TN History Textbook: Lord William Bentinck (1828-1835) Notes | Study Must Read (Old & New) NCERTs for IAS Preparation - UPSC

UPSC: TN History Textbook: Lord William Bentinck (1828-1835) Notes | Study Must Read (Old & New) NCERTs for IAS Preparation - UPSC

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Lord William Bentinck assumed the office of the Governor-
General in 1828. Born in 1774 he commenced his career as a soldier
and later at the young age of twenty two he became a Member of
Parliament. He was appointed the Governor of Madras in 1803. He
supported Sir Thomas Munroe on revenue administration. The Vellore
Mutiny of 1806 had resulted in Bentinck’s
recall. However, his appointment again to the
higher office as Governor-General shows his
real greatness. As Governor-General, Bentinck
had initiated an era of progress and reforms.
He was undoubtedly the first Governor-
General of British India who acted on the
dictum that “the welfare of the subject peoples
was a main, perhaps the primary, duty of the
British in India”.
 
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK 
LESSON 5
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK (1828-1835)
Learning Objectives
Students will understand
1. Bentinck’s basic attitude towards reforms.
2. His policy towards the Indian states.
3. His cordial relations with Ranjit Singh.
4. The Charter Act of 1833 and its importance.
5. Bentinck’s financial and administrative reforms.
6. His social reforms – Abolition of Sati, Suppression
of Thugs and prevention of female infanticide.
7. His educational reforms.
46
Page 2


Lord William Bentinck assumed the office of the Governor-
General in 1828. Born in 1774 he commenced his career as a soldier
and later at the young age of twenty two he became a Member of
Parliament. He was appointed the Governor of Madras in 1803. He
supported Sir Thomas Munroe on revenue administration. The Vellore
Mutiny of 1806 had resulted in Bentinck’s
recall. However, his appointment again to the
higher office as Governor-General shows his
real greatness. As Governor-General, Bentinck
had initiated an era of progress and reforms.
He was undoubtedly the first Governor-
General of British India who acted on the
dictum that “the welfare of the subject peoples
was a main, perhaps the primary, duty of the
British in India”.
 
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK 
LESSON 5
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK (1828-1835)
Learning Objectives
Students will understand
1. Bentinck’s basic attitude towards reforms.
2. His policy towards the Indian states.
3. His cordial relations with Ranjit Singh.
4. The Charter Act of 1833 and its importance.
5. Bentinck’s financial and administrative reforms.
6. His social reforms – Abolition of Sati, Suppression
of Thugs and prevention of female infanticide.
7. His educational reforms.
46
Policy Towards Indian States
William Bentinck adopted a policy of non-intervention and
non-aggression with Indian states. If at all he interfered in the affairs
of the Indian states, it was only to end any form of misgovernment
and never to annex any territory.
Mysore
In Mysore, Hindu rule under Krishnaraja III was restored by
Wellesley. In the beginning, the young Raja functioned well along
with his able minister Puranaiya. Later, when the young raja assumed
full control of the government he proved incompetent. The peasantry
of the state suffered from many grievances. There was no redressal.
Consequently, a revolt of the peasants broke out in 1830 and it was
suppressed with the help of an army from Madras. Nonetheless, the
British authorities took over the administration of Mysore State and
placed it under the control of a commissioner. The Raja was given a
pension.
Sir Mark Cubbon was commissioner from 1834 to
1861 and his administration was beneficial to the people
of Mysore. Even today, the famous Cubbon Park in
Bangalore city has been named after him to remind his
services to Mysore.
Cachar and Jaintia
The principality of Cachar lying in the North East Frontier came
under the protection of the British in accordance with the Treaty of
Yandaboo concluded at the end of the first Burmese War. The Raja
of this small state was assassinated in 1832 but there was no heir to
succeed him. Bentinck annexed this state at the wish of the people.
Jaintia was one of the territories brought under the custody of
the British after the first Anglo-Burmese War. The ruler of the small
country behaved in an unruly way by abducting a few subjects of
British India with the evil intention of sacrificing them to the goddess
Kali. Therefore, the Governor-General acted promptly to avert any
recurrence of such cruel abhorrent act and annexed this country.
