Social Scientist. v 3, no. 30-31 (Jan-Feb 1975) p. 112.


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Parliamentary Process as a Stabilisation Mechanism

DURING British period, the political process in India was relatively simple. Originally, the East India Company combined in itself the roles of business, political authority and bureaucracy. The company, in collaboration with local decrepit kingdoms, ruled directly, furthering its own interests. Blatant repression by police and military terror aroused protest from Indians in various forms which the company was either unable or unwilling to appease. This illegitimized1 the government in the eyes of the governed, creating adverse responses.

It was the inherent danger of this situation that ultimately led the British government to take over direct administration in 1857 and to moderate the oppressive exploitation by the East India Company. At this point, bureaucracy and government became distinct from business and commerce. Nevertheless, British interest predominantly continued to be economic, with the civil service at its beck and call. However, the growth of liberal humanitarian trends in England at this time found expression in the ameliorative reforms for the Indian empire.

This structure, with the captains of industry at the top exploiting the people through the machinery of colonial repression, increasingly placed business and bureaucracy in direct opposition to the Indian masses^ Their worsening conditions provoked protest in various forms, mostly under the leadership of the Indian National Congress. The Congress,. founded by a Briton, was dominated by British-educated elite and supported by the upcoming Indian bourgeoisie.This explains its class character, the conditioning of its leaders in the bourgeois concepts of freedom, democracy, individualism and the welfare state, and the liberalism which some of them manifested. No wonder they accepted capitalism as ^system. At the same time the native bourgeoisie strengthened itself and developed as an entity separate from British capitalists and playing a junior role.

Increasing nationalist pressure against the weakening British imperialism at the end of the Second World War led to Indian independence. It had become impossible for the British to continue repression and maintain stability for the protection of their economic power. The mass



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