Indirect rule

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Indirect rule was a system of government that was developed in certain British colonial dependencies (particularly in parts of Africa and Asia). By this system, much of the day-to-day government of localities was left in the hands of traditional rulers (who in principle gained prestige and stability, albeit at the cost of a loss of autonomy), thus allowing a limited number of European colonial administrators to effectively oversee the government of large numbers of people spread over extensive areas.


British Empire

The ideological underpinnings, as well as the practical application of indirect rule in European colonialism is usually traced to the work of Frederick Lugard, the High Commissioner of the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria from 1899 to 1906. In the lands of the Sokoto Caliphate, conquered by the British Empire at the turn of the century, Lugard instituted a system whereby external, military, and tax control was operated by the British, while most every other aspect of life was left to local pre-colonial aristocracies who had sided with the British during their conquest. The theory behind this solution to a very practical problem of domination by a tiny group of foreigners of huge populations is laid out in Lugard's influential work, The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa.

Britain's Asian Empire

The largest application of Indirect rule was in British Asia, in hundreds of pre-colonial states, first under the HEIC in the Indian subcontinent and...
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