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Maharashtra: State of Satari

Indicus

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Satari is a constituent state of Maharashtra, which also encompasses the entirety of the Maharashtra-Goa border and surrounds Goa with the exception of the coast.

Satari state is much shaped by its relationship to Goa. Following the Portuguese conquest of Goa, the region adjacent to Goa came to be known as the "Land of the Moors", in reference to the various Muslim kings which came to rule over the region in this period. During the Goan Inquisition which reached its peak in the seventeenth century, it became a place of refuge. When the Goan authorities threatened to smash Hindu idols, those idols were taken across the border for safekeeping; memories of this linger on in village festivals in which idols are taken to and from shrines across the border. When the Goan authorities banned Hindu marriage, couples would marry in the "Land of the Moors", to the irritation of the authorities which aimed at conversion. It was this relationship, as a borderland between Portuguese Goa and the Deccan, which shaped the region now known as Satari state.

However, the region did eventually fall to Portuguese rule. In return for sanctuary against Mysorean conquests, in 1764 the Raja of Soonda ceded various territories, and in 1783 and 1788 the Raja of Savantvadi ceded more territories in return for Portuguese assistance. These territories were then integrated into Goa, forming a region, the "New Conquests", distinct from the "Old Conquests". By this point, the religious fervour of the Portuguese government had cooled and policies of enlightened absolutism meant the suppression of the Jesuits which had played an important role in converting the Old Conquests, and as such the New Conquests were able to retain their Hinduism. Nevertheless, this conquest forced the Portuguese authorities to meet and comes to term with a Maratha aristocracy local to the region. The most powerful aristocratic family was the Rane clan, based out of Satari, which repeatedly rebelled against the government and forced it to accept concessions[1]. These rebellions quickly acquired a very different character after the Goan Revolution broke out in 1830. With the sundering of colonial links between Goa and Portugal, the Rane family rebelled yet again to extract concessions. However, against the considerably weaker republican government, it proved able to launch attacks across Goa, and its success led it to grow yet more prominent. It acquired enormous territories, and in 1831 the Rane clan swore fealty to the Maharashtrian Peshwa in Puna. This implicitly brought the eye of the British Raj, whose subsidiary alliance with Maharashtra meant that the Rane clan too was suzerain to the British, and resulted in the British adjudicating a peace settlement giving the New Conquests to the Rane clan.

The outstanding success of the Satari revolt, which succeeded beyond the Rane clan's dreams, led to the formation of Satari State, with Dipaji Rane as its Sardar. However, its success had consequences in Goa itself, where Hindu Goans were accused of being fifth columnists, and the Goan constitution's disenfranchisement of Hindus owes much to this moment. At the same time, Goa's status as a de facto British protectorate which emerged in this period meant that it became a trade entrepot, and trade routes inevitably marked their way across Satari State. This enabled the growth of a merchant class, one which was economically tied to Goa even if resentful of its overt anti-Hinduism, and its exclusion from the court in Satari city and ties to merchants in Puna and other parts of Maharashtra led to the first stirrings of Maharashtrian nationalism and liberalism. Ram Mohan Roy's presentation of a draft Charter of Liberties and Securities to the Peshwa saw petitions by the merchants of Satari and Sankhali. At the same time, in Goa, a movement advocating religious equality for Hindus emerged, and this also saw the support of these merchant classes; yet, it allowed the Goan government to suppress Hindu rights movements on the basis of them being "under the control" of foreign merchants, and that these merchants were Brahmins and Shudras alienated the powerful Hindu Kshatriya classes of Goa. These ties were only decisively severed by the great Hindu Goan politician Pretâp Sinğ, whose Religious Liberty Association prohibited money coming from foreigners as a move to prevent the Goan government from accusing them of being mere Rane puppets. This movement decisively succeeded with this strategy, but in the act it also detached the Satari merchants from their ties into Goan politics. This meant that, after the Great Indian Famine of 1876-78 inspired a frenzy for administrative reform and centralization within Maharashtra, those merchants supported it; when the eventual result was a Maharashtrian parliament, this meant that, once and for all, Satari would look to Puna for its politics, not to Mormugao, and the good relations inspired by Goa's Hindu emancipation did nothing to prevent this.

