Dual Government of Bengal (1765-1772) – UPSC GS1

  • Dual Government of Bengal was a system of Government was established by Robert Clive following the Treaty of Allahabad (1765).
  • The British East India Company obtained the actual power; whereas the responsibility and charge of administration was entrusted to the Nawab of Bengal. Under this dual system of governance, the British administration acquired both the functions of the Diwani and Nizamat of Bengal.
    Diwani = Revenue and Civil Administration
    Nizamat = Police and Criminal Administration
  • Diwani was acquired from the Mughal emperor and Nizamat from the Nawab of Bengal.
  • As the diwan, the Company was authorised to collect revenues of the province, while through the right to nominate the deputy subahdar it was in a position to control the nizamat or the police and judicial powers. The deputy subahdar could not be removed without the consent of the Company. However, at this point of time, the Company was neither willing nor able to collect the revenue directly.
  • Hence Company appointed two deputy diwans for exercising diwani functions-Mohammad Reza Khan for Bengal and Raja Sitah Roy for Bihar. Mohammad Reza Khan also functioned as deputy nizam. In this way, the whole administration of Bengal was exercised through Indian agency, although the actual authority rested with the Company.
  • The dual government system held a great advantage for the British-they had power without responsibility. The Nawab and his officials were responsible for administration, but they had no power to discharge it. The Nawab was merely a puppet in the hands of the British Government of India. The Nawab of Bengal province was under their dominion and depended upon them for his very existence.
Demerits of the Dual Government
The Dual Government of Clive has been criticized in various ways. It led to disastrous results.
  1. Administration was badly affected: Power was divorced from the responsibility. The British were in possession of power and money where as the Nawab had neither power nor money. Nawab had only the responsibility of running the administration. The Nawab failed to manage the administration smoothly with a small annual grant of rupees 50 lakhs only.
    The company tried to improve its own lot by the revenue it collected from Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. The Nawab could not do any work of public utility due to paucity of fund. The Nawab also had no power to enforce law.
    As a result lawlessness prevailed in most parts of Bengal. The cases of theft and rubbery increased by lips and bounds. The common people had to suffer a lot due to want of justice. They suffered to such an extent that they preferred even to leave their home and heart.
  2. Deterioration of Agriculture: The condition of agriculture in Bengal gradually deteriorated under the Dual Government of Clive. The power of collection of revenue rested in the hands of the company only. So, the Nawab could not make any provision like irrigation for the development of agriculture in Bengal. He also failed to advance loan to the needy farmers due to shortage of fund. The great famine of 1770 was an indirect outcome of the above difficulties.
    The downfall of agriculture under the Dual Government ultimately led to the downfall of Company’s income. The English Company became apathetic to agriculture in Bengal which led to loss of production in the field. It ultimately resulted in decrease of revenue collection.
  3. Rapid increase of Private trade: The poor administration in Bengal led to rapid increase of private trade. The servants of the East India Company carried on trade and commerce privately without paying any tax. They earned a lot of profit out of this illegal trade. But on the other hand the merchants of Bengal suffered a lot, because they were over burdened with tax. Thus, the Dual Government dealt a terrible blow to the local trade and commerce.
  4. Increase in Oppression: The servants of the Nawab became wayward and oppressive when they came to know that the Nawab was a great puppet in the hands of the English company. This led to the suffering of the people of Bengal. It was another drawback of the Dual Government.
  5. Downfall of local Industries: The Dual Government of Clive was further responsible for the downfall of local industries. The company’s people forced the local weavers to work exclusively for the company. Many other small local industries also were brought under the control of the company.
  6. Ineffective Justice System: People failed to get proper justice under the Dual system of Government. The judges of the Nawab were influenced by British authority, because the latter played vital role in their appointment. Thus, the judges failed to give impartial verdict which was detrimental to the interest of the public.
Thus, the Dual Government of Clive proved to be a failure for Bengal . It gave rise to several complicacies in the administration of Bengal. The absence of responsibility on the part of the company led to abuses of power and corruption.
This dual system of governance was finally abolished by Warren Hastings in 1772. He reasoned that this system was never meant to be a permanent solution for administration. It was merely a result of tough situations which required an urgent and yet effective solution to the administrative struggle in Bengal during 1765.
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