I was looking at many early politicians of India and wondered why some of them are listed as Prime Minister, Chief minister, etc. of certain Indian states, before 1947. But I read India received independence from Britain in 1947.

For example,

  • BG Ker was Prime Minister from 1937 – October 1939
  • C. Rajagopalachariwas CM per list from 1937 to 1939 and many others

Why did the British allow these government before the independence and any data on corruption by Indian politicians before 1947?

  • I do not know enough to make an answer but India was a sort of province of the UK. A province usually has, up to a certain point, some autonomy. Which means it needs a form of government. This government still answered to the crown but would be somewhat free in how they handled internal affairs. So why did they allow this? To gain high level control and leave low level control to the Indians.
    – Robin
    Nov 20, 2019 at 15:00
  • 2
    You need to remember that "India" wasn't a single entity, but a collection of countries that had various degrees of autonomy under British rule. (And to some extent even after independence.)
    – jamesqf
    Nov 20, 2019 at 18:06
  • 1
    Is it two questions at the end, one about the British and one about corruption? Or how should it be understood? And why does corruption come into the picture at all? Can you elaborate (by editing the your question, not here in comments)? Nov 21, 2019 at 0:01

3 Answers 3


The British Empire controlled many different territories under different rules, and the rules changed over time as well.

The Indian Councils Act 1861 was an early step towards involving Indians in the administration of India. It fell far short of granting independence, but it gave some Indians some role in politics. Acts in 1892, 1909, and 1919 gave Indians more influence. As a result, when India became a dominion in the British Commonwealth in 1947, there were plenty of Indians with government experience.

Balasaheb Gangadhar Kher switched from campaigning against the British to working within the administration of British India several times in his career when the political conditions changed. The fact that this was possible underlines how the British recognized the gradual independence process well before 1947 -- the British accepted that the Indians could select representatives who were against the UK government of the time. It also shows the degree to which both Indians and British accepted the rule of law and the concept of a loyal opposition even if the Indians ultimately wanted to wrest sovereignty from the British crown.


This is a complicated issue, and I don't know a lot about it, but the outlines are in Wikipedia's article on the Government of India Act 1935

Indians had increasingly been demanding a greater role in the government of their country since the late 19th century. The Indian contribution to the British war effort during the First World War meant that even the more conservative elements in the British political establishment felt the necessity of constitutional change, resulting in the Government of India Act 1919. That Act introduced a novel system of government known as provincial "diarchy", i.e., certain areas of government (such as education) were placed in the hands of ministers responsible to the provincial legislature, while others (such as public order and finance) were retained in the hands of officials responsible to the British-appointed provincial Governor. While the Act was a reflection of the demand for a greater role in government by Indians, it was also very much a reflection of British fears about what that role might mean in practice for India (and of course for British interests there).

The experiment with dyarchy proved unsatisfactory. A particular frustration for Indian politicians was that even for those areas over which they had gained nominal control, the "purse strings" were still in the hands of British officialdom.

The Indian National Congress continued to push for reform and independence, and after many protests, Gandhi travelled to London to take part in the Round Table conferences.

After much more deliberation and argument, the 1937 act was passed by the UK Parliament. It created representative governments in the individual Provinces of British India, which were elected in 1937. BG Ker and C. Rajagopalachariwas were ministers in those governments, which ruled parts of India. The intention was that the "princely states" of India would join the Provinces in a Federation of India, but not enough of them were willing to do so before the outbreak of WWII put the whole issue on hold.

After WWII, the British were loosing control of India, and made it independent as quickly as could be arranged, which wasn't very fast.

  • thanks , what about corruption that might have been within those politicians who gained some control, is there any documented proof. As I feel that the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_National_Congress was getting corrupt starting that time and that is why MK Gandhi wanted congress to be abolished after independence
    – Raj
    Nov 20, 2019 at 16:53
  • @Raj I'm afraid I don't know anything about that. Nov 20, 2019 at 16:58

Sir, before the British granted complete independence to states such as Canada, Australia, India, etc. they set up governments.

Talking about India, some semblance of a government came with the India Councils Act of 1861 , following the Revolt of 1857. More control was given to Indians with the Government of India Act 1919 and the Government of India Act 1935 in order to introduce reforms and give more power to the Indians

Obviously, ultimately the power rested with the British Parliament and it could reverse anything the provincial assemblies or the Central Legislative Assembly did.

This was advantageous to the British as

  1. It was easier for the British to govern and small tasks could be delegated to the Indians while the British could make the big decisions.
  2. The British could somewhat pacify the demands of the Indian Nationalists.

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