Background of Charter Act 1813
The Charter Act of 1813, also known as the East India Company Act 1813, was enacted by the British Parliament in 1813. It is called the Charter Act because the British Parliament renewed the charter to the East India Company to continue to rule British possessions in India. By this time the British had successfully established their hegemony on most parts of India with the Mughals confined to Delhi area and the Marathas on the verge of finish. The only area left was the one under the Sikh empire, this too was annexed in 1848.
Through the Pitt’s India Act 1784, the Indian territories under East India Company rule were called British possessions. The Charter Act 1813 aimed to reform and regulate the administration of the British East India Company, which was a British joint-stock company that had been granted a monopoly on British trade with the East Indies way back in 1600.
The process of regulating the activities of the East India Company in India started with the Regulating Act 1773. The Charter Act 1813 was one of the nails in the coffin of the East India Company, the final nail being the Government of India Act 1858. In 1858 finally the entire Indian administration went directly under the Crown.
Provisions of Charter Act 1813
- The act extended the charter of the East India Company for another 20 years and also allowed the company to continue trading in India.
- It abolished the company’s monopoly on trade with India and opened it to British merchants. The prime objective for this was to increase competition and reduce the company’s power.
- The East India Company was however allowed to retain trade in tea and opium and trade with China.
- One of the outstanding features of the act was that an allocation of Rs. 100000 was made annually for the improvement of literary and scientific education.
- The act also permitted Christian missionaries to preach and propagate their religion. But this was under some strict conditions as the British government did not want to compromise British commercial interests for the spread of Christianity in India.
- European and British subjects were now brought under the ambit of Provincial governments more strongly.
- Other British merchants were allowed to trade in India under a strict licensing system.
- The Charter Act 1813 also empowered the local governments in India to impose taxes and penalize those who did not comply.
- Another notable fact about the act was that it abolished slavery in India.
- Through this act Criminal Procedure and Penal Codes were finally codified.
Drawbacks Of Charter Act 1813
The Charter Act of 1813, also known as the East India Company Act 1813, was a significant piece of legislation that had far-reaching consequences for British rule in India. While it did bring about some positive changes, it also had several drawbacks:
- Limited Increase in British Oversight: The Act did little to increase parliamentary oversight and control over the activities of the East India Company. Instead, it extended the Company’s monopoly on trade with India for another 20 years. This allowed the Company to continue to amass wealth and power with limited accountability.
- Limited Indian Representation: The Act did not introduce any meaningful representation for Indians in the governing structures of the East India Company. The Company remained a purely British institution, and the Act did not address the aspirations of Indians for greater participation in their own governance.
- Lack of Economic Benefits for India: The Act did not prioritize the economic development of India. While it allocated funds for education and the promotion of Indian literature, it was primarily aimed at furthering British interests, particularly by providing financial support for Christian missionary activities in India.
- Reinforcement of Colonial Exploitation: The Act continued to allow the Company to extract revenue from Indian territories, which often led to the economic exploitation of India. This revenue collection, known as “land revenue,” often burdened Indian peasants and exacerbated poverty and famine.
- Neglect of Indian Administrative Needs: The Act did not make significant improvements in the administrative machinery in India. It continued the policy of appointing British officials to key administrative positions without adequately training them in the customs, languages, and needs of the Indian population.
- Inadequate Social and Educational Reforms: While the Act allocated some funds for the promotion of education and Indian languages, the overall commitment to social and educational reforms was limited. It did not adequately address the need for comprehensive educational and social reforms to benefit the Indian population.
- Christian Missionary Activities: One of the main purposes of the Act was to provide financial support for Christian missionary activities in India. This led to concerns among different religious communities in India. These were about the potential imposition of Christianity and the undermining of indigenous faiths and cultures.
- Limited Impact on Trade: Despite the extension of the Company’s trading monopoly, the Act did little to stimulate Indian industry or trade. The policies of protectionism and mercantilism continued to hinder the growth of Indian industries and hindered economic self-sufficiency.
On the whole the Charter Act 1813, expressly asserted the Crown’s authority over British India. The Act by further clipped the wings of the East India Company. A notable feature of the act was the allocation of money for the development of Indian literature and science. Though the missionaries were allowed to do their proselytizing activities, they were under some strict regulations as British commercial interests were paramount to the British government. By no means they wanted to attract the wrath of Indian masses in the name of religion.
After this two more Charter Acts were brought in 1833 and 1853. These further strengthened the authority of the British Crown in India. After the Revolt of 1857, the British government passed the Government of India Act 1858. This finally ended the rule of the East India Company. The Governor General of India from now on was called the Viceroy, meaning a nominee of the Crown.
The purpose of the act was to expressively assert the authority of the British government on the affairs of East India Company in India. For this the British government ended the monopoly of the East India Company in Indian trade and confined it to trade in tea and opium and trade with China.
The main provisions can be seen as:
1. Funds for development of Indian literature and science.
2. Ending monopoly of East India Company in India
3. Allowing the Christian missionaries to spread Christianity in India.
4.Extending the charter of the company for another 20 years.
PYQs On Charter Act 1813
Question: Regarding Charter Act of 1813 consider the following:
- It completely ended the company’s trade monopoly in India.
- It empowered the local governments to tax people subject to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
Which of the following is/are correct.
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
Question: Which of the following is/are correct with respect to the Charter Act of 1813.
- Permission was granted for Christian missionaries to enter India and promote their religion.
- The Charter Act of 1813 laid the foundation for modern Indian education.
- For the first time, the Company’s constitutional position was defined. With this the crown’s control over the British East India Company was established.
Select the correct option
(a) 1 only
(b) 1 and 2 only
(c) 2 and 3 only
(d) All of the above