This article throws light upon the top fifteen British Viceroys under whose Governance the British rule flourished in India.
The Viceroys are: 1. Lord Canning 2. Lord Elgin 3. Sir John Lawrence 4. Lord Mayo 5. Lord Northbrook 6. Lord Lytton 7. Lord Ripon 8. Lord Dufferin 9. Lord Lansdowne 10. Lord Elgin 11. Lord Curzon 12. Lord Minto (II) 13. Lord Hardinge 14. Lord Chelmsford 15. Lord Reading
Viceroy # 1. Lord Canning as First Viceroy, (1858-62):
After the assumption of the Indian administration by the British Crown in 1858 following the revolt of 1857, Lord Canning, the then Governor-General of India was appointed the first Veceroy of India to represent the sovereignty of the British Crown. Lord Canning was a liberal minded humanitarian ruler.
With a spirit of forgiveness, liberality and sympathy he sought to remove from the minds of the Indians the feeling of hatred towards the British. His liberal attitude was not supported by a section of the British officers who wanted exemplary punishment for all persons directly or indirectly connected with the revolt.
But Lord Canning did not agree with this revengeful attitude of a section of his own countrymen and remained firm in his policy of humanitarian approach to the problem. Lord Canning was criticised by some of the British men and officers as following a weak-kneed, incapable and blind liberal policy and even demanded his recall. But Lord Canning remained unperturbed by all this unmerited criticism.
With the end of the Company’s rule it was necessary to reorganise the armed forces and to pursue a new military policy in order to eliminate the possibility of any revolt in the future. For this purpose one third of the armed forces in India was manned by British soldiers. The artillery was now composed of the British soldiers only.
As a result of the revolt the government debt had increased manifold. In order to reorganize the finances of the British Indian government James Wilson, an expert in revenue matters was sent from England. Wilson levied income tax and duties on imports for increasing the revenue income of the government. Besides, he introduced paper currency and planned retrenchment of unnecessary posts in different government departments. But he could not complete his work as death overtook him all on a sudden. His successor Samuel Laing completed the work begun by him.
In the meantime the defects of the Permanent Settlement had become manifest. A rent Act was passed in 1859 to prevent eviction of the ryots without adequate reasons. It was during the administration of Lord Canning that compilation of the. Indian Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code begun by Lord Macaulay was completed. In 1861 one High Court was establish in each Presidency in place of the former Supreme Court and other courts of law.
During Lord Canning’s administration the Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were established. Lord Canning also took certain measures to save the indigo cultivators from the oppression of the Indigo planters.
Viceroy # 2. Lord Elgin (1862-63):
On the retirement of Lord Canning, the first Viceroy in 1862, Lord Elgin came as Viceroy. The only noteworthy thing of his period of administration was lie suppression of the Wahabi Muslim sect in north-west frontier. Lord Elgin died in 1863 as a result of heart attack.
Viceroy # 3. Sir John Lawrence, (1864-69):
Before his appointment as Viceroy, Sir John Lawrence had earned a name as an administrator in India. In the revolt of 1857 he had recovered Delhi and saved Punjab from the rebels and thereby saved British interest in India. Although he had made his mark as an administrator, he did not possess the dignity of the office of the Viceroy that he held now. During his viceroyalty some important events took place.
The northern borders of Bengal were being repeatedly invaded by-the Bhutanese. Lawrence sent Ashley Eden to negotiate an amicable settlement of the border issue with the Bhutan government. But the Bhutanese kidnapped Ashley Eden and compelled him to sign an agreement on behalf of the British surrendering Dooars to the King of Bhutan. Lawrence declared war against Bhutan and recovered Dooars but had to agree to the payment of an annual tribute to the Bhutan King for Dooars.
Another important event of the time of Lawrence was the outbreak of famine in Orissa (1866). In fact, this famine was not limited to the confines of Orissa; it extended from Bengal to Madras. The Government of Madras made adequate arrangements for helping the famine-stricken people.
But the governments of Bengal and India did practically nothing to help the people who were suffering due to famine. About ten lacs of people of Orissa died of starvation and epidemics that stalked the land. Sir John Lawrence, in absence of the consent of the Council, did not do anything to come to the rescue of the famine-stricken people.
When due to prolonged starvation physical resistance to diseases became very low, people began to fall victims to epidemics and went on dying in thousands. Lawrence and the government of Bengal now woke up from their slumber but it was already too late then. The famine and disease stricken people had been gasping for their last breath. For the death of a huge number of people both the Bengal government and Sir John Lawrence were equally responsible.
In order to fight famine in future, a Famine Commission was appointed to make recommendations. On the basis of the recommendations of this Famine Commission a famine policy was adopted. It was made obligatory on the part of the government officials to take steps for arranging adequate relief to the famine-stricken.
During the administration of Lawrence the American Civil War was going on. This increased the international demand for the Indian cotton. In order to encourage cultivation of cotton the Bank of Bombay began to issue loans to all and sundry. When in 1865 the American Civil War came to an end there was a great business slump and the Bank of Bombay crashed. Many wealthy people who had deposited their fortunes with the Bank of Bombay were financially ruined.
One good thing that Lawrence did was to pass the land revenue Act by which eviction of ryots was prohibited. It was Lawrence again who caused the Punjab Tenancy bill to be drafted, which became law after him.
Afghan Policy of Lawrence:
With the death of Dost Mohammad, Amir of Afghanistan there began a succession struggle for the throne. Lawrence followed a policy of non-intervention in the internal affairs of Afghanistan. His policy was recognizing that contestant for the throne as Amir as would succeed in actually occupying the throne. The result of this policy was recognizing one contestant at one time and another at other time as according their occasional success in occupying the throne, as Amir.
This peculiar policy of Lawrence is known as the policy of masterly inactivity. It had the effect of creating an impression that the British recognition of a person as amir had no practical value. Strangely, however, when Sher Ali ultimately succeeded in occupying the Afghan throne firmly, Lawrence did not recognise him directly. He sent him some military stores and other articles as presents.
Lawrence suggested that the British Cabinet should undertake the responsibility of containing Russian expansion towards Afghanistan. But his suggestion was not accepted by the British government. The net result of the Afghan policy of Lawrence was that it created a feeling of disgust among the Afghans towards the British Indian government.
Viceroy # 4. Lord Mayo, (1869-72):
Lord Mayo, an Irish by birth, took over as Governor-General and Viceroy from Lord Lawrence in 1869. His amiability and particularly his attitude of sympathy created a deep feeling of respect for him among the native princes. He formed a Council to which he handed over the administration of the state of Alowar where there was virtual failure of administration. He settled the problems of the small states of Kathiawar judiciously. At Ajmeer he established a college which came to be known after him as Mayo College. At Lahore and Rajkot he had likewise established colleges.
