(Last Updated on : 03/05/2012)
Lord Curzon was appointed as the viceroy of India in 1899 in succession of lord Elgin II. As a viceroy Curzon had a clear-cut knowledge about the task he had to do as the ruler. From the very beginning of his career he was convinced of the necessity and the urgency of a thorough reforms of the entire administrative machinery. The control of administration was the sole aim of the British in India. Hence Curzon sought to introduce reforms in such a way so that he could use the administrative machinery in his own way. There was not a single department where the administrative reforms of Curzon were not introduced. Curzon aimed at the efficiency of the administration and sought to strengthen "officialization and centralization. Taking no account of the feelings and aspirations of the Indian people, Curzon wanted to establish the stronghold of the British Empire. Curzon after becoming a viceroy appointed an expert Commission to probe into the working of department and then enacted necessary legislation.
In 1902, Curzon appointed a Police commission under the President ship of sir Andrew Frazer. The police commission appointed by Curzon was entrusted with the task of enquiring the efficient functioning of the police administration of every province. The reports of the commission published in the year of 1903. According to the reports the police force was far from being efficient, defective in training and organization, inadequately supervised and oppressive. The Commission recommended the increase of salary of the police thereby strengthening the efficiency of the police department in all provinces. Moreover the commissions sought the constructions of the training schools for the officers and the constables, direct recruitments in the place of promotion in the s higher ranks. According to the reports of the Commission a provincial police service was created. Central Department of Criminal intelligence was also recommended by the Commission, which would enquire the criminal cases both in towns and the villages. Most of the recommendations of the commissions were accepted and implemented by Curzon. During the reign of Curzon there was an increase of expenditure on the Police department.
The existing system of education in India however proved faulty to Curzon. According to Curzon educational institutions in India had become the production house of the political revolutionaries. Thus the growth of the political revolutionaries in the schools would be a great threat to the British supremacy in India. Hence Curzon took the educational reforms as one of the significant part of his administrative reforms. In 1902, the university commission was appointed to enquire into the condition of s Universities in India and to recommend proposal for the improvement of the education procedure in the Universities. On the basis of the Repots approached by the Commission, the Indian universities Act (1904) was passed. The Act sought to increase the official control over the universities. In doing this, the number of fellows from the administrative body of the universities was limited, which increased the nominated elements over the elected fellows. Moreover the power of veto rested on the government. Hence only the government can only prohibit the regulation passed by the Senates. Conditions for affiliation of the private colleges were made more rigid and the periodical inspection by the syndicate was made compulsory. The universities were forced to take active part in the promotion of study and research.
The administrative reforms of Curzon also included the economic reforms. Curzon was shrewd diplomat and he could well understood that unless he controlled the financial set up properly, the company would lose its administrative hold in India. Curzon passed legislations regarding the famines, land revenues, Irrigation, Agriculture, Railways, taxation and currency. The famine and drought of 1899 had affected wide areas in the north, south central and western India. Hence a famine Commission was appointed under the President ship MacDonnell. The Commission was entrusted to enquire into the results of the famine operations. According to the reports of the Commissions the relief distributed to the famine stricken people was excessive. The commission recommended the payment by physical work by the able bodied person and laid down several rules to deal with the fodder famine.
In 1901, a Commission was appointed under the Chairmanship of Sir Colin Scott Moncrieff. This commission was entrusted with the department of irrigation. The commission recommended an additional expenditure 4 ½ crores of rupees on irrigation. The construction work on the Jhelum canal was completed and other works were taken into hand in order to develop the irrigation works. Besides for the improvement of the Indian agriculture and the livestock, scientific methods of cultivation were adopted. Moreover an Imperial Agriculture Department was set up under the direct supervision of the Inspector general.
Curzon in order to extend and strengthen his control on the trade and commerce of the country constituted a new Department of Commerce and industry. . This department was entitled to look after the entire industrial and the commercial interest in India. This department looked after the Posts and telegraphs, factories, Railway Administration, Mines, Ports, and Marine etc. the Indian coinage and the paper Currency Act of 1899 made a British sovereign legal tender in India at the rate of Rs. 15 to a sovereign. Thus India was put on a gold standard.
Curzon gave special attention to the development of the railways. The existing lines were improved while the works on new lines were taken into hand. Curzon invited Mr. Robertson from England to take advice about the working and the administration of the railways. Later Curzon developed a Railway Board to look after the matters connected with the administration and control of the state owned lines according to the recommendations of the Railway expert.
Curzon also aimed for the restructure of the judicial system of the country. Hence he introduced reforms in the existing judicial system of the country. Curzon increased the numbers of judges of the Calcutta high court in order to cope up with the increased work. He also increased the salary, pension, and benefits of the judges of the high court as well as the subordinate courts. Above all the Indian code of civil procedure was revised. However nothing substantial was done to improve the procedure followed or delay caused decision of cases.
From the very beginning of the British rule in India the army had performed a double task to protect the country from the foreign aggressions as well as maintained the internal peace and security. Curzon after becoming the viceroy of India wanted to strengthen the army so that he could hold the administrative control with the help of those armed forces. Curzon vested the duty of the reorganization of the army on lord Kitchener the Commander in chief from 1902 to 1908, under Lord Kitchener, the Indian army was grouped into two commands -the northern commands with its headquarters at Murree and the southern command with its headquarter at Poona. In each division there should be three brigades, one of British battalion and the two of the native battalion. Every brigadier was held responsible for the efficiency of his brigade. A training college for officers on the model of Camberley college of England was setup at Quetta. Better arms were supplied to the British troops. Above all every battalion of the army was subjected to a severe test called "The Kitchener Test". The reorganization of the army naturally meant an increase in expenditure on this department.
Curzon sought to undo the noble work done by lord Rippon in the field of local self-government. The Calcutta Corporation Act reduced the strength of the elected members in the local bodies. As a result the British element were increasing in definite majority both on the corporation and its various bodies. In short the corporation was reduced to an "Anglo-Indian House". The Indian members in the local bodies as well as in the Corporation were offended due to this Act and 28 members of the Calcutta Corporation resigned in protest. Curzon remained indifferent at this protest.
A true imperialist lord Curzon sought to establish the British supremacy in India. He not only established the control of the Company, rather his administrative reforms proved extremely oppressive.