India from 1858 – 1884

Section N: India under British from 1858 to 1872


Government of India Act 1858

  • This act is coterminous with Queen Victoria’s declaration, 1858
  • The British prime Minister, Palmerstone had introduced a Bill in 1858 in the parliament for the transfer of Government of India to The crown.
  • However, before this bill was to be passed, Palmerstone was forced to resign on another issue. Later Lord Stanley introduced another bill which was originally titled as “An Act for the Better Government of India” and it was passed on August 2, 1858.
  • This act provided that India was to be governed directly and in the name of the crown.
  • This act abolished the company rule, abolished the Court of directors and abolished the Board of control. The act provided the Crown will govern India directly through a Secretary of State for India, who was to exercise the powers which were being enjoyed by the Court of Directors and Board of control.

The First Secretary of State of India: Lord Stanley

  • The first Secretary of state was Lord Stanley, who prior to 2 August 1858, served as President of the Board of Control.
  • The Secretary of State was now the political head of the India. Please note the following points:
    • In 1935, the Government of India Act 1935 provided a new Burma Office, in preparation for the establishment of Burma as a separate colony, but the same Secretary of State headed both Departments and was styled the Secretary of State for India and Burma. The first secretary of state for India and Burma was Lord Dundas.
    • The India Office of the Secretary of State for India and Burma came to an end in 1947, when we got independence and now the Secretary of state of India and Burma was left to be Secretary of Burma.
    • Viscount Ennismore was the first and last Secretary of Burma, as Burma got independence in 1948.
  • Centralization of Administration
    • The right of appointment to important offices in India was vested either in the crown or in the Secretary Of State of India-in-Council. This act abolished the Dual Government introduced by the Pitt’s India act.
    • The administration of the country was now highly centralized.
    • All civil, military and executive powers vested in the Governor in council, who was now the Viceroy of India.
    • The Governor General was now responsible to Secretary of State.
    • There was a provision of creation of an Indian Civil Service under the control of the Secretary of State.

First Viceroy of India – Lord Canning 1858-1862

  • With the Act of 1858, the Governor-General of India became the “Viceroy and Governor-General of India” and was to be the head of the British administration in India.
  • The office of Governors-General and Viceroys of India remained from 1858 till 1947.
  • Lord Canning was the first Governor-General and Viceroys of India and Lord Mountbatten was the last Governors-General and Viceroys of India.
  • The same office was called Governor-General of the Union of India, 1947–1950, and C Rajgopalachari became the last Governor-General of the Union of India.
  • Thus the office ceased to exist from January 26, 1950, when Dr. Rajendra Prasad took the oath of India’s first President. However, in Pakistan, in 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the First Governor General of Pakistan.
  • The office remained existing till 1956, and the last Governor General of Pakistan was Iskander Mirza, one of the direct descendants of Mir Zafar, the Gaddar-i-abrar.

Indian Civil Services Act 1861

  • A competitive examination was organized in 1853, but the Indians could not seek entry. However, the system of reserving principal posts for the members of the covenanted service (means British) was introduced in 1858.
  • The Indian Civil Services Act, 1861, validated a number of irregular appointments which were made in India to meet the exigencies in disregard of the restriction that all offices in the civil cadre of the company’s service in India were reserved to the civil services of the Presidency.
  • The recruitment in the civil services was scheduled which also included the number of appointments to be filled “only by the members of the covenanted Civil Service in Future”. Thus, the Principal posts were reserved for British.
  • The civil services act 1861 laid down that any person, whether Indian or European could be appointed to any of the offices (specified in the schedule annexed), provided that he had resided for minimum of 7 years in India. The person had to pass an exam in vernacular language of the district, in which he was employed. The appointment was also made a subject to departmental tests or other qualifications.
  • All appointments were now to be reported to the Secretary of State and unless Secretary of State approves within twelve months, were declared void.
  • The Indian Civil Services Act could not fulfill the demand of by the educated Indians to secure employment in the Covenanted Civil Service. Further reforms were made later.

