Before 1858, the British East India Company, a commercial enterprise controlled by the government, administrated Britain’s interests in India. After the First War of Indian Independence, the British government accepted a direct responsibility for the ruling on the Indian territories. This war for independence had economic, religious, and political causes. However, despite the protests, the policy of expansion brought entire India under the British rule. Thus, British East India Company included the territories of modern Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and a number of other areas in Southeast Asia. The period of the British dominance was known as Jewel in the Crown because it was source of wealth for the empire. The development of communications, railway, and transport systems positively contributed to the direct connection of previously independent regions of India. Such a phenomenon induced the combination of all Indians’ forces to struggle for the independence under the leadership of the Indian National Congress. The policy of Raj embodied the slogan ‘separate and rule’, which proved that the control of territories was based on the strategy of one ruler’s play against another. The term paper is based on the deep study of the British East India Company and its dominance over the conquered territories, and it is divided into three periods. Each of them has its peculiarities like political aspects, economic development, and the capture of territories, aggravated by the revolutionary mood of Indians who rejected the control of their territories by the conqueror, and it helped to identify the specific aspects of the company’s development.
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The Company’s Raj and Its Domination
The essence of the British East India Company’s ruling tactic is hidden in the meaning of the word ‘Raj’, which is a short version from Raja that means ‘rule’. Initially, the word was used to describe the Indian rulers and nobles. However, after the arrival of the British, the world began to mean British government. The deep study of the British East India Company’s Raj is based on the analysis of the range of scholarly articles and books that explicitly describe the transfer of India nobles’ ruling power to the British. Thus, the works of Appleyard, St. John, Embree, and Misra present the information concerning the development of trade relations in that period and the contribution of the British to its development. These authors focus on the description of events that show how the ruling confidently went to the British. At the same time, Guha asserted that many Indians were against the British ruling but the development of the company as well as the adoption of the English laws and governing tactics positively influenced the economic aspects and significantly contributed to the development of the territories. Furthermore, the books by Dirks and O’Connor describe the events from 1600 to 1858 more explicitly and represent the stages of the ruling transfer through the assessment of the British representatives as Indian officials who concentrated on the capture of new territories and the implementation of the rules and laws of England. At the same time, Riddick and Robins proved the positive influence of the Company because of the significant contribution to the development of literacy and cultural traditions in India. At the same time, Rojer Williams considered the global factors that were strongly connected with the Company’s Raj. Thus, the studied literature helped to insight deeper into the core of the British East India Company’s Raj and to identify the positive and negative factors of its implementation.
Development of the Company in Period from 1600 to 1750
The British East India Company dealt with the trade through the East areas, including China. It significantly influenced the political and economic life of India and its collaboration with Great Britain and other countries. The period of the Company’s dominance includes three periods: from 1600 to 1750, from 1750 to 1798, and from 1798 to 1858. During that time, Great Britain crucially influenced India’s political power that led to the loss of its position.
The British East India Company was famous of the creation of new military, indigenous political power, and revenue system. The establishment of the East India Company began with the functioning of the Mughal Empire. Thus, the British East India Company became a body corporate that provided the monopoly to the trade between England and a several countries that were identified as a part of East India. The company was famous because of the fierce controversy that surrounded it, but its ruling strategy led to a great financial success. The crucial difficulty of the company’s development was the ruling of the Mughal government that impeded the providence of protection to the traders of the company in the center and provinces. Thus, the Mughals were not interested in the trade with Europe but in several years, Thomas Roe received the allowance to set up trading posts in the numerous towns, including Surat. The other problematic issue was the search for the items to trade. The usual European demand associated with the Indian trade that included species, indigo, and paper that were used for the flourishing of industry. The important factor for India’s export was its textile, especially cotton that was cheaper than wool and linens in England.
The ventures of the British East India Company were a crucial link that brought Mughal India into the trading market of the world and boosted its economy. The trade between India and Europe focused on the monopoly of the imported goods of India. The re-export to the rest of Europe provided the company with the expandable and solid profit. In some areas, the company induced the shift of farmers from subsistence farming to commercial crops such as coffee, tea, and indigo. This phenomenon led to the hardship of farmers and the significant rise of food prices. Local industry also suffered from the set rules of the British. The tariffs for import were low because of the free-market sentiments of the British rulers. Consequently, the Indian market had an excessive quantity of cheap clothing from Britain. Indigenous industry could not compete because India imported luxury clothes from England. Thus, the country had to reduce the production of cotton that was transferred to Britain to be manufactured into the clothing that further was shipped back to India to be bought by the Indians. This unusual achievement of wealth, collected at a great expand with help of taxes, was unacceptable in expanding public and private infrastructure of Britain and in financing British expansionism.
