Canning, Lord

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Canning, Lord (1812-1862) was the last Governor General of India from 1856-1862 and the first Viceroy from 1 November 1858. Born on 14 December 1812 Charles John Canning was the third son of the famous statesman George Canning and was educated at Putney, Eton and Christ Church, Oxford.

The most significant event during his administration was the outbreak of the sepoy revolt, 1857. Lord Canning suppressed it and the Parliamentary Act of 1858 followed the event. By the Proclamation of the Queen, the east india company's rule ended and the Crown of England took over the government of India. Though he meted out punishment to those who had taken part in the uprising, yet he avoided indiscriminate vengeance on the Indians as far as possible and thus earned the title of 'Clemency Canning'. He restored law and order in an effective way and introduced a reform in the administration.

Canning reorganised the British Indian army and restored financial stability by introducing income tax, a uniform tariff of ten percent and a convertible paper currency. To remove certain grievances of the cultivators of Bengal under the permanent settlement passed the Bengal rent act in 1859 to give better security to the tenants. The British started tea and coffee plantations. The recommendations of Charles Wood on education made in 1854 were given effect and the three universities of Calcutta, Bombay and Madras were founded in 1857. He appointed a commission to enquire into the grievances of the peasants of Bengal and Bihar against the European Indigo-planters. Acting on the recommendations of the commission he greatly curved the highhandedness of the planters. The Indian Penal Code framed by lord metcalfe, was introduced and the Criminal Procedure Code appeared in 1861. In the subsequent year the old Supreme Courts and Company's Adalat were replaced by High Courts in three Presidency towns. One of the important events towards the end of Lord Canning's administration was the passing of the Indian Council Act of 1861 by which non-official Indian members were nominated to the Viceroy's Legislative Council.

Worn-out by the heavy and demanding tasks during the war of 1857 and after, Canning retired and left India on 18 March 1862 in bad health. But before his retirement, in recognition of his services in India, he was raised to the rank of an earldom in 1859. A few months after his return to England he died on 17 June 1862, and was buried in West Ministers Abbey. [KM Mohsin]