6 Jan 2024 : Daily Answer Writing

Q1) Highlight the key features of Lord Ripon’s new approach that differentiated his policies from those of his predecessors. What were the long-term effects of the period of his governorship?


Lord Ripon was the Viceroy of India from 1880 to 1884. The British colonial regime, which was reflective of the exploitative tendencies, saw a welcome change in the Viceroyship of Lord Ripon.

The key features of Lord Ripon’s approach that differentiated him from his predecessors are:

  1. Freedom of speech and expression: In contrast to his predecessors, the policies of Lord Ripon promoted the freedom of speech and expression. E.g., Lord Ripon repealed the obnoxious Vernacular Press Act (1878) enacted during the Viceroyship of Lord Lytton.
  2. Pro-workers: While worker rights were hitherto, largely, neglected, Lord Ripon’s tenure saw an improvement in this context. E.g., The first Factory Act, 1881 ameliorated the conditions of labourers.
  3. Local self-governance:
  4. a) Lord Ripon’s tenure saw continuation of the process of financial decentralisation.
  5. b) The government resolution on local self-government (1882) was brought under the Viceroyship of Lord Ripon.
  6. Dilution of racial superiority: The Ripon’s Government had sought to abolish “judicial disqualification based on race distinctions” through Ilbert Bill. To this end, Indian judges were given the same powers and rights as those enjoyed by their European colleagues. However, owing to oppositions, the bill had to be amended, thus voiding it of its objective.
  7. Anti-imperialistic policies: The Viceroyship of Ripon saw rendition of Mysore to the Hindu Wodeyar dynasty.
  8. Reformative outlook: Lord Ripon’s administration possessed a reformative outlook towards larger social good and wellbeing. E.g., appointment of Education Commission under the chairmanship of Sir William Hunter (1882).

The long-term effects of the Viceroyship of Lord Ripon can be seen as:

  1. The efforts towards local self-government led to not only mere decentralization of political powers but also enhanced the administrative capabilities among locals, which proved to be a building block towards self-rule.
  2. Lord Ripon’s liberal policies towards freedom of speech and expression catered for the requirement of a robust and free press in India, which in turn played a pivotal role in the national freedom struggle.
  3. The Ilbert Bill controversy, where the Europeans agitated against the racially neutral provisions of the Bill, caused the Indian leaders to learn the methods of organised protests. This enabled the Indian nationalists to agitate for their own demands in an organized way.
  4. The efforts of Lord Rion towards educational reforms led to welfare of the masses at the last mile. E.g., Hunter commission prioritised extension of vernacular education.
  5. The incipient steps towards the labour rights laid the foundation for more fierce and inclusive labour movements in the future.

India of the 19th century was mired in web of poverty, illiteracy, and colonial exploitation. In this context, the reformist attitude of Lord Ripon’s administration was timely.

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