Indian Councils Act 1861

  • The Governments of Madras and Bombay were deprived of their power of legislation by Charter act of 1833. The Indian Councils Act 1861 restored this power to them.
  • This act is known to have made notable changes in the composition of the Governor General’s council for executive & legislative Purposes. The council of the Governor General of India performed dual functions of executive and legislature.
  • For executive functions the notable change was that Council of the Governor General was expanded and a fifth member was added.
  • For the purpose of Legislation, the Governor General’s Council was restructured. Now the additional new NOT less than 6 and NOT more than 12 members were now to be nominated by the Governor General and they were to hold the office for two years. Out of these, not less than half were required to be Non-Official. This was a beginning towards the establishment of legislative system by adding legislative non official members to the Council of the Governor General.
  • However, the functions were limited to the legislation and it had not to do any other function except the consideration or enactment of legislative measures.
  • It was laid down that without the assent of the Governor General a bill relating to the public revenue or debt, religion, military, naval or foreign relations cannot be passed. However, any such act might be dissolved by the crown acting through the secretary of State of India. T
  • he Indian Councils Act 1861 restored the power of legislation to the governor-in-councils of Madras and Bombay in respective matters. The act also laid down the provision for the formation of legislative councils in other provinces.
  • With the Indian Councils Act for the first time Portfolio system started. Each member of the Council of the Governor General was allocated portfolio of a particular department. Lord Canning was the First to start a Portfolio system.
  • The Governor General was authorized to exercise a veto and issue ordinances in a situation of emergency.

Indian High Courts Act 1861

  • By Indian High Courts Act 1861, the Supreme & Sadar Diwani Adalat were amalgamated.
  • The ‘Indian High Court Act’ of 1861, vested in Queen of England to issue letters patent to erect and establish High Courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay. The High Courts of Calcutta, Madras and Bombay were established by Indian High Courts Act 1861.
  • Indian High Courts Act, 1861 did not by itself create and establish the High Courts in India.
  • The objective of this act was to effect a fusion of the Supreme Courts and the Sadar Adalats in the three Presidencies and this was to be consummated by issuing Letter Patent. The jurisdiction and powers exercised by these courts was to be assumed by the High Courts.
  • Composition of the High Court’s: The Indian High Courts Act 1861 had also spelled the composition of the High Court. Each High Court was to consist of a Chief Justice and NOT more than 15 regular judges. The chief Justice and minimum of one third regular judges had to be barristers and minimum one third regular judges were to be from the “covenanted Civil Service”. All Judges were the be in the office on the pleasure of the Crown. The High Courts had an Original as well as an Appellate Jurisdiction the former derived from the Supreme Court, and the latter from the Sadar Diwani and Sadar Foujdari Adalats, which were merged in the High Court. The Charter of High Court of Calcutta was issued on 14th May, 1862 and Madras and Bombay was issued on June 26, 1862.
  • So, the Calcutta High Court has the distinction of being the first High Court and one of the three Chartered High Courts to be set up in India, along with the High Courts of Bombay, Madras. High Court at Calcutta which was formerly known as High Court of Judicature at Fort William was established on July 1, 1862.
  • Sir Barnes Peacock was its first Chief Justice. On 2nd February, 1863, Justice Sumboo Nath Pandit was the first Indian to assume office as a Judge of the Calcutta High Court.
  • The Bombay High Court was inaugurated on 14th August ,1862. Indian High Court Act 1861 also gave power to set up other High Courts like the High Courts of the Presidency Towns with similar powers. Under this power, a High Court was established in 1866 at High Court of Judicature for the North-Western Provinces at Agra on 17 March 1866 by the Indian High Courts Act of 1861 replacing the Sadr Diwani Adalat. Sir Walter Morgan, Barrister-at-Law was appointed the first Chief Justice of the High Court of North-Western Provinces. However it was shifted to Allahabad in 1869 and the name was correspondingly changed to the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad from 11 March 1919.

Financial Condition of India in 1858

  • The revolt and suppression of the revolt increased the debt of the country by 40 million sterling.
  • The changes in the military after the Government of India Act also required an additional annual expenditure of 10 million sterling. Grappling with this deficit was not an easy task.
  • For this purpose, a distinguished political economist and parliamentary financier, James Wilson, was sent from England as financial member of the Council of India.
  • James Wilson was the founder of the much popular “The Economist” (weekly news and international affairs publication). James Wilson was also the founder of modern Standard Chartered Bank.
  • James Wilson was sent to India to establish the tax structure, a new paper currency and remodel the finance system of India after mutiny. This workaholic personality refused to leave the stifling climate of Calcutta during summers, got some infection and died in office within one year of the job. But still his contribution was great in the initial financial set up of the India. James Wilson is one of the earliest forefathers of India’s Income Tax Structure.
  • The following steps were taken by James Wilson to bring the economy on track:
    • The custom system was reorganized and all export duties were abolished.
    • The import duties were lowered.
    • A 5% Income tax was imposed on all incomes more than 200 Rupees License duty of 1, 4 and 10% were imposed on the trades and professions.
    • Tobacco was placed under an internal revenue tax.
    • The business methods of the government, especially in the military department were revised.
    • A Paper currency commission was set at Calcutta, which was corresponding with the “Department of Issue of the Bank of England”.
    • The Paper Currency Commission was authorized to issue notes ranging in value from Rupees 5 till Rupees 1000, which were redeemable in Silver.
  • But, this outstanding “first” finance minister of India died amid of the splendid task. He was succeeded by another finance member of council named Samuel Laing, who endeavored to free the poorest classes from the burden of taxation. He unsuccessfully tried to get the Bengal Tenancy Bill passed. The Bill was passed only after 2 decades as Bengal Tenancy Act 1885.



