Repressive Colonial Policies
The British had conquered India to promote their own political interest so followed many repressive policies. These policies become major barrier to India’s development. Some of these policies, especially those followed by Lord Lytton gave birth to nationalism. Lord Lytton was Viceroy from 1876-1880. The resentment against the British rule increased because of repressive measures. 1. In 1877 he organised a Grand Delhi Durbar to proclaim Queen Victoria as the Empress of India. Indians were angry because Lakhs were spent for this when South India was suffering from famine. The British Government did not take proper steps to prevent deaths by disease and starvation. The worst feature of these famines was that they were human-made. In fact, famines meant big gains to the Government and the greedy business community. Foodgrains were hoarded and sold at prices which the poor could not afford. During natural calamities, the British rulers in India remained aloof, disinterested and unconcerned. 2. In 1878 Lytton passed the Vernacular Press Act and the Indian Arms Act. The Vernacular Press Act –forbade vernacular newspapers from publishing any article that might incite the people against the British Government. This hurt the Indians as the press was considered their mouth-piece, through which they could air their grievances . This act was also known as the ‘gagging act’.This act did not apply to English newspapers . Lord Ripon repealed it in 1881. The Indian Arms Act /Licence Act 1878 made it a criminal offence for Indians to carry arms without a licence. This act was not applicable to British. 3. The maximum age limit for the I.C.S Exam was reduced from 21 to 19 years, thus making it impossible for Indians to pass the exam. 4. Lord Lytton abolished the import duties on Br. Textiles. This crippled the Indian textile industry. This policy aroused anger and lead to bitterness. People continued to criticize the British administration.
5. In 1880, Lord Ripon replaced Lord Lytton. He was sympathetic to the Indians. He stopped the Afghan War, and abolished the Arms Act and the Vernacular Press Act. To bring about judicial equality Sir C.P llbert, the law member of the viceroy’s council introduced the llbert Bill in 1883, Indians welcomed the bill but the British started a Defence Association to defend their privileges. The government ultimately withdrew the bill and enacted a more moderate measure which vested the power of trying Europeans to a Session Judge and a District Magistrate who might be an Indian. Lord Ripon became very unpopular among the British Officials in India and had to be replaced. This made the Indians realise that under the present set up, even when the Viceroy wanted to help the Indians, he could not. Thus, the only way to get justice would be to change the very set up of British authority in India. Secondly it also taught them a lesson that the British government could be pressurized by agitation and united efforts.People lost faith in the British sense of justice and fairplay. It also led to anger and bitterness.
The impact of Western Education made the educated Indians realize to reform their religion and society .The result was birth of socio-religious reform movements. Prominent among these were 1) Brahmo Samaj founded by Raja Ram Mohan Roy
2) Satya Shodak Samaj founded by Jyotiba Phule
3) Arya Samaj founded by Swami Dayanand Saraswati
4) Ramakrishna Mission founded by Swami Vivekananda
Raja Rammohan Roy was one of the greatest social and religious reformers of the 19th century. He wanted to do away with the religious evils which were prevalent in Bengal at that time. In 1828, he founded the Brahmo Sabha, which was later renamed,Brahmo Samaj. The Brahmo Samaj believed in Monotheism or Worship of one God. It condemned idol worship and laid emphasis on prayer, meditation, charity, mortality and strengthening the bonds of unity...
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