Coorg
Vira Raja was a ruthless ruler of Coorg who treated his people
with savage barbarity and killed all his male relatives.  Lord William
Bentinck decided to deal with him effectively and sent Colonel Lindsay
to capture Mercara, the capital of the Coorg state. The Raja was
deposed in 1834 and the state was annexed.
Relations with Ranjit Singh
Lord William Bentinck was the first Governor-General to
visualise a Russian threat to India. Hence, he was eager to negotiate
friendly relations both with the ruler of Punjab, Maharajah Ranjit
Singh and also with the Amirs of Sind. His earnest desire was that
Afghanistan should be made a buffer state between India and any
possible invader.  As an initial measure, an exchange of gifts took
place between Lahore, the capital of Punjab and Calcutta, the seat
of Governor-General. It was then followed by the meeting of Bentinck
and Ranjit Singh on 25 October, 1831 at Rupar on the bank of the
river Sutlej amidst show and splendor. The Governor-General was
successful in winning the friendship of Ranjit Singh and the Indus
Navigation Treaty was concluded between them.  This treaty opened
up the Sutlej for navigation. In addition, a commercial treaty was
negotiated with Ranjit Singh. A similar treaty was also concluded
with the Amirs of Sind.
Charter Act of 1833
The Regulating Act of 1773 made it compulsory to renew the
Company’s Charter after twenty years. Hence, the Charter Act of
1793 was passed by the Parliament. It   extended the life of Company
47 48
Page 3


Lord William Bentinck assumed the office of the Governor-
General in 1828. Born in 1774 he commenced his career as a soldier
and later at the young age of twenty two he became a Member of
Parliament. He was appointed the Governor of Madras in 1803. He
supported Sir Thomas Munroe on revenue administration. The Vellore
Mutiny of 1806 had resulted in Bentinck’s
recall. However, his appointment again to the
higher office as Governor-General shows his
real greatness. As Governor-General, Bentinck
had initiated an era of progress and reforms.
He was undoubtedly the first Governor-
General of British India who acted on the
dictum that “the welfare of the subject peoples
was a main, perhaps the primary, duty of the
British in India”.
 
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK 
LESSON 5
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK (1828-1835)
Learning Objectives
Students will understand
1. Bentinck’s basic attitude towards reforms.
2. His policy towards the Indian states.
3. His cordial relations with Ranjit Singh.
4. The Charter Act of 1833 and its importance.
5. Bentinck’s financial and administrative reforms.
6. His social reforms – Abolition of Sati, Suppression
of Thugs and prevention of female infanticide.
7. His educational reforms.
46
Policy Towards Indian States
William Bentinck adopted a policy of non-intervention and
non-aggression with Indian states. If at all he interfered in the affairs
of the Indian states, it was only to end any form of misgovernment
and never to annex any territory.
Mysore
In Mysore, Hindu rule under Krishnaraja III was restored by
Wellesley. In the beginning, the young Raja functioned well along
with his able minister Puranaiya. Later, when the young raja assumed
full control of the government he proved incompetent. The peasantry
of the state suffered from many grievances. There was no redressal.
Consequently, a revolt of the peasants broke out in 1830 and it was
suppressed with the help of an army from Madras. Nonetheless, the
British authorities took over the administration of Mysore State and
placed it under the control of a commissioner. The Raja was given a
pension.
Sir Mark Cubbon was commissioner from 1834 to
1861 and his administration was beneficial to the people
of Mysore. Even today, the famous Cubbon Park in
Bangalore city has been named after him to remind his
services to Mysore.
Cachar and Jaintia
The principality of Cachar lying in the North East Frontier came
under the protection of the British in accordance with the Treaty of
Yandaboo concluded at the end of the first Burmese War. The Raja
of this small state was assassinated in 1832 but there was no heir to
succeed him. Bentinck annexed this state at the wish of the people.
Jaintia was one of the territories brought under the custody of
the British after the first Anglo-Burmese War. The ruler of the small
country behaved in an unruly way by abducting a few subjects of
British India with the evil intention of sacrificing them to the goddess
Kali. Therefore, the Governor-General acted promptly to avert any
recurrence of such cruel abhorrent act and annexed this country.