Indian Penal Code 1862

  • The initial sketch of the Indian Penal Code was drawn by Lord Macaulay in 1830s, but it was finally drafted in 1860 and came into force in 1862. Prior to that, the final draft of Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure was ready in 1861.
  • Indian Penal code was inheritated by Pakistan after separation and was later named Pakistan Penal Code. The same was adopted by Bangladesh also. It was also adopted in almost all the British colonies of Asia such as Burma, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei. Before 1860, the basis of justice was “The English Criminal Law” which was administered in the Presidency-Towns of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras. The age old penal code and its many articles have become obsolete and needs to be revised.
  • The Malimath Committee of 2003 is related to the issue of reforms in the IPC.

Lord Elgin 1861-1863

  • He became viceroy and governor-general of India in 1862 but in the very next year, he died in Dharamasala of a heart attack while crossing a mountain bridge, there he lies buried.
  • The Wahabis, a group of turbulent and fanatical Mohammedans in the northwest were suppressed during his time.
  • He was succeeded by Sir William Denison, the governor of Madras, who became acting governor-general under the Act of 1861. Meanwhile the viceroyalty was offered to Sir John Lawrence, who had done wonders in Punjab earlier during and after the first as well as second Anglo Sikh War.

Lord John Lawrence 1864-1869

  • Lord John Lawrence was not a new face in India. He had brilliantly organized the supply of the British army in Punjab during the First Anglo Sikh war of 1845-1846 and was made the commissioner of the Jalandhar. In the second Anglo Sikh War, he was appointed as the member of the Punjab Board of Administration under his elder brother Sir Henry Montgomery Lawrence.
  • Some reforms such as abolition of internal duties, establishment of a common currency and postal system, and development of Punjabi infrastructure made him popular and he was ‘by some’ people called “the Saviour of the Punjab”.
  • He was partially able to prevent the Sikhs enter into mutiny due to his popular image and a general Sikh detest towards the Mughals. While appointed at Punjab, Lawrence had made an agreement with the Afghan leader Dost Muhammad Khan, but during his tenure as Viceroy, he adopted a cautious policy and avoided the conflicts with the Afghans and Persians.
  • The most important events of his tenure are Bhutan war fought between British India and Bhutan in 1864–1865 and the Orissa Famine
  • Other events during Lord Lawrence’s time were as follows
    • Submarine telegraphy system started in 1865 between India and Europe via Persian Gulf.
    • The Punjab and Oudh Tenancy acts were passed in 1868.
    • Sir John Lawrence retired in January, 1869.


Policy Towards Afghanistan: The Policy of masterly inactivity

  • Lord Lawrence was cautious in dealing with the Afghanistan and Persia.
  • On the death of Dost Mohammed, on June 9, 1863, Sher Ali, the third son and acknowledged heir of the Dost, was recognized as Amir of Afghanistan by Lawrence, and his son, Mohammed Ali, as heir apparent.
  • But then there was a long civil war in Afghanistan in which two older sons of the Dost, Afzal and Azum, obtained possession of most of Afghanistan, and were partially recognized as de facto rulers by Lawrence, who at the same time refused to withdraw his recognition from Sher Ali.
  • The latter soon won his way back to power, and in 1869 was able to notify Lawrence that he was once more in complete control. Lawrence’s policy had been ” that we will leave the Afghans to settle their own quarrels, and that we are willing to be on terms of amity and goodwill with the nation and with their rulers de facto,” This is known as policy of masterly inactivity.

