Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 27]- 16 April

Solution: Daily Problem Practice [Modern India: Week 27]- 16 April

Q. “The scheme of Dyarchy was ‘cumbrous, complex, confused system, having no logical basis and rooted in compromise’ and was foredoomed to failure.” Give your views. [20 Marks]


As per Government of India Act, 1919 the spheres of the central and provincial governments were demarcated by a division of subjects into “central” and “provincial”. The central subjects included all subjects directly administered by the Government of India or in which extra-provincial interests were dominant. The provincial subjects included subjects in which the interests of the provinces essentially predominated.

The Dyarchy was for the Provincial Governments. The provincial subjects were divided into two categories viz. reserved and transferred. The reserved subjects were kept with the Governor and transferred subjects were kept with Governor acting with the Indian Ministers.

Diarchy was introduced in the provinces on April 1, 1921, and continued in operation till April 1937.

During its operation, the limitations and defects of Diarchy came to the surface:

  1. The actual division of subjects under the two heads of Reserved and Transferred was illiogical and irrational, the result being that neither a Minister, nor an Executive Councillor could work independently of the other. Thus, while Agriculture was a transferred subject, Irrigation was kept as Reserved, though the two for obvious reasons cannot be separated. Similarly, industry was Transferred, while Water, Power Factories and Mines were kept as Reserved.
  2. It was not possible at times to have unity of purpose between the two branches of administration. For instance, when there was agitation in regard to the Sikh Gurudwaras, the aim of the Member in charge of law and order, which was Reserved subject, was to introduce certain legislative measures to meet the situation, but this he could not do, as the legislation in this connection could be introduced only by the Minister in-charge of Religious Endowments, which was a Transferred subject.
  3. At times there was such a confusion that the authorities could not decide whether a particular subject belonged to one department or the other. For example: an enquiry was started in the Department of Agriculture on the question of the fragmentation of holdings. When the Report was submitted in the following year, all of a sudden it was discovered that the question should have been handled by the Revenue Department, to which the matter was now referred. But here too, when the question had engaged the attention of the Revenue Department for two years, it was discovered that the subject after all belonged to the Co-operative Department.
  4. There was no love lost between the two halves of the Government. The ministers were the representatives of the people while the members of the Executive Council belonged to the bureaucracy. Friction between them was inevitable. At times the Ministers and the Executive Councilors condemned one another in public. As a rule, the Governor backed the members of the Executive Council against the Ministers.
  5. The position of the Ministers was weak in another way. They had to serve two masters, Governor and the Legislative Council. A Minister was appointed by the Governor and dismissed at his will. He was responsible to the Legislature for the administration of his department. He could not retain his if a legislature passed a vote of no confidence against him. From point of view of practical politics, the Ministers cared more for the Governor than the Legislature. There were no strong parties in the provincial legislatures. The result was that no Minister had a majority to back him in office. He had always to depend upon the backing and support of official bloc in the legislature and this he could only get if the Governor was happy with him. The result was that the Ministers sank to the position of glorified secretaries and were always at the beck and call of the Governors.
  6. The Governor did not encourage the principle of joint responsibility amongst the Ministers. The latter never worked as a team. They were at times pitched against one another. In 1928, Feroz Khan Noon, a Punjab Minister, publicly criticized and condemned the action of his Hindu colleague.
  7. In most important matters. the Ministers were not even consulted, as for instance in the case of Gandhiji’s arrest. The repressive policy against the non-cooperation movement was planned, and executed but the Ministers were neither consulted nor did they even know what actually the Governor was planning to do. They, in the words of CR. Das, “were only dumb spectators, who could neither speak nor say anything. “
  8. A Minister did not have the required control on the services under his own department His Own Secretary had a weekly interview with the Governor and therefore his opinion carried greater weight than that of the Minister. Whenever there was a difference of opinion between the Minister and his permanent Secretary or between the Minister and the Commissioner of a Division or the head of the department, the matter had to be referred to the Governor, who always supported the officials against the Minister. As pointed out by P. N. Masaldan: “’The carrying out of the policy laid down by the Ministers was largely left to the services over which the Ministers had no control. It was, for the Ministers, a case of holding responsibility without corresponding authority.”
  9. The appointment, salary, suspension, dismissal and transfer of the members of All-India Services was under the control of the Secretary of State for India. These persons continued to be under the control of the Secretary of State even if they held charge in the Transferred departments. They, in consequence, did not care for the Ministers. The Ministers had no power to choose officers of their own liking.
  10. All the so-called nation building departments were transferred to the Ministers but they were given no money for them. The result was that the Ministers had to depend upon the goodwill of the Finance Member. As a member of the bureaucracy, the Finance Member had little sympathy will the aspirations of the people as represented by the Ministers. He cared more for the needs of the Reserved departments than for the Transferred departments.

All these factors led to the failure of the Diarchy and as per recommendation of the Simon Commission, it was abolished in the provinces in the Government of India Act, 1935.


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