Coorg
Vira Raja was a ruthless ruler of Coorg who treated his people
with savage barbarity and killed all his male relatives.  Lord William
Bentinck decided to deal with him effectively and sent Colonel Lindsay
to capture Mercara, the capital of the Coorg state. The Raja was
deposed in 1834 and the state was annexed.
Relations with Ranjit Singh
Lord William Bentinck was the first Governor-General to
visualise a Russian threat to India. Hence, he was eager to negotiate
friendly relations both with the ruler of Punjab, Maharajah Ranjit
Singh and also with the Amirs of Sind. His earnest desire was that
Afghanistan should be made a buffer state between India and any
possible invader.  As an initial measure, an exchange of gifts took
place between Lahore, the capital of Punjab and Calcutta, the seat
of Governor-General. It was then followed by the meeting of Bentinck
and Ranjit Singh on 25 October, 1831 at Rupar on the bank of the
river Sutlej amidst show and splendor. The Governor-General was
successful in winning the friendship of Ranjit Singh and the Indus
Navigation Treaty was concluded between them.  This treaty opened
up the Sutlej for navigation. In addition, a commercial treaty was
negotiated with Ranjit Singh. A similar treaty was also concluded
with the Amirs of Sind.
Charter Act of 1833
The Regulating Act of 1773 made it compulsory to renew the
Company’s Charter after twenty years. Hence, the Charter Act of
1793 was passed by the Parliament. It   extended the life of Company
47 48
for another twenty years and introduced minor changes in the existing
set up. The Charter Act of 1813 provided one lakh of rupees annually
for the promotion of Indian education. It also extended the Company’s
charter for another twenty years.
The Charter Act of 1833 was a significant constitutional
instrument defining the scope and authority of the East India Company.
The liberal and utilitarian philosophy of Bentham was made
popular by the provisions of this Act. Following were the important
provisions:
(i) The English East India Company ceased to be a
commercial agency in India.  In other words, it would function
hereafter as the political agent for the Crown.
(ii) The Governor-General of Fort William was hereafter
called ‘the Governor- General of India’. Thus, Bentinck was the
first Governor-General of India’.
(iii) A Law Member was appointed to the Governor-General’s
Council. T. B.   Macaulay was the first Law Member of the Governor-
General-in-Council.
(iv) The Act categorically stated ‘that no native of India, nor
any natural born subject of His Majesty, should be disabled from
holding any place, office, or employment, by reason of his religion,
place of birth, descent or colour”. It was this enactment which laid
the foundation for the Indianisation of public services.
After twenty years, the Charter Act of 1853 was passed and
it was the last in the series of Charter Acts.
Reforms of Lord William Bentinck
The advent of Lord William Bentinck ushered in a new era in
the annals of India in many ways.  Although his tenure of office
covered only a short span of seven years, it saw a period of enduring
reforms. They may be classified as financial, administrative, social
and educational.
Financial Reforms
When Bentinck assumed the Governor-Generalship in 1828,
the financial position of the Company was poor. The exchequer was
very weak. The state budget showed a deficit of one million rupees.
It became necessary on the part of the Governor-General to take
effective steps to improve the financial condition. To achieve this he
adopted the following measures:
He reduced the salaries and allowances of all officers and
additional staff were removed. In the military department, he abolished
the system of double batta. (Batta was an allowance to troops on
active service.) By these financial reforms at the time of his departure,
he left the treasury with a surplus of Rs.1.5 millions.
Administrative Reforms
Bentinck’s administrative reforms speak of his political maturity
and wisdom. In the judicial department he abolished the provincial
courts of appeal established by Cornwallis. They were largely
responsible for the huge arrears of cases. This step was readily
accepted by the Directors since it cut down their expenditure. Another
good measure of Bentinck was the introduction of local languages in
the lower courts and English in the higher courts in the place of
Persian.  Even in matters of revenue Bentinck left his mark.  He
launched the revenue settlements of the North West Province under
the control of R.M. Bird. This settlement was for a period of 30
years and it was made either with the tillers of the soil, or with the
landowners.
