India 1765 - History

India 1765 - History

We are searching data for your request:

Forums and discussions:
Manuals and reference books:
Data from registers:
Wait the end of the search in all databases.
Upon completion, a link will appear to access the found materials.

India 1765

Robert Clive

Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article.

Robert Clive, in full Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive of Plassey, (born September 29, 1725, Styche, Shropshire, England—died November 22, 1774, London), soldier and first British administrator of Bengal, who was one of the creators of British power in India. In his first governorship (1755–60) he won the Battle of Plassey and became master of Bengal. In his second governorship (1764–67) he reorganized the British colony.

Young Clive was a difficult boy and was sent to several schools, including the Merchant Taylors’ School in London, though without much visible result. In 1743, when Clive was 18, he was sent to Madras (now Chennai) in the service of the British East India Company.

1800 to 1825

Carnatic annexed to the British empire

Battle of Poona between rival Maratha clans

Treaty of Bassein between British and Baji Rao II

2nd term of Lord Cornwallis as governor general

George Barlow as governor general

Vellore Mutiny timeline of indian history

Lord Minto I became governor general

British missions under Malcolm to Persia

British mission to Kabul under Elphinstone

Treaty of Amritsar between the English and Ranjit Singh

Charter Act – end of companies monopoly over trade

Lord Hastings as governor general

Treaty of Sagauli – established the boundary line of Nepal

Pindari war timeline of indian history

1st cotton mill in India, Fort Gloster, Howrah

Protective alliances with the states of Rajputana

Thomas Munro as governor of Madras

Lord Amherst governor general

Annexation of Assam, Arakan and Tennasserim


1 Indian troops were used in the Crimean War, in Persia (1856-57), China (1859), Ethiopia (1867) they were dispatched to the Mediterranean during the crisis of 1878, used in Egypt (1882), the Sudan (1896-98), in both world wars, and in numerous lesser encounters.

2 There is an expanding literature on Indian indenture. See Saunders , Kay , ed., Indentured Labour in the British Empire, 1834-1920 ( London , 1984 )Google Scholar Tinker , Hugh , A New System of Slavery: The Export of Indian Labour Overseas, 1830-1920 ( London , 1971 )Google Scholar Cumpston , I.M. , Indians in Overseas British Territories, 1834-1854 ( London , 1953 )Google Scholar Gangulee , N. , Indians in the Empire Overseas ( London , 1947 )Google Scholar Kondapi , C. , Indians Overseas 1838-1949 ( Madras , 1951 )Google Scholar Nath , Dwarka , A History of Indians in British Guiana ( London , 1950 )Google Scholar Weller , Judith Ann , East Indian Indenture in Trinidad ( Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico , 1968 ).Google Scholar

3 At the end of the nineteenth century, the British determined that about 150 separate vernacular languages were spoken in India. Khursheed Kamal Aziz claims that no Indian “could claim to know India” the most he could hope to know intimately was “his own province or perhaps some areas in the neighborhood.” See his The British in India: A Study in Imperialism ( Islamabad , 1976 ), p. 170 .Google Scholar

4 Mookerji , Radha Kumud , Fundamental Unity of India ( London , 1914 )Google Scholar and Nationalism in Hindu Culture ( 4th edn, Dehli 1957 , 1st edn, 1921 ).Google Scholar

5 R.C. Majumdar offers a comprehensive analysis of nationalist historical writing in Philips , C.H. , ed., Historians of India, Pakistan, and Ceylon ( London , 1961 ), pp. 416 –28.Google Scholar

6 Sen , S.P. and Majumdar , R.C. in Sen , S.P. , ed., Historians and Historiography in Modern India ( Calcutta , 1973 ), pp. xiii-xv, xvii – xxiii .Google Scholar

7 Marshall , P.J. , “ British Expansion in India in the Eighteenth Century: A Historical Revision ,” History 60 ( 1975 ): 38 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

8 Studies of the Aligarh school generally representing this view are Chandra , Satish , Parties and Politics at the Mughal Court, 1707-1740 ( Aligarh , 1959 )Google Scholar , Ali , M. Athar , The Mughal Nobility Under Aurangzeb ( Aligarh , 1966 )Google Scholar , and Siddiqi , Norman Ahmad , Land Revenue Administration under the Mughals (1700-1750) ( New York , 1970 ).Google Scholar

9 Habib , Irfan , The Agrarian System of Mughal India ( Bombay , 1963 ).Google Scholar

10 Richards , J.F. , “ The Imperial Crisis in the Deccan ,” Journal of Asian Studies 35 ( 1976 ): 237 – 256 CrossRefGoogle Scholar . Richards thinks that there were ample lands in newly acquired regions to supply most of the nobles' requirements if the emperor had distributed them properly. Northern rank-holders, he argues, opposed the inclusion of “pot black” southern Hindu noblemen into the Mughal elite.

11 Pearson , M.N. , “ Shivaji and the Decline of the Mughal Empire ,” Journal of Asian Studies 35 ( 1976 ): 221 – 235 Google Scholar . For a review of Richards and Pearson, see Hardy , Peter , “ Commentary and Critique ,” Journal of Asian Studies 35 ( 1976 ): 257 – 263 CrossRefGoogle Scholar . Both Pearson and Richards agree with Aligarh historians that Mughal decline was well underway in the final half of the seventeenth century. Earlier views, represented in Spear's , Percival A History of India ( Baltimore , 1965 ), vol. II Google Scholar , held that Mughal power remained largely intact until the death of Aurangzeb. In his “ The Passing of Empire: The Mughal Case ,” Modern Asian Studies 9 ( 1975 ): 385 –96CrossRefGoogle Scholar , M. Athar Ali places Mughal decline in a global world-systems context. For an argument that Mughal decline was not as irreversible as writers of Indian history have implied, see Heesterman , J.C. , “ Was There an Indian Reaction? Western Expansion in Indian Perspective ,” in Wesseling , H.L. , ed., Expansion and Reaction: Essays on European Expansion and Recations in Asia and Africa ( Leiden , 1978 ), p. 35 .Google Scholar

12 Leonard , Karen , “ The ‘Great Firm’ Theory of the Decline of the Mughal Empire ,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 21 ( 1979 ): 151 – 167 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

13 Other works on the Mughals include: Chopra , Pran Nath , Some Aspects of Society and Culture during the Mughal Ages (1526-1707) , 2nd ed. ( Agra , 1963 )Google Scholar Habib , Irfan , “ Potentialities of Capitalistic Development in the Economy of Mughal India ,” Journal of Economic History 29 ( 1969 ): 32 – 78 CrossRefGoogle Scholar Hardy , Peter , The Muslims of British India ( Cambridge , 1972 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Hasan , Ibn , The Central Structure of the Mughal Empire ( 1936 reprinted, London 1970 )Google Scholar Naqvi , H.K. , Urbanization and Urban Centres under the Great Mughals ( Simla , 1971 )Google Scholar Qureshi , I.H. , The Administration of the Mughal Empire ( Karachi , 1966 )Google Scholar Richards , J.F. , Mughal Administration in Golconda ( Oxford , 1975 )Google Scholar Roy , A.C. , History of Bengal: Mughal Period, 1526-1765 ( Calcutta , 1968 )Google Scholar Sarkar , Judunath Sir , Fall of the Mughal Empire , 4 vols. ( Calcutta , 1957 )Google Scholar Sir Sarkar , Judunath , Mughal Administration , 4th ed. ( Calcutta , 1957 ).Google Scholar

14 Khan , A.M. , The Transition in Bengal ( Cambridge , 1969 )Google Scholar . Anil Chandra Banerjee has examined British relations with Rajputana as well as British involvement in the first Burmese War. See his The Rajput States and the East India Company ( Calcutta , 1957 )Google Scholar and The Eastern Frontier of British India 1784-1826 2nd ed. ( Calcutta , 1946 )Google Scholar . For Assam , Rebati Mohan Lahir , The Annexation of Assam, 1824-1854 ( Calcutta , 1975 )Google Scholar . Engagements between the British and Marathas from 1770 to 1818 are treated in the final volume of Sardesai's , Govind Sakharam The New History of the Marathas ( Bombay , 1946 – 1948 )Google Scholar . For the south, see Sobhanan , B. , Rama Varma of Travancore, His Role in the Consolidation of British Power in South India ( Calcutta , 1951 ).Google Scholar

15 Gallagher , John and Robinson , Ronald , “ The Imperialism of Free Trade ,” The Economic History Review , 2nd ser., 6 ( 1953 ): 1 – 15 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

16 Fieldhouse , D.K. , Economics and Empire 1830-1914 ( Ithaca , 1973 ).Google Scholar

17 Imperialism and Free Trade: Lancashire and India in the Mid-Nineteenth Century ( Vancouver , 1972 ), pp. 4, 69 Google Scholar . Relations between British cotton magnates and India is well treated in Silver , Arthur W. , Manchester Men and Indian Cotton 1847-1872 ( Manchester , 1966 ).Google Scholar

18 Fieldhouse , , Economics and Empire , p. 174 .Google Scholar

19 Huttenback , Robert , British Relations with Sind 1799-1843 ( Berkeley and Los Angeles , 1962 ), p. 29 Google Scholar . Huttenback considered the annexation of Sind initially spurred by commercial interests. The region commanded the lower Indus, and the British believed the river would afford a highway for trade to Central Asia. After annexation, the river was found not fully navigable.