In order to balance the Indian revenue income and expenditure, he levied a few taxes and enforced strict economy in government expenditure. He allocated funds for each province and insisted on keeping expenditure within the amount thus allocated, but he gave fullest liberty to the provincial governments to spend the amounts allocated to each department according to their own judgment. In this way he sought to develop a sense of responsibility among the provincial governments in financial matters.
Afghan Policy of Lord Mayo:
Lord Mayo followed the policy of non-intervention of his predecessor with regard to Afghanistan. But the policy of masterly inactivity was followed with much success. Amir Sher Ali was at that time very eager to enter into friendly relations with the British. Although Lord Mayo was not agreeable to directly enter into a friendly agreement with Sher Ali, the latter was very much pleased at the amiable and sympathetic attitude of Lord Mayo. Lord Mayo, however, assured Sher Ali when both met at Ambala that in the event of Russian attack of Afghanistan the British Indian government would help him with money and military stores.
Further, it was primarily due to Mayo’s good offices that the border dispute between Russia and Afghanistan was settled. Russia agreed to accept the Oxus as the dividing line between the Russian empire and the Afghan territories. Afghanistan’s authority over Badakshan was also agreed to by Russia.
In 1872 Lord Mayo went to visit the Andamans where persons transported for life were kept. There he was stabbed by a Pathan convict to death.
Viceroy # 5. Lord Northbrook, (1872-76):
On Lord Mayo’s sudden death at the hands of an assassin in the Andamans, Lord Northbrook was appointed Governor-General and Viceroy of India. He was an efficient administrator no doubt, but his character was neither attractive nor impressive. When the British Resident at Baroda lost his life under suspicious circumstances, Northbrook dispossessed Malhar Rao Gaikawar from the throne of Baroda.
The charge brought against the Gaikawar was of causing the death of the British Resident by poisoning. When the charge was not proved, Northbrook removed him from the throne on the charge of maladministration. It was during Lord Northbrook’s administration that the Prince of Wales came to visit India. During his administration a terrible famine broke out in Bihar (1873-74). In 1876 Lord Northbrook resigned his office due to his differences with the British Cabinet.
Lord Northbrook’s Afghan Policy: During the administration of Lord Northbrook Russia began to extend its boundary towards Afghanistan. In 1873 Russia occupied Khiva from Afghanistan. This generated a sense of fear and nervousness among the British. Sher Ali in his distress sent an emissary to Simla in order to enter into a friendly alliance with the British. Lord Northbrook was in favour of helping Sher Ali, but the British Government in England did not support his view. For, they thought it would be unwise to give up the policy of non-intervention. Sher Ali, in the circumstance had to enter into an alliance with Russia in order to maintain the security of Afghanistan.
Viceroy # 6. Lord Lytton, (1876-80):
The Governor-General and Viceroy who took over from Lord Northbrook was the nominee of the British Prime Minister Disraeli. He was a famous litterateur. His works appeared under his pseudonym ‘Owen Meredith. He had no previous administrative experience, but he proved sufficiently successful as an administrator.
It was on the suggestion of Lord Lytton to Disraeli that Queen Victoria was invested with the title of Kaiser-i-Hind i.e. Empress of India by the Royal Title Act. On January 1, 1877 a Durbar was held at Delhi and Queen Victoria was formally declared Kaiser-i-Hind. On this occasion all convicts were set free.
In the same year a terrible famine broke out in Mysore, Deccan, Bombay and Madras Presidencies. Gradually it spread into Central India and the Punjab. With the outbreak of famine the Madras government took over the purchase and distribution of food grains into its own hands.
But due to the incompetence of the government servants there was no proper distribution of food grains and a large number of the people lost their lives. Lord Lytton appointed a Famine Commission which proposed certain principles to be followed for the help of the famine-stricken. On the basis of these principles the later Famine Code was drawn.
Lord Lytton possessed deep knowledge in economics. This is manifest from his fiscal policy. He changed the existing policy of duties of cotton and seaborne goods to some extent. The duty on salt was levied at different rates at different places. Lord Lytton made the duty on salt uniform all over the country.
During the administration of Lytton the Anglo-Russian relations became very bitter. In 1877 Russia defeated Turkey and compelled her to sign the Treaty of San Stefano by which the clauses of the Peace of Paris, 1863, were grossly altered. This brought England and Russia on the verge of a shooting war. Ultimately, however, in the Congress of Berlin the Treaty of San Stefano was changed and Turkey Was saved from the grab of Russia.
In 1878 Lord Lytton in order to put a stop to the criticism of the British government passed the infamous Vernacular Press Act by which publication of anything that might create hatred against the British government by the vernacular news papers was prohibited. News papers published in English Were, however, not brought within the purview of this Act.
By this Act the vernacular papers were deprived of their right to criticize any political, social or other activities of the government or to comment on them. As English papers were edited by Englishmen, these were exempt from the application of this Act. Amritabazar Patrika, a nationalist paper in Bengali converted itself into English overnight in order to avoid the mischief of the Act.
Lord Lytton’s Afghan Policy:
Lord Beaconsfield, i.e. Lord Disraeli, Lord Salisbury, the leaders of the Conservative Party, soon after forming the Ministry in England changed the policy of non-intervention followed by the former government and began to pursue a forward policy in order to contain Russian expansion towards Afghanistan.
In fact, Lord Lytton was sent to India with definite instruction to follow a forward policy insofar as Afghanistan was concerned. In 1873, we have already noted, that Russia had occupied Khiva from Afghanistan. This had made the Conservative government of Disraeli very much fearful.
Under instructions from Disraeli and Salisbury Lord Lytton started negotiations with Sher Ali. Lytton was prepared to accept all the conditions on which Sher Ali was willing in 1873 to enter into a friendly alliance with the British Indian government. But Lytton added a new condition that Sher Ali would have to accept a British Resident at Kabul. It was also decided to send a mission to Afghanistan to give final shape to the alliance. But before the mission had started, Sher Ali informed Lytton that it would not be possible for him to guarantee security of the British Resident against the possible attack by the uncontrollable Afghans.
It was obvious that Sher Ali’s communication was meant to avoid Lytton’s Proposal for putting a British Resident in Kabul. It was also argued by Sher Ali that if he would agree to a British Mission to Afghanistan he would have to agree to a similar Mission from Russia. It is felt by many writers that if Lytton was really eager to enter into a friendly alliance with Afghanistan, he should not have tried to force a condition on Sher Ali. In any case, Sher Ail’s communication made Lytton intensely angry.
