Lord Ripon (1880-1884) – A well-meaning Governor-General

Sansar LochanModernLeave a Comment

In 1880, Gladstone, the leader of the Liberal Party in Britain formed the government. He deputed Lord Ripon to India to carry out his liberal policy. Besides, the administrative measures of Lord Lytton had injured the sentiments of Indians and their erupted disturbances at several places. Ripon, therefore, attempted to pacify Indian public opinion. He, therefore, abolished some repressive measures of Lytton and took steps towards liberalizing the administration in India.

Factory Act, 1881

It was the first measure of its kind. It fixed the number of working hours for children below the age of twelve. It also required that dangerous machines should be fenced. Inspectors were appointed to supervise the implementation of the Act.  

Repeal of Vernacular Press Act, 1882

The Vernacular Press Act was repealed in 1882 and the newspapers published in vernacular languages were provided equal freedom with newspapers published in English.

Financial Devolution

Ripon took further measures for financial decentralization so that the provincial governments might feel more responsible. In 1882, the sources of revenue were divided into three heads, viz., Imperial, Provincial and Divided. Import and Export duties, Posts and Telegraphs, Opium, Salt, Railways, Land Revenue etc., were assigned to the Central Government under the Imperial head. Their administration was looked after by the Centre. Prisons, Medical Services, Printing, Roads, General administration etc., were kept under the Provincial head. But as their income was not sufficient to meet the expenditure of the provinces, it was provided that the Centre would pay affixed part of the land revenue to the provinces. The Income from Excise, Stamps, Forests, Registration etc., was kept under the Divided Head, which was shared between the Centre and the provinces. The purpose of allocating separate heads as sources of income to the provinces was that they would Keep control over their expenditures. It was also decided that the financial agreements between the Centre and the provinces were to be reviewed every five years. This financial arrangement of Ripon continued till 1904.

Resolution on Local Self-Government, 1882

The most nota measure during the period of Viceroyalty of Ripon was the Resolution ‘Local Self-Government which formed the basis of establishing Local Self-Governments in. provinces, By this resolution, the Central Government advised provincial governments to establish local boards at different units of administration. Taluka Board was to be established in every Taluka or Tehsil, Municipal Board in every city and District Board in every district. It was suggested that as far as could be possible, the members of these local boards should be elected, the majority should comprise non-officials in every board and the Chairman of every board should be a non-official. The Boards were to perform local, civic functions. The provincial governments were expected to guide and advise them but not to interfere in their routine matters. The Boards were to be given certain financial powers as well. They, however, were required to seek permission of their respective provincial governments in certain matters, viz., fresh taxation, taking loans, selling of the property of the Board etc., The purpose of Ripon was to create mostly self-dependent and elected local bodies with a view to training the Indians in the art of self-government. In pursuance of this resolution, local self-government Acts were passed in different provinces.

Land Revenue

Ripon opposed the proposal of establishing a revenue system on the model of the Permanent Settlement of Bengal in India. He, rather, desired to change that. He suggested that the peasants should be assured of their tenancy rights and the government should give a commitment not to raise the revenue unless there was rise in prices. His suggestion, however, was not accepted by the Secretary of State for India and, thus, the peasants of Bengal were deprived of the benefits which Ripon desired to give them as their just right.


In 1854, Sir Charles Wood, the then President of the Board of Control had issued directions for educational reforms in India by his famous Despatch. Lord Dalhousie had attempted to implement his suggestions. No further effort was made in the educational field after that. In 1882, an Education Commission was appointed under the Chairmanship of Sir William Hunter to review the progress of education and suggest measures for its improvement. The Commission assigned the responsibility of primary education to provincial governments and suggested that they should get it managed by local bodies under their supervision and control. The secondary education was to be divided into two distinct categories—one literary and scientific and the other vocational. The system of grants-in-aid to the schools was appreciated by the Commission and therefore approved its extension to secondary and higher education. It was recommended that the government should withdraw from the direct management of secondary schools. The Commission recommended that the government should pay more attention towards female education because it was not properly attended to by then. Lord Ripon accepted most of the recommendations of the Commission and attempted to implement them. It resulted in the growth of secondary education in India.

The Ibert Bill Controversy, 1883-84

Sir C. P. Ilbert was the Law member of the executive council of the governor-general. He introduced a bill, popularly known as Ilbert Bill in 1883.

Read about Ilbert from this link: Ilbert Bill

Points to remember

  1. Lord Ripon, the nominee of the Liberal prime minister of Britain, Mr. Gladstone, took steps towards liberalizing the administration in India.
  2. The first Factory Act for the protection of labour and children below the age of twelve engaged in factories was passed in 1881.
  3. The Vernacular Press Act was repealed in 1882 and the newspapers published in vernacular languages were provided equal freedom with newspapers published in English.
  4. Ripon took further measures towards financial devolution so that the provincial governments might feel more responsible and, for that purpose, divided the sources of revenue into three heads, viz., Imperial, Provincial and Divided.
  5. In 1882, a resolution on Local Self-Government was. passed by the Central government by which it advised the provincial governments to establish Taluka Boards, Municipal Boards and District Boards having the majority of elected and non-official representatives and, thus, a beginning was made in forming of local self-governments in India.
  6. Ripon proposed to abolish the Permanent Settlement in Bengal but it was not accepted by the British Government.
  7. Ripon accepted most of the recommendations of the Hunter Commission concerning reform in education which resulted in the growth of Secondary education as well as that of the Primary and Female education.
  8. Ripon tried to pass the IIbert Bill in 1883 which would have permitted the Indian judges to try the cases of Europeans as well but it provoked an agitation by the European community so that when it was passed in 1884 it provided a panel of juries having the majority of European members to assist judge in deciding the cases of Europeans.
  9. The Ilbert Bill controversy accentuated racial bitterness between the Indians and the English and taught the Indians the methods of Organising a movement, both of which helped Indians in their national struggle.
  10. Ripon declined to pay the expenses of the Indian army deputed to Egypt in 1882 and when the British Government objected to it, he resigned in 1884.
  11. Ripon was a liberal and well-meaning Viceroy.

Source used : NCERT, Tamil Nadu Board, IGNOU Modern History, NIOS textbooks. Wikipedia notes for UPSC exam.

Tags : PDF for UPSC exam short notes on Lord Ripon administrative policy etc.

Questions for UPSC mains :

Examine the administrative policy of Lord Ripon. Why did he become so popular?


How did Lord Ripon try to liberalise the British rule in India? How far was he successful?


Why has Lord Ripon been regarded as a well-meaning governor-general?

Read them too :


Books to buy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.