5 Governors Who Strengthened The British Rule In India


This article throws light upon the 5 British officers under whose Governance the British rule flourished in India.

1. Robert Clive

    After Battle of Plassey in 1757, he was appointed as the first British Governor of Bengal Presidency. Along with Warren Hasting, he is credited for laying foundation of the British empire in India. He started as an office clerk for the East India Company. In 1744, when France and England locked horns on the Austrian war of succession, even the colonies of these two countries were dragged along with. What came to be knows as the First Carnatic War, because of the region that goes by the name Carnatic, was the Indian theatre of the battleground of these two European powers. Though British power was defeated by the French during the war, Clive somehow escaped from there and returned after making alliance with the local rulers. The events that followed were not in favour of the French. During the same period, Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle was concluded and the war came to an end. However, no party in war emerged as a clear winner, Robert Clive has proved himself to be a valuable asset of the company.

     He was indulged in several of later missions of the company that include, Tanjore Expedition, Second Carnatic war, Siege of Arcot and finally the capture of Bengal.

2. Lord Cornwallis

An aristocrat with incomparable military and political experience, Lord Cornwallis served King George III where he proved himself as a gifted strategist. When the seven years wars started, which is also known as French and Indian war in America, Cornwallis was absorbed in the military and this was the start of his career. Succeeding his father on demise of the latter, he was elevated as the House of Lords. Though he lost the war in America, in India he is known for the remarkable contributions for the Raj.

Most important of all, he is responsible for the implementation of Permanent Settlement in Bengal and Bihar. Inspired by the land revenue system prevalent in contemporary England, this settlement was an agreement between the Zamindars and the Company wherein the land revenue collection rights were given to the Zamindars who were also recognised as the owner of the land and who in turn will give the Company a fixed amount. This system in a long run crippled the agricultural economy of the country.

He also brought about changes in the administration including the civil services, police system and the judicial system in order to strengthen the hold of the Company and secure its interests.


3.Lord Dulhousie (1848-1856)

James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie KT PC (22 April 1812 – 19 December 1860), also known as Lord Dalhousie, was a Scottish statesman and colonial administrator in British India. He served as Governor-General of India from 1848 to 1856.

During this short period of 8 years, he left an significant impact for the rise of British control over India. He indulged himself in the Second Anglo-Sikh war, 1848, and Burmese war1852. Along with it, he is responsible for the large scale implementation of what generally known as the Doctrine of Lapse. Through this policy a number of Indian princely states such as Satara, Jhansi, Nagpur, Udaipur, Sambalpur, were made subordinated of the Company.

The first link of railway, completed in 1855, was under his supervision. So is the contruction of the Ganga canal, Indian post system and the telegraph system.

To his supporters he stands out as the far-sighted Governor-General who consolidated East India Company rule in India, laid the foundations of its later administration, and by his sound policy enabled his successors to stem the tide of rebellion.


4. Lord Curzon (1898-1905)

George Nathaniel Curzon (1859-1925) played a major role in service of British government and the area of British public policy making. Though he was active in political sphere since his college days, he started to rise to political eminence after accepting offer as under secretary of state for India in 1891. In 1898, when he was appointed as the viceroy of India, he was the youngest amongst those who held this title. India was the most-treasured jewel in Queen Victoria’s crown, and, after the pageantry of his arrival in Calcutta on January 3, 1899, Curzon wrote: “I suddenly saw what had come into my hands, and what prodigies of energy and inspiration would be needed on my part to guide them.” He demanded obedience and a bent knee from the rajas, maharajas, and provincial governors he now ruled. At the same time, he was one of the most controversial and consequential holders of the post.

Curzon was deeply racist, and convinced of Britain’s “civilising mission” in India. In 1901, he described Indians as having “extraordinary inferiority in character, honesty and capacity”. He said, “It is often said why not make some prominent native a member of the Viceroy’s Executive Council? The answer is that in the whole continent there is not an Indian fit for the post.”

The partition of the Bengal presidency in 1905 was one of his most criticised move which drew condemnation from leaders across the India. This also led the rise of nationalist movement which in turn proved to the death knell for the British rule in India.

Curzon, in 1901, had famously said, “As long as we rule India we are the greatest power in the world. If we lose it, we shall drop straightaway to a third-rate power.”


5. Lord Chelmsford (1915-1921)

The nationalist movement which gained pace with the Bengal partition policy by Curzon aggravated on the large scale impact inflicted by the first world war. The conditions of already crippled economy had become miserable on price rise as a result of war and fall in production due to labour unrest. Indians had started demanding reforms and attention of British government towards the deteriorating condition of the Indians. 

In order to suppress all this the British government passed Rowlatt Act in 1919 by which the government assumed power to imprison persons without trial. Further, any body might be punished with transporta­tion for life, the Press was gagged, the executive department was authorised to try political offenders without the help of the jury. It was the protest of this act in Punjab which British armed soldiers supressed heavy handily and resulted in what we know as the Jalianwala  Bagh incident.