How Far Would You Agree with the View That Curzon
How far would you agree with the view that Curzon made a ‘colossal failure’ of his job as Viceroy. It was Curzon’s life ambition to become Viceroy of India, therefore he worked extensively as a young man to ensure that he was prepared for the job should the situation arise that he was given the job of Viceroy. As a boy he studied at Eton and Oxford which would show not only that he gained the level of education expected of someone that would later become Viceroy but also that he represented the traditional view of India being ‘the jewel in the British Empires crown. Source D shows that even among the likes of children that studied at Eton and Oxford he was considered to be very arrogant. As a young man Curzon travelled extensively in the East and wrote many books on India and its land frontiers, this knowledge would prove useful for Curzon later on when deciding India’s foreign policy. He also developed a passion for Indian architecture and culture. In order to eventually become Viceroy Curzon had to enter into politics at a lower level and work his way up, initially working as under secretary to the state of India.
During his time as Viceroy Curzon worked extensively to preserve and improve India’s architecture and culture. He spent large amounts of time on working to keep the Taj Mahal in good condition, something which has benefited the countries culture since, but many believed that Curzon paid less attention to other aspects of India that he should have been working on at the same time. Source E states that ‘his example terrorised rather than inspired, his caustic wit devastated rather then delighted. Even the British in India found him quite impossible. This quotation suggests that Curzon was very difficult to work with and ignored everyone if he felt his own view was right, a personal feature that became key in one of his biggest failures. ‘Efficiency’ was Curzon’s watchword, one of his main aims was to make the administrative side of India faster so that the country would run more smoothly. Curzon had many successes within his time as Viceroy, these included creating a special commission to improve the administrative efficiency in India, this commission created many reforms that ‘helped the dministrative machine run more smoothly. ’ He also took control of the Indian railway, which enabled over 6,000 miles of new track to be laid by 1905. Not all of his administrative reforms were a success however, he aimed to run every department of the Government from his own office, and with India being such a vast country it was not possible. This would highlight the lead up to some of Curzon’s biggest failures in which he made decisions completely by himself and ignored the views of the Indian people.
Curzon had an extensive knowledge of India’s land frontiers as he had travelled around India and studied its borders when he was younger. This enabled Curzon to take decisive action, which benefited the country, he did much for the Indian people to expand the size of the country and succeeded in creating buffer zones against the potential threats of other countries invading. Within his years as Viceroy Curzon managed to create a buffer zone between the Indo-Gangetic plains and the Afghan tribal areas, beyond this zone was the rapidly increasing Russian sphere of influence.
He also removed British troops from this area and replaced them with local warriors. The protection of this area was funded and run by the British to ensure that it ran efficiently. He also nearly doubled the size of Kashmir by taking land from the Chinese. These actions were a big success in Curzon’s time as Viceroy. But these decisions were to be followed by some colossal failures that changed the relationship between the British and the Indians forever.
In 1904 Curzon became convinced that the Russian were invading Tibet and that the Dalai Lama was seeking Russian aid, he therefore sent a team led by Sir Francis Younghusband in 1904 to investigate the presence of Russian troops in Tibet. Even after finding no evidence that the Russians planned to, or were invading, Curzon still convinced Whitehall to allow the British to take control of Tibet. Which resulted in British troops massacring Tibetan Monks who were trying to defend their territory.
This was undoubtedly Curzon’s most spectacular failure as it tarnished Britain’s reputation after the murder of hundreds of innocent monks. Source G depicts the fighting between the British and the Tibetans, although the fighting seems almost completely one sided. Bengal was seen to Curzon as an administrative nightmare, It was run by Warlords and there were high tensions between the Muslims and Hindus throughout the area. For these reasons Curzon put forward the idea the Bengal should be divided into two sections of east and west.
Curzon faced strong opposition from his advisors both in Britain and India but he chose to ignore all of them and go ahead with his plan. Hindus were strongly against the partition because they would lose control in the eastern part of Bengal, but Muslims were pleased that they would gain some power. The divide resulted in civil unrest ranging from peaceful protests to riots and the murder of British officials. There was a boycott of British goods and thousands signed a petition, which demanded that the two sections of Bengal be reunited.
Curzon ignored all of these indicators which should have told him that he had made the wrong decision which led to further confrontation between the British and Indians. Source H highlights the view of the Indian citizens and how it was not in the best interest of the Indian nation to have a part of the country to be divided. The source also explains that Curzon’s actions ‘Illustrated the worst features of the present system of bureaucratic rule. ’ Curzon’s ignorance and blatant rejection of his advisors and the Indian citizens view.
He did not see the opinions the Indian people; his aim was to make India more efficient in an administrative sense, and for that to happen he sacrificed the views of the people that lived in the country he was meant to be preserving and improving. Which meant he was adversely affecting the opinion that people in India had for him. In conclusion Curzon was very well prepared for the job of Viceroy and in his early years as Viceroy he made many successes but towards the end he let his mains aims come before the views of the people he worked with and ruled over.
This therefore is where Curzon’s passion for paperwork had an adverse affect on the positive effect of his rule. The factor that contributed the most to the failure of Curzon was the invasion of Tibet, which made the British seem uncivilised and needlessly violent. For this reason Curzon made a colossal failure of his job as Viceroy in the later years of his rule, the years which overshadowed all the good done prior to the events in Bengal and Tibet.