India Office

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The India Office was a British government department created in 1858 to oversee the colonial administration of India, i.e. the modern-day nations of Bangladesh, Burma, India, and Pakistan, as well as territories in South-east and Central Asia, the Middle East, and parts of the east coast of Africa. The department was headed by the Secretary of State for India, a member of the British cabinet, who was formally advised by the Council of India.

Upon the partition of British India in 1947 into the two new independent dominions of India and Pakistan, the India Office was closed down. Responsibility for the United Kingdom's relations with the two new countries was transferred to the Commonwealth Relations Office (formerly the Dominions Office).

Origins of The India Office (1600–1858)

The East India Company, the first company in the world, was established in 1600 as a joint-stock association of English merchants who received, by a series of charters, exclusive rights to trade to the 'Indies'. The 'Indies' were defined as the lands lying between the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan; the term "India" had been derived from the name of a river, the Indus, long important to commerce and civilization in the region. The Company soon established a network of warehouses or 'factories' throughout south and east Indies in Asia. Over a period of 250 years the Company underwent several substantial changes in its basic character and functions.

A period of rivalry...
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