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Home Rule for India – how will it work?
An elephant at the head of a procession saluting the King and Queen during the royal trip to India in 1912 Photo: Illustrated London News [London, England], 3 Feb 1912

Home Rule for India – how will it work?

Delhi, 6 July 1918 - The ‘Report on the Indian Constitutional reform’, which was signed in Shimla on 22 April by the British Secretary for India, Edwin Montagu, and the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, was published yesterday.

The report, 300 pages in length, was the result of an investigation which followed a pledge by the war cabinet in August 1917 that substantial steps would be taken to develop ‘self-governing institutions with a view to a progressive realisation of a responsible Government in India’. In other words, the report sets out the roadmap towards home rule.

Lord Chelmsford arriving in Mumbai in April 1916 after being appointed Viceroy of India (Image: Illustrated London News [London, England], 13 May 1916]

The introduction stresses the importance of the task: ‘The welfare and happiness of hundreds of millions of people are in issue’.

The report proposes that devolution should take the form of transferring responsibility in certain areas from British representatives to Indians. The areas to be prioritised are those in which local knowledge would be most useful; those in which Indians have ‘shown themselves to be keenly interested’; and those where, if mistakes were to occur, they would not be ‘irremediable’. 

It also recognises that the attainment of home rule will depend largely on the efforts of the Indian people themselves and acknowledges that it would not be fair to give it to them until they are ready.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.