Governor General of British II

Lord Elgin (1862-63)

  • James Bruce was a British colonial administrator and diplomat.
  • As British High Commissioner in China during the Second Opium War in 1860 he infamously ordered the destruction of one of Asia’s most important historical sites, the Old Summer Palace in Beijing
  • He died in 1863 of a heart attack while crossing a swinging rope and wood bridge over the river Chandra, on the lap between Kullu and Lahul. He was buried in the churchyard of John in the Wilderness in Dharamshala.
  • He was one of the most trained Viceroy`s ever appointed by British Government in India. Indian Administration under Lord Elgin furnishes a perfect cross section made in the Government of India at the time when those of the new regime were rapidly superseding the old company methods. He peculiarly gave Anglo-Indian Administration a new orientation.

John Lawrence (1864-69)

  • During the First Sikh War of 1845 to 1846, Lawrence organized the supplying of the British army in the Punjab and became Commissioner of the JullundurIn that role he was known for his administrative reforms, for subduing the hill tribes, and for his attempts to end the custom of suttee.
  • In 1849, following the Second Sikh War, he became a member of the Punjab Board of Administration under his brother, and was responsible for numerous reforms of the province, including the abolition of internal duties, establishment of a common currency and postal system, and encouraged the development of Punjabi infrastructure, earning him the sobriquet of “the Saviour of the Punjab”.
  • In this work his efforts to limit the power of local elites brought him into conflict with his brother whi was the Governor of Punjab, and ultimately led to the abolition of the Administrative Board, instead becoming Chief Commissioner in the executive branch of the province.
  • In that role, Lawrence was partly responsible for “preventing the spread” of the Indian Rebellion of 1857 to Punjab, and negotiated a treaty with the Afghan ruler Dost Mohammed Khan, and later led the troops which recaptured Delhi from the rebellious sepoys.
  • Sent back to India in 1863 to become Viceroy to succeed Lord Elgin, who had unexpectedly died.
  • As Viceroy, Lawrence pursued a cautious policy, avoiding entanglement in Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.
  • In domestic affairs, he increased educational opportunities for Indians, but at the same time limited the use of native Indians in high civil service posts.
  • Unlike the previous regimes Lord Lawrence`s administration is characterized by non-interference in Afghan politics.
  • He dealt with the Bhutan war and the Orissa Famine masterfully.
  • Instead of undertaking foreign adventures like his predecessors Lawrence paid particular attention to health and sanitation, irrigation, and development of railways and local self-government.
  • In fact, one of his earliest measures was the enactment of the Municipal Act, 1864, which inaugurated the system of representative local government in Bengal.
  • He became Chairman of the London School Board (1870-73), and Chairman of the Committee formed to oppose the policy of the Afghan war of 1878-79.


Lord Mayo (1869-72)

  • He consolidated the frontiers of India and reorganised the country’s finances
  • he also did much to promote irrigation, railways, forests and other useful public works.
  • To solve local problems he established local boards.
  • During his tenure first census took place in 1872.
  • The European-oriented Mayo College at Ajmer was founded by him for the education of young Indian prince-chiefs, with £70,000 being subscribed by the chiefs themselves.
  • While visiting the convict settlement at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, for the purpose of inspection, he was assassinated by Sher Ali Afridi, an Afridi Pathan convict who used a knife.
  • In 1873, the newly discovered swallowtail butterfly Papilio mayo from the Andaman Islands was named in honor of him.

Lord Northbrook (1872-76)


Lord Lytton (1876-80)