Bhutan War 1864-65

  • The Bhutan war is also known as Duar War and this ended in the defeat of the Bhutanese army.
  • The peace was brought by “Treaty of Sinchula” which was signed on 11 November 1865.
  • Bhutan ceded territories in the Assam Duars and Bengal Duars, as well as around 80,000 kilometers of Dewangiri (Deothang) to British in return for an annual subsidy of 50,000 rupees.

Orissa Famine 1866

  • The Orissa famine of 1866 followed a severe drought and destruction of the Rice Crop.
  • The government imported rice but it reached only when millions of people starved to death. This exposed the inability of the government to deal with the famine situation in Orissa, resulted in a fearful loss of life.
  • The famine was followed by devastating floods. The famine and floods claimed life of around 40-50 Lakh people in 2 years, mainly due to outbreak of cholera and malaria.
  • A similar kind of famine affected Bundelkhand and Rajputana also. The government established the Famine Commission under Henery Kempbell. Emphasis was laid down for infrastructure development so that the relief reaches in time.

Lord Mayo 1869-72


  • Lord Mayo or Lord Naas served as 4th Viceroy of India from 12 January 1869 to 8 February 1872.

Mayo College, Ajmer 1871

  • In his relations with the feudatory states Lord Mayo insisted that the native princes should not be guilty of misgovemment. The victim of this policy was raja of Alwar, who was compelled to accept a native council guided by the British political agents.
  • Lord Mayo also encouraged the native rulers in enlightened government and sought to develop an esprit de corps to that end by the education of the heirs to the native principalities. The result was establishment of the Mayo College at Ajmer for the education of young Rajput princes. It was founded in 1875 and Colonel Sir Oliver St John became its first Principal.
  • India’s First Census
    • In order to secure permanent improvement in the finances, Lord Mayo took the pains to secure and collect statistics regarding the population and the various conditions in each locality. This was because only exact knowledge in these matters could be helpful in both revenue and expenditure regulation.
    • The result was that in 1871, India’s first census of taken by his orders.
    • Mayo also organized the Statistical Survey of India, which, under the direction of William Wilson Hunter, “produced a printed account of each district, town, and village, carefully compiled upon local inquiry, and disclosing the whole economic and social facts in the life of the people.”
    • This was the most exhaustive work done since the Ain-i-Akbari , during the times of the Great Mughal.
  • The other important works done under Lord Mayo were as follows:
    • Setting up of Department of Revenue, Agriculture and Commerce
    • Introduction of the most improved rifle, the Snider, and of rifled guns for the artillery.
    • Improvement in the sanitary conditions for the troops.
    • Lord Mayo is known for infrastructure development in the country by which an immense extension of roads, railroads, and canals was carried out.
    • He refused to make loans for any public works except those that would be productive.
    • He carried out the policy of state control of public works in the promotion of the various enterprises of railroad and canal construction.
    • Indian Evidence Act 1872 Lord Mayo took interest in the Prison reforms, especially the convict settlements at Andaman Islands. The most important legal reform during his time was the passage of the Indian Evidence Act in 1872. The act was drafted by the law member of council, James Fitzjames Stephen. Prior to this act, the rules of evidences were based upon the traditional legal systems of different social groups and communities. They were different for different persons depending on his or her caste, religious faith and social position. The act removed this anomaly and differentiation, and introduced a standard set of law applicable to all Indians.
  • Assassination of Lord Mayo
    • The splendid vigor of Lord Mayo defied the climate and distances in the country. He anxiously studied the wants of the farthest provinces of the empire, but his life was cut short by an assassin Sher Khan, a convict at Andaman Islands, while he was inspecting the conditions in the convict settlement of the Andaman Islands in 1872.

Section P: British India from 1872 to 1884


Arrival of Lord Northbrook 1872

  • In 1872, Lord Mayo was assassinated by a convict in Andman Island while he was on a visit to the cellular jail. He was followed by an acting viceroy and Governor General John Strachey. John Strachey was followed by another acting Viceroy Lord Napier in the same year 1872. Between 1872 and 1876, India’s Viceroy was Lord Northbrook.

Deposition of Gaekwad of Baroda 1875

  • Till 1870, Baroda was under the popular Raja “Sir” Khanderao Gaekwad.
  • After his death, he was supposed to be succeeded by Malharrao, his brother as he had no male heirs. But after his death, his wife was due to give birth to a posthumous child. But the Child was a girl, so all speculation null and void, Malhararao ascended the throne. But this man was a foolish and lavish spender and a gross tyrant.
  • So, the paramount British came in action and by the orders of Lord Salisbury, he was deposed in 1875 and was exiled to Madras. Later he died in obscurity in 1882.
  • This was one illustration of the use of paramount power in instances to punish acts of excessive or criminal misconduct committed by a chief or his ministers.