20 The most thorough analysis of the conquest and subsequent administration of Sind is a beautifully written and richly detailed work by Limbrick , H.T. , Sir Charles Napier and Sind ( Oxford , 1952 ).Google Scholar

21 Singh , Khushwant , A History of the Sikhs, vol. II: 1839-1964 ( Princeton , 1966 ), pp. 31 – 37 Google Scholar . For other analyses of internal disintegration and British annexation, see Hasrat , B.J. , Anglo-Sikh Relations 1799-1849. A Reappraisal of the Rise and Fall of the Sikhs ( Hoshiapur , 1968 )Google Scholar Gupta , Hari Ram , ed., Punjab on the Eve of the Sikh War ( Hoshiapur , 1956 )Google Scholar . Mohjan's , J. Circumstances Leading to the Annexation of the Punjab, 1846-1849 ( Allahabad , 1949 )Google Scholar is particularly hostile to British policy.

22 Pemble's , John The Raj, the Indian Mutiny, and the Kingdom of Oudh, 1801-1859 ( Rutherford, N.J. , 1977 )Google Scholar is a rich and sympathetic book on Oudh and its capital city, Lucknow.

23 Gerald Graham observed that after 1815 Britain was immune from serious overseas competition, enjoying for the first and only time a “comfortable ‘splendid isolation.’” France was prostrate as a colonial and maritime force the Dutch were restored to empire at suffrance and the Portuguese and Spanish were feeble. With little more than two squadrons, the Royal Navy amply protected eastern waters from European competition. Great Britain in the Indian Ocean: A Study of Maritime Enterprise 1810-1850 ( Oxford , 1967 ), pp. 1 – 3 .Google Scholar

24 Vol. I, Discovery and Revolution ( London , 1952 )Google ScholarPubMed Vol. II, New Continents and Changing Values ( London , 1964 )Google Scholar . See, in particular, Vol. I, chapter 3, “The Swing to the East.”

25 Williams , Eric , Capitalism and Slavery ( Chapel Hill , 1944 ), p. 13 .Google Scholar

26 Green , William A , British Slave Emancipation: The Sugar Colonies and the Great Experiment, 1830-1865 ( Oxford , 1976 ), p. 73 Google Scholar . In 1818, five years after the renewed East India Company charter had opened the trade of India to independent merchants, only 36 of the 1723 vessels departing Liverpool for outside the United Kingdom sailed to India.

27 Mackay , D.L. , “ Direction and Purpose in British Imperial Policy, 1783-1801 ,” The Historical Journal 17 ( 1974 ): 487 – 501 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

28 Misra , G.S. , British Foreign Policy and Indian Affairs, 1783-1815 ( New York , 1963 ).Google Scholar

29 Ingram , Edward , “ The Rules of the Game: A Commentary on the Defense of British India, 1798-1829 ,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 3 ( 1975 ): 257 – 279 CrossRefGoogle Scholar The Beginning of the Great Game in Asia, 1828-1834 ( New York , 1979 )Google Scholar . See, also, Alder , G.J. , “ Britain and the Defense of India—The Origins of the Problem, 1798-1815 ,” Journal of Asian History 6 ( 1972 ): 14 – 44 .Google Scholar

30 Norris , J.A. , The First Afghan War, 1838-1842 ( Cambridge , 1967 )Google Scholar . An excellent new study on Indian frontier policy, Yapp's , M.E. Strategies of British India: Britain, Iran, and Afghanistan, 1798-1850 ( Oxford , 1980 )Google Scholar , denies that defense against the Russians was the principal determinant of frontier policy. Rather, it was the fear of internal revolt that most worried the rulers of India and often propelled them into adventurous actions on the frontiers. Yapp strongly affirms the Fieldhouse view that decisions to extend British territory arose on the periphery. He declares Indian imperialism bureaucratic, not economic, and he observes that divided responsibilities for India in London allowed vital decisions to be taken in the subcontinent.

31 In his Beginning of the Great Game, p. 328, Ingram acknowledges that the Eastern Question (what to do about the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century) and the Great Game are two sides of the same coin and must be studied together. Important works include: Alder , G.J. , British India's Northern Frontier, 1865-1895: study in Imperial Policy ( London , 1963 )Google Scholar Bilgrami , A.H. , Afghanistan and British India, 1793-1907 ( New Delhi , 1972 )Google Scholar Edwardes , Michael , Playing the Great Game: A Victorian Cold War ( London , 1975 )Google Scholar Gleason , John , The Genesis of Russophobia in Great Britain ( Cambridge, Mass. , 1950 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar Miller , Charles , Khyber, British India's Northwest Frontier: The Story of an Imperial Migräne ( New York , 1977 ).Google Scholar

32 For a chronological survey of administrative and institutional developments, the Cambridge History of the British Empire: vol. IV, British India remains invaluable. Marshall's , P.J. short Problems of Empire: Britain and India 1757-1813 ( London and New York , 1968 )Google Scholar provides beginning students a succinct and more up-to-date analysis of administrative organization, company problems, and the evolving imposition of control by the metropolitan government. Sutherland , L.S. , The East India Company in Eighteenth-century Politics ( Oxford , 1952 )Google Scholar and Philips , C.H. , The East India Company, 1784-1834 ( Manchester , 1940 Google Scholar reprinted, 1961) are the most detailed studies of internal operations of the Company, though they concentrate heavily upon the Company as an English institution in an English political environment. Furber's , Holden John Company at Work ( Cambridge, Mass. , 1948 reprinted, 1970)CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Parkinson's , C. Northcote Trade in the Eastern Seas 1793-1813 ( Cambridge , 1937 )Google Scholar provide rich and elegantly written analyses of Company institutions and Company servants in an Asian setting. For an evaluation of earlier developments in the East India Company, see Chaudhuri , K.N. , The Trading World of Asia and the English East India Company 1660-1760 ( Cambridge , 1978 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar . Misra's , B.B. two works span the whole period: The Central Administration of the East India Company 1773-1834 ( Manchester , 1959 )Google Scholar The Administrative History of India, 1834-1947: General Administration ( Bombay , 1970 )Google Scholar . For an insight into the role of chairmen of the Board of Directors of the Company, see Embree's , Ainslie Charles Grant and British Rule in India ( New York , 1962 )Google Scholar the role of President of the Board of Control is described in Furber , Holden , Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville ( London , 1931 )Google Scholar . Highly useful studies of prominent Anglo-Indian administrators include: Franklin , and Wickwire , Mary , Cornwallis: The Imperial Years ( Chapel Hill , 1980 )Google Scholar Beaglehole , T.H. , Thomas Munro and the Development of Administrative Policy in Madras ( Cambridge , 1966 )Google Scholar Choksey , R.D. , Mountstuart Elphinstone: The Indian Years, 1796-1827 ( Bombay , 1971 )Google Scholar Panigrahi , D.N. , Charles Metcalfe in India: Ideas and Administration, 1806-1835 ( Delhi , 1968 )Google Scholar Rosselli , John , Lord William Bentinck ( Berkeley and Los Angeles , 1974 )Google Scholar and Ghosh , Suresh Chandra , Dalhousie in India, 1848-56: A Study of His Social Policy as Governor General ( New Delhi , 1975 )Google Scholar . Woodruff's , Philip The Men Who Ruled India , 2 vols. ( London , 1953 – 1954 )Google Scholar is a sympathetic overview of Indian administration and administrators. Publication of The Correspondence of Lord William Cavendish Bentinck, Governor-General of India, 1828-1835 , 2 vols., edited by Philips , C.H. ( Oxford , 1977 )Google Scholar provides a mine of information on administrative procedures.

33 Felling's , Keith Warren Hastings ( London , 1954 )Google Scholar provides limited treatment of his subject's orientalism. One must turn to the Memoirs of the Life of Right Honorable Warren Hastings , 2 vols., compiled by Gleig , G.K. ( London , 1841 )Google Scholar . Marshall , P.J. , ed., The British Discovery of Hinduism in the Eighteenth Century ( Cambridge , 1970 )Google Scholar offers selections from British orientalists written between 1767-1790. Three of those selections are from William Jones, the subject of two recent biographies: Sir Mukherjee , S.N. William Jones: A Study in Eighteenth-Century British Attitudes to India ( Cambridge , 1968 )Google Scholar and Cannon , G. , Oriental Jones ( New York , 1964 )Google Scholar . Kopf , David , British Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: the Dynamics of Indian Modernization 1773-1835 ( Berkeley and Los Angeles , 1969 )Google Scholar provides unmatched coverage of the evolution of Anglo-Indian orientalism to its demise in the Bentinck period.

