Government of India Act, Indian Councils Act, Lord Lytton

Government of India Act 1858

  • Indian administration was transferred to British crown instead of East India company
  • general was titled Viceroy of India, Hence Lord Canning got the unique opportunity to be the Gov. general as well as Viceroy of India
  • The viceroy was to be assisted by an executive council whose members were to act as the heads of various departments, as well as viceroy’s official advisors
  • In England, the Court of Directors and Board of Control were abolished & replaced by Secretary of State for India and India Council.
  • The Secretary of State would be a member of the British cabinet. Sir Charles Wood was made the first Secretary of State for India.
  • India Council consisting of 15 members would assist him.
  • All initiatives and final decisions rested with the secretary and the council was only advisory in nature.
  • Thus the dual system introduced by Pitt’s India Act of 1784 came to an end

Government of India Act 1858

Queens Victoria’s proclamation → Magna Carta of Indian people

  • Lord Canning proclaimed the new government at Allahabad in Nov 1858 in accordance with the Queens Victoria’s proclamation viz.
  • Disclaimed any further expansion of territory, Promised religious tolerance
  • Endorsed the treaty made by the Company with Indian prince and promised to respect their rights, dignity and honour
  • Pledged equal treatment of all her subjects
  • Equal and impartial protection of law


Indian Councils Act of 1861

  • A fifth member, who was to be a jurist was added to viceroy’s executive council
  • Governor-General’s Executive Council was enlarged into a Central Legislative Council
  • Six to twelve “additional members” were to be nominated by the Governor-General.
  • Not less than half of these members were to be non-officials/Indian members
  • Thus a provision was made for the inclusion of Indians in the Legislative Council
  • Functions of these members were strictly limited to making legislation (subjected to viceroys approval)
  • They were forbidden from interfering in the matters of the Executive Council.
  • They did not possess powers of administration and finance.
  • Legislative Councils were also established in the provinces.
  • The number of additional members in the provinces was fixed between four to eight
  • By means of this act people of India came to be involved in the law making process


Lord Mayo 1869-1872

  • For the first time in my Indian history census was held in 1871
  • Opening of the Rajkot College in Kathiawar and the Mayo College at Ajmer for political training of Indian princes.
  • Establishment of Statistical Survey of India.
  • Establishment of Department of Agriculture and Commerce.
  • Introduction of state railways.
  • In 1872, a convict Sher Ali stabbed him to death at Port Blair.


Lord Northbrook (1872-1876)

  • Deposition of Gaekwad in 1874
  • The famous Kuka movement
  • Visit of Prince of Wales
  • Abolition of income tax
  • Famine in Bihar and Bengal in 1873-1874

Lord Lytton 1876 – 1880

  • Famine of 1876-78 had resulted from the failure of two monsoons
  • Outbreak of cholera and fever added to the misery of the suffering population.
  • Foundation of the Mohammedan Anglo-Oriental College was laid by Lord Lytton in 1877 at Aligarh


Royal Titles Act (1877)

  • Queen Victoria assuming the title of ‘Kaiser-i-Hind’ or Queen Empress of India at Delhi Darbar.
  • Delhi Darbar, also known as the Imperial Durbar, it was held three times at the height of the British Empire viz.
  • 1877 for Queen Victoria
  • 1903 for Edward 7 and Alexandra
  • 1911 for George 5 & Mary


First Famine Commission (1878-80)

  • 1st Famine Commission (1878-80) was appointed under Sir Richard Strachey
  • It advocated including provision of funds for famine relief and construction work in annual budget.


Vernacular Press Act (1878)

  • Empowered magistrate to secure an undertaking from the editor, publisher and printer of a vernacular newspaper that nothing would be published against the English Government
  • If done so, Equipment of press would be seized, hence crushed Freedom of Indian press

Second Anglo Afghan War

  • Britishers emerged victorious
  • Famous for Treaty of Gandamak
  • Afghan policy of British resident at Kabul
  • This was aimed to thwart expansion by the Russian Empire into India


Arms Act 1878

  • Prevented Indians to keep armaments without appropriate license
  • Europeans & Anglo Indians were exempted from these acts


Uniform salt tax

  • Introduced uniform salt tax throughout British India
  • Abolished many trade import duties which adversely affected Indian Industries & its economy.
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