Kuka Movement 1872

The beginnings

  • There has been a doubtful history about the initial days of Kuka Movement. There are two names associated with the start of this movement i.e. Baba Balak Singh and Bhagat Jawar (or Jawahar) Mal.
  • Balak Singh was born in village Sarvala, in District Attock, in 1799. He started preaching very early in his life and the objective of his preachings was to uphold the religious purity of Sikhism. Some sources say that Balak Singh himself was a disciple of Bhagat Jawar Mal.
  • Bhagat Jawar Mal was also known as Sian Sahib. The important teaching of Bhagat Jawar mal was that his disciples should live a simple teetotaller life and all other rituals except the chanting the name of God should be discarded, this is how the sect was called “Namdhari”.
  • While reciting Sikh Mantras or repeating the name, the Namdharis often developed emotions, screamed and shouted, took turbans in their hands and hair streaming in the air hence called ‘Kukas’ or the shouters. The word Kuka is derived from the Punjabi expression ‘kook’, meaning a cry.
  • The Namdharis can be easily identified by their white attire and a typical turban. Baba Ram Singh Bhagat Jawarmal established his main base at Hazro (now in Pakistan). After Bhagat Jawarmal died, Balak Singh carried is legacy. However, it was not the real starting of the Kuka Movement as we know today.
  • The real founder was Baba Ram Singh, who was born in 1815 as a son of a poor carpenter, in small village of Bhaini, around 7 kilometers away from Ludhiana. In 1840s, he served as a soldier in Sikh Army of Prince Naunihal Singh. He left the army on the overturn of the Sikh rule. In around 1838, he came in touch with Baba Balak Singh, though he remained in touch with Bhagat Jawar mal also. After he left the army, he started preaching against the bad things developed among the Sikhs. We have been told that he wanted his disciples to follow all what Guru Gobind Singh taught in a puritan way, without any influence of other religions.

Foundations of Namdharis

  • Some sources say that in 1857, Baba Ram Singh founded the Namdhari sect on the day of Baisakhi, at village Bheni. He established 22 preaching centres in different parts of the country, each of them was under a deputy called Suba. These Subas, at various places such as Gwalior, Bananas, Lucknow, Kabul and Hyderabad, started spreading the teachings of Baba Ram Singh.
  • Thus, we see that the Namdhari sect had started taking a political shape by 1860s. The major centre of this sect was parts of today’s Pakistan’s Punjab & Sindh The movement started attracting not only Sikhs but also the Hindus. The number of followers went up in Lakhs, many of them being the government services, in business and in trading. This was followed by such a growth of pomp and splendour of Baba Ram Singh, that he was now considered by many as a successor of Guru Nanak dev, although Baba Ram Singh is said to have condemned it. His admirers have also produced a “Pothi” which was probably written during the times of Guru Gobind Singh, in which it was written that one Ram Singh would appear, who would become a spiritual leader of the Sikhs and establish his rule in the country. This was later condemned by Baba Ram Singh, when he was in exile in Rangoon.

Beliefs and Faiths

  • The sect believes that Adi Granth is the only true holy book of their religion. Gobind Singh is the only Guru. Any person, irrespective of caste or religion, can be admitted as a Namdhari convert.
  • Sodhis, Bedis, Mahants, Brahmins and such like are impostors, as none are Gurus except Gobind Singh.
  • It’s worth note that among Sikhs the Sodhis and Bedis had started getting worshipped during those times. Devidwaras, Shivdwaras and Mandirs are a means of extortion, to be held in contempt and never visited. Idols and idol-worship are insulting to God, and will not be forgiven. The Namdharis were iconoclasts. Converts are allowed to read Gobind Singh’s Grantha and no other book.
  • Pure vegetarianism. It was against killing of cattle and kine.
  • No caste system Namdharis are not allowed to drink tap water; water must be drawn from the lake or captured from rain and from well.
  • Only white cloths, no any other color allowed.
  • From the above, we can easily make out that the origin of the Kuka Movement had its roots in religious purification of the Sikhism.
  • In their social beliefs, the Kukas were against child-marriage. They condemned infanticide and dowry system.
  • The Namdharis in fact were religiously denied the right to spend more than Rs. 13 on a marriage.
  • The Kukas gave strictly equal status to women and believed inner-caste marriage between caste Hindus and untouchables.
  • The Non-cooperation / Civil Disobedience by Kukas Baba Ram Singh considered political freedom a part of religion. The organisation of the Namdharis became very strong. The principles of boycott and non-co-operation, which Mahatma Gandhi introduced in our freedom movement, were expounded by Guru Ram Singh for the Namdharis. The Guru’s Non-co-operation Movement was based on a few things such as boycott of education institutions of British and laws established by them. They were rigid in their clothing and wore only hand-spun white attire. A large number of Kuka followers were in the police as well as army, though they did not reveal their identity.
  • It’s worth note that a special Kuka regiment was raised by the Maharaja of Kashmir was disbanded at the intervention of the British.