34 It might also be argued that anglicism was advanced by the course of events. After 1765, Clive established dual government in Bengal whereby the East India Company collected revenue and administered some aspects of civil justice while a native Bengali administration managed other areas of government. A power vacuum ensued: Indian authority melted away Company servants seized opportunities for plunder famine devoured three million people and Company authorities, admitting failure of dual government, chose to assume full sovereignty. Parliament twice intervened (1773 and 1784) to impose western forms of regulation upon Company operations, and during the governor generalship of Lord Cornwallis, 1786-1793, an anglicist orientation to British rule was affirmed. Cornwallis considered Indian misery the result of unwarranted indulgence in Asiatic principles of government. He removed Indians from important offices. British principles of administration were laid down, and the all-important land revenue question was settled on an English model.

35 Mill published his six-volume History of British India in 1817, joined the East India Company in 1819, and became head examiner (a virtual undersecretary of state for India) before his death in 1836.

35 Excellent analyses of the relationship between utilitarians and India are offered in Hutchins , Francis G. , The Illusion of Permanence: British Imperialism in India ( Princeton , 1967 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Bearce , George D. , British Attitudes Towards India, 1784-1858 ( London , 1961 )Google Scholar . The latter work is a superb guide to the whole range of British attitudes and an invaluable aid to beginning scholars of British Indian history. Stokes' , Eric The English Utilitarians and India ( Oxford , 1959 )Google Scholar is the definitive work on the subject.

37 Grant served the Company in India after 1768 and subsequently became Director and Chairman, member of parliament, and participant in the Clapham sect. He wrote an extended tract, “Observations on the State of Society among the Asiatic Subjects of Great Britain, particularly with Respect to Morals and on the Means of Improving It,” which was subsequently printed for parliament in 1812-1813 and 1831-1832. This influential statement is thoroughly analyzed in Embree's , Ainslee Charles Grant and British Rule in India , pp. 141 – 157 .Google Scholar

38 William Wilberforce, evangelical spokesman in parliament, and leader of the campaign to abolish the slave trade, expressed a common view that “next to the Slave Trade…our making no effort to introduce the blessings of religious and moral improvement among our subjects in the East [is] the greatest of our national crimes.” Pollack , John , Wilberforce ( New York , 1978 ), pp. 235 – 236 .Google Scholar

39 Potts , E. Daniel , British Baptist Missionaries in India 1793-1837: The History of Serampore and its Missions ( Cambridge , 1967 )Google Scholar Oddie , G.A. , Social Protest in India: British Protestant Missionaries and Social Reforms 1850-1900 ( New Delhi , 1978 )Google Scholar . Laird's , M.A. Missionaries and Education in Bengal 1793-1837 ( Oxford , 1972 )Google Scholar is particularly cautious. Laird produced a preliminary study on the Baptists, “ The Contribution of the Serampore Missionaries to Education in Bengal, 1793-1837 ,” London University: School of Oriental and African Studies Bulletin 13 ( 1968 ): 92 – 112 Google Scholar . Forrester , Duncan B. , Caste and Christiantity: Attitudes and Policies on Caste of Anglo-Saxon Protestant Missions in India ( London , 1980 )Google Scholar shows the extent to which caste was an impediment to conversion. For another view, see Ali , Muhammed Mohar , The Bengal Reaction to Christian Missionary Activities 1833-1857 ( Chittagong , 1965 ).Google Scholar

40 Panikkar , K.M. , Asia and Western Dominance ( London , 1953 ), p. 422 Google Scholar Basu , B.D. , History of Education in India under the Rule of the East India Company ( Calcutta , n.d.), p. 206 Google Scholar . For a review of this literature, see Potts , , British Baptist Missionaries , pp. 243 – 244 .Google Scholar

41 Even Kshiti Mohan Sen, a spokesman for popular Hinduism in the late 1950s, acknowledged India's debt to the missionaries. Hinduism ( Harmondsworth , 1961 ), p. 20 Google ScholarPubMed . Charles Heimsath argues that the base of modern Indian reform lies in the ethical doctrines of Christianity and the concept of human personality expressed in the Christian faith. See his, Indian Nationalism and Hindu Social Reform ( Princeton , 1964 ), p. 51 .Google Scholar

42 Nurullah , Syed and Naik , J.P. , A History of Education in India (During the British Period) ( Calcutta and London , 1951 )Google Scholar . These authors provide an analysis of the indigenous forms of education in India at the beginning of the nineteenth century they compare contemporary Indian practices with those of England (not unfavorably in many qualitative terms) and they argue that indigenous institutions could have and should have formed the basis of a national system of education in India. See pages 38-50.

43 Trevelyan , G. Otto , The Life and Letters of Lord Macaulay ( New York , 1875 ), 1 : 355 Google Scholar . For a contemporary endorsement of the anglicist principle, see Trevelyan , C.E. , On the Education of the People of India ( 1838 )Google Scholar . Trevelyan's work is analyzed by Hilliker , J.F. , “ C.E. Trevelyan as an Educational Reformer in India 1827-38 ,” Canadian Journal of History 9 ( 1974 ): 275 – 291 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

44 Spear minimized Macaulay's personal intervention and demonstrated that the power of English utilitarian-evangelical reformism rendered Bentinck's action inevitable. “ Bentinck and Education ,” Cambridge Historical Journal 1 ( 1938 ): 77 – 101 Google Scholar . Kenneth Ballhatchet objected to Spear's English orientation, arguing that home authorities were, at first, hostile to the Bentinck resolution. See his, “ The Home Government and Bentinck's Educational Policy ,” Cambridge Historical Journal 10 ( 1951 ): 224 – 229 CrossRefGoogle Scholar . Ballhatchet insisted upon an Indian rather than English context for the decision, and other scholars, notably Gerald and Natalie Sirkin, have followed his lead. Although they reaffirm the importance of Macaulay's intervention, the Sirkins argue that the Bentinck judgement can be understood only in the context of the anglicist-orientalist debate within India. Gerald , and Sirkin , Natalie , “ The Battle of Indian Education: Macaulay's Opening Salvo Newly Discovered ,” Victorian Studies 14 ( 1970 – 1971 ): 407 – 428 Google Scholar . John Rosselli's recent biography of Bentinck brings the debate full circle. Inclining toward Spear, he discounts the role of Macaulay and emphasizes instead the utilitarian administrative orientation of the governor general. Roselli , , Lord William Bentinck , pp. 214 – 225 Google Scholar . The Bentinck resolution did not seal the fate of vernacular education: it soon became apparent that an elitist filter-down system would not suffice some attention was given to vernacular elementary education, but emphasis on conquest and consolidation of power in the 1840s exhausted resources which might have been devoted to a broader educational structure. Palet , Chittabrata , “ Vernacular Education and the Structure of Politics in Bengal (1835-1870) ,” Quarterly Review of Historical Studies 15 ( 1976 ): 163 – 172 .Google Scholar

45 Active resistance to British presence has been described in two books by Chaudhuri , Sashi Bhusan [ Disturbances During the British Rule in India (1765-1857) ( Calcutta , 1955 )Google Scholar Civil Rebellion in the Indian Mutinies, 1857-59 ( Calcutta , 1957 )Google Scholar ]. There is not a large or inviting literature on violent resistance before the Mutiny.

46 Cohn's , Bernard S. “ The Initial British Impact on India: A Case Study of the Benares Region ,” Journal of Asian Studies 19 ( 1959 – 1960 ): 418 – 431 CrossRefGoogle Scholar , treats Indian bureaucrats and landholders who rose in the wake of British conquest.

47 Bengal Orientalism and the Bengal Renaissance: the Dynamics of Indian Modernization, 1773-1835 ( Berkeley and Los Angeles , 1969 )Google Scholar The Brahmo Samaj and the Shaping of the Modern Indian Mind ( Princeton , 1979 Google Scholar ).

48 For a concise statement of Kopf's views on the oriental tradition and modernization, see his “ Hermeneutics versus History ,” Journal of Asian Studies 39 ( 1980 ): 495 – 506 CrossRefGoogle Scholar . Dipesh Chakrabarty offers a hostile view of renaissance figures identifying leaders of the movement with “colonialism.” “ The Colonial Context of the Bengal Renaissance: A Note on Early Railway-Thinking in Bengal ,” Indian Economic and Social History Review 11 ( 1974 ): 92 – 111 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

49 Arya Dharm: Hindu Consciousness in Nineteenth Century Punjab ( Berkeley , 1976 ).Google Scholar

50 The term caste derives from the Portuguese “casta” the Indian term for the system is “jati.” For an analysis of the centuries-long efforts to understand caste, see Cohn , Bernard S. , “ Notes on the History of the Study of Indian Society and Culture ,” in Singer , Milton and Cohn , Bernard , Structure and Change in Indian Society ( Chicago , 1968 ).Google Scholar

51 See “ Resiliency and Change in the Indian Caste System: The Umar of U.P. ,” Journal of Asian Studies 26 ( 1967 ): 575 – 587 CrossRefGoogle Scholar . In an edited work, Aspects of Caste in South India, Ceylon and North-west Pakistan ( New York , 1960 )Google Scholar , E.R. Leach argued that ambiguity of meaning has been a central problem in studying caste. He isolated two distinct uses of the word, one by anthropologists who employ it to refer “exclusively to a system of social organization particular to Hindu India,” and another by sociologists who use it to describe “any kind of class structure of exceptional rigidity.” Andre Beteille firmly distinguishes between caste and class in modern India. See, Caste, Class and Power: Changing Patterns of Stratification in a Tanjore Village ( Berkeley and Los Angeles , 1969 ), pp. 3 – 4 .Google Scholar

52 Each varna constituted a class in Aryan society. The system institutionalized the position of the Brahmana (priests) at the top of Indian society. Behind them was the warrior/ruling class then the commercial class and at the base—servants of the other three—were Sudras. Non-Aryans were included with slaves and foreigners in the lowest class.