  • Second Anglo-Afghan War, 1878–1880
  • Great Famine of 1876–78.
  • January 1876, surrounded by all the Princes of Hindustan, he presided at a spectacular ceremony on the plains of Delhi, which marked the Proclamation of her Majesty, Queen Victoria, as Empress of India.
  • In 1879 an attempt was made to assassinate Lord Lytton, but he escaped uninjured.
  • The principal event of his viceroyality was the Afghan war.
  • First Delhi Durbar – In 1877, Lord Lytton convened a durbar (imperial assembly) in Delhi which was attended by around 84,000 people including princes and title holders.
  • In 1878, he promulgated the Vernacular Press Act called Gagging Act, which empowered him to confiscate the press and paper of a local language newspaper publishing ‘seditious material’. The act resulted in public outcry in Calcutta led by the Indian Association and Surendranath Banerjee.
  • His son-in-law, and one of Britain’s most outstanding architects, Edwin Lutyens, played a major role in the creation of New Delhi.
  • Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College (Present Aligarh Muslim University was founded by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the leader of Muslim renaissance in Indian subcontinent, in 1875 at Aligarh during the tenuer of Lord Lytton. It later became Aligarh Muslim University.
  • Lucile was a verse novel written by Lord Lytton, published in 1860.
  • The Indian Arms Act of 1878 was legislated during Lord Lytton’s time. By this act, no Indians could keep unlicensed arms. However, the English people could hold arms without license.
  • Lord Lytton also was responsible for the economic distress caused by abolishing the Tax on the foreign cotton coming to India, to safeguard the British Traders.
  • The maximum age to enter in to the Civil Services Examination was reduced from 21 years to 19 years.Second Afgan War (1878-80)
  • Afganistan was ruled by Sher Ali Khan of the Barakzai dynasty, the son of former Emir Dost Mohammad Khan.
  • This was the second time British India invaded Afghanistan. The war ended in the Treaty of Gandamak after attaining all the British geopolitical objectives.
  • Most of the British and Indian soldiers withdrew from Afghanistan.
  • The Afghans were permitted to maintain internal sovereignty but they had to cede control of their nation’s foreign relations to the British.
  • After tension between Russia and Britain in Europe ended with the June 1878 Congress of Berlin, Russia turned its attention to Central Asia. That same summer, Russia sent an uninvited diplomatic mission to Kabul.
  • Sher Ali Khan, the Amir of Afghanistan, tried unsuccessfully to keep them out. Russian envoys arrived in Kabul on 22 July 1878, and on 14 August, the British demanded that Sher Ali accept a British mission too.
  • The Amir not only refused to receive a British mission under Neville Bowles Chamberlain, but threatened to stop it if it were dispatched.
  • Lord Lytton, the viceroy, ordered a diplomatic mission to set out for Kabul in September 1878 but the mission was turned back as it approached the eastern entrance of the Khyber Pass, triggering the Second Anglo–Afghan War.
  • With British forces occupying much of the country, Sher Ali’s son and successor, Mohammad Yaqub Khan, signed the Treaty of Gandamak in May 1879 to prevent a British invasion of the rest of the country.
  • Yaqub relinquished control of Afghan foreign affairs to Britain. British representatives were installed in Kabul and other locations, British control was extended to the Khyber and Michni passes, and Afghanistan ceded various North-West Frontier Province areas and Quetta to Britain.
  • After the second Anglo Afghan war, there was a general election in England, which resulted in the defeat of the Conservative Ministry of Lord Disraeli. Lord Lytton also resigned simultaneously.


Great Famine of 1876-78

  • The Great Famine of 1876–78 (also the Southern India famine of 1876–78 or the Madras famine of 1877) was a famine in India that began in 1876 and affected south and southwestern India (Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad, and Bombay) for a period of two years.
  • In its second year famine also spread north to some regions of the Central Provinces and the North-Western Provinces, and to a small area in the Punjab.
  • The death toll from this famine is estimated to be in the range of 5.5 million people
  • In part, the Great Famine may have been caused by an intense drought resulting in crop failure in the Deccan Plateau. However, the commodification of grain, and the cultivation of alternate cash crops also may have played a role, as could have the export of grain by the colonial government; during the famine the viceroy, Lord Lytton, oversaw the export to England of a record 6.4 million hundredweight of wheat.
  • The famine occurred at a time when the colonial government was attempting to reduce expenses on welfare. Earlier, in the Bihar famine of 1873–74, severe mortality had been avoided by importing rice from Burma. However, the Government of Bengal and its Lieutenant-Governor, Sir Richard Temple, were criticized for excessive expenditure on charitable relief.
  • The excessive mortality and the renewed questions of “relief and protection” that were asked in its wake, led directly to the constituting of the Famine Commission of 1880 and to the eventual adoption of the Provisional Famine Code in British India.
  • After the famine, a large number of agricultural laborers and handloom weavers in South India emigrated to British tropical colonies to work as indentured laborers in plantations.
  • The excessive mortality in the famine also neutralized the natural population growth in the Bombay and Madras presidencies during the decade between the first and second censuses of British India in 1871 and 1881 respectively.
  • The Great Famine was to have a lasting political impact on events in India. Among the British administrators in India who were unsettled by the official reactions to the famine and, in particular by the stifling of the official debate about the best form of famine relief, were William Wedderburn and O. Hume. Less than a decade later, they would found the Indian National Congress.
  • Dadabhai Naoroji and Romesh Chunder Dutt for whom the Great Famine would become a cornerstone of the economic critique of the British Raj.

