Reforms of Lord Lytton 1876-80


He was a nominee of the conservative government of Benjamin Disraeli. He was very reactionary and repressive in Indian affairs passed the Vernacular Press Act, Arms Act etc.

The Royal Rules Act 1876 and great famine of 1876-78.  The British passed the royal titles act, investing Queen Victoria with the title Of Kaisf-I-Hind or Queen Empress of India. A magnificent durbar was held on Delhi on January 1, 1877, to proclaim it to the people and the chief of India. Millions of rupees were spent on this show, while countless number of Indian people were dying of starvation and hunger due to a severe famine ranging in different parts of India. But this durbar proved to be a blessing in arousing national consciousness.

The vernacular press act 1878. On the account of widespread famine and government’s apathy to people’s sufferings there was several agrarian from gang robberies and attacks on moneylenders, which were highlighted by the vernacular press. To gag the press, the vernacular press act was passed which empowered a magistrate to call upon the printer and publisher of any vernacular newspaper to enter into an undertaking not to publish anything likely to create disaffection against the government. This act was nicknamed the gagging act.

The arms act 1878. This act made it a criminal offence to keep, hearing traffic in arms without license. The act was mainly resented on the ground that it smacked of racial discrimination because the European, Anglo- Indians and some other categories of government officials were escaped from the operation of this act

The Statutory Civil Services. The charter act of 1833 had provided for the holding of a competitive examination in London for recruitment to higher service under the company. The British bureaucracy in India was opposed to the entry of Indians into the civil services. Lord Lytton was also of the same and wanted to close the doors of covenanted service to the Indian altogether. Having failed to do so, he took steps calculated to discourage Indians from competing for the said examination by lowering the maximum age from 21 to 19 years.  “Throughout this was regarded as a deliberate attempt to blast the prospects of Indian candidates for the Indian Civil Services”

 Second afghan war, 1878 Lytton provoked a senseless war with the Afghan with a view to establish a scientific frontier towards north -west. This wild adventure proved to be a failure, while the government squandered millions extorted from the poor Indians.

Keywords: Lytton, vernacular press act, arms act

S   Chittal