The Indian Councils Act, 1892

The growth of the Indian Constitution after the Act of 1861 is largely the story of disaffection and agitation alternating with council reform. The reforms grudgingly conceded were always found inadequate, occasioned disaffection and thus evoked demand for further reforms. Also, the legislative council created by the Act of 1861 failed to satisfy the aspirations of the people of India. The element of Non-officials, negligible as it was, did not even represent the people. It consisted of big zamindars, retired officials or Indian princes, none of whom could claim to understand the problems of the people.
During the second half of the nineteenth century nationalism began to grow in India. A number of factors contributed to this growth. The setting up of universities at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay in 1857 spread education and brought about nationalism. The use of English by the educated people brought them closer to one another. Also, the repressive policy adopted by the British Government after the revolt of 1857 created feelings of hatred against it.
It was under these circumstances that the Indian National congress was founded in 1885. Whose initial objective was to mobilize the public opinion in the country. In its very first session the Congress passed the following resolution, "This congress considers the reform and expansion of the supreme and existing local legislative councils by the admission of a considerable proportion of elected members and holds that all budgets should be referred to these councils for consideration, their members being moreover empowered to interpolate the executive in regard to all branches of administration".
In the beginning, the attitude of the British Govt was friendly and sympathetic towards Congress but by 1888 it started changing. Lord Dufferin in that year made a frontal attack on the Congress by dubbing it as representing only a microscopic minority and its demands as a big jump into the unknown.
However, realizing the significance of the movement launched by the congress he secretly sent to England proposals for liberating the councils. Also, he appointed a committee of his council to prepare a plan for the enlargement of provincial councils, for enhancing their status and the liberalization of their general character as political institution.
The report of the committee along with dufferin's view was sent to the authorities in England suggesting changes in the composition and functions of the councils with the main aim to give a wider share in the administration of public affairs to such Indian gentlemen as by their influence, their requirements and the confidence they inspired in their own countrymen, are marked out as fitted to assist with their council the responsible rulers of the rulers."
The Conservative Ministry in England at the instance of Lord Cross, Secretary of state of India, introduced in 1890 a bill in the House of Lords on the basis of these proposals but it proceeded at a slow and was passed only two years later as the Indian councils Act 1892.

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