British Raj

1909 Map of India, showing British India in two shades of pink and Princely states in yellow
1909 Map of India, showing British India in two shades of pink and Princely states in yellow
StatusImperial political structure (comprising British India[a] and the Princely States.[b]).[1]
New Delhi
Official languagesEnglish and Urdu[4]
Other languagesSee Languages of South Asia
GovernmentBritish Colonial Government
• 1858–1901
• 1901–1910
Edward VII
• 1910–1936
George V
• 1936
Edward VIII
• 1936–1947
George VI
• 1858–1862 (first)
Charles Canning
• 1947 (last)
Louis Mountbatten
Secretary of State 
• 1858–1859 (first)
Edward Stanley
• 1947 (last)
William Hare
LegislatureImperial Legislative Council
10 May 1857
2 August 1858
18 July 1947
14 and 15 August 1947
CurrencyIndian rupee
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Mughal Empire
Company rule in India
Dominion of India
Dominion of Pakistan
  1. ^ a quasi-federation of presidencies and provinces directly governed by the British Crown through the Viceroy and Governor-General of India
  2. ^ governed by Indian rulers, under the suzerainty of The British Crown exercised through the Viceroy of India)
  3. ^ Note: Simla was the summer capital of the Government of British India, not of the British Raj, i.e. the British Indian Empire, which included the Princely States.[3]
  4. ^ The proclamation for New Delhi to be the capital was made in 1911, but the city was inaugurated as the capital of the Raj in February 1931.

The British Raj (/rɑː/; from Hindi rāj: kingdom, realm, state, or empire[5][a]) was the rule of the British Crown on the Indian subcontinent;[7] it is also called Crown rule in India,[8] or Direct rule in India,[9] and lasted from 1858 to 1947.[10] The region under British control was commonly called India in contemporaneous usage and included areas directly administered by the United Kingdom, which were collectively called British India, and areas ruled by indigenous rulers, but under British paramountcy, called the princely states. The region was sometimes called the Indian Empire, though not officially.[11]

As "India", it was a founding member of the League of Nations, a participating nation in the Summer Olympics in 1900, 1920, 1928, 1932, and 1936, and a founding member of the United Nations in San Francisco in 1945.[12]

This system of governance was instituted on 28 June 1858, when, after the Indian Rebellion of 1857, the rule of the British East India Company was transferred to the Crown in the person of Queen Victoria[13] (who, in 1876, was proclaimed Empress of India). It lasted until 1947, when the British Raj was partitioned into two sovereign dominion states: the Union of India (later the Republic of India) and the Dominion of Pakistan (later the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and the People's Republic of Bangladesh). At the inception of the Raj in 1858, Lower Burma was already a part of British India; Upper Burma was added in 1886, and the resulting union, Burma was administered as an autonomous province until 1937, when it became a separate British colony, gaining its own independence in 1948. It was renamed Myanmar in 1989.