Lord Ripon (1880-84)

  • This liberal politician is known for many reforms in the internal administration of India.
  • The Vernacular Press Act was repealed in 1882
  • A Resolution in 1882 set off the institution of local self-government in India.
  • Hunter Commission came in 1882 for the purpose of education reforms.
  • The age for entry in the Civil Services was once again raised to 21 years.
  • The First factory Act was enacted in 1881
  • Introduction of Ilbert Bill in severely compromised state.
  • In 1882, he granted freedom to the Press.
  • Ripon introduced legislation (the “Ilbert Bill,” named for his secretary, Courtenay Ilbert), that would have granted native Indians more legal rights, including the right of Indian judges to judge Europeans in court. Though progressive in its intent, this legislation was gutted by the British Parliament which did not want to lose its legal superiority.
  • He was also instrumental in supporting Dietrich Brandis to reorganize the Madras Forest Department and expand systematic forest conservancy in India. He is still revered in Chennai (formerly Madras), India as “Ripon engal appan” meaning: Ripon our father. The Corporation of Chennai’s Ripon Building was named for him, as well as the town of Riponpet in the Shivamogga district in the state of Karnataka.
  • In Kolkata, the Ripon Street was named for him.
  • The Ghanta Ghar Multan or Clock Tower of Multan in Pakistan was named Ripon Building and hall of same building was named Ripon Hall.

Lord Dufferin (1884-88)

  • His predecessor as Viceroy, Lord Ripon, while popular with the Indians, was very unpopular with the Anglo-Indians, who objected to the rapid pace of his extensive reforms. To rule with any success, Dufferin would need to gain the support of both communities.
  • By all accounts he was highly successful in this regard, and gained substantial support from all communities in India.
  • He advanced the cause of the Indian Nationalists greatly during his term, without antagonising the conservative whites. Among other things, the Indian National Congress was founded during his term in 1885
  • He laid the foundations for the modern Indian Army by establishing the Imperial Service Corps, officered by Indians.
  • He was frequently occupied with external affairs during his tenure. He handled the Panjdeh Incident of 1885 in Afghanistan, in which Russian forces encroached into Afghan territory around the Panjdeh oasis. Britain and Russia had for decades been engaged in a virtual cold war in Central and South Asia, known as the Great Game, and the Panjdeh incident threatened to precipitate a full-blown conflict. Dufferin negotiated a settlement in which Russia kept Panjdeh but relinquished the furthest territories it had taken in its advance.
  • 3rd Burmese war: His tenure also saw the annexation of Upper Burma in 1886, after many years of simmering warfare and British interventions in Burmese politics.
  • In 1888, he published the Report on the Conditions of the Lower Classes of Population in Bengal (known as the Dufferin Report). The report highlighted the plight of the poor in Bengal, and was used by nationalists to counter the Anglo-Indian claim that British rule had been beneficial to the poorest members of Indian society. Following publication of the report, Dufferin recommended the establishment of provincial and central councils with Indian membership, a key demand of Congress at that time.
  • His time as Viceroy of India featured in the Rudyard Kipling poem ‘One Viceroy Resigns’, which was written from Dufferin’s point of view, giving advice to his successor, Lord Lansdowne.
  • His wife Lady Dufferin, Vicereine of India, accompanied her husband on his travels in India and made her own name as a pioneer in the medical training of women in India.
  • Lord Dufferin sought to pursue a middle path in contrast with the imperialism of Lord Lytton and overzealous policy of Internal administration reforms of Lord Ripon.


Lord Lansdowne (1888-94)

  • He reformed the army, police, local government and the mint.
  • There was a small local rebellion in 1890, which was quickly suppressed, Lansdowne securing the death penalty for the leader in the face of considerable opposition from home.
  • His attempt in 1893 to curtail trial by jury was, however, overruled by home government.
  • This was the time when the North West frontier of India was strengthened and secured against the possible invasions. The Durand line was demarcated which served as India-Afghanistan Border.
  • This was the time of improving railroad communication between the frontier and the military base in India. This time was used by the British in strengthening the select position by making strong fortifications of great cantonments. For defense of the Khaibar, Rawalpindi was selected as the base for the defense, thus strong posts at Rawalpindi, Peshawar Attock defended the Indus.
  • During his time, Indian Councils Act 1892 was passed.


Lord Elgin II (1894-99)

  • By this time, the financial reforms and tax reductions by Lord Ripon’s administration had started creating problems for the revenue. The 3rd Burma War cost Rs. 40 Lakh, the military campaigns in North West cost Rs. 20 Lakh and the increased army needed an expenditure of Rs. 15 Lakh per annum. To meet these expenses, the income tax was revived in 1886 and Salt Tax was increased in 1888 and a 5% custom duty was imposed in 1894.
  • When Lord Elgin came, the custom duty was imposed on Cotton Goods and was extended to Manchester Cotton Cloths of finer qualities.
  • During his time as viceroy, famine broke out in India, in which Elgin reportedly admitted that up to 4.5 million people died.