49 50
Page 4


Lord William Bentinck assumed the office of the Governor-
General in 1828. Born in 1774 he commenced his career as a soldier
and later at the young age of twenty two he became a Member of
Parliament. He was appointed the Governor of Madras in 1803. He
supported Sir Thomas Munroe on revenue administration. The Vellore
Mutiny of 1806 had resulted in Bentinck’s
recall. However, his appointment again to the
higher office as Governor-General shows his
real greatness. As Governor-General, Bentinck
had initiated an era of progress and reforms.
He was undoubtedly the first Governor-
General of British India who acted on the
dictum that “the welfare of the subject peoples
was a main, perhaps the primary, duty of the
British in India”.
 
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK 
LESSON 5
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK (1828-1835)
Learning Objectives
Students will understand
1. Bentinck’s basic attitude towards reforms.
2. His policy towards the Indian states.
3. His cordial relations with Ranjit Singh.
4. The Charter Act of 1833 and its importance.
5. Bentinck’s financial and administrative reforms.
6. His social reforms – Abolition of Sati, Suppression
of Thugs and prevention of female infanticide.
7. His educational reforms.
46
Policy Towards Indian States
William Bentinck adopted a policy of non-intervention and
non-aggression with Indian states. If at all he interfered in the affairs
of the Indian states, it was only to end any form of misgovernment
and never to annex any territory.
Mysore
In Mysore, Hindu rule under Krishnaraja III was restored by
Wellesley. In the beginning, the young Raja functioned well along
with his able minister Puranaiya. Later, when the young raja assumed
full control of the government he proved incompetent. The peasantry
of the state suffered from many grievances. There was no redressal.
Consequently, a revolt of the peasants broke out in 1830 and it was
suppressed with the help of an army from Madras. Nonetheless, the
British authorities took over the administration of Mysore State and
placed it under the control of a commissioner. The Raja was given a
pension.
Sir Mark Cubbon was commissioner from 1834 to
1861 and his administration was beneficial to the people
of Mysore. Even today, the famous Cubbon Park in
Bangalore city has been named after him to remind his
services to Mysore.
Cachar and Jaintia
The principality of Cachar lying in the North East Frontier came
under the protection of the British in accordance with the Treaty of
Yandaboo concluded at the end of the first Burmese War. The Raja
of this small state was assassinated in 1832 but there was no heir to
succeed him. Bentinck annexed this state at the wish of the people.
Jaintia was one of the territories brought under the custody of
the British after the first Anglo-Burmese War. The ruler of the small
country behaved in an unruly way by abducting a few subjects of
British India with the evil intention of sacrificing them to the goddess
Kali. Therefore, the Governor-General acted promptly to avert any
recurrence of such cruel abhorrent act and annexed this country.
Coorg
Vira Raja was a ruthless ruler of Coorg who treated his people
with savage barbarity and killed all his male relatives.  Lord William
Bentinck decided to deal with him effectively and sent Colonel Lindsay
to capture Mercara, the capital of the Coorg state. The Raja was
deposed in 1834 and the state was annexed.
Relations with Ranjit Singh
Lord William Bentinck was the first Governor-General to
visualise a Russian threat to India. Hence, he was eager to negotiate
friendly relations both with the ruler of Punjab, Maharajah Ranjit
Singh and also with the Amirs of Sind. His earnest desire was that
Afghanistan should be made a buffer state between India and any
possible invader.  As an initial measure, an exchange of gifts took
place between Lahore, the capital of Punjab and Calcutta, the seat
of Governor-General. It was then followed by the meeting of Bentinck
and Ranjit Singh on 25 October, 1831 at Rupar on the bank of the
river Sutlej amidst show and splendor. The Governor-General was
successful in winning the friendship of Ranjit Singh and the Indus
Navigation Treaty was concluded between them.  This treaty opened
up the Sutlej for navigation. In addition, a commercial treaty was
negotiated with Ranjit Singh. A similar treaty was also concluded
with the Amirs of Sind.
Charter Act of 1833
The Regulating Act of 1773 made it compulsory to renew the
Company’s Charter after twenty years. Hence, the Charter Act of
1793 was passed by the Parliament. It   extended the life of Company
47 48
for another twenty years and introduced minor changes in the existing
set up. The Charter Act of 1813 provided one lakh of rupees annually
for the promotion of Indian education. It also extended the Company’s
charter for another twenty years.
The Charter Act of 1833 was a significant constitutional
instrument defining the scope and authority of the East India Company.
