chapter  1
12 Pages


The British Raj in India did not come into existence suddenly, fully-fledged; it was built up slowly, often by means of trial and error, over the better part of a hundred years. But by the 1880s, when our story begins, it had achieved what one might call its mature form. Appointment by patronage had largely given way to recruitment by competitive examination; the work of revenue collection had been systematised and to some extent standardised; and a beginning made towards the separation of executive and legislature by the Councils Acts of 1861 and 1892. All the while, the Raj had continued to expand and evolve. By 1887, over 20,000 people were drawing government salaries in excess of rupees 75 a month. Several hundred thousand more held down menial jobs in the postal service, the army, the police, and the public works department. By any standards, the late nineteenth-century Raj was a massive bureaucracy – too massive, some officials complained, for its own good.