Political Clout

  • Baba Ram Singh had spread his spheres of activity in Nepal, Bhutan, Kashmir and several other States. It is also said that he was in touch with the prominent leaders of Mutiny, including Rani of Jhansi. He had also exchanged letters from Russians, whom he expected to march to India and expel the British from here.

The Koka Movement / Uprising

  • In 1871 , the Kukas met in conference at the village Khote in Ferozepur. In this conference, the Kukas divided into two parties and despite Ram Singh’s admonitions, who was present there, they began to quarrel among themselves.
  • Some Kukas got out of control and attacked and murdered many butchers and others suspected of kine slaughter. This was followed by killing of the Butchers in many places. The Kuka followers succeeded in enforcing civil disobedience as well as carrying out extreme actions including murder of butchers against cow slaughter.
  • Many experts have opined that the Kuka attack upon religious places, as they were iconoclasts. This hurt the religious sentiments of followers of other faiths.
  • Further, the religious purity, which was the basis of their foundation, was later lost into oblivion.

Government Action

  • The Government arrested many Kukas and either hanged them or imprisoned them. The result was that Ram Singh was captured and sent into exile in Burma. He died there later.
  • Aftermath After Ram Singh, Guru Hari Singh succeeded. Guru Hari Singh who was not allowed to move out of his house in the village Bheni, for 21 years. He died in 1906 and was succeeded by Pratap Singh.
  • During the World War in 1914, the British Government unsuccessfully tried to appease the Kukas by land grants.
  • In 1920, the Kukas started their paper ‘Satyug’, and in 1922, their daily, ‘Kuka’ was
  • When the non-cooperation movement was started by Gandhiji, the Kukas joined hands freely. Gandhiji himself is said to have learnt many points from the Kukas, and modified his campaign to revolutionise the social and political structure of India.

Prince of Wales Visit to India 1876

  • The Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria visited India in 1876 with a large suite. He arrived in Bombay and then travelled to Madras, Ceylon and finally Calcutta.
  • The intent of this visit was to inspire the local princes’ loyalty to the British Empress and affirm their central role in the maintenance of the empire.
  • Wherever he went, he was showered with valuable gifts by the “loyal” Indian feudatories. He collected so much in 6 months that one of the ships was filled with the jewels, paintings, antique weapons, live animals, embroideries brocades and all kinds of contemporary art works. He returned and the gifts went on an exhibition in England for 6 months.
  • In return the Prince of Wales gave Indian Princes a copy of Rig-veda translated by Max Muller. 

Orissa Famine of 1872

  • India was attacked by two great famines during the times of Lord Northbrook.
  • One was the Bihar famine of 1873–74. Surprisingly, in this famine the British Government resorted to an extensive relief effort, organized by the Bengal government, so there was no casualty in this famine.
  • But soon after, the 1876–78 saw another Great Famine in Southern India during Lord Lytton’s times. This famine affected Madras and Bombay, Mysore and Hyderabad. 10 million people perished and no number was recorded for the princely states.

Arrival of Lord Lytton 1876

  • Lord Lytton, who remained the Viceroy of India from 1876-1880 used to write poems with the Pen name of “Owen Meredith”.
  • The important events during the tenure of Lord Lytton were as follows:
    • Royal Titles Act 1876
    • Delhi Darbar 1877
    • Great Famine of 1876
    • Vernacular Press Act 1878
    • Second Anglo Afghan War 1878-80
    • Treaty of Peshawar
    • Treaty of Gandamak
  • 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.
  • Prior to that in 1879 an attempt was made to assassinate him, but he happily escaped uninjured.
  • After his resignation, Lord Ripon was sent to India.
  • Some other events were as follows:
    • Muhammedan Anglo-Oriental College) 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.

