The British government, not prepared to part with or even share its power with the Indians, once again resorted to the policy of ‘carrot and stick’. The carrot was represented by the insubstantial Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms, while measures such as the Rowlatt Act represented the stick.
The reforms had many drawbacks:
- Franchise was very limited. The electorate was extended to some one-and-a-half million for the central legislature, while the population of India was around 260 million, as per one estimate.
- At the centre, the legislature had no control over the viceroy and his executive council.
- Division of subjects was not satisfactory at the centre.
- Allocation of seats for central legislature to the provinces was based on ‘importance’ of provinces—for instance, Punjab’s military importance and Bombay’s commercial importance.
- At the level of provinces, division of subjects and parallel administration of two parts was irrational and, hence, unworkable. Subjects like irrigation, finance, police, press and justice were ‘reserved’.
- The provincial ministers had no control over finances and over the bureaucrats; this would lead to constant friction between the two. Ministers were often not consulted on important matters too; in fact, they could be overruled by the governor on any matter that the latter considered special.