53 Dumont , Louis , Homo Hierarchicus: The Caste System and Its Implication , translated by Sainsbury , Mark ( Chicago , 1970 ).Google Scholar

54 Singh , Hira , “ Kin, Caste and Kisan Movement in Marwar: Some Questions to the Conventional Sociology of Kin and Caste ,” Journal of Peasant Studies 7 ( 1979 ): 101 – 118 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

55 The most extensively used list appears in Hutton , J.H. , Caste in India: Its Nature, Function and Origin ( 1946 3rd ed. Bombay , 1961 ).Google Scholar

56 Aggarwal , Partap C. , Caste, Religion and Power: An Indian Case Study ( New Delhi , 1971 )Google Scholar Andre Beteille, Caste, Class, and Power E.K. Gough, “Caste in a Tanjore Village,” in E.R. Leach, Aspects of Caste and Miller , Donald B. , From Hierarchy to Stratification: Changing Patterns of Social Inequality in a North Indian Village ( Dehli , 1975 ).Google Scholar

57 Conlon , Frank F. , A Caste in a Changing World: The Chitrapur Saraswat Brahmans, 1700-1935 ( Berkeley , 1977 )Google Scholar Inden , Donald B. , Marriage and Rank in Bengali Culture: A History of Caste and Clan in Middle Period Bengal ( Berkeley and Los Angeles , 1976 )Google Scholar Kumar , Dharma , Land and Caste in South India: Agricultural Labour in Madras Presidency in the Nineteenth Century ( Cambridge , 1965 )CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Leonard , Karen , Social History of an Indian Caste: The Kayasthas of Hyderabad ( Berkeley , 1978 ).Google Scholar

Return to India

Arriving home having amassed a fortune of £40,000, Clive won a seat in Parliament and aided his family in paying off its debts. Losing his seat to political intrigues and needing additional funds, he elected to return to India. Appointed governor of Fort St. David with the rank of lieutenant colonel in the British Army, he embarked in March 1755. Reaching Bombay, Clive aided in an attack against the pirate stronghold at Gheria before reaching Madras in May 1756. As he assumed his new post, the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj Ud Daulah, attacked and captured Calcutta.

Settlement of Land during the British Rule | Indian History

We have seen that in 1765, the East India Company acquired the Diwani, or control over the revenues, of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Initially, it made an attempt to continue the old system of revenue collection though it increased the amount to be collected from Rs 14,290,000 in 1722 and Rs 18,180,000 in 1764 to Rs 23,400,000 in 1771.

In 1773, it decided to manage the land revenues directly. Warren Hastings auctioned the right to collect revenue to the highest bidders. But his experiment did not succeed. Though the amount of land revenue was pushed high by zamindars and other speculators bidding against each other, the actual collection varied from year to year and seldom came up to official expectations.

This introduced instability in the Company’s revenues at a time when the Company was hard pressed for money. Moreover, neither the ryot nor the zamindar would do anything to improve cultivation when they did not know what the next year’s assessment would be or who would be the next year’s revenue collector.

It was at this stage that the idea first emerged of fixing the land revenue at a permanent amount. Finally, after prolonged discussion and debate, the Permanent Settlement was introduced in Bengal and Bihar in 1793 by Lord Cornwallis. It had two special features. First, the zamindars and revenue collectors were converted into so many landlords.

They were not only to act as agents of the government in collecting land revenue from the ryot but also to become the owners of the entire land in their zamindaris. Their right of ownership was made hereditary and transferable. On the other hand the cultivators were reduced to the low status of mere tenants and were deprived of long-standing rights to the soil and other customary rights.

The use of the pasture and forest lands, irrigation canals, fisheries, and homestead plots and protection against enhancement of rent were some of the rights which were sacrificed. In fact, the tenantry of Bengal and Bihar was left entirely at the mercy of the zamindars. This was done so that the zamindars might be able to pay in time the exorbitant land revenue demand of the Company.

Second, the zamindars were to give 10/11th of the rental they derived from the peasantry to the state, keeping only 1/11th for themselves. But the sums to be paid by them as land revenue were fixed in perpetuity.

If the rental of a zamindar’s estate increased owing to extension of cultivation and improvement in agriculture, or his capacity to extract more from his tenants, or any other reason, he would keep the entire amount of the increase.

The state would not make any further demand upon him. At the same time, the zamindar had to pay his revenue rigidly on the due date even if the crop had failed for some reason otherwise his lands were to be sold.

The initial fixation of revenue was made arbitrarily and without any consultation with the zamindars. The attempt of the officials was to secure the maximum amount. As a result, the rates of revenue were fixed very high. Between 1765-66 and 1793, land revenue demand nearly doubled.

John Shore, the man who planned the Permanent Settlement and later succeeded Cornwallis as Governor-General, calculated that if the gross produce of Bengal be taken as 100, the government claimed 45, zamindars and other intermediaries below them received 15, and only 40 remained with the actual cultivator.

One result of this high and impossible land revenue demand was that nearly half the zamindari lands were put up for sale between 1794 and 1807.

It was later generally admitted by officials and non-officials alike that before 1793 the zamindars of Bengal and Bihar did not enjoy proprietary rights over most of the land. The question then arises: why did the British recognise them as such?

One explanation is that this was in part the result of a misunderstanding. In England, the central figure in agriculture at the time was the landlord and the British officials made the mistake of thinking that the zamindar was his Indian counterpart.

It is, however, to be noted that in one crucial respect the British officials clearly differentiated between the positions of the two. The landlord in Britain was the owner of land not only in relation to the tenant but also in relation to the state.

But in Bengal while the zamindar was landlord over the tenant, he was himself subordinated to the state. In fact he was reduced virtually to the status of a tenant of the East India Company.

In contrast to the British landlord, who paid a small share of his income as land tax, he had to pay as tax 10/11th of his income from the land of which he was supposed to be the owner and he could be turned out of the land unceremoniously and his estate sold if he failed to pay the revenue in time.

Other historians think that the decision to recognise the zamindars as the proprietors of land was basically determined by political, financial and administrative expediency. Here the guiding factors were three. The first arose out of clever statecraft: the need to create political allies.

The British officials realised that as they were foreigners in India, their rule would be unstable unless they acquired local supporters who would act as a buffer between them and the people of India. This argument had immediate importance as there were a large number of popular revolts in Bengal during the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

So they brought into existence a wealthy and privileged class of zamindars which owed its existence to British rule and which would, therefore, be compelled by its own basic interests to support it.

This expectation was, in fact, fully justified later when the zamindars as a class supported the foreign government in opposition to the rising movement for freedom. Second, and perhaps the predominant motive, was that of financial security. Before 1793 the Company was troubled by fluctuations in its chief source of income, the land revenue.

The Company was faced with a constant financial crisis as Bengal revenue had to finance its army engaged in wars of expansion, the civil establishment in Bengal, Madras and Bombay, and the purchase of manufactures for export. The Permanent Settlement guaranteed stability of income. The newly created property of the zamindars acted as a security of this.

Moreover, the Permanent Settlement enabled the Company to maximise its income as land revenue was now fixed higher than it had ever been in the past. Collection of revenue through a small number of zamindars seemed to be much simpler and cheaper than the process of dealing with lakhs of cultivators.

Third, the Permanent Settlement was expected to increase agricultural production. Since the land revenue would not be increased in future even if the zamindar’s income went up, the latter would be inspired to extend cultivation and improve agricultural productivity as was being done in Britain by its landlords.

The Permanent Zamindari Settlement was later extended to Orissa, the Northern Districts of Madras, and the District of Varanasi.

In parts of Central India and Awadh the British introduced a temporary zamindari settlement under which the zamindars were made owners of land but the revenue they had to pay was revised periodically. Another group of landlords was created all over India when the government started the practice of giving land to persons who had rendered faithful service to the foreign rulers.

Settlement of Land: Type # 2. The Ryotwari Settlement:

The establishment of British rule in south and south-western India brought new problems of land settlement. The officials believed that in these regions there were no zamindars with large estates with whom settlement of land revenue could be made and that the introduction of zamindari system would upset the existing state of affairs.

