was, on the other hand, essentially civil, not only distinct and separate from its military branch, but predominant and superior to it.

The story of the formation and development of the Company's civil service has been told by many writers. Here in this work, too, we have studied in some detail the scope of its functions, especially in its general, revenue and judicial branches. We have referred to the gradual transformation of the East India Company into a political power. We have noticed the removal of Indians from key positions in the administration, and examined the circumstances responsible again for the gradual Indianisation of certain higher but subordinate and uncovenanted services. This chapter will therefore be restricted in the main to a study of the development of the covenanted service into a trained and specialised profession. And while dealing with the objects and plans of training, we shall briefly indicate the organised attempts of both the home and local authorities to encourage Oriental studies from motives of both administrative and political expediency and to develop through the agency of their public servants a cultural understanding. We shall also

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1
Sarkar, Mughal Administration, 3rd edn., p. 9.

-378-

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The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Foreword v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter I- The Supreme Government 17
  • Chapter II- The Central Secretariat 64
  • Chapter III- The Administration of Revenue 108
  • Chapter IV- The Settlement and Collection of Revenue 171
  • Chapter V- The Administration of Civil Justice 220
  • Chapter VI- The Administration of Criminal Justice and Police 298
  • Chapter VII- The Civil Service 378
  • Appendix Postal Communications 415
  • Bibliography 451
  • Index 460
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