The liberal and utilitarian philosophy of Bentham was made
popular by the provisions of this Act. Following were the important
provisions:
(i) The English East India Company ceased to be a
commercial agency in India.  In other words, it would function
hereafter as the political agent for the Crown.
(ii) The Governor-General of Fort William was hereafter
called ‘the Governor- General of India’. Thus, Bentinck was the
first Governor-General of India’.
(iii) A Law Member was appointed to the Governor-General’s
Council. T. B.   Macaulay was the first Law Member of the Governor-
General-in-Council.
(iv) The Act categorically stated ‘that no native of India, nor
any natural born subject of His Majesty, should be disabled from
holding any place, office, or employment, by reason of his religion,
place of birth, descent or colour”. It was this enactment which laid
the foundation for the Indianisation of public services.
After twenty years, the Charter Act of 1853 was passed and
it was the last in the series of Charter Acts.
Reforms of Lord William Bentinck
The advent of Lord William Bentinck ushered in a new era in
the annals of India in many ways.  Although his tenure of office
covered only a short span of seven years, it saw a period of enduring
reforms. They may be classified as financial, administrative, social
and educational.
Financial Reforms
When Bentinck assumed the Governor-Generalship in 1828,
the financial position of the Company was poor. The exchequer was
very weak. The state budget showed a deficit of one million rupees.
It became necessary on the part of the Governor-General to take
effective steps to improve the financial condition. To achieve this he
adopted the following measures:
He reduced the salaries and allowances of all officers and
additional staff were removed. In the military department, he abolished
the system of double batta. (Batta was an allowance to troops on
active service.) By these financial reforms at the time of his departure,
he left the treasury with a surplus of Rs.1.5 millions.
Administrative Reforms
Bentinck’s administrative reforms speak of his political maturity
and wisdom. In the judicial department he abolished the provincial
courts of appeal established by Cornwallis. They were largely
responsible for the huge arrears of cases. This step was readily
accepted by the Directors since it cut down their expenditure. Another
good measure of Bentinck was the introduction of local languages in
the lower courts and English in the higher courts in the place of
Persian.  Even in matters of revenue Bentinck left his mark.  He
launched the revenue settlements of the North West Province under
the control of R.M. Bird. This settlement was for a period of 30
years and it was made either with the tillers of the soil, or with the
landowners.
49 50
Social Reforms
The social reforms of William Bentinck made his name immortal
in the history of British India. These include the abolition of Sati, the
suppression of Thugs and the prevention of female infanticide.
Abolition of Sati
The practice of sati, the age old custom of burning of widows
alive on the funeral pyre of their husbands was prevalent in India from
ancient times. This inhuman social custom was very common in northern
India more particularly in Bengal. Bentinck was greatly distressed when
he received a report of 800 cases of sati in a single year and that from
Bengal. He determined to abolish this practice which he considered an
offence against natural justice. Therefore, he became a crusader against
it and promulgated his Regulation XVII on 4 December 1829 prohibiting
the practice of sati. Those who practiced sati were made liable for
punishment by law courts as accessories to the crime. The Regulation
was extended to the Madras and Bombay Presidencies in 1830.
Suppression of Thugs
The most commendable measure which Bentinck undertook
and which contributed to the material welfare of the people was the
suppression of the ‘thugs’. They were hereditary robbers. They went
about in small groups of fifty to hundred posing as commercial gangs
or pilgrims ‘strangling and robbing peaceful travellers’. They
increased in number in central and northern India during the 18th
century when anarchy reigned after the disintegration of the Mughal
Empire. A campaign was systematically organised by Colonel
Sleeman from 1830 against the thugs. During the course of five years
nearly 2000 of them were captured. A greater number of them were
exterminated and the rest were transported to the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands. For his role in the suppression of thugs, Sir William
Sleeman was known as “Thugee Sleeman”.
Female Infanticide
Female infanticide was one of the horrible and heartless deeds
committed even by civilized people. This practice killing female infants
was very much prevalent in places like Rajputana, Punjab, Malwa
and Cutch. Bentinck took effective steps to prevent the ritual of child
sacrifice at Saugar Island in Bengal. He not only prohibited female
infanticide but declared them as punishable crime.
