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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 22 August, 2022

  • 8 Min Read

Lord Curzon and his policies

Lord Curzon and his policies

  • The West Bengal government recently made the decision to install a statue of Radharani, the wife of Maharaja Bijay Chand Mahatab of Bardhaman, in front of the Lord Curzon Gate.
  • When Curzon visited the town in 1903, Mahtab had already completed the gate.
  • From 1887 till his passing in 1941, Maharajadhiraja Bijay Chand Mahtab (1881–1941) ruled over Burdwan Estate in Bengal, British India.

About Lord Curzon

Early Age:

  • Born in 1859 into British nobility.
  • He received his education at Oxford University and the exclusive Eton College school.
  • He assumed the position of Under-Secretary of State for India in 1891. (The deputy minister in the British cabinet responsible for India).
  • Before being named Viceroy of India in 1899, he held the positions of Under-Secretary of State for India (1891–1892) and for Foreign Affairs (1895–1898).

Viceroy of India from 1899 until 1905.

  • He wanted to stifle the rising aspirations of the educated Indian middle class because he was both irritated and outraged by the burgeoning nationalist movement in India.
  • Between 1899 through 1905, he succeeded Lord Elgin as Viceroy of India.
  • At the age of 39, he was appointed as the youngest Viceroy of India.
  • He was one of the most contentious and significant people to hold that position.
  • Curzon travelled to Afghanistan, China, Persia, Turkestan, Japan, Korea, Ceylon, India (four times), China, and Persia before taking office as governor general and viceroy.

Curzon’s Foreign Policies

  • Contrary to his predecessors, Curzon followed a policy of strengthening, securing, and consolidating the British-occupied territories in the northwest.
  • He maintained British rule over Chitral and built a road between Peshawar and Chitral, ensuring the safety of the region.
  • Lord Curzon's Afghan strategy was influenced by political, economic, and regional concerns about Russian expansion in Central Asia and the Persian Gulf.
  • There was a rift in the relationships between Afghans and the British from the beginning.
  • Policy towards Persia: In 1903, Lord Curzon personally visited the Persian Gulf region to secure British dominance there. He then took decisive action to safeguard British interests.
  • Relation to Tibet: Concern over Russian control in the region had an impact on Lord Curzon's Tibet policy.
  • Lord Curzon's efforts helped to restore economic ties between the two, and as a result, Tibet agreed to give the British a sizable indemnity.

Major policies of Lord Curzon

  • The Calcutta Municipal Amendment Act, passed in 1899, reduced the number of elected representatives in the Calcutta Corporation. The Indian Universities Act, passed in 1904, placed Calcutta University under government control.
  • The Indian Official Secrets Amendment Act, passed in 1904, further curtailed press freedom.
  • One of Curzon's most criticized decisions was the division of the undivided Bengal Presidency in 1905, which sparked fierce opposition not only in Bengal but also throughout India and fueled the freedom movement.
  • Curzon declared the division of Bengal into two provinces in July 1905. With a population of 38 million, East Bengal and Assam were largely Muslim, whereas Bengal, the western province, had 55 million residents who were mostly Hindu.

Economic:

  • A pound was determined to be equivalent to fifteen rupees when the British currency was recognized as legal tender in India in 1899.
  • Curzon lowered the price of the salt tax from 2.5 rupees per maund (one maund is equivalent to around 37 kg) to 1.3 rupees per maund.
  • People who earned more than Rs. 500 per year paid the tax. Additionally, income taxpayers also got a break.

Famine:

  • When Curzon arrived in India, the vast regions of the south, central, and western India were under the grip of a dreadful famine. Curzon offered the impacted folks every form of assistance.
  • Work was given to people in exchange for money, and farmers were free from paying taxes.
  • After the famine was finished in 1900, Curzon established a Commission to investigate its causes and provide recommendations for preventive measures that would subsequently be taken into account.

Agriculture:

  • To encourage people to establish cooperative credit societies for the purpose of deposits and loans, the Co-operative Credit Societies Act was created in 1904, mostly to protect peasants from the clutches of moneylenders who typically charged excessive interest rates.
  • The Punjab Land Alienation Act, which was passed in 1900, limited the transfer of peasants' properties to money-lenders in circumstances of debtors' default.

Railways:

  • Curzon made the decision to upgrade the country's rail infrastructure and turn it into a money-making venture for the government.
  • The number of railway lines was increased, the railway department was eliminated, and a three-member Railway Board was given control of the railway instead of the Public Works Department.

Education:

  • In 1901, Curzon organized a conference on education in Shimla, which led to the appointment of the University Commission in 1902.
  • On the commission's advice, the Indian Universities Act was enacted in 1904.
  • The Calcutta High Court judge and commission member Gurudas Banerjee had expressed his dissent in the report, and the Indian populace detested the Act, but it was all in vain.

Return to London

  • After losing a power struggle with Lord Kitchener, the head of the British Army, Curzon resigned and left for England in 1905.
  • The colonial authorities proclaimed Bengal's reunification in 1911, and Raj's seat was moved from Calcutta to Delhi as a result of the demonstrations that persisted after his departure.

Famous Phrases

  • He is credited with saying, "We might lose all our dominions [of white colonization] and still exist, but if we lost India, our sun would drop to its setting."
  • "Efficiency of administration is, in my view, a synonym for the contentment of the governed," he said in his budget speech in 1904.
  • (cited in Sumit Sarkar's "Modern India 1885–1947,"

What caused the Partition of Bengal?

  • The Bengal Presidency, which included modern-day West Bengal, Bangladesh, Bihar, and portions of Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Assam, was one of India's largest provinces and had a population of more than 78 million. Calcutta served as the capital of the British Raj.
  • The British had long argued that Bengal was too big to effectively govern and manage, and they also thought that with Calcutta serving as the hub of the educated nationalists, resistance to colonial rule would only get stronger.

The effects of the division

  • Since the British announced their plan, there had been growing public unrest against division, but after it was put into effect in 1905, the movement became more powerful and well-organized.
  • Nationalist leaders organized a boycott of British goods and institutions in opposition to the partition and promoted the use of indigenous goods.
  • The Swadeshi movement started in August 1905 in Calcutta after a formal resolution was adopted.
  • Not just Bengal, but also Punjab, Maharashtra, and portions of the Madras Presidency saw the spread of the Swadeshi movement and boycott.
  • The song "Bande Mataram," composed by Rabindranath Tagore, became the movement's unofficial hymn as nationalist fervour increased.
  • His most renowned patriotic song, "Amar Sonar Bangla" (My Golden Bengal), which is now the national anthem of Bangladesh, was penned while he was leading marches in numerous locations.

Also, Read - Ban on VLC Media Player

Source: The Indian Express


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