Lord Curzon (1899-1905)

  • A teenage spinal injury, incurred while riding, left Curzon in lifelong pain, often resulting in insomnia, and required him to wear a metal corset, contributing to an unfortunate impression of stiffness and arrogance.
  • he had travelled around the world: Russia and Central Asia (1888-9), a long tour of Persia (September 1889-January 1890), Siam, French Indochina and Korea (1892), and a daring foray into Afghanistan and the Pamirs (1894), and published several books describing central and eastern Asia and related policy issues.
  • Curzon believed Russia to be the most likely threat to India, Britain’s most valuable colony, from the 19th century through the early 20th century.
  • Reaching India shortly after the suppression of the frontier risings of 1897–1898, he paid special attention to the independent tribes of the north-west frontier, inaugurated a new province called the North West Frontier Province, and pursued a policy of forceful control mingled with conciliation. The only major armed outbreak on this frontier during the period of his administration was the MahsudWaziri campaign of 1901.
  • In the context of the Great Game between the British and Russian Empires for control of Central Asia, he held deep mistrust of Russian intentions. This led him to encourage British trade in Persia, and he paid a visit to the Persian Gulf in 1903. Curzon argued for an exclusive British presence in the Gulf, a policy originally proposed by John Malcolm.
  • The British government was already making agreements with local sheikhs/tribal leaders along the Persian Gulf coast to this end. Curzon had convinced his government to establish Britain as the unofficial protector of Kuwait with the Anglo-Kuwaiti Agreement of 1899. The Lansdowne Declaration in 1903 stated that the British would counter any other European power’s attempt to establish a military presence in the Gulf. Only four years later this position was abandoned and the Persian Gulf declared a neutral zone in the Anglo-Russian Agreement of 1907, prompted in part by the high economic cost of defending India from Russian advances.
  • At the end of 1903, Curzon sent a British expedition to Tibet under Francis Younghusband, ostensibly to forestall a Russian advance. After bloody conflicts with Tibet‘s poorly-armed defenders, the mission penetrated to Lhasa, where a treaty was signed in September 1904. No Russian presence was found in Lhasa.
  • During his tenure, Curzon undertook the restoration of the Taj Mahal, and expressed satisfaction that he had done so.
  • Within India, Curzon appointed a number of commissions to inquire into education, irrigation, police and other branches of administration, on whose reports legislation was based during his second term of office as viceroy. Reappointed Governor-General in August 1904, he presided over the 1905 partition of Bengal, which roused such bitter opposition among the people of the province that it was later revoked (1911).[18]

Indian Army

  • Curzon also took an active interest in military matters. In 1901, he founded the Imperial Cadet Corps, or ICC. The ICC was a corps d’elite, designed to give Indian princes and aristocrats military training, after which a few would be given officer commissions in the Indian Army. But these commissions were “special commissions” which did not empower their holders to command any troops. Predictably, this was a major stumbling block to the ICC’s success, as it caused much resentment among former cadets. Though the ICC closed in 1914, it was a crucial stage in the drive to Indianise the Indian Army’s officer Corps, which was haltingly begun in 1917.
  • He had Clash with chief of Military organisation Lord Kitchener.

The Indian famine, 1899-00

  • A major famine coincided with Curzon’s time as viceroy in which 6.1 to 9 million people died. Large parts of India were affected and millions died, and Curzon has been criticised for allegedly having done little to fight the famine. Curzon did, however, implement a variety of measures, including opening up famine reliefs works that fed between 3 and 5 million, reducing taxes and spending vast amounts of money on irrigation works.


  • Creation of a new province called the North West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan).
  • Appointed a Famine Commission headed by Sir Macdonnel to investigate the causes of famines and suggest remedies.The report of the Commission (1901) suggested increase in railways and establishment of agricultural banks and irrigation works. The Viceroy tried to implement most of the suggestions.
  • Agricultural banks and co-operative societies were established to save farmers from money lenders.
  • The Punjab Land Alienation Act (1900) prescribed that agricultural land could not be bought by non – agriculturists without approval of the government.
  • Appointed an Inspector General of Agriculture.
  • Established Agricultural Research Institute in Pusa (Bengal).
  • Appointed an Irrigation Commission under Sir Colvin Scott Moncrieff which recommended an increased spending on irrigation projects and and an increase in acreage of irrigation.