He took Sher Ali’s attitude to be contumelious which he determined to punish. He wrote to Sher Ali saying that Afghanistan was a country in between Russia and India; like an earthen pipkin between two iron posts. In the circumstances if Afghanistan would enter into a friendly alliance with the British, the later would protect her like an iron wall from external attacks. But if Afghanistan would enter into an alliance with Russia then the British would crush Afganistan like a reed.
The Afghans who loved their independence more than anything else were very much annoyed at this threat held out by Lytton but were not the least afraid. Their hatred towards the British increased all the more. Lytton as the first step towards war preparation entered into an alliance with the Khan of Kalat and occupied Quetta by the terms of that alliance. Occupation of Quetta which occupied a strategic position from the military point of view improved the military position of the British towards the north-west.
Second Anglo-Afghan War: Soon after the occupation of Quetta (1878) a Russian emissary came to Kabul and succeeded in persuading Sher Ali to sign an agreement with Russia. This enhanced the fear and nervousness of the British all the more. Lytton demanded that he would also send a British mission to Kabul which was turned down by Sher Ali. Lytton at once declared war against Afghanistan.
Lytton sent three columns of troops through three mountain passes towards Afghanistan. Ultimately Sher Ali had to flee the country and take refuge in Russian Turkestan. By the Treaty of Gabdamak the British placed Yakub Khan, son of Sher Ali on the throne of Afghanistan as Amir. Yakub Khan had to agree to receive a British Resident at Kabul and to subject the Afghan foreign policy to the control of the British. The mountain passes of Afghanistan and a few of the Afghan places were occupied by the British and in return Yakub Khan was to receive rupees six lacs annually as also British military help whenever needed.
Freedom loving Afghans were not willing to accept the agreement signed by Yakub Khan with the British. They put the British Resident Sir Louis Cavagnari and his retinue to death soon after their arrival at Kabul. This led to resumption of the Second Anglo-Afghan War. This time the British troops occupied Qandahar and entered Kabul after defeating the Afghanis in the battle of Charasiar. Yakub Khan had already taken refuge in the British camp. He was sent by the British to Calcutta as a captive. Lytton now contemplated to weaken Afghanistan permanently by making her dependent on the British and by separating Kabul from Qandahar. It was at this point of time that Lord Lytton was recalled.
The Afghan policy of Lord Lytton was severely criticised by (he contemporary politicians. The leader of the Opposition, Gladstone in his speech in the Parliament said that the British had made mistake in dealing with the Afghans once before, the same type of mistake has been made for a second time. There were no extenuating circumstances for this mistake. Lord Lytton’s Afghan policy did not betray any stamp of statesmanship, nor did he realize that the security of India did not depend on the security of Herat or Qandahar.
Lord Lytton harboured the unreal hope of extending British influence upto Central Asia. Dr. Smith rightly points out that Lytton by forcing the condition of placing a British Resident at Kabul paved the way for the murder of Sir Louis Cavagnari.
There were, however, certain good results of the Afghan policy of Lord Lytton. It led to the British occupation on the Bolan Pass and Quetta. Permanent British influence was also established on the State of Kalat.
Other Activities of Lytton:
In certain matters, particularly in his dealings with Sher Ali, Lytton had shown his highhanded and contumelious nature but he did not overlook the need for introducing certain changes in the Indian administration. Many of the principles of policy mooted by him were accepted by the Indian administration subsequently.
It was he who for the first time proposed the formation of the north-western frontier province. He also had suggested the introduction of gold standard in India. If his suggestion for gold standard were accepted then, India would not have lost a huge amount due to the fall in the price of silver.
He had prepared the ground for the appointment of the Indians to the I.C.S. (1879). It was Lord Lytton again, who suggested the constitution of a Privy Council with the native princes and respectable Indians. Lytton opposed the policy of light punishment for serious offences, committed by the English men which ultimately helped to bring about same punishment for similar offences committed by any one whether Indian or European.
Viceroy # 7. Lord Ripon (1880-84):
Ripon was a mid-Victorian liberal. He belonged to the Liberal Party of Gladstone. He was a firm believer in peace, self-government and laissez faire in his personal traits and administrative ideas, Lord Ripon was just the opposite of Lord Lytton.
When he came as the governor general and viceroy of India, the Indians had practically no place in the Indian administration. There was, in fact, no question of conducting the administration according to democratic principles or in deference to public opinion. Administration depended entirely on the personal whims and personal likes and dislikes of the administrators. No body would care to know whether the administration was conducive to public welfare or what actually the people of the country wanted. “We set aside the people altogether, we devise and say that such a thing is a good thing and to be done and we carry it out without asking them very much about it” remarked Sir Robert Montgomery.
With the spread of English education the educated Indians began to demand share in the governance of the country. They demanded representative democracy in India and necessary constitutional changes for that purpose. Lord Ripon was sympathetic towards these aspirations of the Indians.
He therefore tried to make the Indian administration democratic in character, put Ripon had to face much difficulty in his efforts to democratize the Indian administration because of the opposition of the British officers. He was, however, not a person to be counted by such opposition. He undertook liberal and public welfare measures for which his name is memorable in the history of India.
Lord Ripon’s reforms may be discussed under few separate heads, such as:
(i) Decentralisation of administration,
(ii) Tariff and revenue,
(iii) Freedom of the Press,
(v) Treatment of the Native States and
(vi) Social reforms.
(i) Decentralisation of Administration:
Among the reforms of Lord Ripon decentralisation of general and revenue administration was the most important. In these matters he showed his active sympathy with the hopes and aspirations of the educated Indians. In municipal administration he gave the Indians right of self government. He established Local Boards and placed the rural administration, public health, construction and maintenance of roads, education, prevention and fighting of epidemics and infectious diseases etc. in their charge.
These self-governing institutions were given full control over income and expenditure of the areas under them. Local self-government was functioning in India, even before Ripon. In 1872 local self-government was established in Bombay Presidency and gradually the system was extended to other Presidencies.
But the members of the Municipal corporations were all nominated by the government. Lord Ripon extended the local self-government not only in urban areas but also in rural areas and in place of nominated members arranged for the election of the members, mayors, chairmen etc. In this way he made the local self-government democratic in character. Of course, some of the members of these institutions were still nominated by the government.
This apart, he arranged for the government supervision of these institutions. If it was found that any of the local self-governing institutions was not functioning properly the government might supersede the body. Thus in place of controlling the local self-governing institutions from within through nominated representatives, Ripon arranged for their supervision by the government from outside, and allowing them sufficient democratic rights and powers.