Royal Titles Act 1876

  • The Royal Titles Act of 1876 was one of Disraeli’s famous imperialistic measures.
  • The act was passed with the understanding that the British imperial title should be used only in India. Thus, the Queen began to use it in her signature in 1878 and in 1893 it appeared on the British coins.
  • The title empress of India was officially translated as Kaisar-i-Hind, was decorated on her in 1877 Delhi Durbar. 

Delhi Darbar 1877

  • A few months after his swearing in as India’s Viceroy, a Grand Darbar was organized at Delhi on January 1, 1877, in which Queen Victoria was proclaimed empress of India.
  • After this the Queen conferred upon him the honor of the Grand Cross of the civil division of the Order of the Bath.
  • Queen Victoria was proclaimed with title “Kaisar-i-Hind” at this Darbar.
  • When the princes of Indian princely states were flocking to participate in this gorgeous scene of Delhi Darbar, the shadow of famine was darkening over southern India.

Great Famine of 1876

  • The monsoons of 1876 had failed to bring their due supply of rain, and the season of 1877 was little better. This long-continued drought stretched from the Deccan to Cape Comorin, and subsequently invaded northern India, causing a famine more wide-spread than any previously known in Indian history.
  • The Poet Viceroy Lord Lytton was so uncompromising in implanting the British trading policies that was called directly responsible for the death of 10 million people in the Famine of 1876 -77 by some historians.
  • The government is known to have spent 11 million sterling, but actually the lack of supply and efforts from the government caused the loss of life from starvation and a train of diseases that followed, taking the toll to a lamentable number.

Vernacular Press Act 1878

  • The latter half of the 19th century saw a remarkable growth in the Vernacular Press of the country and newspapers played a role of catalyst in the new socio-political consciousness.
  • Earlier, the newspapers were being published in Calcutta, Madras, Bombay, Allahabad only but later the newspapers started getting published from smaller places also. Since, most of the newspapers published from smaller places, they all were in vernacular languages.
  • In 1878, when this act was passed, the number of English Newspapers was 20 and Vernacular newspapers were 200. These vernacular newspapers made the people aware of the political affairs and now the people slowly started asking questions for their rights.
  • So, in the best interest of the Government, Lord Lytton passed the Vernacular Press Act in 1878.
  • By this act, the magistrates of the districts were empowered, without the prior permission of the Government, to call upon a printer and publisher of any kind to enter into a Bond, undertaking not to publish anything which might “rouse” feelings of disaffection against the government.
  • The magistrate was also authorized to deposit a security, which could be confiscated if the printer violated the Bond. If a printer repeated the violation, his press could be seized.
  • Thus the Vernacular Press Act of 1878 gagged the press and result was some proceedings against some vernacular press people. There was now a popular protest against this act. The act was later repealed by Lord Ripon, who followed Lord Lytton.

Second Anglo Afghan War 1878-80

  • In the winter of 1878, the affairs of Afghanistan again forced themselves into notice. The First Anglo Afghan war had ended in 1842, in a humiliation for the British and this failure kept haunting them for many years. The successive governments in Britain remain calm, but when Lord Disraeli became PM, he sent Lord Lytton to India to increase the influence in Afghanistan.
  • On this side, under Akbar Khan, the son of Dost Mohammed, Afghanistan once again became independent and Dost Mohammad Khan came back to power in 1843. Akbar Khan died in 1845.
  • Treaty of Peshawar
    • In 1855 Treaty of Peshawar between Dost Mohammad and British reopened the diplomatic relations. After a series of incidents, Russia established a fixed boundary between Afghanistan and its territories in 1873.
    • But within a period of 5 years the rivalry turned back. This was because of an uninvited diplomatic mission sent by the Russians to Kabul.
    • The ruler Sher Ali Khan, son of Dost Mohammad Khan wanted to stop them, but failed.
    • The British too wanted to send a mission, but Sher Ali refused.
    • A diplomatic mission was ordered by Lord Lytton, the viceroy of British India, and the Mission was turned back. This triggered the Second Anglo Afghan War.
  • Treaty of Gandamak
    • In the second Anglo Afghan war, much of Afghanistan was occupied by British. Sher Ali was defeated and he fled towards Turkistan. Sher Ali’s Son, Mohammad Yaqub Khan signed a treaty of Gandamak in May, 1879 to prevent British Invasion in rest of the country.
    • However, he paid the price by relinquishing the Control of Afghan Foreign Relations to British. British Control was thus extended to much of the country. He also agreed to receive a British Resident at Kabul.
    • The treaty of Gandamak was signed in May, 1879, but in the same year in September, the British Resident Major Cavagnari was murdered.
    • This again triggered the war and Kabul was occupied. Yakub Khan surrendered and he was sent to Dehradun as a Prisoner.