Many Madras officials led by Reed and Munro recommended that settlement should, therefore, be made directly with the actual cultivators. They also pointed out that under the Permanent Settlement the Company was a financial loser as it had to share the revenues with the zamindars and could not claim a share of the growing income from land.

Moreover, the cultivator was left at the mercy of the zamindar who could oppress him at will. Under the system they proposed, which is known as the Ryotwari Settlement, the cultivator was to be recognised as the owner of his plot of land subject to the payment of land revenue.

The supporters of the Ryotwari system claimed that it was a continuation of the state of affairs that had existed in the past.

“It is the system which has always prevailed in India.”

The Ryotwari Settlement was in the end introduced in parts of the Madras and Bombay Presidencies in the beginning of the nineteenth century. The settlement under the Ryotwari system was not made permanent. It was revised periodically after 20 to 30 years when the revenue demand was usually raised.

The Ryotwari Settlement did not bring into existence a system of peasant ownership. The peasant soon discovered that the large number of zamindars had been replaced by one giant zamindar— the state—and that they were mere government tenants whose land was sold if they failed to punctually pay land revenue. In fact, the government later openly claimed that land revenue was rent and not a tax.

The ryot’s rights of ownership of his land were also negated by three other factors:

1. In most areas the land revenue fixed was exorbitant the ryot was hardly left with bare maintenance even in the best of seasons. For instance, in Madras the government claim was fixed as high as 45 to 55 per cent of gross production in the settlement. The situation was nearly as bad in Bombay.

2. The government retained the right to enhance land revenue at will.

3. The ryot had to pay revenue even when his produce was partially or wholly destroyed by drought or floods.

Settlement of Land: Type # 3. The Mahalwari System:

A modified version of the zamindari settlement, introduced in the Ganga valley, the North-West Provinces, parts of central India, and the Punjab, was known as the Mahalwari System. The revenue settlement was to be made village by village or estate (mahal) by estate with landlords or heads of families who collectively claimed to be the landlords of the village or the estate.

In the Punjab a modified Mahalwari System known as the village system was introduced. In Mahalwari areas also, the land revenue was periodically revised. Both the Zamindari and the Ryotwari systems departed fundamentally from the traditional land systems of the country.

The British created a new form of private property in land in such a way that the benefit of the innovation did not go to the cultivators. All over the country, land was now made saleable, mortgageable, and alienable. This was done primarily to protect the government’s revenue.

If land had not been made transferable or saleable, the government would find it very difficult to realise revenue from a cultivator who had no savings or possessions out of which to pay it. Now he could borrow money on the security of this land or even sell part of it and pay his land revenue.

If he refused to do so, the government could and often did auction his land and realise the amount. Another reason for introducing private ownership of land was provided by the belief that only right of ownership would make the landlord or the ryot exert himself in making improvements.

The British by making land a commodity which could be freely bought and sold introduced a fundamental change in the existing land systems of the country. The stability and the continuity of the Indian villages were shaken. In fact, the entire structure of rural society began to break up.

The Making Of Modern India: The Cultural Heritage of India (1765-1947) (Volume VIII )

The present volume attempts to narrate the events of the Indian Renaissance, the advancement of learning and the-reawakening of our own heritage during the years 1765-1947,ie. From the grant of Diwani to the East India Company till India Independence.

An Attempt has also been made in this volume to relate to the past through Indological studies of the excavations of monuments, as well as epigraphically, paleographical and numismatic material. Historiographical studies have also been included. The influence of Indian culture on foreign countries has also been discussed. Study of Indian Culture abroad, influence of the West on our society and how the Eastern peoples viewed India have also been dealt with. Great men of that time, e.g. Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranatha Tagore, Mahatma Gandi, sister Nivedita and others, showed the right way to proceed-their ideas an impact on Indian society have been treated in detail.

The Purpose of this volume is to make its readers acquainted with the broad features and phases of development that characterize the history of this period. A perusal of the 67 articles by 61 eminent scholars in this volume enables one to know about the epoch-making changes that happened in India in the modern period.

The cultural Heritage of India is a series dedicated to the history ad culture of India and is administered by the Ramakrishan Mission Institute of culture. The Institute was founded in 1938 to follow up Sri Ramakrishna’s (1836-86) Birth Centenary celebrations. The Cultural Heritage of India was first published in 1937 as /Sri Ramakrishan Mission Institute o Culture was vested with the responsibility of bringing out the second edition of the work. In meeting the demand for broadening its span,, preparations were made to bring out an enlarged revised edition of the work. The revised edition of the third volume (‘The Philosophies’) was published in 1953, the first volume (‘The Early Phases: Pre-Historic, Vedic, Upanisadic, Jaina and Buddhist’) in 1958, and the second volume (‘Itihasa, Puranas, Dharma and Other Sastras’) in 1962. A fourth volume dealing with ‘The Religions was added in 1956. Enlarging the scope of the series the Institute made plans in 1962-63 for a fifth volume on ‘Science, Literature and Arts’ and a sixth volume on ‘Literature and Science’ and also for a seventh volume of on ‘The Modern Renaissance Period’. In 1972 the Institute decided to split the fifth volume into two parts, one on ‘Languages and Literatures’ and another on’ Sciences and Technology’. These were published as the fifth and sixth volumes in 1978 and 1986 respectively. At the same time it was also decided to further extend the scope of these rises by publishing a total of eight volumes. The seventh volume was devoted to ‘The Arts’. The first part of this volume covering architecture, sculpture, epigraphy and numismatic s and also Indian art and the East was published in 2006. Its second part dealing with painting, music, dance and theatre as well as rural and applied arts and crafts is expected to be published soon. The present volume is the eighth one in the series and has been renamed ‘The Making of Modern India (1765-1947)’ in place of the earlier name of ‘The Modern Renaissance Period’.

The work for the present volume was begun more than four decades ago. /a sub-comitttee was formed in 1964, consisting of (1) Dr. R. C. Majumdar, (2) Dr. Suniti Kumar Chatterjee, (3) Dr. Nihar Ranjan Ray, (4) Dr. Asim Datta, (5) Dr. Gouri Nath Sastri, (6) Dr. Bhabatosh Datta and (7) Shri Bireswar Mazumdar. The progress of the work under the direction of the eminent historian Dr. R. C. Majumdar was halted with his demise. Over the years that followed other scholars like Dr. Pratima Bowes gave their time and energy but the work could not be finished. In 2000 Dr. Tapan Raychaudhuri was requested to join this project as adviser and an editorial board was formed, consisting of Dr. Nemai Sadhan Bose, Dr. Amitabha Mukherjee and Dr. Uma Das Gupta. After the sad demise of Dr. Amitabh Mukherjee in July, 2002 Dr. Sukumar Bhattacharyya was appointed one of the editions. Unfortunately Dr. Neami Sadhan Bose passed away in July, 2004.

It is important to note that the majority of the articles in the present volume were assigned and written during the initial period. As those contributions to the volume were seminal, the present editorial committee which finalized the eighth volume decided to honors those contributions and includes them in this volume. However, wherever possible, those articles written during the initial period of this volume’s histour have been updated or supplemented to incorporate recent historiography and researches on the subject. As for instance, Dr. R. C. Majumdar’s article entitled ‘Historiography in Modern India has been supplemted by a n article written b Dr Gautam Bhadra and Dr. Mirmal Kumar Bose’s article on ‘Tribal India: Impact of the Oder Age’ b the one written by Dr. Ranjit Kumar Bhattacharya significantly based on recent anthropological researches in the field. In addition more articles have been invited in new and relevant areas of study by the later editorial committee. To name a few, these are: ‘Economic Transformation of India’, ‘Growing Urbanization in Modern India ‘, ‘New Trends in Indian Literature’, ‘Indian Cinema: A Historical Overview’, ‘Growth of News papers and Journal : Their impact on India Public Opinion’, ‘the Imperial Medium: Radio Broadcasting in India (1927-1947)’, ‘Western Response to Indian Thought ‘, ‘Tagore’s Impact on Modern India’, and ‘Gandhiji’s Impact on Modern Indian’.

The volume comprises sixty-seven articles. In the ‘Introduction’ (The Mind of modern India) Dr Rajat Kanta Ray has well observed “‘Indian cultural heritage was a complex and synthetic one –a many-stranded tradition capable of adaptation to new situations. Western thought and Indian tradition were both complex entities, and a selection of mutually supportive elements from both formed the basis of the Renaissance in India.

This critical acceptance and synthesis was able to sustain identity in change.’ The present volume has been organized in eight parts to cover the social, political, religious and cultural developments of the modern period.

Part I of the volume covers as the aspects of modern Indian history as the introduction of English education and educational developments, the position of women. Social reform movements, Indian literature, developments in science and technology, fine arts and the media. Pat II of this volume throws light on legal system administrative and constitutional developments, the growth of political consciousness and nationalist movement, economic ideas and developments, rural reconstruction, philosophical thoughts.

