Lord Dalhousie was a great imperialist ruler and empire builder as well as a reformer. He made many important reforms in the social, religious, economic, and cultural fields.
1. Social Reforms:
English education and the propagation of Christianity were going on fast in India but there were still difficulties in the path of conversion. Those who left their religion and converted to Christianity were not given any share in ancestral property. In 1850, Dalhousie made a law, which removed the difficulty of the way of converting. By this law it was decided that the right to ancestral property could not be abandoned due to conversion, that is, even if a Hindu became a Christian, he would still have full rights to the ancestral property. In 1855, the Governor-General passed a law by which widow marriage was legally recognized.
2. Professional Improvement
Dalhousie encouraged the policy of free trade. He expanded the ports and got the island houses repaired, and thus the sea shore trade went into the hands of the British capitalists.
3. Irrigation System:
Many canals were built during Dalhousie's time. ' In 1839, the work of removing the canal from the Ganges had started but it was completed only during the time of Dalhousie. In Punjab, the work of construction of canals could be started only with the inspiration of the Governor General.
4. Military Reforms:
Dalhousie had a distrust of Indian soldiers. Therefore Gorkhas were appointed to the army. A separate army was kept for them. A separate army of Punjab was also kept.
Meerut was made the center of soldiers and a military cantonment was established in Shimla. These steps were taken because it was difficult to control the border provinces from Bengal. Simultaneously, now the Governor-General kept in touch with the army.
5. Public Works:
Earlier, the work of public works was the responsibility of the army officers. As a result, it was neglected. During Dalhousie, the work of public works was separated from the military department. Public Works Department (P.W.D.) was established in each province and is present to date. Its chief officer, Chief Engineer, was given the responsibility of this department. There were Engineers were called from England. Construction of roads, canals, and bridges
6. Educational Reforms:
For the development of education, Dalhousie appointed an education commission under the chairmanship of Sir Charles Budd, which presented its report in 1854 AD. Many reforms were made in the field of education on the basis of Woods-Dispatch. An education department was established in each province and provincial education was placed under a director of education. Inspectors and sub-inspectors were appointed below the Director of Education. Vernacular schools were established to impart education in the countryside. In this way, in brief, education was given through the medium of English and provincial languages.
7. Establishment of railways and post offices:
Dalhousie not only spread the British Empire in India but also developed the means of transport. He also built many roads. Grand Trunk Road was rebuilt during the time of Lord Dalhousie.
Railway lines were established. The first railway line was built in Bombay. After that, the burden of establishing railway lines was given to the British companies. Post offices were established. A network of wires was spread all over the country. Dalhousie started the practice of penny-postage, according to which any person near two paise could send letters within the country and could know the news of his distant relatives. The establishment of this practice brought great convenience to the public. Letters were sent abroad on four-manage tickets. A Post Master General was appointed to oversee the post offices.
Dalhousie's Responsibility for the Revolt of 1857 AD:
Historians are of the opinion that Dalhousie was responsible for the revolt of 1857 AD. This assumption is partially true. Due to Dalhousie's policy of confiscation, confiscation-policy, and conquest, many small native states were merged into the Company State. The abolition of pensions and posts caused dissatisfaction among many rulers. Many zamindars became landless. By eliminating the practice of adoption, Dalhousie made Hindu kings or rulers his enemies. Dalhousie became the wrath of the Hindi-speaking people by editing social reforms. There was an uproar among the Hindus even after the widow marriage was justified. Dalhousie's policy also caused disappointment among the native kings. The rulers of the remaining states, which were to be merged with the British Empire, started doubting that their states should also be taken away. Most of the people who took part in the revolution of 1857, whose jagirs, posts, or pensions are taken away. Nana Saheb's pension was stopped, Which is why he was actively participating in the rebellion. Rani of Jhansi was denied the right of adoption, so she was participating in the rebellion. The kingdom of the Nawab of Awadh was taken away, his army was disbanded. Therefore, Awadh was the main base of the revolt of 1857 AD. In short, it can be said that Dalhousie was not the only one responsible for the revolt of 1857, but he was partly responsible. Had he not adopted the policy of hijacking, the rebellion would have been averted for a few days, but it would not have been averted forever. The reasons for the revolution were accumulating over the years, which was bound to explode. Yes, it is an indisputable truth that the revolution started soon with Dalhousie's policy.
Due to the above reforms, Lord Dalhousie has got a high position among the Governor Generals of India. His progressive reforms had a lasting impact on India. New trends and systems started emerging in the country and India was being molded in the mold of modernity. Lord Dalhousie's reforms changed the old pattern of the Company's governance system from bottom to top and painted it in the color of modernity. As a result, the administration of the entire Indian Empire of the Company became uniform and the primacy of the central authority ended. Competitive examinations were held for government jobs, due to which qualified and talented persons were appointed to government posts. He established political unity across India. Its beneficial reforms, the advancement of means of transport, and the spread of education propagated feelings of unity, nationalism, reconciliation, and independence among Indians and took the country forward on the path of modernity. In short, on the basis of the above statements, it can be very well said that Lord Dalhousie was the architect of modern India and as a result of his efforts and reforms, India was getting its present form. Lord Curzon has rightly written about Lord Dalhousie - "Dalhousie left a mark on India which was no less than any of his predecessors, he attained a fame which was less than only Warren Hastings."