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Lord Curzon

Topics Covered: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

Lord Curzon

What to study?

For Prelims: Reforms and key events during his rule.

For Mains: Implications of his policies.

Context: Bengal Governor Tweets About “Iconic” Lord Curzon Table, Gets Trolled.

The table was apparently used by Lord Curzon to sign papers pertaining to the Partition of Bengal in 1905.

Who was Lord Curzon?

He was a true successor of Lord Dalhousie. He was great imperialist, authoritarian in temperament, ruthless in his ways and wanted to achieve too much at too great pace.

The time of his governorship (1899-1905), was the formative phase of Indian national movement. Thus he tried to strangulate Indian nationalism and freedom movement by all fair and foul means.

Reactionary policies of Lord Curzon:

Through Calcutta Corporation act 1899 he reduced the number of elected legislatures to deprive Indians from self-governance.

He looked at Indians with contempt and insulted and injured their feelings. He described Bengalis as cowards, windbags, impracticable talkers and mere frothy patriots. He even refused to meet to president of Indian national congress.

The biggest blunder he committed was the partition of Bengal. Although it was a political masterstroke to break growing Indian nationalism among Bengalis, it proved disastrous for British in longer term.

Impact of Curzon’s reactionary policies:

Curzon by his impolitic utterances and imperialist designs brought political unrest in India to a bursting point. Curzon’s imperialistic policies provoked reaction which in turn stung political life in India. Out of his tyranny was born a stronger sense of nationhood. Taken in this light Curzon proved to be a benefactor of India without intending to do so.

Reforms by Lord Curzon:

  1. Educational:To set the educational system in order, he instituted in 1902, a Universities Commission to go into the entire question of university education in the country. On the basis of the findings and recommendations of the Commission, Curzon brought in the Indian Universities Act of 1904, which brought all the universities in India under the control of the government.
  1. Scientific: The Agriculture Research Institute in Pusa (Bihar – Bengal Presidency) was established.
  1. Administrative:He made efforts for police reforms, eliminating the corruption and to promote the economic development. He provided a revival to conservatism in India by refurbishing the main features of Lord Mayo’s policies. He instituted a Police Commission in 1902 under the chairmanship of Sir Andrew Frazer. Curzon accepted all the recommendations and implemented them. He set up training schools for both the officers and the constables and introduced provincial police service. During Curzon regime, the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) was established which covered roughly the areas of upper course of River Indus.
  1. Military: Imperial cadet corps was set up which became an instrument for  Indianisation of army later.
  1. Other reforms: He passed a law called the Ancient Monuments Act, 1904 which made it obligatory on the part of the government and local authorities to preserve the monuments of archaeological importance and their destruction an offence.

Sources: Indian Express.