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Minto, Lord1


Minto, Lord1 (1751-1814) Governor General of India from 1807 to 1813. Born on 23 April 1751, Lord was educated privately first at Pension Militarie, Fontainebleau, Edinburgh, then at Christ Church, Oxford and called to the Bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1774. He was a member of the parliament during 1776-1784 and 1786-1790. In 1787 he introduced a motion in the parliament condemning elijah impey, former Chief Justice of Calcutta, about the trial of nanda kumar. But the motion failed. His move to become the speaker of the House of Commons did not succeed. Lord Minto, however, became the president of the board of control in 1806 and was appointed Governor General of India in 1807 and continued in the post till October 1813. His period of office in India coincided with the height of the Napoleonic wars in Europe and 'events in Europe forbade any diversion of strength for a forward move in India; events in India forbade any backward one'. He largely followed the policy of nonintervention and avoided any major war in India. He had achieved several diplomatic victories. By show of force he prevented the Pindari leader, Amir Khan from interfering in Berar.

But a greater triumph was his concluding the treaty of Amritsar in 1809 with Ranjit Singh, the ruler of the Punjab. Ranjit had established his rule west of the Sutlej and was casting his eyes to the east. At this stage Minto moved forward and sent a young diplomat charles metcalfe, who persuaded Ranjit Singh to become an ally of the British. By the treaty Ranjit Singh accepted Sutlej as the boundary of his Kingdom and faithfully observed the treaty terms all his life. The treaty was important as it brought stability to the Punjab territory and the Company's possessions in the east were secured.

Minto's principal headache was, however, the revived French threat. Minto tried to minimize the French influence by a series of Mission to forestall a joint Franco-Russian invasion on India though Persia. John Malcolm was sent to Persia and Mountstuart Elphinstone to the Afghan Amir Shah Shuja. Both the powers promised to resist the French. A mission was also sent to the Amirs of Sind, who assured to exclude the French from their territory. For further measures against the French threat Lord Minto conquered the French Island of Bourbon and Mauritius in the west and annexed the Dutch possessions of Amboina and conquered the island of Java in 1811. Minto thus put a check on the French menace.

Minto paid attention to the improvement of administration in India and tried to introduce reforms in the press and education. He left for England in December 1813, was created an Earl in the same year. He died on 21 June 1814 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. [KM Mohsin]