  1. ^ Interpretation Act 1889 (52 & 53 Vict. c. 63), s. 18.
  2. ^ "Calcutta (Kalikata)", The Imperial Gazetteer of India, vol. IX Bomjur to Central India, Published under the Authority of His Majesty's Secretary of State for India in Council, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1908, p. 260,  —Capital of the Indian Empire, situated in 22° 34' N and 88° 22' E, on the east or left bank of the Hooghly river, within the Twenty-four Parganas District, Bengal
  3. ^ "Simla Town", The Imperial Gazetteer of India, vol. XXII Samadhiāla to Singhāna, Published under the Authority of His Majesty's Secretary of State for India in Council, Oxford at the Clarendon Press, 1908, p. 260,  —Head-quarters of Simla District, Punjab, and the summer capital of the Government of India, situated on a transverse spur of the Central Himālayan system system, in 31° 6' N and 77° 10' E, at a mean elevation above sea-level of 7,084 feet.
  4. ^ Vejdani, Farzin (2015), Making History in Iran: Education, Nationalism, and Print Culture, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. 24–25, ISBN 978-0-8047-9153-3,  Although the official languages of administration in India shifted from Persian to English and Urdu in 1837, Persian continued to be taught and read there through the early twentieth century.
  5. ^ McGregor, R. S. (1993), Oxford Hindi-English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, p. 860, ISBN 9780195638462,  raj (noun, masculine): kingdom, realm, state, empire
  6. ^ ""raj, n."", OED Online, Oxford University Press, 2021, retrieved 20 September 2021
  7. ^
    • Hirst, Jacqueline Suthren; Zavros, John (2011), Religious Traditions in Modern South Asia, London and New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-44787-4,  As the (Mughal) empire began to decline in the mid-eighteenth century, some of these regional administrations assumed a greater degree of power. Amongst these ... was the East India Company, a British trading company established by Royal Charter of Elizabeth I of England in 1600. The Company gradually expanded its influence in South Asia, in the first instance through coastal trading posts at Surat, Madras and Calcutta. (The British) expanded their influence, winning political control of Bengal and Bihar after the Battle of Plassey in 1757. From here, the Company expanded its influence dramatically across the subcontinent. By 1857, it had direct control over much of the region. The great rebellion of that year, however, demonstrated the limitations of this commercial company's ability to administer these vast territories, and in 1858 the Company was effectively nationalized, with the British Crown assuming administrative control. Hence began the period known as the British Raj, which ended in 1947 with the partition of the subcontinent into the independent nation-states of India and Pakistan.
    • Salomone, Rosemary (2022), The Rise of English: Global Politics and the Power of Language, Oxford University Press, p. 236, ISBN 978-0-19-062561-0,  Between 1858, when the British East India Company transferred power to British Crown rule (the "British Raj"), and 1947, when India gained independence, English gradually developed into the language of government and education. It allowed the Raj to maintain control by creating an elite gentry schooled in British mores, primed to participate in public life, and loyal to the Crown.
  8. ^
  9. ^
    • Glanville, Luke (2013), Sovereignty and the Responsibility to Protect: A New History, University of Chicago Press, p. 120, ISBN 978-0-226-07708-6 Quote: "Mill, who was himself employed by the British East India company from the age of seventeen until the British government assumed direct rule over India in 1858."
    • Pykett, Lyn (2006), Wilkie Collins, Oxford World's Classics: Authors in Context, Oxford University Press, p. 160, ISBN 978-0-19-284034-9,  In part, the Mutiny was a reaction against this upheavel of traditional Indian society. The suppression of the Mutiny after a year of fighting was followed by the break-up of the East India Company, the exile of the deposed emperor and the establishment of the British Raj, and direct rule of the Indian subcontinent by the British.
    • Lowe, Lisa (2015), The Intimacies of Four Continents, Duke University Press, p. 71, ISBN 978-0-8223-7564-7,  Company rule in India lasted effectively from the Battle of Plassey in 1757 until 1858, when following the 1857 Indian Rebellion, the British Crown assumed direct colonial rule of India in the new British Raj.
  10. ^
    • Vanderven, Elizabeth (2019), "National Education Systems: Asia", in Rury, John L.; Tamura, Eileen H. (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of the History of Education, Oxford University Press, p. 213–227, 222, ISBN 978-0-19-934003-3,  During the British East India Company's domination of the Indian subcontinent (1757–1858) and the subsequent British Raj (1858–1947), it was Western-style education that came to be promoted by many as the base upon which a national and uniform education system should be built.
    • Lapidus, Ira M. (2014), A History of Islamic Societies (3 ed.), Cambridge University Press, p. 393, ISBN 978-0-521-51430-9,  Table 14. Muslim India: outline chronology
      Mughal Empire ... 1526–1858
      Akbar I ... 1556–1605
      Aurengzeb ... 1658–1707
      British victory at Plassey ... 1757
      Britain becomes paramount power ... 1818
      British Raj ... 1858–1947
  11. ^ Bowen, H. V.; Mancke, Elizabeth; Reid, John G. (2012), Britain's Oceanic Empire: Atlantic and Indian Ocean Worlds, C. 1550–1850, Cambridge University Press, p. 106, ISBN 978-1-107-02014-6 Quote: "British India, meanwhile, was itself the powerful 'metropolis' of its own colonial empire, 'the Indian empire'."
  12. ^ Mansergh, Nicholas (1974), Constitutional relations between Britain and India, London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, p. xxx, ISBN 9780115800160, retrieved 19 September 2013 Quote: "India Executive Council: Sir Arcot Ramasamy Mudaliar, Sir Firoz Khan Noon and Sir V. T. Krishnamachari served as India's delegates to the London Commonwealth Meeting, April 1945, and the U.N. San Francisco Conference on International Organisation, April–June 1945."
  13. ^ Kaul, Chandrika. "From Empire to Independence: The British Raj in India 1858–1947". Retrieved 3 March 2011.

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