Introduction of English Education
The introduction of English Education was a significant event
of Lord William Bentinck’s administration. He appointed a committee
headed by Lord Macaulay to make recommendations for the
promotion of education. In his report, Macaulay emphasized the
promotion of European literature and science through English medium
to the people of India. This recommendation was wholeheartedly
accepted by William Bentinck. The Government Resolution in 1835
made English the official and literary language of India. In the same
year, William Bentinck laid foundation of the Calcutta Medical
College.
Estimate of William Bentinck
Bentinck was a “straightforward, honest, upright, benevolent,
sensible man”. His social reforms such as abolition of sati and
prevention of child sacrifice eradicated age old evils from Hindu
society. It is gratifying to note that “Bentinck acted where others
had talked”. To enforce the regulations regarding the prohibition of
sati, he was prepared to risk his own position. Such courage and
straightforwardness were seldom found among the administrators of
those days. His educational reforms heralded a new age in India.
51 52
Page 5


Lord William Bentinck assumed the office of the Governor-
General in 1828. Born in 1774 he commenced his career as a soldier
and later at the young age of twenty two he became a Member of
Parliament. He was appointed the Governor of Madras in 1803. He
supported Sir Thomas Munroe on revenue administration. The Vellore
Mutiny of 1806 had resulted in Bentinck’s
recall. However, his appointment again to the
higher office as Governor-General shows his
real greatness. As Governor-General, Bentinck
had initiated an era of progress and reforms.
He was undoubtedly the first Governor-
General of British India who acted on the
dictum that “the welfare of the subject peoples
was a main, perhaps the primary, duty of the
British in India”.
 
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK 
LESSON 5
LORD WILLIAM BENTINCK (1828-1835)
Learning Objectives
Students will understand
1. Bentinck’s basic attitude towards reforms.
2. His policy towards the Indian states.
3. His cordial relations with Ranjit Singh.
4. The Charter Act of 1833 and its importance.
5. Bentinck’s financial and administrative reforms.
6. His social reforms – Abolition of Sati, Suppression
of Thugs and prevention of female infanticide.
7. His educational reforms.
46
Policy Towards Indian States
William Bentinck adopted a policy of non-intervention and
non-aggression with Indian states. If at all he interfered in the affairs
of the Indian states, it was only to end any form of misgovernment
and never to annex any territory.
Mysore
In Mysore, Hindu rule under Krishnaraja III was restored by
Wellesley. In the beginning, the young Raja functioned well along
with his able minister Puranaiya. Later, when the young raja assumed
full control of the government he proved incompetent. The peasantry
of the state suffered from many grievances. There was no redressal.
Consequently, a revolt of the peasants broke out in 1830 and it was
suppressed with the help of an army from Madras. Nonetheless, the
British authorities took over the administration of Mysore State and
placed it under the control of a commissioner. The Raja was given a
pension.
Sir Mark Cubbon was commissioner from 1834 to
1861 and his administration was beneficial to the people
of Mysore. Even today, the famous Cubbon Park in
Bangalore city has been named after him to remind his
services to Mysore.
Cachar and Jaintia
The principality of Cachar lying in the North East Frontier came
under the protection of the British in accordance with the Treaty of
Yandaboo concluded at the end of the first Burmese War. The Raja
of this small state was assassinated in 1832 but there was no heir to
succeed him. Bentinck annexed this state at the wish of the people.
Jaintia was one of the territories brought under the custody of
the British after the first Anglo-Burmese War. The ruler of the small
country behaved in an unruly way by abducting a few subjects of
British India with the evil intention of sacrificing them to the goddess
Kali. Therefore, the Governor-General acted promptly to avert any
recurrence of such cruel abhorrent act and annexed this country.
Coorg
Vira Raja was a ruthless ruler of Coorg who treated his people
with savage barbarity and killed all his male relatives.  Lord William
Bentinck decided to deal with him effectively and sent Colonel Lindsay
to capture Mercara, the capital of the Coorg state. The Raja was
deposed in 1834 and the state was annexed.
