Rise of British Raj

Rise of British Indian Empire

Nature of Established British Indian Empire

  • Emergence of British Indian Empire during later half of 18th century was developed of great significance in Indian history because for the 1st time India became a colony of foreign power. This British colonial rule in India lasted about two centuries but nature of emergence of British Indian Empire had been matter of serious debate & discussion among scholar.
  • While colonial historians had emphasized that Indian conquest was accidental & unplanned. National historian had emphasis on established of British Indian Empire was result of careful planning and design. The closer examination of circumstances leading to emergence of British Indian Empire brings to light a different reality.

Colonial interpretation of establishment of British Indian Empire

  • The controversy about the character of establishment of British Indian Empire was triggered by the comment of English Scholar John Seeley. He wrote a book titled “Expansion of England” in 1883 & in this book he emphasized that the British conquered India in a fit of absent in mindedness.
  • He was of the opinion that nothing great that had great achieved by Englishman was achieved by incidentally & accidently as the conquest of India.
  • John Seeley emphasized that the English came to India as merchants & they remained busy in traders & commercial activity & for more than a century they never participated in any politico military conflict in India whatever the wars & battles East India company fought on Indian soil were unplanned & situational all of a sudden the East India Company shoulder the responsibilities of Indian administration.
  • This interpretation of Seeley was supported by other colonial historians, because it was absolving the English of any guilt associated with the conquest of India.

Nationalists’ Interpretation of Character of British India Rule in India

  • Colonial interpretation of established British Indian Empire was strongly opposed by Indian not scholar. These scholars emphasized that established British Indian Empire was result of careful planning and design.
  • According to this view, the European colonizers reached everywhere in world as merchants & traders, they carefully disguised their colonial ambition. As & when they got opportunity the natives were political subject to established Colonial empire.
  • National historian emphasized that Englishmen Conquest of India was not different.
  • English company entered India to practice trade & commerce. Mughal Empire was very powerful at that times & it was practically not possible to subjugate India politically in 4th
  • When Mughal Empire started disintegrating under weak successors of Aurangzeb, the political ambition of East India Company started coming out in open and gradually it’s successful established in extensive Indian empire by defeating Indian rulers.

Reality of Nature of Established British Indian Empire in India

  • Closer examination of the history of establishment of British Indian Empire reveals that the nature of British activities in India was marked by elements of continuity and change.
  • During the 1st phase of their association with India, the Englishmen were busy in trade & commercial act but gradually the English company started participating in politico-military matters. By opening decades of the vision of British Indian Empire had started grouping the imagination of Englishmen.













Phase of Commercial Act (1608-1746)















  • The 1st English factory in India was established at Surat in 1608.
  • In 1611, the company established 1st factory in South at Masulipattanam.
  • In 1639, Company got site of Madras from Raja Chandagiri. In 1651, 1st English Factory was established in Bengal at Hugli. These factories continued to expand with passage of time but these were purely trade & commercial nature. During this, company sought special privileges from rulers but these act also aimed of increasing commercial profit.
  • Company got Farman from Jahangir in 1612.
  • In 1651, Shah Shuja (Aurangzeb’s brother) governor of Bengal issued Farman to company got right of duty free trade by paying lump-sum amount Rupaiya (silver) of 3000/- annum.
  • Similar Farman was issued by Azimushan Governor of Bengal in 1698.
  • In 1717, Mughal Empire Faruksiyar issued a Farman to company which is known as “Magna Carta” of East India Company in India. It expanded commercial privileges enjoyed by company in Bengal, Bihar & Odisha.


