Modern History Simplified: Learn all about Lord Curzon (1899-1905) – Viceroy of India and his achievements.

  1. Establishment of Department of Commerce and Industry (To oversee India’s entire industrial and commercial interests, a new Department of Commerce and Industry was established).
    1. Economic Reforms: 
      1. In 1899, the British currency was declared legal tender in India, with one pound equal to fifteen rupees.
      2. Curzon reduced the salt-tax rate.
      3. The Central Government took over the provinces’ yearly savings, leaving no incentive for the provinces to save. Curzon advocated for financial decentralisation and abolished the practice.
    2. Railways 
      1. In 1901, he appointed a Railway Commission, chaired by Mr. Robertson.
      2. The railway lines were expanded.
      3. The Railway Department was abolished, and the management of the railways was transferred from the Public Works Department.
    3. Agriculture
      1. The Co-operative Credit Societies Act was passed in 1904 to encourage people to form societies for the purpose of deposits and loans, primarily to save peasants from the clutches of money-lenders who usually charged exorbitant interest rates.
  2. Important Acts passed during his tenure
    1. Calcutta Corporation Act (1899): It reduced the number of elected members while increasing the number of nominated officials. It undermined the goal of local self-government.
    2. Appointment of Police Commission (1902):
      1. Sir Andrew Frazer was appointed to oversee the police reforms. 
      2. Criminal Investigation Departments (CIDs) were established at the provincial level in all provinces of British India.
    3. Appointment of Universities Commission-  Raleigh Commission (1902)
      1. Make recommendations for reforms in university education in India.
      2. The commission recommended stricter university monitoring of affiliated institutions.
    4. Indian Universities Act (1904)
      1. On the recommendations of the Raleigh Commission, Lord Curzon, passed the Indian Universities Act in 1904, tightening control over Indian universities.
      2.  Curzon was on a mission to quell India’s growing nationalism and the universities acted as centres of nationalist activities. 
      3. The recommendations of the Act are the following:
        1. Universities were supposed to put a greater emphasis on education and research.
        2. The number of university fellows and their terms of office were reduced, and the government was to nominate the majority of fellows.
        3. The government was to have the authority to veto university senate regulations as well as amend or pass them on its own.
        4. Conditions for private college affiliation were to be tightened, and a five-year grant of five lakh rupees was to be made available for higher education and university improvement.
    5. Ancient Monuments Preservation Act (1904)
      1. The Act established an Archaeological Department.
      2. It was tasked with the repair, restoration, and protection of historical monuments.
      3. Lord Curzon requested that the native rulers and urged the provincial governments to implement similar measures in their respective states.
  3. Important events during his tenure
    1. Curzon-Kitchener Controversy:
      1. Curzon’s final problem in India proved to be military organisation. Lord Kitchener was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the British Indian Army in 1902. 
      2. Kitchener aimed to transform it into a professional army capable of competing in any modern war. This was reflected in the outstanding performance of the Indian Army in World War I.
      3. A disagreement with Kitchener over the status of the military member of the council in India (who controlled army supply and logistics, which Kitchener wanted under his own control) sparked a controversy in which Curzon was unable to secure the support of the home government. In August 1905, he resigned and returned to England.
    2. Younghusband’s Mission to Tibet (1904)
      1. Lord Curzon dispatched the Younghusband mission (a military expedition) to Tibet to combat Russian infiltration and resolve the border dispute between Tibet and Sikkim.
    3. Partition of Bengal (1905)
      1. The reorganisation divided the predominantly Muslim eastern areas from the predominantly Hindu western areas.
      2. The Hindus of West Bengal objected to the division, claiming that it would make them a minority in a province that would include Bihar and Orissa.
      3. Hindus were outraged by what they saw as a “divide and rule” policy, despite Curzon’s assurances that it would result in administrative efficiency.
      4. Lord Hardinge reunited Bengal in 1911 to appease Bengali sentiment in response to the Swadeshi movement’s riots against the policy.

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