(Last Updated on : 01-02-2012)
The Governor-General of India or the Viceroy headed the British administration in India. After Indian independence, they became the representative of the Indian monarch. The office of the Governor-General was created in 1773 of the Presidency of Fort William. The officer had direct control only over the Fort. The office of the Governor-General was changed to viceroys in 1876 and they became the direct representatives of the British Crown. Lord Irwin or Lord Edward Frederick Wood Irwin was appointed as the Indian Viceroy in April 1926 and continued his office till 1931.
Lord Irwin was the son of the second Viscount Halifax. He received his education at Eton and also served as a Member of Parliament from 1910 to 1925. The period of Lord Irwin's rule as the Indian Viceroy was regarded as a phase of great political turmoil in the country. He witnessed several important events which included the Simon Commission report, Nehru report, All Parties' Conference, Jinnah's 14 points, Civil Disobedience Movement and Round Table Conferences.
The time when Lord Irwin came to India as the Viceroy, the country was in a state of complete commotion. The Congress had no active programme and the Muslim League was not functioning in cohesion as it was a leaderless organisation at that time. Moreover, India was facing a communal tension as well. Being an able man he tactfully faced these problems when he was appointed as the Viceroy of India.
All the communities in India at that period of time claimed to settle before the India Act was enacted. In addition to that, Congress Party represented many interests in front of the Viceroy. However, in this regard Lord Irwin followed a strategy and had all the leaders of the Congress members behind the bar. Another strategy followed by Lord Irwin was his negotiation with Gandhi. One of the most important events during viceroyalty of Lord Irwin was the signing of the Delhi Pact in January 1931. This pact ended the boycott of British goods too and negotiation resulted in the Gandhi-Irwin pact. This strategy of Lord Irwin suspended the Civil Disobedience Movement.
The agreement between Gandhi and Irwin was signed on March 5, 1931. The features of the Pact are:
Congress would discontinue the Civil Disobedience Movement.
Congress would participate in the Round Table Conference.
Government would withdraw all ordinances issued to curb the Congress.
Government would withdraw all prosecutions relating to offences not involving violence.
Government would release all persons serving sentences of imprisonment for their activities in the civil disobedience movement.
Other vital contributions of the Indian Viceroy, Lord Irwin include was banning of public gatherings and crush rebellious opposition. Lord Irwin was accepted in India as Viceroy with mixed feelings. However, overall Irwin was a successful Viceroy. He was accepted in his homeland with honour as he demonstrated sternness and independence in his regime.