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The First Firangis | Chap 2 | Hey Pitt, What’s Your Act?

The first part – Warren Hastings And His Time as Gov General of India


If Sunny Deol’s “Tareekh pe tareekh pe tareekh” dialogue were to be revisited (with amendments), now would a good time.

Here’s what had happened till date:

  1. East India Company (EIC) unlike any other private company of the Great Britain struck gold in India! It was making a lot of money and understandably giving a share back to the crown, but it was sovereign in terms of  political and commercial dealings with Indian kings and trade.
  2. We saw in the last part that they ran out of luck in 1773 and were rescued by the the crown in lieu of some mandatory regulation/ supervising.
  3. But but but, as luck would had it, there were a lot of excesses done by the Company and the supervisory role proved to be inept!

This is when Pitt proposed that there should be a new act whereby the crown will “superintend, direct and control” the government of the Company’s possessions in India.

Masterstroke! In fact, the constitution set up by Pitt’s India Act did not undergo any major changes until the end of the company’s rule in India in 1858.


The Pitt’s India Act 1784 actually provided for a joint government of the company and British crown in India.

And how did Pitt’s India Act go about it?

  1. In political matters, the company which was till now working as somewhat sovereign was made directly subordinate to the British government.
  2. To make this possible, Board of Control was created with 6 people, including a position called as Secretary of State which grew stronger and stronger with time.
  3. The Company was to be represented by the Court of Directors and the Crown was represented by the Board of Control.

Of course, as you would have guessed the powers of the company were clipped, Calcutta was made more powerful and Bombay and Madras (which were the other two major hubs of EIC were made subordinate to it).


Love to know some more technicalities of the Pitt’s India Act?

  1. The Governor General Council was now under indirect control of the British Government through the Board of Control.
  2. There was also a secret committee of the 3 directors, which had to transmit the orders of the Board to India.
  3. This Secret Committee was to work as a link between the Board of control and the Court of Directors.

But cool as this dual governance may have sounded, the Pitt’s Act did not last very long!

Can you tell us the reasons why?



Questions, suggestions and comments

  1. शुभम पान्डे

    1 no. Bawaaa. . .mast hai ye..

  2. ABhaY ThaKUR


  3. ankit sahay

    Awesome just awesome…

  4. Avinash Chandra Rana

    This was because; very soon it became apparent that the boundaries between government control and the company’s powers were nebulous and highly subjective. The British Government felt obliged to respond to humanitarian calls for better treatment of local peoples in British-occupied territories. The Board of control was alleged for nepotism. The act was a naive one, it divided the responsibility between the Board of Control, Court of Directors and the Governor General in Council but again , no boundaries could be fixed as they matter was subjective and not objective.

  5. Rini Sen

    Awesome, awesome awesome!

    The reason for pitt’s act failure?
    Was it because the lines between political and commercial functions were subjective and they overlapped. And the point that indians could look up and go to courts for the injustices done by the company and appeal to the crown so that would have brought more friction.

  6. Raghav Karan

    Behtareen h Janab…..

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