(ii) Tariff and Revenue:
When Lord Ripon came to India as governor general and viceroy, the government was financially well off. He rightly realized that the best time for undertaking reform measures was when the government was financially solvent. He therefore completed the policy of freedom of trade initiated under Lord Northbrook and Lord Lytton. He abolished tariff from all commodities except salt, wine, arms and ammunitions. The tariff duty of salt was considerably reduced.
Lord Ripon wanted to effect certain changes in the Permanent Settlement of 1793. He suggested that although the settlement was permanent yet with the rise or fall of the fertility of land under cultivation the land revenue must also be increased or decreased. But the Secretary of State for India did not approve of this suggestion of Ripon. If the suggestion of Ripon were accepted much of the defects of the Permanent Settlement would have been reduced.
(iii) Freedom of the Press:
Lord Lytton by his Vernacular Press Act (1878) had deprived the vernacular press from their right to criticize the political and social activities of the government. Lord Ripon repealed the Vernacular Press Act and restored the right of the vernacular press to publish criticism of the political and social activities of the government, thereby he gave proof of his liberal ideas.
Lord Ripon appointed a Commission under Sir William Hunter’s Chairmanship to review the progress of education under the new policy followed pursuant to Wood’s Despatch of 1854. The report of the Commission was approved by the Government. While the report fully endorsed the policy of 1854, it particularly pointed out that primary education had not made sufficient progress. “The report drew attention to the special and urgent need for the extension and improvement of the elementary education of the masses, and recommended that the primary schools should be managed by the newly established Municipal and District Boards under the supervision and control of the government”.
The Committee also observed that the grant-in-aid system had proved very satisfactory and recommended progressive devolution of the primary, secondary and collegiate education on private enterprise and gradual withdrawal of the government from competition therewith. The result of the implementing of the recommendation of the report was a steady increase in the number of schools and colleges.
(v) Treatment of the Native States:
Under Bentinck the Company had taken over the administration of the State of Mysore on the grounds of maladministration. Lord Ripon returned Mysore to the heir of the royal house, but it was stipulated that during the long British rule or Mysore whatever laws had been passed for Mysore would not be altered or repealed without the consent of the governor general. It was also agreed to by the new king of Mysore that he would abide by governor general’s advice and instruction from time to time.
(vi) His social reforms:
Lord Ripon was deeply sympathetic towards the Indian people and their aspirations and he carried out various reform measures for improvement of their condition. In order to prevent eviction of the ryots by the zamindars Ripon prepared a Tenancy Act which was passed under the next governor general.
In 1881 Ripon passed the Factory Act prohibiting employment of children between seven and twelve years of age for more than nine hours per day in any factory. It was also provided that dangerous machines must be properly fenced to avoid accidents. To see if the provisions of the Factory Act were really followed in factories he arranged for the appointment of a class of government officers called factory inspectors.
The Criminal Procedure Act of 1873 prohibited Indian magistrates or sessions judges from trying any European for criminal offence. By 1883 many of the Indians had been promoted on the basis of seniority, to the posts of session’s judges. But on sheer racial consideration they were not allowed to try any European. This invidious distinction created a good deal of resentment in the Indian minds. Lord Ripon also saw the unreasonableness of this arbitrary distinction on the basis of race. He decided to remove this distinction.
The Law Member Sir IIbert was asked to prepare the necessary bill doing away with this distinction. The bill, known as Ilbert Bill drafted by Ilbert sought to put the Indian magistrates and sessions judges on the same status with the European magistrates and sessions judges with equal judicial powers. This gave rise to a great resentment among the European servants and they started an agitation and even did not hesitate to indirectly insult the governor general.
The Ilbert Bill controversy became so strong that Lord Ripon was ultimately compelled to make certain changes in the bill and include the provision that when any European would be tried in any Indian magistrate or session judge’s court, he would be at liberty to demand trial by jury the majority of which must be Europeans.
In this way Lord Ripon’s attempt to do away with irrational and invidious distinction between judges on the basis of racial origin was stalled. Lord Ripon’s wide sympathy with the Indians while made him intensely popular with the Indians made him extremely unpopular, even hateful to the Europeans. He resigned in 1884 and left for England.
Importance of the Administration of Lord Ripon:
Lord Ripon’s administration was particularly important for the democratic and local self-government training of the Indians. He repealed the Vernacular Press Act of Lord Lytton (1878) and by restoring the rights of, the vernacular press to make social and political criticism of the social and political activities of the government helped to develop a sense of responsibility and impart a training to the Indian Press.
By making majority of the members of the local self-governing institutions to be elected, as well as by making the posts of the Mayors, Chairmen etc. elective Lord Ripon sought to make the Indians more responsible in working democratic institutions.
Before Lord Ripon the government was thoroughly unmindful towards primary and secondary education. Lord Ripon appointed Hunter Commission and on its recommendations began to take special care for the expansion of primary and secondary education. By spread of education Ripon sought to create responsible citizens among the Indians.
It may be noted that the Ilbert Bill had to be changed and thus its real purpose was negatived. But the Ilbert Bill controversy taught the Indians how to remove their grievances through agitation. In these diverse ways Ripon trained the Indians in local self-government, democracy etc. and developed a sense of responsibility in them.
Viceroy # 8. Lord Dufferin, (1884-88):
Lord Ripon was succeeded by Lord Dufferin. After the Ilbert Bill controversy and the ultimate change of the bill had created a deep sense of dissatisfaction among the Indians. At that point of time it was necessary to have a wise, far-sighted statesmanly person at the helm of affairs of the Indian government. Appointment of Lord Dufferin answered to this requirement. Lord Dufferin had long experience as the Under Secretary of State for India, as governor of Canada, British emissary at Russia and Turkey, Commissioner of Egypt etc. before coming as Indian’s governor general and viceroy. He had also a name as a diplomat and an orator. His character had a great personal magnetism.
Dufferin’s wise policy soon succeeded in removing the bitterness that had been engendered in the Indian minds by the Ilbert Bill controversy. He did not believe in allowing any special political power or status to any body on the basis of racial origin or social status. He was in favour of developing Indian public opinion.
It was for this reason that he supported the founding of the Indian National Congress in 1885. Dufferin handed back Gwalior to the Scindia with adequate compensation which proved his liberal attitude towards the native States. In 1885 he passed the Bengal Tenancy Act by which he prohibited increase in the land revenue ryots or their wrongful eviction by the zamindars. In 1887 he passed a similar Tenancy Act for Punjab. In Oudh he settled lands with the ryots for seven years and after that period if any ryot would be evicted for any reason whatsoever, he had to be paid the cost of development of the land during the past seven years.