Although the articles, broadly speaking, relate to the period from the late 18th century (1765) up to India independence (1947), an attempt has been made in Part IV to link up with the ancient period of India history by looking at the Indological contributions, excavations of ancient monuments, Indian epigraphy, paleography and numismatics. This part of the volume also covers historiographical studies in modern India.

Part V of the volume deals with Indian culture abroad and Part VI with India and the West. Part VII of the volume has been dedicated to the Ramakrishan-Vivekananda movement. Part VIII deals with the impact of Rabindranath and Gandhiji on Modern India.

The volume ends with the ‘Epilogue (In Quest of Indian Modernity) written by Dr, Tapan Raychaudhuri, which is a summing up of some key issues on the subject. The Appendix contains two of the earlier articles, namely, Dr. Bisheshwar Prasad’s ‘Progress of Modern India during 1765-1947’ and Dr. R.C. Majumdar’s ‘India at the beginning of the 19th century’. The article of Bisheshwar Prasad was originally taken as “Introduction’. But in the changing situation it was not possible to put it in the final schema. It happened with R.C. Majumdar’s article also. These two authors were great scholars in their respective spheres. So our editorial board decided that these two articles would go as “Appendix’.

We convey our deep gratitude to the scholars whose learned contributions have enabled us to bring out the present volume. Without their ungrudging co-operation it would not have been possible for us to perform this intellectual exercise. We are also deeply ideated to the successive secretaries of the Institute, Swami Nityaswarupanda,Swami Ranganathanada, Swami Akunthanada, Swami Lokesaranada, Swami Prabhanad and Swami Saarvabhutananda for their sustained and gracious effort and guidance in the making of the volume. It is our duty to note that Swami Sarvabhutanda greatly helped us in steering the work for the volume also in the period before he became the Secretary of the Institute in April, 2007. We have also been generously helped by Swami Swagatanda da, Swami Ritananda and Swami Prasannatmananada in preparingthis volume. We offer our heartfelt thanks to Sri Pradyut Kumar Ganguli of the Publication Department of the Institute for his vital role in giving a shape of the entire work. Our thanks are also due to other staff members of the Publication department, the Library and the Research Wing. The project assistants, Dr. Prajit Kumar Palit, s. Ilanjana Basu, Ms. Arumima Ghosh (Roy Chudhury) and Dr. Deballina Roy also deserve our thanks for their help in preparing the volume for publication. Lastly, we would like to offer our earnest gratitude to Swami Mahabodhanada (Ratnam Maharaj) and Brahmachari Shakarachaitanya (Sandeep Maharaj) for preparing the Index.

We hope and believe that the publication will be duly appreciated as a significant study of the making of modern India in the colonial era representing a vital phase of the history and culture of India.

The unique soul of a Bengali poetess of the early 20th century discovered a kinship with the restless ocean:

O restless, O ever distraught,

Stretching out a hundred arms,

What seekest thou, unsatisfied?

What wealth hast thou lost

That thou dost search after,

while thy untranquil breast

Breaks asunder and gather together?

Indian culture was then in the process of reshaping itself out of the cirisis of identity that was felt, intellectually and orally, when the impact of the West had disturbed her centuries old apathy and unconcern. The ocean’s untranquil quest symbolized her restless journey towards self-realization and self-expression. The disturbed state of the nation’s mind was reflected in NIrupama Devi’s address to the ocean.

Out of this restless state there emerged, falteringly but unmistakably, a renewed faith in life. It was a new point of view in many respects, being partly a response to the impact of Western culture. But while it reached out to a wide world, its links with the past did not snap. The modern Indian Renaissance was a movement in a fresh direction, but that did not involve a total break with Indian identify, as rooted in her age-old tradition. In this essay we shall look at some of the Western ideas that made their impact felt through educational and cultural influences, as well as at some of the traditional Indian beliefs with which these new ideas were made to adjust themselves. Finally we shall explore the fundamental view of life that emerged from the moral nonintellectual interaction that was involved in this process.

The first point note is the continuing importance of religion and philosophy as vital ingredients in the modern Indian Renaissance. Indeed, there is as much reason for regarding it as a reformation as there is for treating as a renaissance. The ‘other-worldly’ nature of Indian civilization has been much commented upon. In so far as this meant that abstract thought had a religious and philosophical bias, this continued to be true of the Indian Renaissance. Modern Indian culture showed a preoccupation with the beyond that reflected it s connection with the older tradition. This spiritual quality was both speculative and devotional. But, as we shall it now incorporated within itself an involvement with the living world, the religious tradition was reformed and re-shaped to meet the needs of a modern environment.

Preoccupation with the mystery of existence was an ingrained characteristic of the Indian psyche and speculative tendency had appeared vey early on the science, from the time of the Upanisads. In the modern age it found highly abstract expression in the poetry of two philosophical poets, Rabindranath Tagore and Mohammed Iqbal. In Tagore’s poetry, the influence of the Upanisads is easily discernible:

At the new manifestation of being-

the last sun of the day the last question utters

The speculative tendency fostered in turn a sense of estrangement. In Iqbal, but not in Tagore, this was marked. ‘Separationis the destiny of all existence,’ Iqbal declared in Bal e Jibreel. In a shorter poem he expressed the thought in all its pan and mystery.

Happed to close in, face, and –facing-

One to the other he from an infelt

Should we forever together be

Should only the Hea’ens one whit relent

But hardly had he done, the call

It came for the twain to part-

For ear one his, her course

May you of unison, marriage,

Your course a diverge ever is

That’s Nature’s law supreme’.

A corollary to this feeling of estrangement was brooding over the transience of all earthly forms, of life itself. The old Sanskrit adage-raised echoes in modern Indian poetry. Sometimes this would take the form of poetic expression of pain felt at the passing of beauty. Kumaran Asan, in Fallen Bloom (a Malayalam poem written in 1909), struck a new subjective and romantic mote expressing the transience of all things.

Turn away your eyes! This fallen bloom

Will wither, become one with the dust, forgotten.

This is the lot destined for all. Of what avail

Are tears. In real like dream is life on earth.

The note is new, but the thought is old-one which faintly re-echoes Sankara’s exhortation (Do not boast of your money, men and youth, for Time takes it all away). Yet the subtle transformation of the thought should also be noted. Beauty is no longer rejected, even when t is thought to be noted. Beauty is no longer rejected, even when it is thought to be transient. The mood is one of pain, not of renunciation.

There was a this-worldly aspect of India’s modern Renaissance, just as there had been such a side-often overlooked –to her Great Tradition. If advaita had stressed the illusory nature of all phenomena, bhakti had glorified the love of the ultimate in all its earthly forms. During the modern transformation of the moral universe of India’s thinkers and poets, the balance shifted decisively from the ‘other world’ to ‘this world’. As an expression of occasional poetic despondency, such a thought as ‘Unreal like dream is life on earth’ was to be expected from time to time. But that was not the substantive and fundamental belief of modern India’s thinkers and poets. Tagore posed a conscious challenge to Sankara’s notion of the illusory nature of all universe:

Let any who will, ponder with eyelids closed,

Whether the Universe be real, or after all an Illusion:

I meanwhile sit and gaze with insatiate eyes.

On the Universe shining with the light of Reality.

Here was an explicit challenge to the doctrine of May-the philosophical basis of what has been called the ‘other-worldly’ civilization of India. This brings us to the second point of this essay- the new thrust of moral and intellectual enquiry towards the problems of this world under the impact of Western civilization. It is true that India’s Grate Traditon had not uniformly and consistently denied the reality of this world. There had always been at its root a tension between advaita and dvaita, between the hard, logical approach of this path of knowledge and the devotional bhakti cults of the medieval age, between the doctrine of illusion and the doctrine of God’s manifestation in all things that exist. Even in bhakti, however, this world was a subordinate element in an entire cosmic scheme in which the visible and the invisible were closely interlinked as the form and the essence of ultimate reality. It was a sign of the time, the spirit of the modern age, that ‘this world’ became a dominant element in the moral universe of the 19th century India seers, intellectuals and reformers. The uncompromising dvaita of Dayanand Saraswati was a sign of the attempt modernization of the Hindu view of the cosmos.

The thrust of intellectual enquiry towards the problems of earthly existence derived impetus from the absorption of certain Western notions by modern Indian culture. Rabindranah Tagore, in his celebrated essay Kalantar or ‘The Changing Age’, emphasized two main changes in the realm of ideas that resulted from the Western impact on India. One was reason and the other justice.

