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Wednesday October 18, 2017
From the History Books:
100 Years Ago in Calcutta
Vol: 1 Num: 1    Winter 2006
Lord Curzon announces the partition of Bengal in 1905, which soon became a rallying point for the freedom movement

100 years ago in 1905 Lord Curzon, the Viceroy of India, partitioned Bengal. It soon became a rallying point for the freedom movement. Initially introduced as a way to improve the administrative efficiency, the Partition of Bengal was seen as a ‘Divide and Rule’ policy to increase imperial control.

With a population of 85 million spread over 189,000 sq. miles, Bengal was too big for efficient administration. However, Lord George Nathaniel Curzon’s plan created a Muslim majority province of Eastern Bengal and Assam and a Bihărì and Oriyă speaking Hindu majority province in West Bengal. This left Bengali Hindus without a majority in either new Bengal province. “Bhadralok” or intellectual Bengalis, who were more outspoken, thought this move to marginalize them.

Their initial rhetorical protests soon translated into boycott of British-made goods. This ‘swadeshi movement’ was later embraced by Indian National Congress and turned into a potent non-violent weapon by Mahatma Gandhi. After his first term as viceroy from 1899 to 1904, Lord Curzon was offered a second term. However, His partitioning of Bengal along with Universities Act of 1904 to reorganize governing bodies of Calcutta University generated so much heat that he had to resign within a year of second term.

Source: Encyclopedia Britannica

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