The percentage value of imported goods from India was calculated in bullion instead of goods, and further, Mughal converted bullion into coinage as the Europeans used it when they dealt with the local merchants. The additional source of profit for the company was the trade between the Indians and Asian regions. The dominance of the British East India Company was also connected with the emergence of new urban centers in India, which induced the creation of first factories at Surat in Gujarat that had a high level of commercial activities. Surat also had all items for the efficient trade. Furthermore, the British East India Company induced the establishment of settlements in Madras, one of the biggest ports in India. The instability in Surat caused the growth of settlements in Bombay that came under control of the Portuguese in 1534. At first, Bombay was an important part of India. Its flourishing began only in the 1800s, when the British East India Company started to concentrate on the building the wall to protect the traders and merchants of India from Surat.
The crucial aspect of the company’s contribution to India was connected to the development of the shipbuilding industry that started in Parsi. The dominance of the British East India Company was reflected in the creation of great urban centers that were chosen because of the free access to the sea. The analysis of the historians had showed that peculiarity of the new urban areas established by the company significantly influenced the future because of possessing the magnet status for the migration. During that time, a great number of Indians was employed by the new government, merchants, and traders. Soon, Mughal‘s ruling declined, which was connected with a number of factors such as the weakening of the central authority, crashed burden of taxation, and the invasion of Persians. Consequently, the lands were organized under the Zamindari system. Such changes led to the simplification the collection system of taxes.
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Seizing the Power of the British East India Company from 1750 to 1798
The British East India Company had to keep an army to maintain its power. They usually hired more Indians because they were excellent soldiers with modern military weapons. In addition to its army, the company worked with the group of officials and regiments from the English army that were sent to help them. Historians prove that the British officers were very brutal and cruel but some of them were respected and fair. At the same time, British officers were honorable and very good fighters. They often warned people when they intended to bombard the villages and asked them to hide children and women.
The decline of Mughal led to the new stage in the history of India. His predecessor provided the British East India Company with the trading benefits that exempted its traders from the taxes. The capture of Calcutta in 1756 spurred the development of Indo-British relations. That period was known as barbarity of Indians. The next crucial move was the shift of political power in 1764 when the army of the company defeated the combined armies of Mughal and Bengal emperors. These events significantly changed the position of the British in India, thus becoming a real grief for the people of Bengal. Thus, the British began to ignore the complexity of the system and wanted the great money from Indian merchants and peasants who followed the remnants of the old system. However, soon came the time for the passing of new regulations to control the conquered territories, according to which Indians had no rights. However, that aspect became a first constitutional act that further became the crucial step to the formation of India’s independence.
The major change in the administrative structure was the move of India towards the Western state model. The other crucial change was establishment of the new kind of bureaucracy that became the core of the governing strategy in India. In that period, Englishmen were sure that Indians could not be trusted and they were unable to hold control positions. Such a phenomenon was caused by the gained experience with the Indian tax officials in 1765 and the conviction that Muslims and Hindus were corrupt people, which decreased the possibility of their employment. After 1793, only the British were employed in high positions. At the same time, only Europeans could be commissioned as officers. Individuals of mixed origin were also excluded from such positions. Despite the range of restrictions, the army of the British East India Company was one of the largest in the world. The newly formed ruling class was very small and it contained 2,000 people from the civil service and 50,000 British officers for the population that consisted of 200 million. Its strength was supported by the numerous Indians who occupied the lower ranks of military and civil services.
The serious change that was caused by the British East India Company was the introduction of a new legal system. Initially, British tried to work according to the Indian system of courts but the existed policy had too many abstract aspects and based on the ideal religious practice that was not followed uniformly. Such phenomenon caused spread of English system of courts that began to contain the higher courts. In several years, Indian legislation completely disappeared. One of the most controversial issues of the British law was personal law that concerned marriage, adoption, and inheritance.
