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'File 9/4 Bahrain Reforms. Introduction of Reforms in Bahrain' [‎14r] (44/224)

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The record is made up of 1 volume (98 folios). It was created in 30 Dec 1921-27 Jul 1924. It was written in English. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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(b) The liability of Shiabs to imprisonment and any other punishment
at the mere whim of the ruler and his family without any kind
of legal sanction: a state of things vdiich demands the introduc
tion of a regular judicial system.
(c) The complete disregard of the diving rules, and the resulting
injustice to the divers who are at the mercy of the Nakhudas The (usually Arab) captain or master of a local boat.
especially in the matter of their accounts. ' The observance of
the rules, proper maintenance of accounts, and their nrodurfinn
before some impartial tribunal, must be enforced.
4. The creation of machinery suitable for the purpose of carrvino- out
such reforms would be a comparatively simple matter. But before'entering
upon details, it appears to me advisable to examine the consequencfes which
their introduction is likely to involve in the conditions at present rulin^ in
B ihrain, which make the problem more difficult of solution than when Govern
ment last considered the question.
5. The difference lies in the increased obstinacy and obstructiveness of
Sheikh Isa himself. When I delivered the Government of India warning to
him in March 1922, he was thoroughly alarmed by the demonstrations of the
Baharainis, and by the fear that drastic action was going to be taken. His
fears speedily wore off when, he found that nothing happened, and the question
of reforms was not pressed. Since then his character seems to be steadily
deteriorating, owing no doubt to increasing age. Though physically he appears
to be in sound health, mentally he is in his dotage. Completely dominated bv
an ignorant and despotic wife, he is utterly opposed to change of any sort
except such as will directly increase his income without adding to his responsi
bilities. As an example of the old man's " intransigeance " Major Daly reports
that the Municipality of Manameh have been trying in vain "for the
last two years to secure his consent to a scheme for the supplv of
water and electric power to the town. The whole Municipal Council
supported by nearly all the notables and both his sons approached him
recently and begged him to give his approval. Though he was not asked
to contribute in any way to the cost of the undertaking, and was even offered a
royalty on the water, he resolutely refused to a^ree, and would assign no reason
for his refusal which is depriving the inhabitants of much needed benefits As
an example of his credulity and ignorance Major Daly mentions the follow
The roads near Manameh are being repaired and Major Daly procured
some old rails discarded by the Army for use for small bridges.
The Sheikh refused to allow these to be used on the ground they
were Government property, and Government would claim the
ground they were in I
6. If such is his attitude to schemes of purely material progress urged ou
him by his own family and subjects ; it can be supposed that there is no hope
whatsoever that the Sheikh will ever agree, save under strong compulsion, to
the introduction of administrative changes which he would regard not as reform
but as reaction, and which are desired only by the Shiahs, and by the Britsih
Government. Indeed such is his intractability that it is extremely doubtful
whether even strong moral compulsion would induce him to agree. A year
ago, a hint of Government's severe displeasure would probably have moved him.
I do not think it is likely to do so now. And if that tailed, it would have to be
lollowed up by a show of material force, or by a tightening of moral pressure-
ending ultimately (for 1 can see no alternative) in the threat of deposition if he
A\eie lo continue in an attituoe of passive resistance. In all human probability
such a threat would bring the Sheikh, and his wife, to their senses ; but, if it
did not, Government would have no choice but to carry out its threat, and that
could only be done by a resort to force, however embarrassing the circumstances.
In fact, once it is decided to bring pressure to bear, it becomes impossible to
guarantee that Government will be able to stop short at any particular point
of moral or physical compulsion.
It follows that if Government are determined to put a stop to the
abuses in Bahrain, they must bo prepared to impose the Beforms upon the

About this item


The volume contains printed copies of Government of India confidential correspondence, relating to the Bahrain reforms. The majority of the letters contained in volume are printed copies of correspondence originally sent to the Government of India either by the Political Resident A senior ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul General) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Residency. in the Persian Gulf Historically used by the British to refer to the sea area between the Arabian Peninsula and Iran. Often referred to as The Gulf or the Arabian Gulf. (Lieutenant-Colonel Arthur Trevor or Acting Resident Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart Knox), or the Political Agent A mid-ranking political representative (equivalent to a Consul) from the diplomatic corps of the Government of India or one of its subordinate provincial governments, in charge of a Political Agency. at Bahrain (Major Clive Daly). Much of the correspondence featured in the volume can be found in the original (or as office copies) in a number of files in the two Bahrain Agency An office of the British Government and, earlier, of the East India Company. subsubseries ‘File 9 Bahrain Reforms’ (IOR/R/15/2/127-138) and ‘File 8 Miscellaneous’ (IOR/R/15/2/121-126), and the Bushire Residency A diplomatic office of the British Government established in the provinces and regions considered part of, or under the influence of, British India. subsubseries ‘File 19 Bahrain’ (IOR/R/15/1/314-77).

The printed correspondence contained in the volume covers a range of subjects:

  • Events leading up to the programme of reforms carried out in Bahrain: allegations of the oppression of Bahraini subjects by members of the Āl Khalīfah family, violence, the deteriorating economic situation;
  • The reforms proposed and implemented by British officials: replacement of Shaikh ‘Īsá by Shaikh Ḥamad as defacto ruler, economic reforms, judicial reforms, pearl diving industry reforms, customs house reforms;
  • Specific incidents of violence involving Sunnis and Shias, or Najdis and Persians.

Some of the papers in the volume are accompanied by duplicate copies:

  • Folios 61-64 are duplicates of folios 57-60;
  • Folios 68-69 are duplicates of folios 66-67;
  • Folios 81-84 are duplicates of folios 77-80.
Extent and format
1 volume (98 folios)

The volume's contents are arranged in approximate chronological order, starting with the earliest items at the front and finishing with the latest items at the end.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: The volume is foliated from the front cover to the inside back cover, using uncircled pencil numbers in the top-right corner of each recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. . Most of the items in the volume are printed items that have their own internal pagination systems, using printed numbers in the top-right corners of recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. pages and the top-left corners of verso The back of a paper sheet or leaf. pages, or centred at the top of both verso The back of a paper sheet or leaf. and recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. pages. The following foliation anomalies occur: 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e, 1f.

Written in
English in Latin script
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'File 9/4 Bahrain Reforms. Introduction of Reforms in Bahrain' [‎14r] (44/224), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/131, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 28 January 2020]

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