India under the British – Lord Curzon

Lord Curzon (1899-1905)

imageLord Curzon occupies a high place among the rulers of British India like Lord Wellesley and Lord Dalhousie. He was a thorough imperialist. In order to make the administration efficient, Lord Curzon overhauled the entire administrative machinery. His internal administration may be studied under the following heads.

Educational Reforms

Curzon took a serious view of the fall in the standard of education and discipline in the educational institutions. In his view the universities had degenerated into factories for producing political revolutionaries. To set the educational system in order, he instituted in 1902, a Universities Commission to go into the entire question of university education in the country.

On the basis of the findings and recommendations of the Commission, Curzon brought in the Indian Universities Act of 1904, which brought all the universities in India under the control of the government.

Police and Military Reforms

Curzon believed in efficiency and discipline. He instituted a Police Commission in 1902 under the chairmanship of Sir Andrew Frazer. Curzon accepted all the recommendations and implemented them. He set up training schools for both the officers and the constables and introduced provincial police service.

As for the remodeling of the army, it was by and large done by Lord Kitchener, the Commander-in-Chief in India in Curzon’s time.

Calcutta Corporation Act (1899)

The Viceroy brought in a new legislative measure namely the Calcutta Corporation Act in 1899 by which the strength of the elected members was reduced and that of the official members increased. Curzon gave more representations to the English people as against the Indians in the Calcutta Corporation. There was strong resentment by the Indian members against Curzon’s anti-people measures.

Preservation of Archaeological objects

Curzon had a passion for preserving the ancient monuments of historical importance in India. No Viceroy in India before or after him took such a keen interest in archaeological objects. He passed a law called the Ancient Monuments Act, 1904 which made it obligatory on the part of the government and local authorities to preserve the monuments of archaeological importance and their destruction an offence.

Partition of Bengal, 1905

The Partition of Bengal into two provinces was effected on 4 July 1905. The new province of Eastern Bengal and Assam included the whole of Assam and the Dacca, Rajshahi and Chittagong divisions of Bengal with headquarters at Dacca. Though Curzon justified his action on administrative lines, partition divided the Hindus and Muslims in Bengal. This led to the anti-partition agitation all over the country. This had also intensified the National Movement.

Estimate of Lord Curzon

Lord Curzon assumed his office, when he was forty years old. All his reform measures were preceded by an expert Commission and its recommendations. He made a serious study of the Indian problems in all their aspects. At the beginning Curzon earned the popularity and admiration of the Indian people. He lost the popularity by the act of Partition of Bengal.

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