Participation of East India Company in politico-military activities (1746-1813)



  • In the beginning of 1746, the East India Company stated participating in politico-military activity in India.
  • During 1746-48, 1st Carnatic war was fought.
  • During 1749-54, 2nd Carnatic war was fought.
  • During 1756-63, 3rd Carnatic war was fought.
  • The 1st & 2nd Carnatic wars were having their roots in Europe the East India Company had to participate in 2nd Carnatic war to protect English interest from the aggressive French design.
  • The battle of Plassey fought in 1757 was a personal adventure of Clive because it was not sanctioned by East India Company.
  • The battle of Buxar (1764) was a war of circumstances rather than intention because at that time neither East India Company her Mir Qasim wanted a fight.
  • The 1st & 2nd Anglo Mysore war (1767-69) & (1780-84) were started by Haider Ali.
  • The 3rd Anglo-Mysore war fought in 1792 could have been avoided by Lord Cornwallis but he declared war to prompt the threat posed by Tipu Sultan.
  • When 1st Anglo-Maratha war commenced in 1775 it was initially opposed by Warren Hasting.
  • This war was restarted by Warren Hasting only when the news of French participation in the war of American Independence reached India. A number of French commanders were in Maratha service W. Hasting was apprehensive that the entire French element in India could join hands to challenge East India Company.
  • The 2nd Anglo-Maratha war (1803-05) was started by Maratha.
  • The subsidiary alliance system imposed by Lord Wellesley on Indian rulers was largely a defensive instrument it was used to eliminate in India the native states signing subsidiary alliance treaty were not annexed they were just required to disband their forces & surrender foreign relation to East India Company.
  • These wars & battles fought by East India Company during (1746-1813) were largely situational in most of the cases the East India Company got involved as a reaction to the prevailing circumstances to save their interest in India.
  • During this phase, the East India Company followed the policy of ring-fences the friendly native states were used as buffer to keep the unfriendly powers away.
  • The East India Company tried to avoid contact with unfriendly state as much as possible so that the chances of conflict could be reduced.
  • The elements of planning or vision of establishing a British India Empire were largely absent the English were interested in safeguarding their gains rather than expanding their territories in India in this phase.

Establishment of British Rule in Bengal









  • Battle of Plassey was fought on 23rd June 1757 between the forces of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula & the English forces led by Robert Clive.
  • Victory of English forces in this battle establishment companies political influence in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. This victory paved the way for emergence of company as masters of Bengal in future.


Why did Battle of Plassey take place?

  • The larger circumstances leading to Battle of Plassey can be traced to the emergence of Siraj-ud-Daula as Nawab of Bengal in April 1756.
  • Siraj-Ud-Daula was a comparatively weak & inexperienced ruler. He was not as capable as was his predecessors Ali Wardi Khan.
  • The rise of Siraj-Ud-Daula was challenged by many others in Bengal. Among these the group of Ghasiti Begum (wisdom of Ali Wardi Khan) & Harsan Shaukat Jung was strongest.
  • These conspirators were sheltered by English Company & because of this relation of Siraj-Ud-Daula & company were not at good term at very beginning.
  • Issue of misuse of “Dastak” further complicated relation.
  • Dastak was free permit/pass issued by president of English factory for company goods.
  • Company got return to issue Dastak through the Farman of Faruksiyar issued in 1717.
  • The company was supposed to use Dastak to only sold goods but Dastak was misused to cover private trade of company official. At time Dastak was sold to Indian merchants.
  • Immediate issue resulted in conflict between Nawab & English Company was additional fortification of Calcutta.
  • Taking advantage of weakness of Siraj-Ud-Daula, company carried out additional fortification of Calcutta & placed guns on its walls.
  • This was strongly opposed by Nawab because he took it as disrespect to its authority.
  • The company was asked to remove additional fortification & not give shelter to rebel but companies reply was evasive at this Nawab attacked Calcutta in June 1756 & captured it in this fight many Englishman lost life.
  • Nawab returned to his capital Murshidabad by placing Calcutta under Manikchand.
  • When news of loss Calcutta reached Madras Admiral Watson & Colonel Robert Clive were sent with about 2500 Euro & Indian soldier to retrieve Calcutta & seek compensation from Nawab.
  • Calcutta was retrieved by company by bribing Manikchand.
  • By using conspirators of Bengal, Nawab was terrified to sign treaty of Alinagar 1757 through which he agree to pay compensation for losses suffered by company.
  • Robert Clive could sense an opportunity to place Company’s route on throne of Bengal by joining hands with conspirators.
  • Mir Jafar (Nawab’s uncle & former commissioner of Chief), Manikchand (officer), Raidurlab (officer) & Jugal Seth (chief Banker of Manikchand) were the part of this conspiracy.
Treaty of Alinagar– Treaty of Alinagar, (Feb. 9, 1757), pact concluded in India by the British agent Robert Clive after his recovery of Calcutta on Jan. 2, 1757, from the nawab of Bengal, Sirāj-ud-Dawlah. The treaty was the prelude to the British seizure of Bengal. The Nawab had seized Calcutta in June 1756, but he was eager to secure his rear from the threat of attack by the Afghans, who had just taken and sacked Delhi.

