The policies of Elgin (1862-63), Lawrence (1864-69), Mayo (1869-72) and Northbrook (1872-76) are collectively called the period of Policy of masterly inactivity. The main object of the British policy during this period was let things go quietly on to give the land rest. It was opposite to the “Forward Policy” of Lord Lytton.

John Lawrence was not a new face in India. He had brilliantly organized the supply of the British army in Punjab during the First Anglo Sikh war of 1845-1846 and was made the commissioner of the Jalandhar. In the second Anglo Sikh War, he was appointed as the member of the Punjab Board of Administration under his elder brother Henry Montgomery Lawrence. Some reforms such as abolition of internal duties, establishment of a common currency and postal system, and development of Punjabi infrastructure made him popular and he was ‘by some’ people called “the Saviour of the Punjab”. He was partially able to prevent the Sikhs enter into mutiny due to his popular image and a general Sikh detest towards the Mughals.

While appointed at Punjab, Lawrence had made an agreement with the Afghan leader Dost Muhammad Khan, but during his tenure as Viceroy, he adopted a cautious policy and avoided the conflicts with the Afghans and Persians.

Submarine telegraphy system started in 1865 between India and Europe via Persian Gulf. The Punjab and Oudh Tenancy acts were passed in 1868. The Punjab and Oudh Tenancy acts were passed in 1868. John Lawrence retired in January, 1869. Lord Mayo succeeded Lord Lawrence in 1869.