Satari later saw, in conjunction with many other Maharashtrian states, a movement for a local legislature, which eventually marked its success after 1927. The codification of the Concani language in Goa had little effect in Satari; despite its spoken variety being far more similar to Concani than Marathi, the people of the state overwhelmingly rejected it in favour of retaining Marathi.

Today, Satari is very much shaped by being a borderland between Maharashtra and Goa. There remain distinct similarities in the spoken tongue of Satari and Goa, and there is a clear correspondence in festivals among Satarians and Hindu Goans. Economic ties remain prominent, and the movement for unifying Goa into Maharashtra has a clear centre in Satari. But nevertheless, Satari ultimately looks east to Puna, not west to Mormugao.




[1] In OTL, the Rane family rebelled against the Portuguese government twenty times between the eighteenth and early twentieth centuries, with their last rebellion being in 1912 and ending with them being deported to Portuguese Angola.
 
Revolutionary Britain: Board of National Colleges

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rect1395.pngThe Board of National Colleges is a government board in the British Isles which is responsible for administering National Colleges, a network of elite post-secondary schools, only open to British citizens, which trains students for jobs within the Public Service. Representative of its ambiguous placement within the bureaucracy, it is, as such, constituted by members coming from the various National Colleges, in addition to members appointed by the Public Service Secretary, and it is presided and chaired by figures appointed by the Minister of Education, in a makeup established to grant authority over it to the Education Ministry, while ensuring the representation of the Public Service in addition to the National Colleges themselves.

The National College system originates with the British East India Company. As it conquered vast swathes of India in the late eighteenth century, it suddenly found itself having gone from a trading company into a state within a state. This, and the potential rise of vast numbers of patronage positions, quickly received the attention of many in Britain itself - famously, in 1783, the Fox-North Coalition proposed a law which established an executive commission in charge of appointments to British India, only to fail after Tories accused Charles James Fox of proposing this law as part of a plot to take over the British Isles using the patronage of the British Raj to make himself dictator, and stirred up a frenzy which saw the Tories come to power, which they only relinquished in 1827. The sudden need for public service personnel to administer the British Raj required the training of officials, which resulted in the creation of the East India Company College in 1806, which sought to do exactly that with the finest tutors British money could buy. This was supplemented with an examination system inspired by that of China, to ensure that civil service placements required some degree of merit. The East India Company College, a relatively small institution which aimed to train (British) personnel for the public service in the Company Raj, is generally considered the first National College, though this is sometimes disputed with the Inns of Court.

Following the Popular Revolution in 1827 and the overthrow of the Frederician regime, the new administration sought administrative reform. With the monarchy replaced with a figurehead administration and the executive branch fused into Parliament, the potential for patronage and corruption suddenly seemed much greater with the public service. The public service quickly ballooned in size with the rise of the New Poor Law, a new Health Code, the establishment of county police, and the expansion of public works. With the nationalization of the East India Company in 1833, the College which was associated with it became an educational institution for public servants; in this regard, Haileybury College still stands to this day. In 1835, a commission looked into how the public service could be refined and the danger of patronage lessened, and it ultimately came to the conclusion that this was best done with the institution of a system of examination inspired by Imperial China. This quickly received the scorn of many, who alleged that examinations were "un-British", "Oriental", and "barbaric", but nevertheless in 1836 the Whitbread ministry forced through the institution of a system of public examinations for public service jobs.