The treaty restored Calcutta to the East India Company with its privileges and permitted the fortification of the town and the coining of money. The treaty was named after the short-lived title given to Calcutta by Sirāj after his capture of the city. Sirāj-ud-Dawlah was defeated and deposed by Clive later the same year.

  • Clive’s decision to replace Siraj-Ud-Daula through battle was not supported by Admiral Watson commander of company forces. Clive forged Watson’s signature to carry company’s troops to battle field. Nawab Siraj-Ud-Daula could be easily defeated & Mir Jafar could be placed on throne of Bengal.


Significance of Battle of Plassey

  • Military significance of Battle of Plassey was negligible because its outcome was not decided by strength of arm or superiority of leadership. The faith of battle was decided by treasury of conspirators. Much before 1st shot was fired in Battle of Plassey the outcome was known to Robert Clive because a number of important Nobel of Nawab had already joined hands with Robert Clive.
  • Battle of Plassey was not a great battle but it was great betrayal because only a small part of Nawab’s troop led by Mir Madan & Mohan Lal fought honestly.
  • Mir Madan got killed by stray shot & Mohan Lal had to run away from battle. Mir Jafar was commanding 50,000 soldiers out of 62,000 totals. He kept on standing outside battlefield.
  • After death of Mir Jafar Madan & flight of Mohan Lal, Mir Jafar persuaded Nawab to go back to capital. Now conspirators joined hands with Clive to bring battle to end.
  • Only 65 members lost by English side & casualty on Indian side 5,000. On a hand ford battle this number could have much higher.
  • By honest fight by commander of Nawab could have undoubtedly produced different result so its commented that Battle of Plassey was nothing but transaction conspirator sold Nawab to Clive.
  • Immediate political significant of this battle was also not much for Bengal because battle was just replacement of one Nawab by other. Immediately after Battle of Plassey the company was not political power in Bengal but gradually company’s political influence in Bengal continue to increase within span of couple of years Nawab was completely dependent on mercy of company. Company had started to take all important decision that why Bengal emerged as sponsored state after Battle of Plassey.
  • In 1760, Mir Jafar replaced by Mir Qasim when he tried to come out of companies control.
  • Economic significance of Battle of Plassey was far greater having succeeded in placing their favorite. On throne of Bengal, it was quite clear that company would no more face any competition in trade & commerce of Bengal. English Company established its monopoly over trade of Bengal by using of Nawab.
  • Company got amount of Rupaiya of 1 crore from Mir Jafar along with Jamindari of 24 pargana. These resources used by company to finance its struggle against French in South. These resources of Bengal turned table against French & contributed to success of company in Anglo-French rivalry.
  • Victory of English forces in Battle of Plassey paved the way for commencement of exploitation of resources of Bengal Company used its political influence to exploit Indian partition & craftsman i.e. its commented Bengal emerged as plundered state after Battle of Plassey.