  • Appointment of the Police Commission under Andrew Frazer in 1902. It recommended systematic training in police organisation.
  • Land Resolution of 1902: reduced the rates of land revenue and introduced more scientific as well as lenient methods of assessment.
  • Created a new Department of Commerce and Industry.
  • Separated railways from the Public Works Department and placed it under a newly created Railways Board, as per the recommendations of Sir Thomas Robertson.
  • Held a conference of educationalists at Shimla and appointed a University Commission under Sir Thomas Releigh, the Law Member of the Viceroy’s Council. Passed Indian Universities Act, 1904 which provided for the increase in the official control over universities by enhancing nominated members over the elected ones. Introduced residential system in universities. The opposition to the Act helped the growth of nationalism.
  • Passing of Ancient Monuments Protection Act in 1904 for the preservation of India’s cultural heritage. This was followed by the foundation of Archaeological Survey of India.
  • Established the Imperial Library in Calcutta.
  • Appointed for a second term in 1904.
  • Young Husband’s Mission to Tibet, 1904. A Sino – British Convention was held to demarcate the line of control between India and China
  • Partition of Bengal was announced on 19th July 1905. A new province called “East Bengal and Assam” was created by merging Assam and Chittagong with the carved out districts of Bengal. It came in to effect on 16th October, 1905. The declared intention was administrative convenience. But the nationalists felt it was a design to break Hindu – Muslim unity. The Swadeshi Movement was launched against the partition. It became strong day by day in Bengal and the other parts of India. The Congress also supported the movement. It was the first political agitation in India. Also, boycott of foreign goods was used as a way of protest in India.
  • Lord Kitchner, the Commander – in – Chief, demanded more powers for himself on the Military Department. When the Secretary of State for India in the British Government supported Kitchner, Curzon resigned his post in 1905.
  • His biography has been written by Ranaldshay- The life of Lord Curzon.
  • The Montague’s Declaration of 1917, aimed at appeasing the nationalists, was drafted by Curzon.


Lord Minto (1905-10)

  • In this, he followed in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, the first Lord Minto.
  • When John Morley as Secretary of State for India wrote to Minto arguing that “Reforms may not save the Raj, but if they don’t, nothing else will”, Minto replied:

…when you say that “if reforms do not save the Raj nothing else will” I am afraid I must utterly disagree. The Raj will not disappear in India as long as the British race remains what it is, because we shall fight for the Raj as hard as we have ever fought, if it comes to fighting, and we shall win as we have always won.

  • P. Sinha was appointed a member of Governor General’s council. He was the first Indian to be appointed to this post.
  • In 1906, Arundale Committee on political reforms submitted its report.
  • Government of India Act of 1909 incorporating Morley – Minto reforms. The system of representation to minorities and depressed classes in the Central Legislature was introduced.
  • Muslim League formed in 1906 in Dacca.
  • Swadeshi Movement became strong.
  • Surat session and split in INC (1907).
  • Newspapers Act, 1908.


Lord Hardinge II (1910-16)

  • The grandson of Henry Hardinge, a former Governor-General of India.
  • His tenure was a memorable one, seeing the visit of King George V and the 2nd Delhi Durbar of 1911, as well as the move of the capital from Calcutta to New Delhi in 1912.
  • Although Hardinge was the target of assassination attempts by Indian nationalists, his tenure generally saw better relations between the British administration and the nationalists, thanks to the implementation of the Morley-Minto reforms of 1909, Hardinge’s own admiration for Mohandas Gandhi, and criticism of the South African government’s anti-Indian immigration policies.
  • Hardinge’s efforts paid off in 1914 during the First World War. Due to improved colonial relationships, Britain was able to deploy nearly all of the British troops in India as well as many native Indian troops to areas outside of India. In particular the British Indian Army was able to play a significant role in the Mesopotamian campaign
  • Annulment of the partition of Bengal in 1911.
  • A separate state of Bihar and Orissa was created in 1911.
  • A bomb was thrown as he was entering Delhi at Chandini Chowk.
  • Capital shifted to Delhi in 1912 from Calcutta.
  • 1912, The Royal Commission under Islington was appointed to look into the Civil Services reforms. It accepted the demand for simultaneous exams in India and England for ICS. It also suggested 33% reservation for Indians in the ICS. The recommendations of this commission were implemented though the Govt of India Act of 1919. (In order to appease the Indians during the First World War, Lord Montague, the Secretary of State for India, declared the intention to throw open the ICS fully to Indians.)
  • Kamagata Maru incident.
  • Hindu Mahasabha established by Madan Mohan Malviya in 1915
  • Saddler committee on universities appointed in 1916.
  • BHU was founded.
  • Practice of human sacrifice by Khonds abolished
  • Tilak founded Home Rule League (1916).


Lord Chelmsford (1916-1921)

