The Viceroyalty of Lord Reading, 1921-1926: with particular reference to the political and constitutional progress of India

Turnbull, Christine Hazel (1989) The Viceroyalty of Lord Reading, 1921-1926: with particular reference to the political and constitutional progress of India. Doctoral thesis, Polytechnic of North London.


This thesis will investigate and evaluate the Viceroyalty of Lord Reading, from 1921-26, with particular reference to the constitutional and political progress of India during that time.

Reading faced political unrest from two organisations, the non-co-operation movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, and the Khilafat movement, under the Ali Brothers, which were temporarily united in opposition to the Government. In order to restore political stability it was essential for Reading to pacify this opposition, and the degree of success he achieved will be investigated. Reading faced the problem of whether to arrest the nationalist leaders, how to pacify Muslim opposition to aspects of British Foreign Policy and how to keep India tranquil during the visit of the Prince of Wales in December 1921.

Reading's handling of political unrest was regarded by some of his Provincial Governors as unsatisfactory. This brought the Viceroy and three of his Governors into conflict. The causes and consequences of this conflict will be examined, as will be the conflict between the Viceroy and three Indian princes who were unwilling to accept the overlordship of the Raj.

In the area of constitutional change Reading was to be responsible for the introduction of the reforms laid down in the Government of India Act 1919. This Act included such measures as the introduction of dyarchy. The Indianization of the services was also to be introduced. The process by which these changes were made, and the role played by the Viceroy in their smooth introduction, will be analysed.

The Viceroy's responsibilities also included control of economic and foreign policy. After a series of unbalanced budgets, India was facing severe economic problems in 1921, and Reading needed to find a solution. In foreign affairs two areas caused concern, the problems of Indians living in southern Africa, and the threat of Russian Involvement in Afghanistan. Reading's attempts to solve these problems will be analysed.

Finally, as a member of the British judiciary, Reading's influence on the Indian legal system was significant, and the Viceroy was to regard it as his most valuable contribution to India.

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