Logical reasoning had been an integrals part of both Vedic and Islamic philosophy. But reason, as imported from the West, was something wider than logic. Its tendency was to push the frontiers of knowledge to ever wider horizons. Educated Indians came t appreciate that Europe had conquered the world of knowledge because of the ‘purity of its strenuous exercise of reason. Europe infected India with the curiosity to discover the inner working of all phenomena by observation and experiment. Reason was henceforth to be not merely deductive and philosophical, but empirical and scientific as well. This had certain social implications of a far-reaching character. Reason was to guiding standard by which to judge all social institutions. Where an arrangement did not conform to its dictates, it had to be modified since the light of reason was taken to show the way to progress. Improvement became the spirit of the new age and improvement meant action-action to remove obstacles to progress, to test everything by the standard of utility, to reform all abuses that offended man’s capacity to think . Reason was allied to progress and progress implied an activist philosophy of life. Tagore set forth the new ideal of reason I a famous poem of the Gitanjali:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high Where knowledge is free

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow Domestic walls

Where words come from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the Dreary desert sand of dead habit

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action-

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake. Reason was to bring freedom form superstition and dead habit. It was thus oriented towards protest against all unjust arrangements that impeded the free development of man’s potential. This brings us to the notion of justice-the second major notion emphasized by Tagore as a new characteristic of modern Indian culture.

The notion of justice presupposed the awakening of man’s conscience. The individual with his conscience emerged, under the impact of Christianity on India, as the irreducible unit of the moral universe. The proud proclamation of the individual’s conscience-‘Here I stand’- was an exhortation to defiance against the arrogance of power and the perpetration of injustice. Man owed it to himself and to God-to the little inner voice which Gandhi consulted plunging into action and which inspire Tagore’s public pronouncements- not to bend before arrogant power.

Early History

In 1601 the English East India Company was founded. A group of City merchants decided to risk their capital only after there had been favourable reports about trade prospects in the East. They sought a monopoly of the East for trading purposes, dealing in silk, ivory, spices and cotton. This ultimately led to the establishment of the British Raj. The history of Anglo-Indian relations was determined by the long-held belief among the English that India was never to be their permanent home. North America was thought to be more favourable to European migration the distance was not so far as to be disorientating and the "New World" could still retain a European culture. India was never this type of permanent home for Europeans.

The English went to India to trade and rule, but not to settle, an attitude which increased the distance between the rulers and the ruled. By modern standards, British rule in India lasted a long time: nearly 200 years. The endurance of British rule was remarkable given the physical size of the country. India covers 1.8 million square miles, an area twenty times larger than Great Britain. Communications were poor languages and customs in India maintained an almost permanent gap between official intentions and local practice. The monsoons always dislocated transportation whilst the Indian villages were cut off from everything except their immediate surroundings.

An exclusive English charter did not affect foreign competitors. The Dutch East India Company had been founded in 1595 and already had considerable control over the Spice Islands. The English East India Company chose to concentrate its efforts on the mainland of India. In 1613 it received permission from the Great Mogul to found a trading station (a "factory") where servants of the Company could live and work. By 1647 the Company had 23 factories and 90 employees in India. The major factories became the walled forts of St George in Bengal, Fort William in Madras and Bombay Castle.

Fortunes could be made by Company employees. One of the most famous men to do this was "Diamond" Pitt. As Governor of Fort St George he bought an uncut diamond weighing 410 carats for £20,000. His son Robert smuggled the diamond to England it took five years to cut the stone which was sold to the French Regent for £35,000. In 1791 it was placed among the French Crown Jewels and was valued at £480,000. Often employees of the Company who had made their fortunes in India returned to England and purchased estates which gave them political power. Consequently the East India lobby was extremely powerful in parliament.

  1. the Mogul Empire collapsed after being divided by internecine warfare which meant that it could not withstand foreign invasions from the north west.
  2. England's military and economic power, especially at sea, outpaced that of her European rivals. England not only underwent the Industrial Revolution and consistently beat her European rivals but also began founding her Indian empire.

There were a number of Anglo-French conflicts in India in the early eighteenth century including the episode known as the "Black Hole of Calcutta" where (according to one report) 146 men were cramped into a space 18 feet long by 14 feet wide. A major Anglo-French conflict was the Seven Years' War, fought in Europe, North America and India. At the Peace of Paris (1763) that ended the Seven Years' War, the conflicts in Europe, America and Asia were ended. So far as India was concerned, the following terms were agreed:

  • the French agreed to use their stations at Pondicherry, Mahé and Chandernagore only as trading posts and not to maintain troops there
  • the French recognised the British-supported rulers in the Carnatic and the Deccan
  • the British East India Company controlled the provinces of the Carnatic (with its capital at Madras) and Bengal (capital, Calcutta).

In 1764 the native princes of Bengal and Oudh combined to try to eject the British but their revolt was crushed by Clive the Company extended its influence over the province of Oudh.

The year 1765 marks the real beginning of the British Empire in India as a territorial dominion. Clive's reforms marked a new development in the history of the East India Company. No longer was it using puppet Indian governments to beat down European rivals in competition for trade but overwhelmingly had defeated Indian forces struggling for independence of European control. The company had become a government as well as a trader. However, the Company clung to the idea that it was still only a trading company and refused to admit that it had territorial responsibilities. Huge areas of India were acquired by the Company, not by the British government. Company officials were trained to buy and sell, to run warehouses and offices and to deal with book-keeping. They were not trained to govern. The British government gradually took over from the Company the right to govern vast provinces of India.

In 1767, following the victory over the natives of Bengal, Chatham decided to claim that all Indian territory must be under the sovereignty of the Crown. It might then be leased out to the company as a favour. However, Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, had committed himself to the idea that there should be bargaining between the Company and government. Chatham, angered by rebellion in the government's ranks, retired from the fray leaving Grafton to sort out the problem. In June 1767 the business was patched together.

  • the British government regulated the amount of dividends the Company could pay to 10%
  • the Company was required to pay £400,000 for two years to the Treasury
  • if the dividend fell below 6% the Company was not obliged to pay the annual subsidy to the government
  • it had to export a fixed amount of British goods to India.
  • the Company was allowed to keep its possessions.

Although the Company paid lucrative dividends, and its servants (the so-called "nabobs") took fortunes from India, its finances generally were unsound. The military and administrative costs, plus the debt to the Treasury imposed heavy burdens which a private company was unable to carry.

Between 1770 and 1772 famine devastated Bengal. One sixth of the population died and as a result the territorial revenues accruing to the company declined by £400,000. At the same time its military costs rose by over £160,000. This period also saw a crisis of commercial confidence, economic stagnation and trade depression in Europe. This meant that the East India Company could not dispose of its Indian goods as well or as quickly as it had hoped. It was brought near to bankruptcy. The Company's directors appealed to parliament for financial aid which led to the passing of the Tea Act in 1773. Although this was intended to assist the East India Company, it led to the Boston Tea Party and the start of the American War of Independence.

Lord North's government also passed the Regulating Act for India (1773). This was the first step along the road to government control of India. A system was established whereby the government supervised the work of the East India Company but did not take power for itself. The Governor-General and his council were appointed for five years, with control over the territories in Madras and Bombay as well as Bengal. The Company was still managed by the Board of Directors although parliament had to be informed about military, financial and civil affairs. The Crown claimed the right to administer justice but in legal suits between British subjects and natives of India it could only do so at the request of the defendants. It would not hear claims by natives against British subjects. Generous salaries were fixed and the accepting of bribes by servants of the Company was forbidden.

The government attempted to make the East India Company less a commercial enterprise than a respectable delegated authority of itself. To organise this effectively meant that parliament had to regulate the company's policies from the top and thus overcome its very real powers of direct administration and patronage.

Warren Hastings

Warren Hastings was the first Governor-General to be appointed. Hastings had lived in India for most of his life and had worked for the East India Company from boyhood. He knew more about Indian life, culture and government than virtually anyone else in the Company. He adapted his methods to the necessities of Indian life and consequently behaved like a benevolent despot. In 1772 he had become Governor of Bengal. Hastings achieved a great deal. He set up a civil service, dismissed native tax-collectors and appointed British collectors who were strictly forbidden to take bribes. He sent a British army across India to Bombay to fight the first Mahratta War (1775-82) against the tribes of central India. The French had persuaded the tribes that Britain would be unable to take firm action against them because of her involvement in the American War of Independence. Hastings' actions saved Bombay and extended the influence of the Company in the western provinces.

After 1774 Hastings was in a very difficult position. The Council of Four went to India convinced that all East India Company officials were dishonest and inefficient. One of the Council of Four was Sir Philip Francis, the leader of the campaign against Hastings. He is generally believed to be Junius of the Junius Letters. In 1780 he returned to Britain (with a fortune that he had "acquired" in India) and persuaded politicians that the Company and its officials were behaving dishonestly and tyrannically - which is the premise on which the Council began. They attempted to undo all that Hastings had done and later they organised his impeachment. One of the reasons for his impeachment was that Hastings was said to have accepted rewards for helping the ruler of Oudh. The ruler of Oudh had made a treaty with the Company. In return for the right to trade in his province the Company agreed to help him maintain law and order. The ruler asked for Hastings' help when his female relations (the Begums) refused to hand over the jewels and other treasure that they had seized. Hastings sent a force to invade the Begums' palaces, retake the treasure and return it to the ruler.