Battle of Buxar




 Circumstances leading to battle of Buxar

  • Battle of Buxar was fought on 22nd Oct 1764 between an Indian alliance comprising Mughal Empire Shah Alam II, Nawab Shuja-Ud-Daula of Awadh & Mir Qasim of Bengal on one side & forces of English company led by Hector Munro on other side.
  • This battle was culmination of fight that commenced between Mir Qasim & English Company in June 1763.
  • Battle of Buxar was war of circumstances rather than intentions because at that time neither company nor Mir Qasim wanted a fight.
  • Mir Qasim set on throne of Bengal in 1760 by replacing Mir Jafar. He was a capable & ambitious ruler & wanted to revive fortune of Bengal.
  • To remain away from companies influence Mir Qasim shifted his capital from Murshidabad to Munger. He established a guns factor at Munger.
  • The company had also received everything what he wanted in 1760. He was busy in exploiting resources of Bengal.
  • The difference between Nawab Mir Qasim & English Company emerged over other issue of misuse of Dastak.
  • When company didn’t take concerns of Nawab seriously, he abolished all duties on internal trade. This attack of Nawab made Dastak meaningless.
  • Company demanded re-imposition of Dastak to continue enjoy privileges.
  • This issue resolved peacefully when company agreed to check misuse of Dastak & Nawab re-impose international duties.
  • When it was appearing as if everything was going in smoothly the high handed behavior of Mr. Ellis. He entered Patna fort and punished some officers of Nawab. This behavior of Mr. Ellis exhausted patience of Nawab Mir Qasim. He attacked companies established at Patna resulted in commencement of fight between two.
  • In conflict that followed Mir Qasim got defeated, he lost throne of Bengal to Mir Jafar & then formed alliance by joining hands with Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II & Shuja-Ud-Daula of Awadh to fight battle of Buxar against English Company.


Significance of Battle of Buxar

  • Battle of Buxar considered as most decisive battles ever fought because in this battle 3 out of most important power (India) got defeated on single day.
  • The victory of English forces transformed a commercial entity into biggest political power in India.
  • Theoretically, entire Mughal Emperor had lost in battle of Buxar because Mughal emperor Shah Alam II was one of the defeated parties.
  • Victory of English Company in this battle proved military superiority of English. It was hard fought battle, both the parties made every possible effort to tam tables in their favor. Till the very end nobody was sure of outcome.
  • The superior leadership of Hector Munro resulted in victory of Indian Company over Indian alliance.
  • Intensity of battle can be comprehended from fact that 847 soldiers were lost by English side & casualty on Indian side was more than 2000.
  • Outcome of Battle of Buxar conferred the redirect of Plessey.
  • The English victory in this battle proved that Indian state had degenerated by politically and military.
  • Indian arms & leadership was no match to English Company.
  • The outcome of battle of Buxar made English Company master of Bengal because company got Diwani rights of Bengal, Bihar, Orissa through provisions of treaty of Allahabad.
  • The establishment of companies control over Bengal sealed faith of India because once company got well establishment/entrenched in Bengal. It was quite clear that company was going to prevail over other Indian contenders.

Causes of success of East India Company

  • Nawab failed to see through English design, fail to understand attitude & outcome of English Company as result of which company could spread its wing in Bengal gradually.
  • Degenerated character of nobility (Indian) helped English Company greatly because it allowed company to implement policy of divide & rule.
  • The politico military degeneration of Bengal in particular & entire Mughal Emperor in general unable to English Company to defeat Nawab quite easily.
  • The scientific & technological backwardness of Indian weaponry also contributed to failure of Indian forces against Bengal Company. Guns used by English were far more accurate & effective. Most of Indian soldier carrying traditional weapons.
  • Superior leadership of English Company made the task of conquest of Bengal much easier. Company’s officer like Robert Clive & Hector Munro rose to occasion to face challenge. This quality of leadership was biggest difference between Indian side & English Company.
  • Victory of English Company in Battle of Plassey & Battle of Buxar had made it defector power in Bengal. Treaty of Allahabad converted company into dejure power because through this treaty Mughal Emperor legitimized company’s control over Bengal.