Arrival of Lord Ripon 1880

  • Lord Ripon remained India’s Viceroy from 1880-84. This liberal politician is known for many reforms in the internal administration of India.
  • The most important events during this time were as follows:
    • 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.
    • The years 1882 and 1883 are memorable for these great measures.
    • One important one was the repeal of the Vernacular Press Act, which was passed by his predecessor Lord Lytton in 1878. Thus, he sat free the native journals from the last restrains on the free discussion of public questions. In 1882, he granted freedom to the Press.

Local Self Government (Resolution of 1882)

  • Lord Ripon is known to have granted the Indians first taste of freedom by introducing the Local Self Government in 1882.
  • His scheme of local self government developed the Municipal institutions which had been growing up in the country ever since India was occupied by the British Crown. He led a series of enactments in which larger powers of the Local self government were given to the rural and urban bodies and the elective people received some wider rights.
  • Lord Ripon is known as Father of Local Self Government in India. This was not enacted by any act, it was a resolution that was passed in 1882.

First Factory Act 1881

  • A committee was appointed in 1875 to inquire into the conditions of factory work in the country. This committee had favored some kind of legal restrictions in the form of factory laws.
  • During Lord Ripon’s time, the first Factories Act was adopted in 1881.
  • Following this act , a Factory Commission was appointed in 1885.
  • There was another Factories Act in 1891, and a Royal Commission on Labor was appointed in 1892.
  • The result of these enactments was the limitation on the factory working hours. This was an answer of the Government to the pathetic conditions of the workers in the factory, wherein, only when a laborer exhausted, new laborer was to take his / her place.

Hunter Education Commission 1882-83

  • In 1882, Lord Ripon organized the Hunter Commission under William Wilson Hunter.
  • William Wilson Hunter was the statistician, a compiler and a member of the Indian Civil Service, who later also became Vice President of Royal Asiatic Society. He was appointed as a Magistrate in the Bengal Presidency in 1862, and form there only he started compiling the local traditions and records.
  • He published “The Annals of Rural Bengal” and “A Comparative Dictionary of the Non-Aryan Languages of India” but his best known work is “The Imperial Gazetteer of India” on which he started working in 1869. This work was delegated to him by Lord Mayo. The work appeared in 9 volumes in 1881.
  • In 1882 as a member of the Governor General in Council he was appointed he chairman of the Commission on Education.
  • In 1886, he was also elected as Vice Chancellor of the Calcutta University.
  • The Hunter Commission brought out the neglect to the primary and secondary education in the country.
  • The commission recommended that the responsibility for the Primary Education must be given to the Local Boards and Municipal Boards.
  • The important recommendations were as follows:
    • The government should take special care to extend the primary education.
    • There should be literary and vocational training in secondary education.
    • The commission brought out inadequate facilities available for the female education in the country.
  • The recommendations were partially implemented and there was a slow growth in the number of the secondary schools in the country.

Ilbert Bill 1884

  • Ilbert Bill is named after Courtenay Peregrine Ilbert, who was appointed as legal adviser to the Council of India.
  • The bill was introduced in 1883 by Viceroy Ripon, who actually desired to abolish the racial prejudice from the Indian Penal Code.
  • Ripon had proposed an amendment for existing laws in the country and to allow Indian judges and magistrates the jurisdiction to try British offenders in criminal cases at the District level. It was never allowed before.
  • So naturally, the Europeans living in India looked it as a Humiliation and the introduction of the bill led to intense opposition in Britain as well as India (by the British residents). So it was withdrawn but was reintroduced and enacted in 1884 in a severely compromised state.
  • The amended bill had the provisions that the Europeans would be conferred on European and Indian District Magistrates and Sessions Judges alike.
  • However, a defendant would in all cases have the right to claim trial by a jury of which at least half the members must be European. Thus, this enactment held that Europeans criminals would be heard only by the Indian Judges “helped by the European Judges”.
  • The passage of this bill opened the eyes of the Indians and deepened antagonism between the British and Indians.
  • The result was wider nationalism and establishment of Indian National Congress in the next year.
  • The amended Ilbert Bill was passed on 25 January 1884, as the Criminal Procedure Code Amendment Act 1884. It came into force on May 1, 1884.
January 2, 2018

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