In 1780, Hyder Ali, the ruler of Mysore, attacked the Carnatic. Hastings sent Sir Eyre Coote and a British army to defend it. In 1781 Coote defeated Hyder Ali, thus saving Madras and the Carnatic.North's government was suffering from the effects of the deteriorating situation in America and did nothing about India. The Regulating Act did not work well because the burden of responsibility between government and Company was obscure. Also there was a general suspicion that the immense patronage of the Company was twisted to serve the political ends of the government. A further element of criticism had become important by the 1780s: there was a growing humanitarian feeling which led to attacks upon the company for neglecting - or outraging - the basic rights and decencies of the Indian population in areas of British influence.

The arguments for reform in India strengthened and several attempts were made to introduce further legislation. In 1778 Robinson had produced a plan with had been shelved the same had happened in 1781. However, since 1781 a select committee inspired by Burke had been reviewing Indian history and issuing reports that advocated the reform of the whole governance of India. Dundas had put before parliament a Bill for the government of India. This was rejected at the time but was very similar to the final piece of legislation.

Edmund Burke had become interested in India in 1773: he and his brother were shareholders in the East India Company and both, along with many friends, had lost money in the stock exchange disasters. William Burke did not gain as much, financially, as he had hoped when he went to India. Burke was convinced that the Company was in the hands of corrupt men who oppressed India, ignored honest merit and failed to give a return to the state or to the shareholders. He worked closely with Philip Francis, who had an axe of his own to grind. Burke persuaded Fox to try to reform British rule in India.

It had been a common feature of all reforming schemes since 1773 that they involved a greater degree of government regulation of the East India Company. This was defended on the ground that the state had an interest in administrative revenues in India. The solution proposed by Charles James Fox was ingenious. In 1783, Portland became the nominal Prime Minister in the notorious Fox-North Coalition ministry. North was Home Secretary and Charles James Fox was Foreign Secretary.

1783 India Bill

Burke drafted a "vigorous and hazardous" India Bill which Fox introduced to parliament early in December 1783. The Bill proposed a total separation of powers. The government would govern and the East India Company would deal with trade. This in itself raised all kinds of ghosts: direct rule from Westminster had recently failed in a most dramatic way in America. The Bill also proposed that seven Commissioners should be responsible for the government of India. Initially they were to be appointed by the government for four years and thereafter by the East India Company. The proposals alienated the City and the "nabobs" who had returned to England, but the greatest outcry came when the names of the Commissioners were published. Four were supporters of Fox, two were Northites and the seventh was North's son. A great political scandal ensued with accusations of political rigging so the Foxites could secure a monopoly on the East India Company for four years.

The India Bill was used by the king to bring down the ministry. However, it was agreed by all that although Fox's scheme had been defeated, some regulation of the East India Company was essential.

Pitt the Younger was appointed as PM in December 1783 and quickly introduced another India Bill. The Company co-operated with Pitt in putting forward a control scheme which only a year before they would have regarded as outrageous. The first attempt at legislation failed but Pitt's second effort passed through parliament as the 1784 India Act by which the British government took another step along the road to control India. This system of dual control between Company and Crown worked for the next 75 years, until the Indian Mutiny. After that, parliament took over complete responsibility for India.

Pitt's Act of 1784 reiterated the company's own intentions by forbidding aggressive wars and annexations. Lord Cornwallis and his successor Sir John Shore (governor-general 1793-98) were eager to comply, but Cornwallis nevertheless found himself involved in the third Mysore war (1789-92) with Tipoo Sultan, who possessed his father's ability without his judgement. The cause was a combination of Tipoo's intransigence with conflicting obligations undertaken by the Madras government. It took three campaigns before Cornwallis could bring Tipoo to bay. Half his dominions were annexed, more as a precaution than as an exercise in imperialism. Tipoo remained formidable and, not unnaturally, more hostile than ever

The first Governor-General under the new Act was Lord Cornwallis (the same Cornwallis who had surrendered at Yorktown in 1781). He held office between 1786 and 1793 representing the British government and answerable to the Board of Control. He was succeeded by the Marquis of Wellesley who was Governor General between 1797 and 1805. After that, the post was help by Lord Minto (1807-13).

In 1813, the Marquis of Hastings (the Earl of Moira) was appointed Governor-General in 1813 and continued Wellesley's work of extending British power. He completed the destruction of the Mahrattas in the third Mahratta War (1817-19), annexed Poona and forced the Hindu chiefs to submit. Nepal was more troublesome. It took an 18-month campaign (1814-16) in the Nepal mountains to force the Gurkhas to abandon their claims to British territory. Most of Nepal was left as an independent state and the Gurkhas have remained friendly to Britain ever since. By 1823 all India was directly or indirectly under British control although the attitude of the British towards the country and people today appears to be questionable.


One question that might be asked is, why was Britain able to take control of India? Follow the link for possible answers.

These materials may be freely used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with applicable statutory allowances and distribution to students.
Re-publication in any form is subject to written permission.

Judicial Services

The British came to India to trade. It was on 31st December 1600 that the East India Company formed by some merchants of London secured from Queen Elizabeth a royal charter. The charter granted to the Company monopoly rights of trade with India and some areas of South East Asia for an initial period of 15 years. It laid down the constitution, powers and privileges of the Company. Each year all the members of the Company were to elect one governor and 24 one-man committees. The management of the Company was entrusted to these 25 men in England. Subsequently, these committees came to be called Directors and the court of directors was born. The Governor and the company could make laws for ensuring good governance of the company, regulating its business and maintaining discipline among its servants. But the legislative power of the company was very limited. They could not make any laws contrary to the laws, conventions and precedents in Britain.

The powers and privileges of the company were enlarged by each subsequent charter. By the year 1700, the company had established its factories (trading centres) and chief settlements at Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. By the Charter of 1669, the island and port of Bombay were entrusted to the company at an annual rental of Sterling Pounds 10. Simultaneously, the company was given the power to make necessary laws and issue ordinances for the good government of Bombay and its residents. Thus for the first time in 1669 the company acquired the authority to rule over a definite territory and its people. From a mere trading company, it became a ruler. In 1677 the company was given the right to issue its own coins. The 1683 Charter empowered the company to declare war and enter into treaties subject to the proviso that the company itself could not assume sovereign powers over any territory. Whatever territories were acquired by the company or came under his control, were all for the British Crown with the Company acting as its representative.

The Charter of 1726 empowered the Governors-in-Council of the three Presidencies of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta to make bye-laws rules and ordinance in conformity with English laws and subject to approval by the Court of Directors. English laws were expressly introduced and Mayor's Courts established in the three Presidencies by the 1726 Charter.

The taking advantage of the weakening central authority, disintegration of the Mughal Empire and disturbed conditions all over the country after Aurangzeb's death (1707), the company gradually emerged as the dominant power. The viceroy of the company at the battle of Plassey in 1757 against Sirajuddaulla, Nawab of Bengal, clinched the issue and the foundation of British rule in India was laid. In 1764 the combined forces of Mughal Emperor Shah Alam and the Nawabs of Oudh Bengal were defeated by the company at the battle of Buxar. This left the company in full control over Bengal. In 1765, Shah Alam entrusted the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the company which meant that the company acquired full powers of land revenue collection and administration of civil justice while the responsibility of administration, maintenance of law and order and criminal justice remained with the Nawab. The dyarchy which prevailed during 1665-1772 proved disastrous and led to the appointment of an inquiry committee by the British House of Commons. The committee recommended the need for regulating the activities of the company. The result was the Regulating Act of 1773.

Richard Eaton on India in the Persianate Age: 1000-1765

If you like Live History India's work, do consider extending support to us. No contribution is too small and it will only take a minute. We thank you for pitching in.

They turned the stones thrown at them, into milestones. Catch the story of the people who are best described as the 'Makers of Dalit History' through a new book that chronicles their stories.

From traders to mercenaries to generals and kings, trace the stories of the many Africans who left a mark on the subcontinent through millennia as we talk to Archivist Dr Kenneth Robbins who has co-edited a series on ‘Afro-South Asia in the Global African Diaspora’ on LHI Book Club.

How did western historians in the 18th and 19th centuries justify and endorse the greed and ambition that drove colonial expansion? Stanford University Professor and Author Priya Satia joins us on #LHIBookClub to discuss her assessment in ‘Time’s Monster’.

It’s the river after which India got its name and through history, the Indus has played a pivotal role. Catch strategic affairs expert Uttam Kumar Sinha put the Indus and the modern day geopolitics around its basin, in perspective

Watch the video: History of India before 1765. (July 2022).


  1. Weifield

    All of the above is true. We can communicate on this theme.

  2. Abasi

    I consider, that you are not right. I suggest it to discuss. Write to me in PM.

  3. Tygosho

    I am sorry, that has interfered... This situation is familiar To me. It is possible to discuss.

  4. Radcliffe

    very useful piece

  5. Akilar

    In my opinion, mistakes are made. We need to discuss. Write to me in PM.

  6. Jazmina

    Absolutely with you it agree. I think, what is it good idea.

  7. Zulkigrel

    the Comprehensible message

  8. Tulio

    I wish you all the blackest in the new year!

Write a message