In the same period, the issue of legal reform came to the surface. The common law was codified and replaced by a series of law codes in this period, inspired by the writings of Bentham. But in this period also came a suspicion of lawyers, much inspired by Jeremy Bentham who viewed them as the embodiment of the "sinister interest" which prevented all legal reform and the rise of democracy. A commission revealed that the Inns of Court, in which lawyers are educated, was an institution devoid of virtually all education to the extent that all legal education was by self-study, and this inspired their 1836 reconstitution into a Legal University with the goal of training lawyers. Its specific goal, of training lawyers, has led many to call it the "first National College" (in addition to its older epithet as the "third English university"), but lawyers are primarily employed in the private sector and indeed, it was only in 1899 with C. J. F. Martineau's ambitious reforms that the Indigent Advocates, employed by the state to ensure anyone would be legally represented, were formed. The scandal, and the reconstitution of Inns, inspired discussion to exclude lawyers from being able to become judges, and in 1837, the government established the Magisterial College, which aimed specifically to train judges for employment. While initially lawyers simply enrolled in the Magisterial College to become judges, over time the two fields have diverged and today the judiciary and the bar require two entirely distinct (if intersecting) fields of study.

Further expansion of the bureaucracy following the establishment of a health administration and streamlining of electoral administration in the 1840s resulted in the expansion of examinations, and Haileybury College became far larger and expansive in what it taught. During Wilfrid Lawson's long field of tenure as Prime Minister (1846-1856), the need for a professionalized diplomatic corps during the New Granadine War of Independence resulted in the rapid expansion of the foreign service and Haileybury's educational institutions becoming larger. However, the independence of the public service rapidly came under strain in this period, and the ultimate defeat of Lawson's Radicals in the 1856 election was caused in no small part by accusations that he sought to use the patronage of the public service to make himself dictator. Lord John Russell's second tenure as prime minister saw moves towards ensuring the independence of the civil service, and when the Radicals won back power in 1860, they pursued a program of streamlining the civil service. Haileybury College was reduced to training foreign and colonial service personnel, while separate colleges, most notably National Administration College, were created to train local administrators. In addition to military academies, these quickly became informally known as "National Colleges", in reference that most of them included "College" in their name, as well as their national purpose to train administrators. They also quickly created an informal board around the Education Ministry, as part of the same frenzy that also saw rapid expansion of the university system. Under Prime Minister C. J. F. Martineau, in 1901 this board was formalized to create the form that exists today.

The top-level National Colleges include as follows, note that smaller National Colleges, which are also represented on the Board, are excluded:
  • Haileybury College
  • Magisterial College
  • National Administration College
  • Health and Indigent Studies College
  • National Military College
  • National Navy College
  • National Aerial Military College
  • National College for Political Sciences
  • National Rocketry and Aeronautics College
 
Revolutionary Britain: Secret Ballot Act 1844

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The Secret Ballot Act 1844 was a law establishing the secret ballot as the system of election in the British Isles.

Historically, in parliamentary elections, the British Isles used a system of election in which voters stood on hustings and publicly declared the vote. Though there were regulations in place to prohibit the interference and intimidation by public arms, in practice unofficial intimidation existed by employers and landlords. At the municipal elections, a variety of other election methods were used, including open balloting, but in general municipal elections were oligarchical in character. However, this slowly became more and more unacceptable over the course of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as the corrupt nature of the British political system received scorn by believers in Enlightenment ideals, and the lack of vote secrecy was one common criticism. As the United States and France implemented open ballot systems, this voice increased, and following the Popular Revolution putting an end to the Guelph monarchy in 1827, this voice became a crescendo.

Yet, during the convening of the Convention Parliament, it failed to achieve official status. This has to do with a few reasons. First, the Popular Revolution was, to many, a revolution seeking to restore the balance of political power after the perceived aggrandizement of power by the monarchy, and the secret ballot was naturally not part of this agenda. Second, many believed the public vote was a good thing, as they believed the vote was not a right held by the individual, but a trust accountable to the community as a whole. Finally, the Constitution of 1829 was fundamentally the work of a union of Whigs and Radicals, and while the Whigs were uniformly believers in a public ballot, the Radicals of the time were just as disunited on whether the vote should be secret as they were on every other issue.

