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Domestic Reforms of Dalhousie

Dalhousie's territorial acquisition transformed the map of India. He was not only a conqueror but also a great administrator. The appointment of a Lieutenant-Governor to Bengal enabled Dalhousie concentrate on administration.

Domestic Reforms of Dalhousie

 

Dalhousie's territorial acquisition transformed the map of India. He was not only a conqueror but also a great administrator. The appointment of a Lieutenant-Governor to Bengal enabled Dalhousie concentrate on administration. His greatest achievement was the molding of the new provinces into a modern centralized state. For the newly acquired territories, he introduced the centralized control called 'Non-Regulation System'. Under this system a Commissioner was appointed for a newly acquired territory. Under military reforms Dalhousie shifted the headquarters of Bengal Artillery from Calcutta to Meerut. Simla was made the permanent headquarters of the army.

 

Railways

 

The introduction railways in India inaugurated a new economic era. There were three major reasons for the British to take interest in its quick development. The first reason was commercial. The second main reason was administrative. The third reason was defense. At the time of revolt and disturbance, movement of the forces was much easier through railways. Lord Dalhousie's contribution in the development of railways is worth commending. In 1853, he penned his Railway Minute formulating the future policy of railways in India. He started the 'guarantee system' by which the railway companies were guaranteed a minimum interest of five percent on their investment. The government retained the right of buying the railway at the end of the period of contract. The first railway line connecting Bombay with Thane was opened in 1853. Railway lines connecting from Calcutta to the Raniganj coal-fields was opened in 1854 and from Madras to Arakkonam in 1856.


Telegraph

 

Similarly, the use of Telegraph brought marvelous changes in communication system. In India, Lord Dalhousie's contribution in this respect is commendable. In 1852, O'Shaughnessy was appointed the Superintendent of Telegraph Department. Main cities of the country viz., Calcutta, Peshawar, Bombay and Madras were telegraphically connected. About 4000 miles long Telegraph lines were laid before the departure of Dalhousie. During the 1857 Revolt, the system of telegraphic communication proved a boon for the English and the military value of Dalhousie's creation was much realized at that time.


Postal Reform

 

The foundation of modern postal system was laid down by Lord Dalhousie. A new Post Office Act was passed in 1854. Consequently, irrespective of the distance over which the letter was sent, a uniform rate of half an anna per post card was charged throughout India. Postage stamps were introduced for the first time.

 

Education

 

Dalhousie had also evinced in the development of education. The educational Despatch of Sir Charles Wood (1854) was considered the 'Intellectual Charter of India'. It provided an outline for the comprehensive scheme of education at primary, secondary and collegiate levels. Dalhousie fully accepted the views of Charles Wood and took steps to carry out the new scheme. Departments of Public Instructions were organized. The Universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were founded in 1857.

 

Public Works Department

 

Before the period of Dalhousie, the job of the Public Works Department was done by the Military Board. Dalhousie created a separate Public Works Department and allotted more funds for cutting canals and roads. The Upper Ganges Canal was completed in 1854. Many bridges were constructed. By modernizing the Public Works Department he laid the foundations of the engineering service in India.

 

Estimate of Dalhousie

 

Dalhousie left India in 1856. The outbreak of Mutiny in the following year led to a severe criticism of his policy of annexation. Exhausted by his years of overwork in India, he fell ill and died in 1860. There is no doubt that Dalhousie was an able administrator and visionary. He increased the extent of British India and consolidated it. He inaugurated an era of progress on many sides. He was the father of Railways and Telegraphs. He introduced the process of modernization of India. Hence, he is hailed as 'the maker of modern India'.


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