  • His time as Viceroy was marked with consistent calls for self-government, which Chelmsford agreed to, convincing a preoccupied Foreign Office to send the Secretary of State for India, Edwin Samuel Montagu, to discuss the potential for reform. Together they oversaw the implementation of the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms, which gave greater authority to local Indian representative bodies and paved the way for a free India.
  • Trying to tread a fine line between reform and maintaining the British hold over India, Chelmsford passed repressive anti-terrorism laws to widespread opposition from Indian reformists.
  • The laws sparked unrest in the Punjab, culminating in the implementation of martial law in the region and the Amritsar Massacre by General Reginald Dyer on 13 April 1919. Initially supportive of Dyer and slow to respond to the massacre, following a ruling condemning Dyers actions, Chelmsford eventually disciplined Dyer. This was however, seen by Indian Nationalists as too little, too late and the Indian National Congress boycotted the first regional elections in 1920.
  • In addition to this, the Third Anglo-Afghan War broke out
  • Gandhi started his first campaign.
  • Foundation of Women’s University of Poona
  • Lucknow Pact (1916) between the Congress and the Muslim League
  • Home Rule League formed by Annie Besant.
  • Rowlatt Committee submits its report and Rowlatt Act passed in 1919.
  • Emergence of Gandhi into the national leadership, with the Champaran Satyagraha in 1917
  • Declared in 1917 that the ultimate aim of British rule in India is the establishment of ‘self-government’ in the country.
  • Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, 13th April, 1919. Hunter commission on Punjab wrongs
  • Montagu-Chelmsford reforms through Government of India Act, 1919. Dual system of government known as ‘Dyarchy’ was established in the Provinces, with some powers devolved to the elected members of the Legislatures. The powers of the government were divided into two: “Transferred List” and “Reserved List”. Those items included in the Transferred List were handed over to the elected representatives, while the items in the Reserved List remained under the control of the Governors. The Act is named after Lord Chelmsford & Lord Montague, the Secretary of State for India
  • B. Sinha became Governor of Bihar. He was the first Indian to become a governor.
  • Third Afghan war
  • Aligarh Muslim University was founded in 1920.
  • Beginning of the Non – Co – operation Movement and the Khilafat Movement in 1920
  • The All India Trade Union Congress (AITUC) was formed in 1920.

Lord Reading (1921-25)

  • Lord Reading was the first religiously-practising Jew to be appointed to the British Cabinet
  • Foundation of Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh by K.B. Hedgewar at Nagpur in 1925.
  • Beginning of Indianisation of the officers cadre of the Indian Army.
  • Railway Budget was separated from General Budget in 1921.
  • Skeen Committee or Indian Sandhurst Committee on Army reforms was appointed in 1925. It submitted its report in 1926.
  • Lee Commission on public service appointed in 1924, report submitted in 1924.
  • Hilton Young Committee on currency (1926).
  • Visva Bharti University started by Rabindra Nath Tagore.
  • Train robbery at kakori (Nagpur) (1925)
  • Simultaneous examination for Indian Civil Services in India and England from 1923.
  • Moplah rebellion in Malabar (northern Kerala), 1921.
  • Chauri-Chaura Incident. Non – Co-operation Movement was withdrawn by Gandhiji.
  • Communist Party of India was founded in Kanpur in 1924
  • Murder of Swami Sraddhanand.


Lord Irwin (1926-31)

  • He arrived in Bombay on 1 April 1926 hoping to improve Anglo-Indian relations and calm Communal tensions in the country.
  • Irwin’s rule was marked by a period of great political turmoil.
  • The exclusion of Indians from the Simon Commission examining the country’s readiness for self-government provoked serious violence, and Irwin was forced into concessions which were poorly received—in London as excessive, and in India as half-hearted.
  • Incidents included: the protests against the Simon Commission Report; the Nehru Report; the All-Parties Conference; the Muslim League leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah‘s 14 points; the Civil Disobedience Movement launched by the Indian National Congress under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi; and the Round Table Conferences.
  • Irwin had all the Congress leaders put behind bars; and then had opened negotiations with Gandhi. Irwin’s attempts to mediate with Indian leaders were stymied by London’s refusal to make concessions, or clarify the position on dominion status.
  • With little room for manoeuvre, Irwin resorted to repression using his emergency powers to arrest Gandhi, ban public gatherings and crush rebellious opposition, leading to the death of Lala Lajpat Rai and the revenge attack of Bhagat Singh.
  • Gandhi’s detention, however, only made matters worse. Irwin ultimately opted to negotiate, signing the Delhi Pact in January 1931 which ended civil disobedience and the boycott of British goods in exchange for a Round Table Conference which represented all interests. The fortnight-long discussions resulted in the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, after which the Civil Disobedience Movement was suspended.

The agreement between Gandhi and Irwin was signed on 5 March 1931. The salient points were:

