WHY “Montagu-Chelmsford Report ” is Important for CDS II 2018 & CDS I 2019 

By Er. Kunal Singh , (Faculty at Defence career Analyst ,Mohali )

Montague-Chelmsford Report completed its 100 years and hence it’s ONE OF THE important Topics for UPSC Exams in 2018 and 2019.

Let’s Discuss Important Points Related to Montague-Chelmsford or Montford Reforms.

Montagu’s Statement-August 1917

The government policy is of an increasing participation of Indians in every branch of administration and gradual development institutions with a view to the progressive realization of responsible government in India as an integral part of the British empire.”

Importance of Montagu’s Statement

From now onwards, the demand by nationalists for self-government or Home Rule could not be termed as seditious since attainment of self government for Indians now became a government policy, unlike Morley’s statement in 1909 that the reforms were not intended to give self-government to India.

Mont Chlms

Important Analysis:

The 100 years of the publication of the ‘Report on Indian constitutional reforms’, known as the Montague-Chelmsford Report (MCR) completed this month.


        • Edwin Montagu, then Secretary of State for India, had advocated for increased participation of Indians in the British Indian administration.


    • After many meetings with Indian representatives, Montagu and the then Governor-General, Lord Chelmsford, published the MCR on July 8, 1918.



The key highlights of the report:


        • The MCR proposed administrative changes for giving provincial legislatures the mantle of self-governance.


    • The report advocated the need “to emancipate the local governments and legislatures from central control; and to advance, by successive stages, in the direction of conferring responsible government on the provinces.”



The report recommended that “the Provinces are the domain in which the earlier steps towards the progressive realisation of responsible government should be taken”. Another one of the most far-reaching objectives of the report was to elucidate the principle of accountable governance by directing that the “Government of India must remain wholly responsible to Parliament.” Laid the platform for the development of a responsible government. However, in the 32nd session of the Indian National Congress, led by British theosophist Annie Besant, there was strong opposition to the Montagu declaration. The key principles of responsible government, self-governance and federal structure grew out of these reforms. The MCR along with the Montagu Declaration are worthy claimants of the title of the Magna Carta of modern India. The Montagu-Chelmsford Committee visited Madras Presidency to gather the views of political leaders. 7. Finally, the MCR established the framework for devolution of powers.

DETAILED ANALYSIS of the Government of India Act 1919

What happened?


Montagu-Chelmsford Report which formed the basis of the Government of India Act 1919  was published on 8th July 1918.


The Montague Chelmsford reforms and the ensuing Government of India Act of 1919 were important chapters in the history of the Raj. They form an integral part of the UPSC syllabus and aspirants must know the fine print of the act and the reforms for the history section of the CDS exam.

Montagu Chelmsford Reforms
  • Edwin Montagu was appointed the Secretary of State for India in 1917 and remained in that office till 1922. He was critical of the manner in which India was governed.
  • On 20th August 1917, Montagu presented the historic Montagu Declaration (August Declaration) in the British Parliament. This declaration proposed the increased participation of Indians in the administration and the development of self-governing institutions in India.
  • In 1917, Montagu visited India and held talks with the various representatives of Indian polity including Mahatma Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
  • He, along with the Governor-General of India Lord Chelmsford, brought out a detailed report titled Constitutional Reforms in India, also called the Montagu-Chelmsford Report. This report was published on 8th July 1918.
  • This report became the basis for the Government of India Act 1919 (alternatively called the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms or Montford Reforms).
  • The report was rejected by most Indian leaders. Annie Besant referred to it as ‘unworthy to be offered by England or to be accepted by India’.
  • Principal provisions of the GOI Act 1919:
    • Diarchy was introduced in the form of two classes of administrators namely, the Executive Councillors and the Ministers.
    • The governor was the executive head of the provincial government.
    • The subjects were classified into two lists – reserved and transferred. The reserved list was under the governor and the councillors and the transferred list was under the ministers.
    • The former list consisted of subjects like finance, law and order, irrigation, etc. and the transferred list consisted of items like education, health, public works, religious endowments, etc.
    • The ministers were nominated from the elected members of the Legislative Council. They were responsible to the legislature whereas the councillors were not answerable to the legislature.
    • The size of the legislative assemblies was expanded with about 70% of the members being elected. The Act provided for class and communal electorates also. Even some women could vote.
    • The governor had the veto power over the council. He could also issue ordinances.
    • At the central government level, the Governor-General was the chief executive authority.
    • This report introduced the bicameral legislature with 2 houses – Legislative Assembly (forerunner of the Lok Sabha) and the Council of State (forerunner of the Rajya Sabha).
    • The viceroy’s executive council had 6 members out of which 3 were to be Indians.
    • The viceroy could issue ordinances and also certify bills that were rejected by the legislature. The Viceroy had sweeping powers as he could prevent any bill from becoming law if he thought the bill would hamper law and order in the country.
    • He could also prevent any question, debate or adjournment motion in the House.
    • Even though elections were introduced, the franchise was not universal adult. Only certain people who were propertied or had titles or held office could vote.
    • The act provided for the establishment of a public service commission for the first time.
    • It also produced an office of the High Commissioner for India in London.
  • The report was important in that for the first time, concrete steps were taken to include more Indians in the administration of their own country. Elections were introduced which no doubt brought about a political consciousness among educated Indians at least.
  • But the reforms fell short of satisfying the grievances and legitimate demands of Indian nationalists. The Viceroy still had vast powers to undermine the effectiveness of the legislatures. Also, the franchise was very limited and narrow.
MODEL QUESTIONS BASED ON  Montagu-Chelmsford Report which formed the basis of the Government of India Act 1919

1. The distribution of powers between the Centre and the States in the Indian Constitution is based on the scheme provide in the

a)Morley-Minto reforms 1909                    b) Montagu Chelmsford act 1919

c) Govt. of India act, 1935                               d) Indian Independence Act 1947


2. Which of the following is/ are the principal feature(s) of the Government of India Act, 1919?

1. Introduction of dyarchy in the executive government of the provinces.

2. Introduction of separate communal electorates for Muslims

3. Devolution of legislative authority by the centre to the provinces .

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

a)1 only        b) 2 and 3 only                 c) 1 and 3 only               d) 1, 2 and 3


3. The Government of India Act of 1919 clearly defined

a)the separation of power between the judiciary and the legislature.

b)the jurisdiction of the central and provincial governments.

c)the powers of the Secretary of State for India and the Viceroy.

d)None of the above


4.The Montague-Chelmsford Proposals were related to

(a) social reforms                                                    (b) educational reforms

(c) reforms in police administration                    (d) constitutional reforms 2016


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