What was the Hunter Commission? 

4 minute read
What Was the Hunter Commission?

The Hunter Commission came together in 1882, under Lord William Hunter to understand the state of education in India and the improvements that could be made. The Commission submitted its report in 1882 which contained suggestions for the progress of education in India. 37 years later, the Hunter Commission came together again in 1919, to look into the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre that took place in Amritsar. In this blog, we will delve into the Hunter Commission and get to know everything about it.

Who was Lord William Hunter?

Lord William Wilson Hunter was a member of the Executive Council of the Viceroy and an Indian Civil Services officer. He was also the former Solicitor-General for Scotland and Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland. Lord William Hunter chaired the Hunter Commission relating to Education in 1882 and then again in 1919 to report on the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. 

Image Source: Wikipedia 

Why was the Hunter Commission formed?

The Hunter Commission was formed because of the following reasons:

  • The Revolt of 1857, caused the transfer of administrative powers over British India, from the British East India Company to the British Crown. 
  • A reassessment of the educational situation in the country was needed because the grant-in-aid system put forth by Wood’s Despatch of 1854 had not been implemented.
  • After this, the General Council of Education in India was formed. 
  • The Viceroy of India from 1880 to 1884, Lord Ripon, was asked to look into the state of education, by the General Council of Education. 
  • The Hunter Commission was appointed by Lord Ripon and constituted the Indian Education Commission of 1882, also known as the Hunter Commission. 

What was the Composition of the Hunter Commission in 1882?

The Hunter Commission was composed of Lord William Hunter and 20 other members including 7 Indian members were:

  • Sayed Mahmud
  • Bhudev Mukherjee
  • Anand Mohan Basu
  • K. T. Telang
  • Hari Gulam
  • Anand Mohan Basu
  • Maharaja Jitendra Mohan Tagore

Also Read: First Viceroy of India, Lord Canning

What were the Objectives of the Hunter Commission in 1882?

The Objectives of the Hunter Commission in 1882 were:

  • The implementation of Wood’s Despatch of 1854 and the utilisation of the grants-in-aid.
  • To assess the work of religious missionaries in the education field. 
  • To assess the state of primary education and suggest improvements. 
  • To deliberate whether the government should continue to provide education to the country.
  • To assess the secondary and higher education in India. 

What were the Recommendations of the Hunter Commission in 1882?

Earlier schemes had neglected primary and secondary education. With the shift of education to the provinces in 1870, primary and secondary education suffered as the provinces already had limited resources. They confined their recommendations to primary and secondary education. 

  1. The state’s special care is required for the extension and improvement of primary education and primary education should be imparted through the vernacular medium.  
  2. The transfer of control of primary education to newly set up district and municipal boards under the Local Self Government Act. 
  3. The secondary (High school) education should have two divisions-
  • Literary- up to University level
  • Vocational- for commercial careers
  1. They drew attention to inadequate facilities for female education, especially outside presidency towns and made recommendations for it to spread. 

Also Read: The Indian Councils Act of 1909: Morley-Minto Reforms

Why did the Hunter Commission reconvene again in 1919?

The Jallianwala Bagh Massacre shocked the Indians and the British as well. The Secretary of State for India at that time, Edwin Montagu, called for a committee of inquiry to investigate the matter. 

On the 14th of October, 1919, the Government announced the formation of the Disorders Inquiry Committee, which came to be known as the Hunter Commission, after the name of its chairman, Lord William Hunter. 

The Purpose of the Commission was to “investigate the recent disturbances in Bombay, Delhi, and Punjab about their causes, and the measures taken to cope with them.”

Image Source: UK Parliament

What was the Composition of the Hunter Commission in 1919?

Indian Members:

  • Sir Chimanlal Harilal Setalvad, the Vice-Chancellor of Bombay University and advocate of the Bombay High Court
  • Pandit Jagat Narayan, a lawyer and member of the Legislative Council of the United Provinces 
  • Sardar Sahibzada Sultan Ahmed, a lawyer from the state of Gwalior. 

What was the Hunter Commission Report in 1920?

In March 1920, the final report by the commission unanimously condemned General Dyer’s actions relating to the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre. Here are more statements from the report:

  • The report stated that the lack of notice to disperse from the Bagh at the very beginning was an error.
  • The length of firing at the civilians was a grave error.
  • Dyer’s motive for producing a sufficient moral effect was to be condemned. 
  • Dyer had overstepped the bounds of his authority. 
  • There had been no conspiracy to overthrow the British rule in Punjab. 

Also Read: What is Rowlett Act and Jallianwala Bagh Massacre? 

What was the Minority Report by the Indians?

 There was a minority report by the Indian members further added that:

  • The proclamations banning public meetings were not sufficiently publicised. 
  • There were innocent people in the crowd. 
  • There had not been any violence in the Bagh beforehand
  • Dyer should have ordered his troops to help the wounded or instructed the civil authorities to do so.
  • Dyer’s actions had been “inhuman and un-British” and had greatly injured the image of the British rule in India.
Lord LansdowneLord Irwin
Lord LyttonLord Chelmsford
The Government of India Act 1919Civil Disobedience Movement
Morley-Minto ReformsGandhi Irwin Pact (1931)
Bengal PartitionChalukya Dynasty

We hope you liked what you read. If you want to read more articles like this you can visit our general knowledge page on Indian History!

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *