Vernacular Press Act The Indian Arms Act Under Lord Lytton

Vernacular Press Act and The Indian Arms Act 1878 Under Lord Lytton

After 1857 Revolt

  • After the 1857 Revolt, the responsibility of ruling India was directly assumed by the British Crown. 
  • Lord Canning became the first Viceroy of India in 1858. 
  • The Government of India Act of 1858 and the Queen’s Proclamation in the same year signify this change in the Indian administration. 
  • The Queen’s Proclamation remained the basis of the British policy in India for more than 60 years.
Vernacular Press Act Under Lytton

Lord Lytton (1876 – 1880)

  • Lord Lytton became the Viceroy of India in 1876. 
  •  He effected several administrative changes in India. They were meant only to serve the interests of Britain. 
  • Indians became dissatisfied of his measures.
  • Famine of 1876 – 1878
  • The Second Anglo Afghan War (1878-80)
  • Vernacular Press Act 1878
  • The Indian Arms Act 1878

Famine of 1876 – 1878

  • The famine of 1876-78 had resulted from the failure of two monsoons.
  • The worst affected areas were Madras, Mysore, Hyderabad, Bombay, Central India and the Punjab.
  • It took a toll of five million lives in a single year. 
  • The outbreak of cholera and fever added to the misery of the suffering population.
  • Lytton’s Government failed miserably to tackle the situation
  • Many villages were depopulated. Vast stretch of lands were left uncultivated. 
  • At that time Lord Lytton imposed Custom duty on textile goods exported to England. 
  • He also held a Durbar at Delhi in 1877 in which Queen Victoria was declared as the Empress of India. 
  • This extravagant Durbar cost millions of rupees.
  • The first Famine Commission (1878-80) under Sir Richard Strachey was appointed

The Second Anglo Afghan War (1878-80)

  • British feared the increased influence of Russia in Afghanistan. It was thought that Russia would invade India. 
  • To prevent Russian expansion, Lord Lytton decided to have a complete control over Afghanistan. 
  • So he sent the British troops to attack Afghanistan in 1878. 
  • The ruler Amir Sher Ali, fled to Russia. The British signed a treaty with the new ruler. 
  • This unnecessary war was waged when the Indian economy was in very bad shape.

Vernacular Press Act 1878

  • Indian newspapers sympathised with the grievances of the people. 
  • They wrote against Lyttons’ measures and the British rule. 
  • Therefore Lytton restricted the liberty of the Indian Press by passing the Vernacular Press Act in 1878. 
  • The vernacular newspapers and periodicals were subjected to strict censorship. 
  • This Act empowered a Magistrate to secure an undertaking from the editor.
  •  Publisher and printer of a vernacular newspaper that nothing would be published against the English Government. 
  • The equipment of the press could be seized if the offence was committed. 
  • This Act crushed the freedom of the Indian press. 
  • This created adverse public opinion against the British Government.

The Indian Arms Act 1878

  • Lytton’s Government passed the Indian Arms Act in 1878. 
  • It compelled the Indians to have licence to keep, sell or purchase arms. 
  • The offenders were to be punished both with fine and imprisonment. 
  • But the English, Anglo-Indians and government servants of certain categories were exempted from this Act. 
  • Thus most of the administrative measures of Lord Lytton were against the interests of the Indians.



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Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) Online Class Study Notes Tests | KAS Insights: Vernacular Press Act The Indian Arms Act Under Lord Lytton
Vernacular Press Act The Indian Arms Act Under Lord Lytton
Vernacular Press Act and The Indian Arms Act 1878 Under Lord Lytton
Kerala Administrative Service (KAS) Online Class Study Notes Tests | KAS Insights
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