Government to observe remembrance anniversary of Jallianwala Bagh massacre

Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma has said that Jallianwala Bagh will undergo redevelopment as part of the remembrance of 100 years of the massacre that took place during the British rule.

The commemorative coin and postage stamps will be released on 13th April 2019 (the day the incident took place 100 years ago).

Ministry of Culture will organize cultural activities like Kavi sammelan, plays, exhibition, seminars, etc. across the country.

A Committee is constituted to ensure timely implementation to Renovate, upgrade and beautify the Jallianwalla Bagh Memorial, and Develop Virtual Reality Theme Based show at the Memorial.

The Ministry of Tourism earmarked an amount of Rs. 8 crores under Swadesh Darshan Scheme for development of Virtual Reality Theme Based show at the Memorial.

The Ministry of Culture will provide additional funds if needed.

It is also known as the Amritsar Massacre (dated April 13, 1919) at Jallianwala Bagh, Amritsar, Punjab.

On 13th April 1919, thousands of people were gathered at Jallianwala Bagh. This day marks the beginning of New Year for the Sikhs, also celebrated as Baisakhi festival all over Punjab.

Colonel Reginald Dyer had announced curfew and a ban on all processions that even prohibited a group of 4 or more people to meet publicly. However, General Dyer sensed the number of people present there and the secret meeting that was about to take place. Thus, he arrived with armed troops and ordered to open fire.

The troops were ordered to start shooting; this heinous act of violence resulted in extreme mass killing.

To keep in mind this significance of this place, a trust was founded in 1920 to build a memorial site at Jallianwala Bagh. American architect, Benjamin Polk, built the memorial site which was inaugurated by the then President of India, Rajendra Prasad on 13 April 1961.

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India’s Magna Carta

This month marks the 100th year of the publication of the ‘Report on Indian constitutional reforms’, commonly known as the Montagu-Chelmsford Report (MCR). Edwin Montagu, then Secretary of State for India, had advocated for increased participation of Indians in the British Indian administration and had begun consultations nearly a year earlier. After many meetings with Indian representatives, Montagu and the then Governor-General, Lord Chelmsford, published the MCR on July 8, 1918.

Features of the Act:

It relaxed the central control over the provinces by demarcating and separating the central and provincial subjects. The central and provincial legislatures were authorized to make laws on their respective list of subjects. However, the structure of government continued to be centralized and unitary.

It further divided the provincial subjects into two parts—transferred and reserved. The transferred subjects were to be administered by the governor with the aid of ministers responsible to the Legislative Council. The reserved subjects, on the other hand, were to be administered by the governor and his executive council without being responsible to the Legislative Council. This dual scheme of governance was known as ‘dyarchy’—a term derived from the Greek word di-arche which means a double rule. However, this experiment was largely unsuccessful.

It introduced, for the first time, bicameralism. Thus, the Indian Legislative Council was replaced by a bicameral legislature consisting of an Upper House (Council of State) and a Lower House (Legislative Assembly). The majority of members of both the Houses were chosen by direct election.

It required that the three of the six members of the Viceroy’s Executive Council (other than the commander-in-chief) were to be Indian.

It extended the principle of communal representation by providing separate electorates for Sikhs, Indian Christians, Anglo-Indians, and Europeans. It granted a franchise to a limited number of people on the basis of property, tax or education.

It created a new office of the High Commissioner for India in London and transferred to him some of the functions hitherto performed by the Secretary of State for India.

It provided for the establishment of a public service commission. Hence, a Central Public Service Commission was set up in 1926 for recruiting civil servants.

It separated, for the first time, provincial budgets from the Central budget and authorized the provincial legislatures to enact their budgets.

It provided for the appointment of a statutory commission to inquire into and report on its working after ten years of its coming into force.

How was it received by Indians?

The 1919 reforms did not satisfy political demands in India. The British repressed opposition and restrictions on the press and on movement were re-enacted through the Rowlatt Acts introduced in 1919. The act allowed certain political cases to be tried without juries and permitted internment of suspects without trial.

These measures were rammed through the Legislative Council with the unanimous opposition of the Indian members. Several members of the council including Jinnah resigned in protest. These measures were widely seen throughout India of the betrayal of strong support given by the population for the British war effort.

Magna Carta of Modern India:

The 1919 Act went on to become the basis for the Government of India Act, 1919 and 1935, and, ultimately, the Constitution. The key principles of responsible government, self-governance, and federal structure grew out of these reforms. The Act on Indian constitutional reforms along with the Montagu Declaration is, thus, worthy claimants of the title of the Magna Carta of Modern India.

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