  • The Congress would discontinue the Civil Disobedience Movement.
  • The Congress would participate in the Round Table Conference.
  • The Government would withdraw all ordinances issued to curb the Congress.
  • The Government would withdraw all prosecutions relating to offences not involving violence.
  • The Government would release all persons serving sentences of imprisonment for their activities in the civil disobedience movement.
  • It was also agreed that Gandhi would join the Second Round Table Conference as the sole representative of the Congress.
  • On 20 March 1931, Lord Irwin paid tribute to Gandhi’s honesty, sincerity and patriotism at a dinner given by ruling princes. A month following the Gandhi-Irwin Pact, Lord Irwin retired and left India. On Irwin’s return to England in April 1931, the situation was calm, but within a year the conference collapsed and Gandhi was again arrested.
  • He formally opened the Indian School of Mines Dhanbad as a premier institute of advanced studies in field of mining and geological sciences.
  • Appointment of the Indian States Commission under Harcourt Butler (1927) to recommend measures for the establishment of better relations between the Indian states and the central government.
  • All India Youth Congress was formed in 1928.
  • Deepavali Declaration (1929) that India would be granted dominion status in due course.
  • Royal Commission on Indian labour was appointed in 1929, gave its report in 1931.
  • Sarda Act was passed in 1929. Marriage of girls below 14 and boys below 18 years of age was prohibited.
  • Indian school of Mines opened in Dhanbad.
  • Royal Commission on Agriculture constituted in 1927.
  • Meerut conspiracy
  • Simon Commisson was announced in 1927 and visited India in 1928.
  • The death of Lala Lajpat Rai, following the lathi charge on a protest March against the Simon Commission.
  • Nehru Report (1928), which was an effort by the political parties of India to draft a sample Constitution for India, following the remark of Lord Birkenhead, the Secretary of State for India, that the Indians were not mature enough to formulate a Constitution.
  • Jinnah formulates 14 points after Nehru Report.
  • Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Dutta drop bombs in the Legislative Assembly.
  • The Lahore Session of the Congress and the Declaration of Poorna Swaraj (1929).
  • January 26, 1930 was celebrated as “Independence Day” by the Congress. Thereafter, January 26 was observed as “Independence Day”
  • Gandhi starts his Dandi March (12th March, 1930) which marked the beginning of the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) famous “Salt Satyagraha” was inaugurated by Gandhiji at Dandi on 6th April by making salt, to defy the Salt Act.
  • Chittagong armoury raid.
  • First Round Table Conference (RTC) without the congress participation, took place in 1930.
  • Gandhi – Irwin pact (5th March 1931). Gandhiji agreed to withdraw the CDM and participate in the Second RTC.
  • Bahgat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru were hanged on 23rd March, 1931.


Lord Willingdon (1931-36)

  • When Willingdon arrived again in India, the country was gripped by the Great Depression and was soon leading Britain’s departure from the gold standard, seeing thousands of tonnes of gold shipped to the United Kingdom through the port of Bombay. Of this, Willingdon said: “For the first time in history, owing to the economic situation, Indians are disgorging gold. We have sent to London in the past two or three months, £25,000,000 sterling and I hope that the process will continue.”
  • Simultaneously, Willingdon found himself dealing with the consequences of the nationalistic movements that Gandhi had earlier started when Willingdon was Governor of Bombay and then Madras.
  • Against the Indian agitators, the Governor-General adopted much stricter measures, as opposed to his predecessors, who had favoured reconciliatory tactics. The Governor-in-Council in 1931 ordered the arrest of Gandhi—who was lodged in jail until 1933—and the civil disobedience movement was suppressed, with thousands of congressmen arrested, all of which led to threats on Willingdon’s life. He therefore relied on his military secretary, Hastings Ismay, for his safety and took precautions after he was threatened by assassins.
  • It was also by Willingdon’s hand, as Governor-in-Council, that the Lloyd Barrage was commissioned, seeing £20 million put into the construction of the barrage across the mouth of the Indus River, which not only provided labour but also brought millions of hectares of land in the Thar Desert under irrigation.
  • Willingdon established the Willingdon Airfield (now known as Safdarjung Airport) in Delhi
  • Willingdon was motivated to establish the Willingdon Sports Club in Bombay, with membership open to both Indians and British and which still operates today.
  • Second Round Table Conference, 1931. Gandhiji was the sole representative of the Congress in the RTC
  • Communal Award 1932, announced by the British Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald.
  • Third Round Table Conference in 1932.
  • White paper on political reforms in India was published in 1933.
  • The Congress Socialist party was formed in 1934.
  • Chandrasekhar Azad died in an encounter with the police in 1934
  • Government of India Act of 1935: This Act laid down certain features which later became the foundations of the Constitution of Independent India. The salient features of the Act were the following:
    • An All India Federation was envisaged, by including the states of British India and those princely states who voluntarily joined the Federation. However, this provision did not come into force because no princely state expressed willingness to join it.
    • It granted autonomy to the Indian States and abolished the system of dyarchy introduced by the Government of India Act 1919.
    • Direct elections were introduced for the first time. The right to vote was extended to more people. More than 35 million people were eligible to vote, whereas the number of voters as per the Government of India Act, 1919. Sind was separated from Bombay and Orissa was separated from Bihar.
    • Burma and Aden were separated from British India.
    • Governments were formed in the Provinces by elected representatives who formed majority in the Legislature. But Governors retained some discretionary powers regarding summoning of the Legislature, giving assents to the Bills passed by it and administering certain special regions (mostly tribal areas).
    • The Reserve bank of India (1935) was established
    • First elections were held as per this Act in 1937, and elected governments came into power in the Provinces.
  • All India Kisan Sabha was formed in 1936.

