Lord Curzon 1899-1905

Perhaps no other Governor General excited such bitter in the minds of the people as Curzon did. He was the undisguised embodiment of the British imperial attitude towards India. When he took over the viceroyalty, India was already passing through a serious crisis. The great famine of 1896-98 was followed by the bubonic plague and resulted in growing discontent of the people and seething tumult among the nationalists.

Foreign Policy, The risings of the frontier tribes in 1897-98 led him to formulate a policy of conciliation and create a new province called the north- west frontier province (NWFP). To check the Russian schemes in Tibet, he sent a military expedition to Tibet, which was advanced towards Lhasa (1904). After this expedition, a war indemnity was imposed on Tibet. As a security for its payment, the Indian government was to occupy the Chumbi valley for seventy-five years. Curzon’s foreign and imperial policies were motivated by the urge to make the British position in India secure. So he also introduced a series of internal reforms.

Police Reforms, 1902-3, A police commission was appointed under the presidentship of Sir Andrew Frazer to inquire into the police administration of every province. The report described the police force as “far from efficient, defective in training and organization, corrupt and oppressive”. The commission recommended an increase in the salaries and strength of police force in all provinces, creations of a department of criminal intelligence at the center and in the less provinces, etc.

Universities Commission 1902 and Indian Universities Act 1904,  on the basis of the recommendation of this commissions an act was framed which sought to increase the official control over universities by increasing the nominated elements over the elected ones.

Economic reforms, in the field of economic reforms the famine commission etc. were set up. The latter suggested the extension of agriculture. For the improvement of agriculture and livestock and introduction of scientific methods of cultivation, an imperial agriculture department was set up. A new department of commerce and industry was also set up. Measures were also taken for further development of the railways.

Ancient Monuments Protection Act, 1904 for the protection, preservation and restoration of India’s cultural heritage this act was passed and the Archaeological Survey of India was established.

Calcutta Corporation Act, 1899 by this act the strength of the elected members was reduced, thereby giving a majority to the European members. Thus the Calcutta Corporation came to be known as Anglo Indian house.

 Partition of Bengal, 1905, His crowing act of folly was the partition of Bengal in the teeth of almost universal opposition. Bengal was partitioned into two provinces of Bengal proper and eastern Bengal and Assam. The real motive behind this move was to break the back of the militant nationalism in Bengal. But this proved to be a totally misconceived move. There was a country wide agitation of an unprecedented character and two weapons of the national movement-the ‘Swadeshi’ and the ‘boycott’-were first used during the agitation against the partition of Bengal. Though the partition was cancelled in 1911, it paved the way for the unhindered growth of Indian national movement.

Keywords: Lord Curzon 1899-1905, Police reforms, Universities Commission 1902 and Indian Universities Act 1904, ,Ancient Monuments Protection Act, Archaeological Survey of India, Calcutta Corporation Act, 1899,Partition of Bengal, 1905

S  Chittal