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Difference between Viceroy and Governor-General of India | UPSC

Governor-General and Viceroy were the two main administrative posts in British India. Most UPSC aspirants get confused with these terms. It is imperative to know the subtle differences between the two as they are frequently asked in the examination.

In this article, we will discuss the main differences between these two posts that were held by the heads of the state during British rule.

Difference between Viceroy and Governor-General

The post of Governor-General of India and Viceroy was preceded by Governor of Bengal. When the East India Company came to India, it controlled Bengal through the post of Governor of Bengal. The first governor of Bengal was Robert Clive. After the Regulating Act of 1773, the post of governor of Madras and Bombay came under the governor of Bengal who now became Governor-General of Bengal. The first governor-general of Bengal was Lord Warren Hastings. 

However, after the Regulating Act of 1833, the post of Governor-General of Bengal got converted into Governor-General of India. This post is further converted into Viceroy of India through the Government of India Act, 1858. Let us now see the subtle differences between these two posts.


Governor-General of India

Viceroy of India

The post is created by

The post was created by Regulating Act of 1833 that converted the post of Governor-General of Bengal to Governor-General of India. The Governor-General of India was selected by the court of directors of East India company. 

The post was created by the Government of India, 1858 after the Revolt of 1857. It converted the post of Governor-General of India to Viceroy of India who was the representative of the British crown.

First-person to hold the office

William Bentick

Lord Canning

Last person to hold the office

C. Rajgopalachari (also first Indian governor-general of India)

Lord Louis Mountbatten

A representative of/Reported to

Court of Directors of East India Company

British Crown

Duration of Post



Significant Events During the Reign of Governor-General and Viceroy of India

Mainly, the questions are asked from the specific events that were held during the reign of a specific governor-general or viceroy of India. We have tabulated the specific events below:



Lord Warren Hastings (1773-1785)

  • Regulating Act of 1773

  • Pitts India Act, 1784

  • 1st Anglo-Maratha War (1775-1782) and Treaty of Salbai (1782)

  • J.A Hickey started the first newspaper in India called “Bengal Gazette” (1780)

Lord Cornwallis (1786-1793)

  • Third Anglo-Mysore War (Tipu Sultan was defeated) and Treaty of Srirangapatnam.

  • Sanskrit College was established in Benaras by Jonathan Duncan

  • Permanent Settlement of Bengal, 1793.

Sir John Shore (1793-1798)

  • Policy of Non-Interference

Lord Wellesley (1798-1805)

  • Subsidiary Alliance System was introduced(1798)

  • Fourth Mysore War and death of Tipu Sultan (1799)

  • Second Maratha War (1803-1805)

Lord Minto I (1807-1813)

  • Treaty of Amritsar with Ranjit Singh Rajesh(1809)

  • Charter Act of 1813

Lord Hastings (1813-1823)

  • Anglo-Nepal War (1814-16) and the Treaty of Sagauli, 1816

  • Third Maratha War (1817-19) and dissolution of Maratha Confederacy

  • Establishment of Ryotwari System (1820)

  • Establishment of Mahalwari system of land revenue.

Lord Amherst (1823-1828)

  • First Burmese War (1824-1826)

  • Treaty of Yandaboo

Lord William Bentinck (1828-1835)

  • Abolition of Sati System (1829)

  • Ban on female infanticide

  • Charter Act of 1833

Lord Auckland (1836-1842)

  • First Afghan War (1838-42)

Lord Hardinge I (1844-1848)

  • First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-46) and the Treaty of Lahore (1846).

