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Viceroys of India

Lord Canning, 1858-1862
The Queen's Proclamation made India a dependency of England, and Canning was created Viceroy. As soon as Peace was restored, he travelled over Northern India, and reassured the princes and people whose cities he visited. At Agra he held an assembly, or durbar, of Indian chiefs who had been loyal during the Mutiny, and rewarded them with titles and decorations. His next anxiety was to recoup the vast sums which the rebellion had cost. An income tax was imposed, customs duties were revised, and professions were required to pay a license. Then in 1859 a Rent Act was passed in the interests of ryots, and in the following year the Indian Penal Code, which Lord Macaulay had drawn up, was used in all Criminal Courts. The Sadar Courts were abolished, and the High Court of Calcutta was established.

Lord Elgin, I., 1862-1863
Lord Elgin, who had been Governor of Canada in America, was appointed to succeed Canning. During his short rule of eighteen months he had to put down a rising of the Wahabis, a fanatical sect of Muhammadans. While touring in and North-West of India, he became seriously ill, and died at Dharamsala. There he was buried. Until the next Viceroy could come out, Sir William Denison, the Governor of Madras, acted at the head of the Indian Government. It looked as though fresh trouble was at hand, for the Raja of Bhutan raided the Duars, and treated with scorn the ambassador who was sent to remonstrate with him.

Lord Lawrence, 1864-1869
Sir John Lawrence, who had so ably ruled in the Punjab during the Mutiny, was selected to be the next Viceroy, and was created Lord Lawrence. He was very averse to wars, and though he might have found reason for entering upon hostilities with Afghanistan, he desisted. The policy of Sir John Lawrence towards Afghanistan was called by J.W. Willie, one of its chief literary advocates, a policy of "Masterly Inactivity". It was, however, otherwise in the case of Bhutan. The conduct of the Raja of that land could not be tolerated, and an expedition was sent against him. After a brief but brave resistance he was overthrown, and the Bhutan Duars were annexed, 1864. Two years later a terrible famine occurred in Orissa, and in spite of all that was done to supply its people with grain, thousands died of starvation.

Lord Mayo, "The Conciliator of Princes," 1869-1872
Sher Ali, the new Amir of Afghanistan, had had a misunderstanding with Lord Lawrence, and Mayo thought of restoring friendly feelings by inviting him to a meeting at Ambala. Sher Ali came, and was treated with special honour ; but he went back dissatisfied. The Viceroy then turned his attention to internal reforms and improvements. For some years past the income of the Government had fallen short, chiefly because the Local Governments made no attempts to save expenditure that could well be avoided. The reason of their extravagance was that any savings they might effect lapsed to the Government of India To remedy this Mayo devised Jsjssssl what is known as the Provincial Contract System, according to which a certain portion of the revenues and of other incomes is allotted to the Provincial Governments for five years at a time. From this allotment they have to meet their expenses, and if there be any balance left, they may use it for the benefit of the province concerned. This system with unimportant modifications continues to this day, and by it the money affairs of the Government have caused little, if any, anxiety.

Lord Northbrook, 1872-1876
The year after Northbrook's arrival he was called upon to combat a severe famine that prevailed in Northern Bengal and Bihar. Relief works were opened, grain was imported from Burma, and every effort was made to save life. In 1875 our Emperor, Edward VII., then Prince of Wales, paid India a visit. People of all classes combined to give him a royal welcome. Before retiring in the following year Lord Northbrook set Indian finances on a firm basis.

Lord Lytton, 1876-1880
In 1877 Queen Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India, and at a great durbar held at Delhi Lord Lytton published to all Indians that they were ruled over by their own sovereign. At the same time the Proclamation of 1858 was confirmed, and the bond between England and India was thereby more closely drawn. Lord Lytton reversed the policy of Masterly Inactivity, and followed instead the Forward Policy towards Afghanistan.

Lord Ripon, "The Conciliator of the People," 1880-1884
Shortly after Lord Ripon's arrival he received the unwelcome and sad news that the English army had been defeated at Maiwand by Ayub Khan, a brother of the captive Amir. General Roberts, however, saved the position by marching from Kabul to Kandahar, and by completely routing Ayub's army. Abdur Rahman, a nephew of Sher Ali, was then placed on the Afghan throne, and the war having ended, the English troops were withdrawn.

Lord Dufferin, 1884-1888
Of late years Russia had been so extending her territory that she had now come to Afghanistan. Indeed there was a likelihood of her taking Herat itself. Such a measure would of necessity produce complications which had better be avoided. Lord Dufferin with masterly diplomacy secured the appointment of a Commission of English and Russian officers who defined the boundaries of Afghanistan. At the same time several border tribes came under the friendly control of the British. The hands of the Indian Government were at this time strengthened by the offer of troops by the Feudatory and other chiefs in event of a war with Russia.

Lord Lansdowne, 1888-1894
The new Viceroy completed the defence of the Afghan frontier, and assisted the Feudatory Chiefs in organising the Imperial Service Corps to defend that frontier. In Manipur there was an unimportant rebellion which was easily suppressed. The Imperial and Provincial Legislative Councils were enlarged, and the elective system for the return of certain members to those councils was introduced.

Lord Elgin II., 1894-1899
A disturbance at Chitral, on the Afghan side of the north-west frontier, led to an expedition, which resulted in the English occupying that distant outpost. The bubonic plague now broke out in India, and in spite of all that science and sanitation can do to check its spreading from cities to rural tracts, it still prevails. In 1897 a severe famine occurred in the Central Provinces, Bihar, and the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh. Public generosity and relief works saved many lives that must otherwise have been lost. But the misfortunes of Lord Elgin's incumbency were not yet ended. An earthquake of considerable violence visited North-Eastern India and caused great loss of property, and damaged many public works and railways. In the same year the fierce tribesmen of Tirah, towards Afghanistan, raided British territory, and the Tirah campaign was undertaken to restore order. In this it succeeded.

Lord Curzon, 1899-1905
The first public duty that Lord Curzon was called upon to perform was to organise relief for one of the severest famines that have ever visited India. The unity of the British Empire all the world over was illustrated in a remarkable manner by the large sums of money that were sent from every part of that empire for the supply of food to the millions who were starving in an area of 400,000 square miles. The famine was severest in the Central Provinces, the Berars, Northern Deccan, Gujarat, Rajputana and Mysore. At one time 3^ million people were on relief, and six million pounds was expended in the charitable work of feeding the hungry. In 1901 Queen Victoria died, and in January, 1903, Edward VII was formally proclaimed Emperor of India at a splendid durbar at Delhi. With the exception of the expedition to Tibet, the whole of Lord Curzon's administration was taken up with internal measures. He readjusted the distribution of British India, by creating the North-West Frontier Province, and by adding parts of the Bengal Presidency to Assam to form the new Province of Eastern Bengal and Assam.



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