Modern History Simplified: Learn all about Lord Canning (1856-1862) – Viceroy of India and his achievements.

  1. The Proclamation of Queen Victoria (1858): Dubbed as “Magna Carta of the people of India” Lord Canning issued the royal proclamation in a spectacular Darbar at Allahabad on November 1, 1858, informing Queen Victoria that she had acquired direct control of India. This proclamation also outlined the principles by which India would be ruled in the future, as well as British policy toward people living in British-Indian territories and princes.
  2. Government of India Act, 1858: 
    1. The powers of East India Company’s Board of Control and Court of Directors would be now exercised by the Secretary of State for India. This new office was created to exercise complete authority and control over the Indian administration.
    2. The Secretary of State for India was also a member of the British Parliament and was responsible to the British Parliament. The British members of parliament could ask questions from the Secretary of State for India on matters related to the Indian administration.
    3. The Governor-General worked as a representative of the British Government and was responsible for the administration of the country.
    4. The Government of India Act, of 1858 thus resulted in a highly centralized structure of governance in India.
  3. Agriculture / Land Reforms – The Tea Mania: Lord Canning further liberalized the policy with his so-called fee-simple rules, which allowed potential planters to buy land for as little as Rs. 2.8 to 5 per acre without having to meet any clearance requirements. This resulted in a frenetic expansion of tea plants in Assam, as well as a widely anticipated boom known as “Tea Mania.”
  4. Indigo Revolt: The Indigo Revolt occurred between 1859 and 1860 when European indigo planters clashed with Bengal peasants. Because of the high demand for blue dye in Europe, the European planters tried to compel the tenants to cultivate more indigo. This sparked an uprising. A commission was formed to look into the situation. It was established that a renter/farmer  shall not face criminal charges if he or she refuses to carry out a civil contract to grow indigo.
  5. Indian Penal Code 1862: Lord Macaulay drew the first draft of the Indian Penal Code in the 1830s, but it was fully drafted in 1860 and put into effect in 1862. In 1861, the final draft of the Codes of Civil and Criminal Procedure was completed.
  6. Indian High Courts Act 1861: This act merged the Supreme Courts, Sadar Diwani Adalats, and Sadar Fauzdari Adalats, as well as allowed the queen to grant letters of patent for the establishment of high courts in Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay.
  7. Indian Civil Services Act 1861: The Indian Civil Services Act of 1861 stated that any person, whether Indian or European, could be appointed to any of the offices listed in the act’s schedule if he had lived in India for at least seven years. Indians were requesting admittance into the Covenanted Civil Services at the time, but this desire was not met.
  8. Indian Councils Act, 1861: It made a beginning of representative institutions by associating Indians with law-making. Also India’s portfolio system was introduced i.e. the Governor-General had the authority to allocate specific tasks to individual members of the Executive Council. In addition the Act ushered in the policy of decentralisation. For instance, the act restored legislative making powers of Bombay and Madras. 

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