His Foreign Policy: His Afghan Policy:
During the administration of Lord Dufferin the problem of foreign policy with regard to the north-west frontier and eastern frontier took a serious turn. Soon after assumption of charge by Lord Dufferin had to address himself to these two problems. In 1884 the Russophobia of the British reappeared with all its fear complexes. In that year Russia occupied Merv, a town 150 miles away from the borders of Afghanistan.
This made both the British and the British Indian governments fearful and nervous. However, at the instance of the Russian government the proposal was made for an Anglo-Russian Commission to demarcate the border between Russia and Afghanistan.
This proposal was made when Lord Ripon was the viceroy and he had accepted the proposal. Lord Dufferin now sent British Commissioners, but the Russian Commissioners arrived much late. When the Commission was engaged in discussion about the demarcation of the border between Russia and Afghanistan, Russia occupied Panjdeh which made the border problem all the more complicated.
The situation came to such a pass that a war between Russia and British India seemed imminent, but Afghanistan was not willing to declare war on this issue. In fact, it was not clear to either Russia or Afghanistan as to whom Panjdeh legally belonged. Unwillingness of Afghanistan to settle the issue by a war was the reason why there was no war between Russia and British India.
Again, Abdur Rahman, Amir of Afghanistan was not unwilling to surrender his rights over Panjdeh if he could obtain Zulfikar Pass. Negotiation between Russia and Afghanistan began on this basis. In 1887 Abdur Rahman obtained possession of Zulfikar Pass and Russia was allowed to retain possession of Panjdeh. As Russo-Afghan dispute was settled in this way the Anglo-Russian dispute which centred round Afghan problem naturally was removed.
The failure of the joint Anglo-Russian Commission killed the opportunity of better understanding between two growing empires. But relations between British India and Afghanistan became more cordial. A meeting between Lord Dufferin and Amir Abdur Rahman at Rawalpindi all the more enhanced the friendliness between British and Afghanistan.
Third Burmese War, 1886:
If the Afghan policy of the British under Lord Dufferin was conditioned by the latter’s Russophobia, fear of France influenced the Anglo-Burmese policy towards the eastern border of India. As a result of the First Anglo-Burmese War, 1826, the Arakans and Tennaserim came under the British. By the Second Anglo-Burmese War, 1852, Pegu was occupied by the British.
As a result of the British occupation of these areas of Burma, the latter was cut off from direct access to the seas for which the Burmese became dependent on the British. Yet the Burmese government was not willing to permit the British to carry on trade in Upper Burma region.
The Burmese were naturally suspicious of the ultimate intentions of the British who had occupied the lower part of their country. But the British would not rest content without having business relations in Upper Burma. The British government in England began to put pressure on the Indian government to conquer the rest of Burma.
The Burmese king Thebaw eventually became aware of the British intentions and sought French held for the defence of his country. It may be mentioned that Thebaw’s anti-British attitude became manifest ever since his occupation of the throne in 1878 soon after which the British had to recall their emissary from Thebaw’s Court.
In 1883 Thebaw sent an emissary to France who succeeded in entering into an agreement with the French government for assistance and sympathy whenever needed. This was followed by a French embassy to the Court of Thebaw in 1885. By the terms of the agreement the French merchants were given various advantages to carry on trade in Burma and to establish a French Bank at Mandalay.
Some time back the French had established their authority in Indo-China. Now they were spreading their influence in Burma. All this made the British very much jealous, and suspicious of the Burmese intentions. When situation was thus surcharged with mutual suspicion, Thebaw punished the Bombay-Burma Trading Company, a British firm by levying a fine for a minor offence.
This worsened the Anglo-Burmese relations all the more. Lord Dufferin wanted an enquiry into the circumstances leading to the fine of the trading company. But Thebaw rejected the demand by saying that there was no scope for reconsideration of the matter. Dufferin sent an ultimatum to Thebaw in which demands for suspension of the realisation of the fine from the Bombay-Burma Trading Company and putting one British Resident in the Court of Thebaw were made.
Further, the British merchants had to be permitted to carry on trade with China through Burma and the government of Thebaw must not have any communication with any foreign Power without the consent of the British Resident were also included as conditions in the ultimatum. Such terms and conditions could not be agreed to by the Burmese government as they were deregatory to the sovereignty and independent status of the Burmese king. Thebaw, naturally, rejected the ultimatum with the contempt it deserved.
This led to the Third Burmese War. There was practically no war worth the name and the British occupied Mandalay almost without any resistance. Thebaw surrendered. He was brought over to Calcutta and on January 1, 1886 Upper Burma was declared to have been included into the British Indian empire. For five years to follow, the Burmese continued to attack the British troops in guerilla fashion.
Lord Dufferin’s dealings with Burma will, from a dispassionate, consideration appear to be unjust and dishonourable. Burma like Afghanistan had to surrender to the imperialistic expansionism of the British. For a sovereign power like Burma it was perfectly legitimate to reject British friendship and to accept French friendship.
But the British Indian government under Dufferin declared war against Burma only out of selfish and imperialistic considerations. P.E. Roberts seeks to defend the British policy by referring to the tyrannical rule and barbarous conduct of Thebaw. But looked at from impartial point of view the immoral, low, selfish, illegal and imperialistic conduct of Dufferin and for the matter of that, the British government become clearly manifest.
Chinese suzerainty over Burma was legally recognised although in practice the Burmese king was ruling as a sovereign authority. The British government now entered into negotiation with the .Chinese government to get the British authority recognised over Burma and ultimately the Chinese government conceded the British claim.
Viceroy # 9. Lord Lansdowne, (1888-94):
During Lord Lansdowne’s administration the price of silver fell considerably in the international market. This led to a slump in the Indian market where the silver rupee currency was holding the market. Fall of the value of silver naturally brought about a terrible economic distress in India.
The fall of the price of silver in the international market was due to the working of new silver mines as well as Germany’s entering into gold standard. The remedy of the situation was found in the introduction of partial gold standard. As a result within a few years the fall in prices was arrested.
Under Lord Lansdowne a few very important reform measures were enacted. The Factory Act earlier passed by Lord Ripon was amended to make eleven hours to be the maximum hours that a woman labourer could be made to work in a factory. Formerly children below seven years were regarded as child-labourers. But the age was now raised to nine. They could not be employed to work at night henceforth. Besides, one holiday per week was made obligatory.
Previously girls could marry according to their choice from the age of ten. But now the age was raised to twelve as ten years was considered to be too low for the purpose.
