All About Lord Curzon and the Partition of Bengal for UPSC Exam

Lord Curzon and the Partition of Bengal

Today’s edition of our Current Affairs will comprise a discussion on  Lord Curzon and the Partition of Bengal. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: Viceroy, Lord Curzon, Partition of Bengal, Swadeshi and Boycott  

For Mains: Freedom Struggle of India, Partition of Bengal. Nationalist Movements   

Context

 Recently, Bardhaman municipality in West Bengal has decided to erect a statue of Bardhaman’s Maharaja Bijay Chand Mahatab and his wife Radharani in front of the 119-year-old Curzon Gate. 

Probable Question

Critically analyze the role of Lord Curzon in Administration of British India.  

About Lord Curzon

  • George Nathaniel Curzon, born in 1859, was a British conservative politician and a staunch imperialist.
  • He served as Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905.

His Contributions

  • Established a separate police service, 
  • Established the Archaeological Survey of India, in order to study and protect historical monuments.
  • Curzon earned some praise from his colonial subjects, for taking action against Europeans in a number of high-profile racist attacks against Indians.
  • He sent a British expedition to Tibet

Why was he disliked?

  • He sought to throttle the growing aspirations of the educated Indian middle class.
  • He passed many unpopular legislations:
    • The Calcutta Municipal Amendment Act,1899 which reduced the number of elected representatives in the Calcutta Corporation.
    • The Indian Universities Act (1904), that placed Calcutta University under government control.
    • The Indian Official Secrets Amendment Act (1904) that reduced the freedom of the press.
  • In July 1905, Curzon announced the partition of Bengal into two provinces;
    • East Bengal and Assam, with a population of 38 million, was predominately Muslim;
    • Bengal, the western province, was reduced to 55 million people, primarily Hindus.

Read yesterday’s edition of current affairs on Flash Floods, in case you missed reading it.

Why did the Partition of Bengal Take Place?

  • For the British, Bengal was too large to efficiently manage and administer.
  • Calcutta, the capital of the British Raj, and Bengal Presidency, was the nerve center of the educated nationalists.
  • Concentration of two different religious populations gave an opportunity to break the unity by dividing bengal between Hindu and Muslim majority regions.

What were the Consequences of the Partition?

  • The nationalist leaders opposed and protested the partition vehemently.
  • The nationalist leaders organized a campaign of boycott of British goods and institutions, and encouraged the use of local products.
  • A formal resolution was passed in Calcutta in August 1905, to launch the Swadeshi movement. Students were at the forefront of the movement.
  • The Swadeshi movement and boycott soon spread to other parts of the country, including Punjab, Maharashtra, and parts of the Madras Presidency.
  • Revolutionary groups used bombs, attempted to assassinate colonial officials, and engaged in armed robberies to finance their activities.
  • In 1905, Curzon resigned and returned to England after losing a power struggle with the commander-in-chief of the British Army, Lord Kitchener. 
  • The protests continued after his exit, and the colonial government in 1911 announced the reunification of Bengal, and the capital of the Raj was shifted from Calcutta to Delhi.

News source: Indian Express  

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