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Role of Lord Ripon

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Lord Ripon came to India as a viceroy in 1880. William Gladstone sent him to India to play the role of Viceroy and Lord Ripon proved his worth as a ‘Good Viceroy’ in India within the four years of his ruling period. The positive changes he brought to the country during the ruling period are marked as one of the best times during the British Raj. Lord Ripon proved his willingness to reform the existing condition of the country with various activities. He tried to provide a chance for the Indians to live a better life even under the British government. His initiatives are recognized as positive footsteps toward a better India.

Lord Ripon in Reforming India:

Here are the reforms made by Lord Ripon during his ruling period (1880-1884). He tried to reform various dysfunctional factors in many sections, including education, administration, and finances. His role can be examined by the different reforms done by him. These are:

First Factory Act (1881) to Secure factory Labours’ Safety:

The initiative for the implementation and adoption of the First Factory Act was taken by Lord Ripon in 1881. A committee was appointed in 1875 to check the status of the factories in India. The enactment of the First Factory Act ensured a better status for factory labourers all over India. It also provided restrictions on the working hours for child labours under the age of twelve. The children under the age of seven were no longer allowed to work in the factories. The risk factors of working with dangerous machines were considered in the act. Mid-day meals and four leaves a month were provided after the adoption of the First Factory Act. Inspectors visited the factories to supervise the activities of the factory owners regarding the labour.

Lord Ripon and Repeal of Vernacular Press Act (1882):

Previously Lord Lytton imposed Vernacular Press Act to restrict the use of Indian regional languages in newspapers. Lord Ripon showed a generous gesture by repealing the Vernacular Press Act in 1882, and it provided the liberty to the Indian press to publish news in several languages.

Financial Decentralization for a Better Financial Administration:

Lord Ripon showed the positive sides of financial decentralization. He divided revenue into three sections.

  • Imperial heads were meant to collect the revenue from customs, telegraphs, military receipts, posts, land revenue, salt, etc.
  • Provincial heads were meant to collect revenue from jails, general administration, roads, printing, etc. A part of land revenue was sanctioned to fulfill the lack of funds in provinces.
  • The revenue collection of the Divided heads started with the initiative of Lord Ripon. The central and provincial governments got an equal part of the revenue from forest, registrations, stamps, and excise.

Lord Ripon and Resolution of Local Self-government (1882):

Lord Ripon is called the Father of Local Self-government. His initiatives to decentralize the administration system by providing powers to local self-government, created history in British India. The idea of creating urban and rural self-governments worked well in empowering the local bodies. This initiative raised the voice of Indian citizens as some of their rights were fulfilled after the Resolution of Local Self-government in 1882.

Educational Reforms with Hunter Commission (1882-83):

The educational system in British India was not in good condition. Lord Ripon felt a requirement of action regarding this. So, he appointed William Wilson Hunter in 1882 to understand the deficit in the system. William Wilson Hunter was a member of the Indian Civil service and became a Vice President of the Royal Asiatic Society.

Primary suggestions to improve the education system were:

  • Government’s active interventions needed to grow the primary education
  • Literary and vocational training in secondary education must be included
  • Government’s support and active involvement were suggested to improve women’s education

Lord Ripon tried to implement most recommendations to elevate the country’s education quality.

Ilbert Bill Controversy During Lord Ripon’s Period:

Courtenay Peregrine Ilbert introduced Ilbert Bill in 1883 during the ruling period of Lord Ripon. This bill created a lot of controversies later on.

Lord Ripon wanted to eradicate the discrimination between the Indian and English Judges. Such discrimination of rights was based on racism, and Indian judges did not get as freedom as the European judges. But Ilbert Bill created disappointment among Europeans residing in India. They protested against the passing of the bill. An amendment was done later on to secure the provisions of the Europeans. The controversy of the Ilbert Bill made Lord Ripon a target among Europeans and a Defense Association was formed to raise a fund against the bill. They wanted to send Lord Ripon to Britain forcefully too.

Lord Ripon could not make Ilbert Bill successful, but Indians understood the actual motif of the Europeans staying in India. The controversy made it clear that the Europeans had zero respect for the Indians.

Lord Ripon’s Resignation:

Lord Ripon resigned from the position of Viceroy after protesting against the British government’s decision about finances after appointing the Indian army in Egypt. The British government refused to provide expenses for the army and dismissed the appeal of Lord Ripon. So, he resigned in 1884 as a gesture of protest.


Lord Ripon’s activities during the ruling period in India were purposeful. He might not be successful in passing and implementing the Ilbert bill, but every initiative he started had good intentions. During the British Raj, the Indians gained some rights with the resolution of Local Self-government and education became meaningful with the Hunter Commission. The financial decisions of Lord Ripon also had positive outcomes. Lord Ripon showed great kindness by repealing the Vernacular Press Act and enabling the First Factory Act. 


Last Updated : 18 Jul, 2022
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