His Foreign Policy:
Within a short period of the assumption of charge by Lansdowne as governor general and vicerory, there began a struggle over the question of inheritance which led to failure of administration in Manipur, a small independent State on the borders of Assam. Lansdowne sent the Commissioner of Assam to Manipur to settle the issue.
But the general of the Manipur army killed the Commissioner and three of his men. The British troops took reprisals by entering into Manipur and arresting the army general of Manipur and some of his close associates. They were all put to death and a minor son of the ruler was placed on the throne under the guardianship of a British Resident at Manipur.
In 1892 the Khan of Kalat, a protected ally of the British, got his Vizier, Vizier’s old father and young son killed. Lansdowne in consultation with the leaders of Kalat deposed the Khan and placed one of his sons as Khan in his place.
Lord Lansdowne was not in favour of interference in the day to day administration of any State by any British Resident. When Mr. Plowden began to interfere in the internal administration of Kashmir by virtue of his position as the Resident at Kashmir, Lansdowne recalled him.
But curiously enough in the following year on unproved grounds of maladministration, Lansdowne suddenly deposed the Maharaja of Kashmir and appointed a representative Council in his place to run the administration. This unusual step became a matter of heated debate in the British Parliament and ultimately the British had to return Kashmir to its former ruler.
Viceroy # 10. Lord Elgin, (1894-99):
Lord Lansdowne was succeeded by Lord Elgin. His administration was characterised by multiple problems. The effects of the fall in the price of silver on the Indian economy had become fully manifest by then. Huge budget deficit, famine, epidemics, border disputes etc. had made Lord Elgin’s administration a very trying time.
Lord Elgin was descendant of an ancient, liberal Scottish family. As an able administrator he had already earned a name before his appointment as governor general and viceroy. His administration was not without its faults, but if the complexities of the multifarious problems of his time are remembered these faults can reasonably be overlooked.
In order to improve the finances of the government Elgin levied duties on all imports. Only exception was cloth. But this did not improve the situation. Elgin therefore levied duty on cloth as well. But in order to protect the interests of the English cloth merchants, Elgin levied excise duties on Indian made cloth. These measures and the introduction of gold standard ultimately made the Indian economy sound.
In 1895 certain reform measures were undertaken to reorganise the Indian army. After the revolt of 1857 the Bengal, Bombay and Madras had separate armies, and each army was under the command of a separate general. In 1895 all armies of Bengal, Bombay and Madras were brought under the same organisation and placed under one single Commander-in-Chief.
Under the Command-in-Chief there were four Deputy Commanders or Lieutenant Generals one each at Calcutta, Bombay, Madras and Punjab. Four aerodromes were also constructed in the above four places and each air-base was placed under a Lieutenant General.
At that time Russia was attempting to occupy the entire Pamir mountain range. This dispute was sought to be amicably settled and in 1895 an Anglo-Russian agreement was signed by which the long- drawn dispute over the Pamir region between British India and Russia was settled.
By the Durand Agreement of 1893 a formal British protectorate was declared over Chitral and Gilgit. Further, under Lord Lansdowne railways were constructed upto the north-west frontiers. The Pathan tribes looked upon these extension of British influence with suspicion. In 1895 a British officer was sent to Chitral to help one of the rival candidates for the throne. The officer was besieged by a large number of the Pathan tribes who declared Jihad, i.e. holy war against the British.
The officer was relieved from the siege after a month and a half by British troops sent from Gilgit as well as through Malakand Pass. In 1897 there was a serious rebellion by the tribes of the northwest frontier, particularly the Afridis and Mohammads. A regular military expedition covering a period of one year was necessary to put the rebellion down.
To prevent recurrence of similar outbreaks in future strategic roads and railways were constructed and distribution of troops was made to cope with any possible situation more effectively and expeditiously. The frontier problems were tackled more effectively under the next governor general and viceroy Lord Curzon.
Viceroy # 11. Lord Curzon, (1899-1905):
In January, 1899 Lord Elgin laid down his office and was succeeded by Lord Curzon as governor general and viceroy. Lord Curzon had given ample proofs of his capabilities as a member of the House of Commons as well as the Under Secretary of the foreign ministry. Before assuming office as governor general and viceroy, Curzon had visited India four times, and had also visited Ceylon, Afghanistan. China, Persia, Turkestan, Japan, Korea etc. No other governor general of India had such vast experience and ideas about the countries of the East as Lord Curzon.
Besides, no other governor general had, except of course Lord Dalhousie, done so much permanent work for India. Lord Curzon was an autocrat no doubt but “His great capacity for work, his love of details, his long term of office, which extended beyond usual period, his complete confidence in him-self and in his mission, enabled him to make the bureaucratic machine function as it had never functioned before.” His high-browed utterances at times had caused great resentment among the Indians, yet considered from the point of view of efficiency, enterprise and initiative it has to be conceded that he was one of the best governor generals of British India. For good or evil the name of Lord Curzon has become memorable in the history of India.
His Foreign Policy:
(i) North-West Frontier Policy:
Soon after the assumption of charge as governor general and viceroy. Lord Curzon addressed himself to the solution of the north-western frontier problem. He gave up the forward policy followed by his predecessors towards north-west frontier and began to pursue a policy of consolidation, strength and security of the British occupied territories in the north-west. Lord Curzon as a member of the Parliament had supported the forward policy of Lord Elgin insofar as the northwest frontier was concerned, but on his arrival in India as governor general and viceroy he ceased to be a subscriber to the forward policy.
He found that his predecessors in office had to send repeated military expeditions to the north-west to put down the repeated rebellions and attacks by the tribals. These expeditions were as expensive as were of temporary effect. Lord Curzon gave up this policy and began to follow a policy of consolidation and rendering permanent security to the British possessions in the north-west. He kept Chitral under British control and constructed a road connecting Peshawar and Chitral thereby arranging for the security of Chitral.
The Khyber Pass, Khur Valley, Waziristan etc. were places where small British troops were stationed by his predecessors. Lord Curzon withdrew them thereby removed the irritant to the tribal people. He, however, did not make any change in the military establishments in Chitral, Quetta, Dorgai, Malkhand etc. but recruited tribals into the British regiments in these areas.
The command of tribals was invariably kept in the hands of the British officers. Curzon thus created a second line of defence by keeping the tribals ready to fight the attacking tribals if the need would arise. By extending railways upto Thai, Jamrud, Dorgai, Curzon made arrangements for the quick movement of the British troops. He also strictly controlled the import of arms and ammunitions in the tribal areas.
The tribals in the north-west borders of the British territories were independent for all practical purposes. Curzon clearly informed that so long as the tribals would not disturb the frontiers of the British dominions in the north-west, their independence would not be interfered with, but if they would venture to disturb the British boundaries the consequences would be serious. All this improved the situation considerably in the border areas.