Peculiar Aspects of the British East India Company from 1798 to 1858
The dominance of the British East India Company during the period from 1798 to 1858 was reflected in the important conquests of the territories. In that period, the company built three presidencies. One of the presidencies belonged to Lord Wellesley, whose main aim was the conquest of numerous grounds that was necessary for bringing more tax revenues to maintain the army because it protected the territories. Lord Wellesley was the representative of the British government, and he used all forces to expand the British authority out of Madras and Bengal to almost entire subcontinent, focusing on defeating the threats to the British power. By 1798, the British East India Company started to control the territories that expanded from Bombay to Madras where the military powers ruled. Mysore became the place of the ancient Hindu kingdom that had been conquered by the Muslim commander Hynder Ali. The important factor was that the wars of Wellesley were expensive, which caused his recall in 1805. The wars of the follower Marathas continued until 1818 and later renewed in the 1830s with the defeat of the military threat.
After the 1830s, the British power concentrated on Pakistan and Afghanistan that were the targets of international ambitions. At first, the strategy of the British was successful, but later, it failed because of the increasing irritation of the Afghans. The clashes with the Afghans led to a significant loss of army. Approximately 20,000 Indian soldiers were included to the army and only a British army doctor reached India under the fire of the Afghan tribes. This event became the greatest disaster in the military history of Britain that encouraged its enemies in India. The officials of the British East India Company began to believe that the efficient opportunities of trading could be found if they used the Indus River as communication channel to Punjab and Central Asia. Such an approach led to the conquest of Sind that was controlled by the Muslim chieftains. The further great achievement was the coming from Sikh to Punjab that was the last independent subcontinent. The British also annexed Punjab that later became the center of the British power. Consequently, numerous soldiers of the Sikh origin were accepted to the army of the company.
In 1848, all subcontinents were under the control of the British. While previously the territories suffered from a political upheaval, 80 years of Lord Dalhousie’s ruling period became famous of numerous Westernizing innovations. The British were convinced that their duty was to awake the Indians from the intellectual petrifaction and they wanted to introduce British traditions, culture, and literature to them. In several years, the English language replaced Persian in administration, public, and education spheres. The innovative aspects included the establishment of local universities based on the model of the University of London and the identification the core aspects of India’s higher education that was based on the English curriculum and language. In 1853, a decision was made that the entrance to the Indian civil service would be reached through the examination system. When technically Indians could cope with the new system of civil service, passing the exams in English became quite difficult, which often led to Indians failing their exams. The other profound change that caused grave dissatisfaction was the implementation of the policy of elimination of quasi-independent Indian states that was a cause of subsidiary alliances of the earlier wars.
A great range of these changes was accepted positively in some urban areas and great port cities, but in some regions, especially in North India, which comprised the offended part of the population, the changes were accepted aggressively. These people included the descendants of Maratha rules and the participants of the Mughal elites. There were also Hindu and Muslim religious leaders who regarded the encouraging of the British as spread of Christianity and the allowance of missionary activity. Their indignation started with the establishment of the strategy that was called “Sepoy Mitiny”. The rebels began to spread rumors that new guns issued to the Indian troops contained the bullets that had been greased with pig and cow fat. Muslim and Hindu soldiers considered touching such a mixture as contamination. The historians called those events a start of the first war for independence that based on the brutal and tenacity tactic of both sides.
The great number of changes caused the acceptance of the Indians as disloyal people. In their turn, the Indians started to regard the English as too powerful to be defeated through the revolutionary violence. These aspects are debatable but the definite issue is that the British East India Company was the real ruler of India. The company lost its administrative power after the legislation of the Government of India Act in 1858. Thus, the rule of the country shifted from the directors of the Company to the Secretary of State that was consulted for India by the council, the members of which were appointed by the Crown. The Crown also assigned the provincial governors and governor-general in India. The East India Company was disbanded by the Act of Parliament that commenced in 1874. From that stage began the British Raj – the rule of India by the British state.
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The study of the British East India Company showed that it had brought a great number of changes that were connected with the development of trade, new conquests, and economic aspects. Significant modernization of that period was connected with the Industrial Revolution that brought great benefits to India. Foreign investors and Indian merchants opened factories for manufacturing of textile of Bombay and Gujrat. However, new tendencies destroyed the traditional industry. The British East India Company initiated transfer of India toward the Western state model. The range of events formed the conviction among the British that the Indians could not be trusted to take the control positions. After 1793, only the British could be employed to the position of high levels and commissioned as officers. After 1750, the crucial period was famous for the development of the British East India Company that was based on the support of the army and its desire to conquest more territories. Further, 1848 was famous for the implementation of new models of universities that were based on the peculiarities supported by the University of London. Consequently, the higher education gained new aspects. Thus, the British East India Company brought a great range of changes that were positive for the British and negative for the Indians. However, this period combined the territories and contributed positively to their development.