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Anderson, John


Anderson, John (1882-1958) British Governor of Bengal (1932-1937) was born in Edinburgh town of Scotland on 8 July 1882. His father was David Alexander Pearson Anderson and his mother Janet Kilgore Brigleman. After receiving primary education from George Watson's School of Edinburgh, he received higher education from the Universities of Edinburgh and Leipzig.

He joined the colonial office in 1905 and worked there in the departments for Nigeria and West Africa up to 1912. After that, he joined the National Health Insurance Commission. When the First World War broke out in 1914, he joined the war on behalf of Health Insurance Commission. He was appointed as the secretary of Shipping Ministry after its constitution in 1917. He worked in important positions of different ministries between 1919 and 1922 and was made the permanent under-secretary of the Home Office in 1922. Anderson was appointed the Governor of Bengal in 1932. He was the elected MP (1938-50) of Scottish universities and the Lord President of the council (1940-1943). He was the finance minister of Britain during 1943-45.

The terrorist movement had assumed an acute shape when Anderson arrived as the Governor of Bengal. An ammunition depot in Chittagong was looted some time before his arrival; an IGP of jails was killed and assassination attempt was made on his predecessor Sir Stanley Jackson. He pursued an alternative route for tackling the terrorist movement. He tried to attract the youths by undertaking programmes on public welfare and reforms, so that they did not tilt towards terrorism. He introduced vocational training centres and extended financial assistance for small industries.

Anderson was miraculously saved when an attempt was made to assassinate him in 1934. He succeeded in bringing the terrorist movement under control during his tenure. He freed the youth who tried to kill him from jail and sent him to England for training. Another notable measure he undertook was economic reform. He could overcome a revenue deficit of Taka 20 million, ultimately achieving a surplus. He formulated a policy on production of jute and made arrangements for solving the credit problem of the rural people. He played a vital role the introduction of Agricultural Loan Settlement Act. Bengal was awarded autonomy in 1935 under the India Act during his tenure.

John Anderson was awarded many honours in recognition of his administrative accomplishments; these included, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, OM, FRS, MA. Besides, he also received various honours, prizes and degrees from foreign sources. He died in London on 4 January 1958. [Md. Mamunur Rashid]