Reforms of Lord Ripon 1880-1884

When Ripon was appointed viceroy in India, the liberal party under Gladstone had come to power in England and it wanted to make the British rule in India “profitable to natives” thus under Ripon a liberal policy was tried to undo most of the reactionary and unpopular measures of Lytton.

Repeal of Vernacular Press Act 1882, the much denounced vernacular press act of 1882 was repealed and newspapers published in vernacular languages were allowed freedom on par with the rest of the Indian press.

Factory Act 1881, For the first time, an act was passed to improve the lot of factory labourers, which sought to regulate and improve the conditions of the Indian factory workers

Financial Decentralization 1882, the Financial Decentralization inaugurated under Lord Mayo was further widened under Ripon. The sources of revenue were divided into three classes, namely Imperial, Provincial and Divided.

Local self -government 1882, Ripon was founder of the local self –government in modern India. Local self –government acts were passed in various provinces during 1883-85. The local boards, urban and rural, were founded not so much with a view to improve the efficiency of administration, but as an instrument of political education of the people.

Educational reforms, to review the development of education in the country since the wood’s dispatch, an education commission was appointed in 1882, which emphasized the state’s special responsibility for the expansion and improvement of primary education. Primary education was to be entrusted to the newly established local bodies. To further promote education at the secondary level the system of grants-in-aid and extension of facilities for female education were also proposed.

The Ilbert Bill Controversy 1883-84, Ripon’s glorious rule ended in an unfortunate controversy known as the Ilbert Bill controversy. Earlier the cases of the European were heard by the European magistrates and judges, but Sir C.P. Ilbert, the law member of the viceroy’s council, framed a bill which completely abolished “every judicial disqualification based merely on race distinctions”. The bill was vehemently criticized by the Europeans, particularly the English community in India. Ultimately, under pressure the Bill was amended, which virtually surrendered the very principle to uphold which the Bill had been introduced. The amended Bill enacted on January 26, 1884, provided that European and British subjects were to have a right to claim trial by jury of twelve, at least seven of whom had to be European or Americans.

Renditions of Mysore, Ripon restored Mysore, which had been annexed by Bentinck on the charge of misgovernment, to its ruling family after fifty years of British administration-a unique event in the history of British India.

Keywords: Ripon, Repeal of vernacular press act, Factory Act 1881, Financial Decentralization 1882, Local self -government 1882, Ilbert Bill Controversy, Renditions of Mysore, Mayao

S  Chittal