This book deals with the establishment and expansion of British rule from the Carnatic Wars and the Battle of Plassey to the enactment of the Charter Act of 1813, which divested the East India Company of its monopoly overthe commerce with England, and this opened the chapter of India's 'de-industrialization' through free trade. The monograph examines the military and other causes of British success and the cost of that success that the Indian people had to bear. A long chapter is devoted to the construction of British colonial administration, from which all Indian elements were, by stages, weeded out. Extracts from sources enliven the narrative; and there are important notes on military technology, the 'subsidiary alliance' system, organization of the Company's 'civil service' and the construction of 'colonial knowledge' about India. Readers will find it a refreshingly lucid and critical account of a crucial phase of India's political history.
The author, Amar Farooqui, is Professor of History, University of Delhi. He taught history for many years at Hans Raj College, Delhi; and has been Fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi. His publications include Early Social Formations (2002); Smuggling as Subversion: Colonialism, Indian Merchants and the Politics of Opium, 1790-1843 (revised edition, 2005); Opium City: The Making of Early Victorian Bombay (2006); Sindias and the Raj: PrincelyGwalior, c. 1800-1850 (2011), and Zafarandthe Raj: Anglo-Mughal Delhi, c. 1800-1850 (2013).
The present volume focuses mainly on the political, military and administrative developments in India under the British during the period c. 1757-1813. The latter half of the eighteenth century witnessed the subjugation of a large part of India by the English East India Company. Following the Battle of Plassey in 1757, Bengal and Bihar came under the Company's rule. The battle marked the emergence of Britain as a major territorial power in India. The revenues gained from possession of large provinces greatly facilitated the subsequent territorial expansion of the Company, especially its wars in southern and western India. From the 1760s down to the end of the century, Mysore offered the stiffest resistance to British power. It was only after the destruction of Tipu Sultan's Mysore in 1799 and, then, the defeat of the Maratha powers in 1803, that Britain's political and military ascendancy over India could be ensured. Considerable space has been devoted in the present volume to these key moments in the history of British expansion in India.
In some of the recent writings on eighteenth-century India there has been a tendency to pass by the intensely violent character of the Company's intrusion, though this was something that contemporaries were well aware of, as is borne out by some of the incidents narrated, as also some extracts included, in this volume. There is also a tendency to see the British regime as merely a successor to the earlier states in India, a view particularly favoured by C.A. Bayly and others. On these points, the facts set out especially in Chapter 3 of this monograph will offer an alternative, and, I hope, persuasive narrative.
A word may also be put in about the chronological limits set for the volume. The year 1757, the year of the Battle of Plassey, is of course only a formal marker for the beginning of the British conquests in India. The attempt to establish control over the Carnatic in a conflict with the French was already made partly successfully in the Second Carnatic War (1751-54); and so our story really begins from a point much earlier than 1757, if not indeed from 1600, when the English East India Company was established.
The British Parliament's Charter Act of 1813 has been taken as the terminal point, because it ended the monopoly of the East India Company over the trade between India and England. This marked a fundamental change in the nature of India's economic relationship with Britain, with de-industrialization added to the burden of tribute (a phenomenon examined in Vol. 25 in this series, already published); and it also had other political and military consequences under what has been called the Imperialism of Free Trade. These will be examined in the next volume (No. 24) in the series.
A few other points need to be mentioned. For the sake of conformity with earlier writings and usage, personal names have been spelt largely as pronounced or as they appeared in English garb earlier: thus Sindhia', not Shinde' ; and 'Reza Khan', not `Riza Khan'. Place-names are generally given as spelt in British times: thus `Trichinopoly', not Tiruchirapalli' ; `Benares', not 'Varanasi'. Modern spellings are sometimes given within brackets at first use; and are also furnished in the index, to avoid any possible confusion.
Readers of volumes already issued in this series would be familiar with the plan that is usual in the series. Each chapter is followed by representative extracts from sources, a note (or two) on subject(s) on which there appears to be need for special treatment, and a bibliographical note giving guidance on further reading. The present volume follows this plan; and the reader's attention is drawn particularly to the special notes which deal with topics that could not be adequately, if at all, covered in the main narrative.
I would like to express my sense of gratitude to the Aligarh Historians Society for giving me the opportunity to be an author in this series by entrusting the responsibility for this volume to me. I am thankful to Professor Irfan Habib, the General Editor, for the effort which he put in to shape my raw manuscript. To Professor Shireen Moosvi I am indebted for constant encouragement. Professor Bhairabi Sahu has, as always, been a great source of strength to me throughout.
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