Relations with Ranjit Singh
Lord William Bentinck was the first Governor-General to
visualise a Russian threat to India. Hence, he was eager to negotiate
friendly relations both with the ruler of Punjab, Maharajah Ranjit
Singh and also with the Amirs of Sind. His earnest desire was that
Afghanistan should be made a buffer state between India and any
possible invader.  As an initial measure, an exchange of gifts took
place between Lahore, the capital of Punjab and Calcutta, the seat
of Governor-General. It was then followed by the meeting of Bentinck
and Ranjit Singh on 25 October, 1831 at Rupar on the bank of the
river Sutlej amidst show and splendor. The Governor-General was
successful in winning the friendship of Ranjit Singh and the Indus
Navigation Treaty was concluded between them.  This treaty opened
up the Sutlej for navigation. In addition, a commercial treaty was
negotiated with Ranjit Singh. A similar treaty was also concluded
with the Amirs of Sind.
Charter Act of 1833
The Regulating Act of 1773 made it compulsory to renew the
Company’s Charter after twenty years. Hence, the Charter Act of
1793 was passed by the Parliament. It   extended the life of Company
47 48
for another twenty years and introduced minor changes in the existing
set up. The Charter Act of 1813 provided one lakh of rupees annually
for the promotion of Indian education. It also extended the Company’s
charter for another twenty years.
The Charter Act of 1833 was a significant constitutional
instrument defining the scope and authority of the East India Company.
The liberal and utilitarian philosophy of Bentham was made
popular by the provisions of this Act. Following were the important
provisions:
(i) The English East India Company ceased to be a
commercial agency in India.  In other words, it would function
hereafter as the political agent for the Crown.
(ii) The Governor-General of Fort William was hereafter
called ‘the Governor- General of India’. Thus, Bentinck was the
first Governor-General of India’.
(iii) A Law Member was appointed to the Governor-General’s
Council. T. B.   Macaulay was the first Law Member of the Governor-
General-in-Council.
(iv) The Act categorically stated ‘that no native of India, nor
any natural born subject of His Majesty, should be disabled from
holding any place, office, or employment, by reason of his religion,
place of birth, descent or colour”. It was this enactment which laid
the foundation for the Indianisation of public services.
After twenty years, the Charter Act of 1853 was passed and
it was the last in the series of Charter Acts.
Reforms of Lord William Bentinck
The advent of Lord William Bentinck ushered in a new era in
the annals of India in many ways.  Although his tenure of office
covered only a short span of seven years, it saw a period of enduring
reforms. They may be classified as financial, administrative, social
and educational.
Financial Reforms
When Bentinck assumed the Governor-Generalship in 1828,
the financial position of the Company was poor. The exchequer was
very weak. The state budget showed a deficit of one million rupees.
It became necessary on the part of the Governor-General to take
effective steps to improve the financial condition. To achieve this he
adopted the following measures:
He reduced the salaries and allowances of all officers and
additional staff were removed. In the military department, he abolished
the system of double batta. (Batta was an allowance to troops on
active service.) By these financial reforms at the time of his departure,
he left the treasury with a surplus of Rs.1.5 millions.
Administrative Reforms
Bentinck’s administrative reforms speak of his political maturity
and wisdom. In the judicial department he abolished the provincial
courts of appeal established by Cornwallis. They were largely
responsible for the huge arrears of cases. This step was readily
accepted by the Directors since it cut down their expenditure. Another
good measure of Bentinck was the introduction of local languages in
the lower courts and English in the higher courts in the place of
Persian.  Even in matters of revenue Bentinck left his mark.  He
launched the revenue settlements of the North West Province under
the control of R.M. Bird. This settlement was for a period of 30
years and it was made either with the tillers of the soil, or with the
landowners.
49 50
Social Reforms
The social reforms of William Bentinck made his name immortal
in the history of British India. These include the abolition of Sati, the
suppression of Thugs and the prevention of female infanticide.
Abolition of Sati
The practice of sati, the age old custom of burning of widows
alive on the funeral pyre of their husbands was prevalent in India from
ancient times. This inhuman social custom was very common in northern
India more particularly in Bengal. Bentinck was greatly distressed when
he received a report of 800 cases of sati in a single year and that from
Bengal. He determined to abolish this practice which he considered an
offence against natural justice. Therefore, he became a crusader against
it and promulgated his Regulation XVII on 4 December 1829 prohibiting
the practice of sati. Those who practiced sati were made liable for
punishment by law courts as accessories to the crime. The Regulation
was extended to the Madras and Bombay Presidencies in 1830.