Lord Curzon, disregarding the opposition of the officers of the Punjab government formed the North-West Frontier Province cutting out a portion of Punjab and joining it with the places in the northwest (1901). This newly formed province was placed under a Chief Commissioner. Formerly Agra and Oudh were, called northwest frontier province. It was now named United Provinces.
Curzon’s north-western frontier policy while bringing peace and quiet in the north-west, reduced a huge cost. But it may be said that his success was not complete. The revenue and judicial systems of the tribal areas had not been tackled by Lord Curzon. The Mahsud siege of 1900-1902, Mohmand and Jakkakhel rebellion of 1908-09 proved that the north-western frontier problem had not been fully solved by Curzon. During the First World War (1914-18) and even between 1930 and 1937 there had been repeated rebellions in this area.
(ii) Afghan Policy:
Lord Curzon’s Afghan policy was conditioned by the political and economic interests, fear of Russian expansion in Central Asia and Persian Gulf area.
After the death of Amir Abdur Rahman, his son Habib Ullah became the Amir. From the very start there was estrangement of relations between Habib Ullah and the British. By the agreement signed between Abdur Rahman and the British the latter had been committed to render financial help to Afghanistan.
But with the accession to the throne by Habib Ullah, the British declared that the agreement between Abdur Rahman and the British was a personal agreement and as such was not ipso facto applicable to Habib Ullah. A separate agreement had to be entered into by Habib Ullah with the British. Habib Ullah was not willing to accept this interpretation of the agreement given by the British and refused to enter into a fresh agreement with them.
This led to estrangement of feelings between the British and the Afghan government. Habib Ullah went on without any financial help from the British, but he avoided any confrontation with them. He by keeping the Afghan tribes on the border areas under his control even indirectly kept the British borders safe.
In 1904 during the temporary absence of Lord Curzon when Lord Ampthil was in charge he sent Sir Louis Den to Afghanistan as an emissary and goodwill between the British and Habib Ullah was restored. Habib Ullah, however, persisted to maintain that the agreement signed with his father was still holding good. The British government had to ultimately concede this point. Besides, the British had to agree to address the Amir of Afghanistan as His Majesty and show him the respect due to an independent sovereign. After all this had been accomplished Habib Ullah accepted financial aid from the British.
It is the contention of some of the British historians that the policy pursued by Lord Ampthil had damaged British prestige. But it may be said that this artificial sense of prestige if at best show some measure of British arrogance, it would not have been conducive to the maintenance of friendliness or good neighbourliness with an independent sovereign occupying a strategic position in relation to the British Indian empire.
(iii) Policy towards Persia:
From a long time before Lord Curzon the main plank of the British Central Asian policy was to maintain the British political and commercial interests. It was imperative for the British interest to maintain British influence in Persian Gulf area. On the other hand Russia, France, Turkey etc. were trying to extend their influence in that region. This naturally gave rise to a competition among these Powers including Britain.
If Central Asia and Persia would be occupied by any other Power, British interest was bound to suffer. As Russia was at that time trying to extend its influence in that region there was a great sense of fear among the British and the British Indian governments. In order to secure British influence in that region Lord Curzon personally went to the Persian Gulf area in 1903 and took firm measures to protect the British interests there.
(iv) Relation with Tibet:
Lord Curzon’s Tibet policy was also influenced by Russophobia. Tiebet was under the suzerainty of China but in practice it was independent. The Tibetans were not well disposed to any foreigners. In 1774 Warren Hastings had sent Bogle Mission to the Court of Tashi Lama of Tibet. The real purpose of the Mission was to establish business relations with Tibet and through Tibet with Nepal and the neighbouring hilly regions. But after this Mission the Tibetans became more or less suspicious of the British.
They, however, signed a trade agreement with the British in 1890 which was renewed in 1893 but the trade agreement did not mean any substantial increase in the trade between British India and Tibet. By the time Lord Curzon had come as the governor general and viceroy trade relations between Tibet and British India had completely ceased. Dalai Lama of Tibet was at that time trying to acquire sovereign status by overthrowing the Chinese suzerainty with the Russian help.
He started negotiations with Russia through a Russian Buddhist monk. This created a feeling of uneasiness among the British. Lord Curzon sought permission of the home government for sending an emissary to Tibet. The permission being granted Lord Curzon sent Young Husband, a military officer, with some armed followers to Tibet. The Tibetans opposed his entry into Tibet which led to an armed conflict. Young Husband forced his entry into Tibet and occupied Lhasa.
The Dalai Lama, in the circumstances, signed an agreement with the British by which the English merchants were permitted to carry on trade in Tibet and agreed to pay a huge indemnity to the British. Within a short time (1907) a friendly alliance was signed between Russia and Britain which removed the fear of Russian expansion of influence in Tibet. By this agreement neither Russia nor Britain was to occupy any part of Tibet or to interfere in the internal affairs of Tibet. Besides, Britan and Russia agreed not to communicate with Tibet directly but to do so, if need be, through China the sovereign authority of Tibet.
Internal Policy of Lord Curzon:
Efficiency and dynamism were the basic principles of the internal policy of Lord Curzon.
In order to remove all the shortcomings in the administration he held an enquiry into them and took necessary steps:
(i) In matters of revenue settlement and revenue collection Curzon introduced the principle of taking into fullest consideration the condition of the ryots. Of course, this principle could not be followed where revenue had been settled permanently. But wherever the settlement was not permanent Curzon effected a harmony between the revenue policy and the welfare of the ryots. Lord Curzon entirely reorganised the Department of Agriculture. “Helped by a generous gift from an American friend, Mr. Phipps, he was able to institute research laboratories and experimental farms.” Curzon showed similar enthusiasm to the subject of irrigation and extension of irrigation to more than 31 million acres of land was due to the good foundation laid during Curzon’s term of office,
(ii) In order to prevent fragmentation of land he passed the Punjab Land Alienation Act except under certain very special circumstances and also protected the ryots from eviction by other measures,
(iii) He established an Agricultural Department and placed it under an Inspector General of Agriculture,
(iv) Another achievement of Lord Curzon which had profound influence in India’s future was the Co-operative Societies’ Act of 1904. The father of co-operative credit in India was Sir Frederick Nicholson, a Madras civilian. Curzon recognised the possibilities of his scheme and put the scheme into execution in the face of much official incredulity.
(v) Curzon hoped to revive and encourage study of Indian culture and it was as a part of this policy that he established the Department of Archaeology and desired the preservation of ancient monuments.
