22 April 1812
Lord Dalhousie was born
Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856 was born on 22 April 1812.
- Lord Dalhousie was born James Andrew Broun-Ramsay to George Ramsay (9th Earl of Dalhousie) and his wife. The family was of Scottish origin.
- He studied at Harrow School and Christ Church College, Oxford.
- He entered active politics in 1837 when he was elected to the House of Commons.
- He was appointed the Governor-General of India and Governor of Bengal on 12th January 1848.
- Dalhousie regarded his chief aim in India the consolidation of British power. He was known to be a hard worker but was also authoritarian and tough.
- His estimate is something of a controversy. He was responsible for introducing a variety of modern reforms such as the railways, telegraph and postal networks, and public works in India. The Ganga Canal was completed during his tenure.
- But, he is most remembered for the Doctrine of Lapse policy which many hold directly responsible for the Indian Mutiny of 1857.
- Despite the Doctrine, many regard Lord Dalhousie as the ‘Maker of modern India’. Lord Dalhousie also started many Anglo-vernacular schools in India. He also brought about social reforms such as banning the practice of female infanticide. He firmly believed that western administrative reforms were necessary and far superior to Indian systems.
- He also started engineering colleges to provide resources for the newly-established public works department in each presidency.
- He also reformed the military. He prohibited the practice of branding criminals. He also expanded the Legislative Council of India. He also reformed the civil services by starting a system of open competition for recruitment.
- Dalhousie attempted to change the land revenue system. In the process, many landlords had portions of their estates taken away, and many landholders were deprived of their entire landholding. This was significant as many of the sepoys were taken from this socio-economic class.
- His annexation of states through the Doctrine of Lapse, like Satara, Oudh and Jhansi caused a lot of Indian soldiers to be disgruntled with the company rule.
- Dalhousie also oversaw the annexation of Punjab and parts of Burma through wars with the local rulers. The Second Anglo-Sikh War was fought during his term.
- He returned to Britain in March 1856 after almost 8 years in India as the Governor-General. The Indian Mutiny broke out a year later and Dalhousie was criticized for his policies in India.
- The hill station of Dalhousie in Himachal Pradesh was named after him. It was established in 1854 as a summer retreat for English civil and military officials.
- Lord Dalhousie died on 19 December 1860 aged 48.
Also on this day
1840: Death of James Princep, British scholar who deciphered the Brahmi and Kharosthi scripts. 1870: Birth of Russian leader Lenin.
See previous ‘This Day in History’ here.