Lord Linlithgow (1936-43)

  • In 1926 he was Chairman of the Royal Commission on Agriculture in India, which published its findings in 1928.
  • Influenced by submissions to the Royal Commission, “a decade later, when (he) became Viceroy of India he showed a personal interest in nutrition, pushing it to the top of the research agenda”. In the 1930s he was also chairman of the select committee on Indian constitutional reform.
  • Having previously declined both the governorship of Madras and the governor-generalship of Australia (his father was the first Governor-General of Australia), he became the Viceroy of India on 18 April 1936, succeeding Lord Willingdon.
  • Linlithgow implemented the plans for local self-government embodied in the Government of India Act of 1935, which led to government led by the Congress Party in five of the 11 provinces, but the recalcitrance of the princes prevented the full establishment of Indian self-government.
  • With the outbreak of the Second World War, Linlithgow’s appeal for unity led to the resignation of the Congress ministries. Disputes between the British administration and Congress ultimately led to massive Indian civil disobedience in the Quit India Movement in 1942. Linlithgow suppressed the disturbances and arrested the Congress leaders. He is partly blamed for the Bengal famine of 1943.


  • First general elections to the central as well as provincial legislatures were held in 1937
  • Forward Block was founded in 1939
  • The Second World War broke out on 3rd September, 1939
  • The British Government declared that India was a party to the War, without consulting the elected governments of the Provinces. In protest, the Congress governments in the Provinces resigned
  • August Offer (1940) by the Viceroy in which he declared dominion status as the ultimate goal of British policy in India
  • At its Haripura session (1938), the congress declared ‘Poorna Swaraj’ ideal to cover native states and British India. However, the functioning of the Congress was to be confined in British India only, and the people of the native states were to from their own political parties
  • In 1940 individual civil disobedience movement was started.
  • Lahore resolution of the Muslim League in 1940, demanding Pakistan
  • 1942, Cripps Mission arrived in India
  • Quit India Movement started on 8th August 1942


Lord Wavell (1943-47)

  • When Linlinthgow retired as viceroy in the summer of 1943
  • Wavell was chosen to replace him, surprisingly, given his poor relationship with Churchill. He himself was again replaced in his military post in June by Auchinleck, who by this point had also experienced setbacks in North Africa.
  • One of Wavell’s first actions in office was to address the Bengal famine of 1943 by ordering the army to distribute relief supplies to the starving rural Bengalis. He attempted with mixed success to increase the supplies of rice to reduce the prices.
  • Although Wavell was initially popular with Indian politicians, pressure mounted concerning the likely structure and timing of an independent India.
  • He attempted to move the debate along but received little support from Churchill (who was against Indian independence), nor from Clement Attlee, Churchill’s successor as Prime Minister. He was also hampered by the differences between the various Indian political factions. At the end of the war, rising Indian expectations continued to be unfulfilled, and inter-communal violence increased. Eventually, in 1947, Attlee lost confidence in Wavell and replaced him with Lord Mountbatten of Burma.
  • The Indian National Army (INA) was formed in Singapore (1943)
  • Rajagopalachari Formula was proposed to pave the way for the Congress and the Muslim League to work together in the Central Legislature (1944)
  • Wavell Plan and Shimla Conference (1945). Congress was represented by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad
  • The Second World War ended in August 1945.
  • Royal Indian Navy (RIN) mutiny (1946) in Karachi, Bombay and Cochin.
  • Interim government was formed (September 2, 1946) with Jawaharlal Nehru as the Vice- Chairman.
  • Prime Minister of Britian, Clement Atlee, announced independence of India by June 1948 (February 20, 1947).
  • Cabinet Mission (1946) came to India with Lord Alexander, Sir Stafford Cripps and Lord Pethick Lawrence as members. It proposed the formation a Constitution Assembly for India.
  • The elections to the Constitution Assembly were held in 1946.
  • On 16th August, 1946, Muslim league observed ‘Direct action day’.

Louis Mountbatten (1947-49)

  • Proposed Plan Balkan i.e. total dismemberment of India territory but soon left the idea
  • Made it clear to the princely states that they shall not be granted independence and they will have to join either India or Pakistan
  • The Indian Independence Act was passed by the British Parliament. It got the King’s assent on 18th July 1947.
  • The Indian Independence Act provided that the princely states couldjoin either India or Pakistan or they could remain free.
  • His plan to make India free on August 15, 1947 is also known as “Mountbatten Plan” on June 3rd plan
  • Appointment of Boundary Commission under Sir Cyril Redcliff to demarcate the boundary between India and Pakistan.
  • Pakistan became independent on 14th August and India on 15th August 1947.
January 2, 2018

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