Suppression of Thugs
The most commendable measure which Bentinck undertook
and which contributed to the material welfare of the people was the
suppression of the ‘thugs’. They were hereditary robbers. They went
about in small groups of fifty to hundred posing as commercial gangs
or pilgrims ‘strangling and robbing peaceful travellers’. They
increased in number in central and northern India during the 18th
century when anarchy reigned after the disintegration of the Mughal
Empire. A campaign was systematically organised by Colonel
Sleeman from 1830 against the thugs. During the course of five years
nearly 2000 of them were captured. A greater number of them were
exterminated and the rest were transported to the Andaman and
Nicobar Islands. For his role in the suppression of thugs, Sir William
Sleeman was known as “Thugee Sleeman”.
Female Infanticide
Female infanticide was one of the horrible and heartless deeds
committed even by civilized people. This practice killing female infants
was very much prevalent in places like Rajputana, Punjab, Malwa
and Cutch. Bentinck took effective steps to prevent the ritual of child
sacrifice at Saugar Island in Bengal. He not only prohibited female
infanticide but declared them as punishable crime.
Introduction of English Education
The introduction of English Education was a significant event
of Lord William Bentinck’s administration. He appointed a committee
headed by Lord Macaulay to make recommendations for the
promotion of education. In his report, Macaulay emphasized the
promotion of European literature and science through English medium
to the people of India. This recommendation was wholeheartedly
accepted by William Bentinck. The Government Resolution in 1835
made English the official and literary language of India. In the same
year, William Bentinck laid foundation of the Calcutta Medical
College.
Estimate of William Bentinck
Bentinck was a “straightforward, honest, upright, benevolent,
sensible man”. His social reforms such as abolition of sati and
prevention of child sacrifice eradicated age old evils from Hindu
society. It is gratifying to note that “Bentinck acted where others
had talked”. To enforce the regulations regarding the prohibition of
sati, he was prepared to risk his own position. Such courage and
straightforwardness were seldom found among the administrators of
those days. His educational reforms heralded a new age in India.
51 52
After William Bentinck, Lord Auckland (1836-42)
became Governor-General. The First Afghan War
(1836-42) was fought during his administration. Due to
his failure in Afghanistan he was recalled in 1842. Lord
Ellenborough succeeded him and ended the Afghan War.
He also annexed the Sindh. His successor, Lord Hardinge
(1844-48) fought the first Anglo-Sikh War (1845-46) and
concluded the Treaty of Lahore.
MODEL QUESTIONS
I. Choose the correct answer.
1. English was adopted as the official language of British India in
(a) 1833 (b) 1835
(c) 1837 (d) 1839
2. The practice of Sati was abolished during the administration of
(a) Warren Hastings (b) Lord Cornwallis
(c) Lord Wellesley (d) Lord William Bentinck
II. Fill in the blanks.
1. The Vellore Mutiny broke out in the year ……
2. In the military department Lord William Bentinck abolished
the system of …….
III. Match the following.
1. Lord Macaulay a. Thugs
2. Vira Raja b. Law Member
3. William Sleeman c. Punjab
4. Ranjit Singh d. Coorg
IV. Find out the correct statement. One statement alone is
right.
a) The Regulating Act of 1773 made it mandatory to renew the
Company’s Charter after thirty years.
b) The Charter Act of 1833 provided five lakhs of rupees for the
promotion of Indian education.
c) The Charter Act of 1833 made Lord William Bentinck the first
Governor General of India.
Learning Outcome
After learning this lesson, the student should be able to
explain
1. William Bentinck, despite following the policy of
nonintervention, compelled to annex the states like
Mysore.
2. He achieved friendship with Raja Ranjit Singh of
Punjab and concluded the Treaty of Amritsar.
3. The importance of the Charter of 1833.
4. Bentinck’s efficient administrative measures through
financial and administrative reforms
5. Bentinck inaugurated an era of social reforms which
included the abolition of sati, suppression of thugs
and prevention of female infanticide.
6. His educational reforms remained the basis for the
modernization of India.
53 54
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