The belief in a public vote, however, was gradually whittled away in the immediate post-revolutionary period. British election culture was long marked by a raucous atmosphere; the Westminster constituency, one of the few to have a genuinely popular constituent political culture in the pre-revolutionary Parliament, often had deaths caused by electoral violence and the election hustings were ritualistically destroyed by mobs after every election. The Popular Revolution saw a massive enfranchisement of voters and the creation of single-member constituencies; in combination, this made elections far more competitive than they had ever been and caused the spread of this very same political culture. Elections were bloody affairs everywhere, and as the novelty wore off many chose to stay away. More than a few times, polling offices were overrun by mobs which attempted to send false electoral returns for their candidate. It horrified many, and made Britain even fewer friends on the continent than it already had.

Attempts were made to stem this. In 1835, the Whitbread administration formalized the electoral administration into a single National Elections Office led by an Election-Master-General, along with District Elections Offices subsidiary to it, and Polling Elections Offices subsidiary in turn with it, with uniforms to emphasize their separateness from other administrative institutions. It also established a centralized address system to ensure the verification of locales of voters. Despite accusations of this being a "French-style" centralization, it nevertheless passed through Parliament. Furthermore, during the election period, each polling office would have an Elections Jury, a body of citizens selected randomly with the duty of examining the process of elections and reporting on them; on a unanimous vote it had the power holding a re-poll. In this era the jury was deeply beloved and its "purity" was an obsession of virtually every political faction, and some even proclaimed that the purpose of the entire British constitution was to put twelve good men into a jury; this was a blatant attempt to use this lustre to increase confidence in the electoral process. In the atmosphere of the time it was highly improbable that an entire jury would hold a re-poll, but on occasion it did happen for purely political reasons, and this led to the Secret Ballot Act making them purely advisory. But for the most part, these measures increased confidence in the electoral process. But the violence continued.

As violence broke out, calls for a secret ballot increased. In 1834, a ballot system based on the US - the "secret ballot cast in open" - was implemented in municipal elections. However, any measure of secrecy was quickly obviated by the use of differing-sized and -coloured ballots which made it an open ballot system in effect. Many noted this, and began to theorize on other ballot systems. George Grote created an elaborate contraption that would mark a hole in a paper; others proposed the use of a machine which would have slots corresponding to candidates in which voters could thrown balls in; this would be detected mechanically. But neither the Hobhouse nor Russell administrations supported the secret ballot, and when the Radical Party of Whitbread came to power in 1844, it was they who implemented the secret ballot as a measure to cut down on violence. It received a surprising amount of Moderate support for that very reason.

By the Secret Ballot Act 1844, the secret ballot was made official for all elections. It was in many ways an adjustment of the American-style open ballot used in municipal elections. This procedure consisted as followed: Upon an election, voters would be directed to a polling booth made secret with a curtain; many ironically compared them to Catholic confessional booths. There, a voter would find a table with stacks of papers, designated ballots, on which are printed the names of a candidate with as many stacks as candidates, along with an envelope, and the voter would then put a ballot into the envelope and secure it shut with a stamp, the "Penny Electoral". The voter would then take the envelope out of the booth and, in public, put it into the ballot box. A ballot box was a box of cast iron or wood, with a lid that could be locked and a slot-hole which could be closed with a lockable slat. Upon the completion of a local election, with the election jurors in observance, the polling district clerk would close the ballot box slat and seal it with the Seal of Parliament. This ballot box would then be moved, through a secure yet publicized mode of transport along a pre-agreed efficient route, to the election office of the district being polled for, where they would be counted. Members of the public would be admitted the office to observe this process. Here, all ballot boxes would be checked to determine if they are accounted for, and the seals would be checked; then, the ballot box would be opened. In a long process, envelopes would be opened, and if each envelope contained only one appropriate ballot, they would be counted. Upon the completion of the counting process, the returns would be posted outside doors, published in the national gazette, and the Elections Clerk would officially declare the returns in public.

This law, enshrining the modern secret ballot into existence, proved revolutionary. In an instant, at last elections were tamed. No longer was horrific violence part of the electoral process; it was now an exception. This was decisively proven in a special election a few weeks after the act received magisterial assent, which was so calm, so lacking in chaos, that to many it barely seemed like an election. Furthermore, the secret ballot prototyped in this law spread around the world, and today the secret ballot is considered a necessary part of democracy. In this way, the Secret Ballot Act is one of the most important laws of history.
 
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