  • Social reforms like the abolition of female infanticide

Lord Dalhousie (1848-1856)

  • Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49)

  • The annexation of Lower Burma (1852)

  • Introduction of the Doctrine of Lapse

  • Wood’s Despatch 1854

  • Laying down of first railway line connecting Bombay and Thane in 1853

  • Laying down of first railway line connecting Bombay and Thane in 1853

  • Establishment of PWD

Lord Canning (1856-1862)

  • Revolt of 1857

  • Establishment of three universities at Calcutta, Madras and Bombay in 1857

  • Abolition of East India Company and transfer of control to the Crown by the Government of India Act, 1858

  • Indian Councils Act of 1861

Lord John Lawrence (1864-1869)

  • Bhutan War (1865)

  • Establishment of the High Courts at Calcutta, Bombay and Madras (1865)

Lord Lytton (1876-1880)

  • The Vernacular Press Act (1878)

  • The Arms Act (1878)

  • The Second Afghan War (1878-80)

  • Queen Victoria assumed the title of ‘Kaiser-i-Hind’ or Queen Empress of India

Lord Ripon (1880-1884)

  • Repeal of the Vernacular Press Act (1882)

  • The first Factory Act (1881)

  • Government resolution on local self-government (1882)

  • The Ilbert Bill controversy (1883-84)

  • Hunter Commission on education (1882)

Lord Dufferin (1884-1888)

  • The Third Burmese War (1885-86).

  • Establishment of the Indian National Congress (1885)

Lord Lansdowne (1888-1894)

  • Factory Act (1891).

  • Indian Councils Act (1892).

  • Setting up of Durand Commission (1893)

Lord Curzon (1899-1905)

  • Appointment of Police Commission (1902)

  • Appointment of Universities Commission (1902)

  • Indian Universities Act (1904).

  • Partition of Bengal (1905)

Lord Minto II (1905-1910)

  • Swadeshi Movements. (1905-11)

  • Surat Split of Congress (1907)

  • Establishment of Muslim League (1906)

  • Morley-Minto Reforms(1909)

Lord Hardinge II (1910-1916)

  • Annulment of Partition of Bengal (1911)

  • Transfer of capital from Calcutta to Delhi (1911).

  • Establishment of the Hindu Mahasabha (1915)

Lord Chelmsford (1916-1921)

  • Lucknow pact (1916)

  • Champaran Satyagraha (1917)

  • Montagu’s August Declaration (1917)

  • Government of India Act (1919)

  • The Rowlatt Act (1919)

  • Jallianwalla Bagh massacre (1919)

  • Launch of Non-Cooperation and Khilafat Movements

Lord Reading (1921-1926)

  • Chauri Chaura incident (1922)

  • Withdrawal of Non-Cooperation Movement (1922)

  • Establishment of Swaraj Party(1922)

  • Kakori train robbery (1925)

Lord Irwin (1926-1931)

  • Simon Commission to India (1927)

  • Harcourt Butler Indian States Commission (1927)

  • Nehru Report (1928)

  • Deepavali Declaration (1929)

  • Lahore session of the Congress (Purna Swaraj Resolution) 1929

  • Dandi March and the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930)

  • First Round Table Conference (1930)

  • Gandhi-Irwin Pact (1931)

Lord Willingdon (1931-1936)

  • Communal Award (1932)

  • Second & Third Round Table Conference (1932)

  • Poona Pact (1932)

  • Government of India Act of 1935

Lord Linlithgow (1936-1944)

  • Resignation of the Congress ministries after the outbreak of the Second World War (1939)

  • Tripuri Crisis & formation of Forward Bloc (1939)

  • Lahore Resolution of the Muslim League (demand for a separate state for Muslims) 1940

  • ‘August Offer’ (1940)

  • Formation of the Indian National Army (1941)

  • Cripps Mission (1942)

  • Quit India Movement (1942)

Lord Wavell (1944-1947)

  • C. Rajagopalachari’s CR Formula (1944)

  • Wavell Plan and the Simla Conference (1942)

  • Cabinet Mission (1946)

  • Direct Action Day (1946)

  • Announcement of end of British rule in India by Clement Attlee (1947)

Lord Mountbatten (1947-1948)

  • June Third Plan (1947)

  • Redcliff commission (1947)

  • India’s Independence (15 August 1947)

Chakravarti Rajagopalachari (1948-1950)

  • Last Governor-General of India, before the office, was permanently abolished in 1950

Here, we discussed the difference between the Viceroy and Governor-General of India as well as specific events that happened during the tenure of some of the most important viceroy and governors-general of India. 

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