(vi) In 1902 Curzon set up a University Commission with widest powers of enquiry into, all aspects of university administration. The commission was presided over by Thomas Raleigh. On the basis of the report of the commission a University Act, was passed by which the number of fellows was fixed at one hundred and their tenure limited to five years.
The ultimate decision with regard to affiliation or disaffiliation of colleges was now vested in the government. The post of the Inspector of Colleges was created for regular inspection of colleges. The Universities were not to be merely examining bodies but also institutions of higher teaching and research.
There was much criticism of the university reforms undertaken by Curzon as these sought to bring the universities under greater control of the government. Curzon disclaimed any desire to ‘fetter colleges and schools with bureaucratic handcuffs’ but he insisted that there must be central control, which the Indians did not like,
(vii) For the improvement of the trade and commerce Curzon set up a new department and placed it under a high official,
(viii) Towards the end of the nineteenth century there was a fall in the price of silver which brought about an economic imbalance in India. In order to improve the situation partial gold standard was introduced in India. Curzon took the salutary step by linking silver rupee with guinea. A guinea was made equivalent to fifteen silver rupee coins. He also permitted the use of guinea as a free currency,
(ix) For the benefit of the low income group Curzon specified a minimum exemption of income from income tax. He also reduced duties on salt,
(x) For the sons of the rulers of the native States Curzon arranged for military training by forming an Imperial Cadet Corps,
(xi) Curzon compelled the native rulers to maintain at their own expense troops with a purpose to make use of them whenever it would be necessary for the government of India to do so.
(xii)Curzon took Berar on lease from the Nizam of Hydrabad.
(xiii) But the most important of all steps taken by Curzon was the Partition of Bengal (1905). On the plea of better administration of Bengal, which then comprised Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, Curzon created the province of Eastern Bengal and Assam with its Capital at Dacca. This gave rise to a very powerful anti-Partition agitation in Bengal which gradually spread to other parts of India. Boycott of British made goods and Swadeshi, i.e. use of indigenous goods were the weapons with which the Bengalese in particular and the Indians in general fought against the British. (Details of the Partition, Boycott and Swadeshi will be dealt with in a subsequent chapter).
In the same year (1905) Curzon had serious differences with Lord Kitchener the Commander in-Chief of the Indian army and he resigned and left for England.
India under The Viceroys (Contd.) The Coming of Mass Nationalism and Gandhi:
Viceroy # 12. Lord Minto (II), (1905-10):
The administration of Lord Minto (II) is noted for anti-Partition movement and the revolutionary terrorism. In 1909 the Councils Act was passed, separate electorate was granted to the Muslims and Anglo-Russian Convention was signed.
Viceroy # 13. Lord Hardinge, (1910-15):
During the administration of Lord Hardinge, George V and his Queen Empress Mary, came to visit India (1911). The famous Delhi Durbar was convened on that occasion in which it was decided to transfer the capital of India from Calcutta to Delhi. The most important decision of the Durbar was the annulment of the Bengal Partition of 1905. Lord Morley’s boastful claim that partition of Bengal was a Settled Fact proved unreal and. Surendranath’s reply that we unsettle settled facts came to be true in 1911 with the annulment of the Bengal Partition. Even during the administration of Lord Hardinge the revolutionary terrorism did not come to an end and in the ceremonial procession at the time of en try into the new capital of India—Delhi, a bomb was thrown on Hardinge. Lord Hardinge was injured but his life was saved but one of his attendants lost his life. The bomb was thrown by Rashbehari Bose who made good his escape.
Towards the end of the administration of Lord Hardinge the First World War began. Indian sepoys were sent to different war fronts. The moderates gave all out support to the war efforts of the government, and financial contribution of the Indians was also, very large.
Viceroy # 14. Lord Chelmsford, (1915-21):
In the First World War the Indians gave massive help in men and money to the British war efforts and naturally expected that after the war was over the British government would show their gratitude to .the Indians by introducing constitutional reforms. But the government began to follow a policy of repression of the Indians who were demanding reforms.
The high prices as a result of the war and fall in the production due to labour unrest made the condition of the common people all the more miserable. Besides demand for constitutional reforms, the revolutionary terrorism also added to the political unrest of the time. In order to suppress all this the British government passed Rowlatt Act in 1919 by which the government assumed power to imprison persons without trial. Further, any body might be punished with transportation for life, the Press was gagged, the executive department was authorised to try political offenders without the help of the jury. Gandhiji organised a passive resistance movement in protest and a “mighty wave of mass demonstration, strikes, unrest and rioting spread over many parts of India”.
The government tried to suppress the movement with a heavy hand. In Punjab the movement became very strong. The citizens of Amritsar assembled in an enclosed place called Jalianwalla Bagh in defiance of a prohibitory order. Under orders of General Dyer military fired 1600 rounds of ammunitions on the unarmed people killing even according to official estimates 379 persons and injuring 1200. Martial law was proclaimed in Punjab and “the subsequent inquiries revealed a gruesome picture of shootings, hangings, bombing from the air and extremely severe sentences passed by the tribunals during the reign of terror” which constituted the blackest stain on the records of the British rule in India. India under the leadership of Gandhiji gave alnswer to this barbarity of the British government by starting non-co-operation movement.
During the administration of Lord Chelmsford Amir Habib Ullah of Afghanistan was assassinated and his son Aman Ullah succeeded as Amir. He, at the instance of Russia invaded the borders of British India, but the invasion was beaten off. The British government at once stopped the financial assistance to Afghanistan which was a blessing disguise for Aman Ullah. For this gave him the liberty of pursuing an independent foreign policy.
Under Chelmsford’s administration the reform Act of 1919 on the basis of the, Montagu-CheImsford report, was passed.
Viceroy # 15. Lord Reading, (1921-26):
After Lord Chelmsford Lord Reading came as the governor general and viceroy of India. The most important event of his period of administration was the non-co-operation movement of Gandhiji. Imprisonment of Mahatma Gandhi, enhancement of salt tax despite opposition of the Central Legislature made Lord Reading very unpopular with the people of India.
During the administration of Lord Reading the fanatic Arab Muslims of Malabar area started torturing the Hindus of the area, and similar oppression on the Hindus in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Kohat etc. were the direct result of the fanning of the fire of communalism by the British. Lord Reading, however, showed his liberality by repealing the Rowlatt-Act and by withdrawing tariff duties on cloth. He also conceded the right of the Indians to be appointed as King’s Commissioned Officers in the army. Besides, he threw Sandhurst military college of England open to the Indians for military training. It was under him that the plan for developing the Royal Indian Navy was prepared.