Wednesday 4 March 2015

The "Loot" - by East India Company!

In 1767, as Clive was leaving India for good, his last remarks on India was

"We are sensible that, since the acquisition of the dewany, the power formerly belonging to the soubah of those provinces is totally, in fact, vested in the East India Company. Nothing remains to him but the name and shadow of authority. This name, however, this shadow, it is indispensably necessary we should seem to venerate."

The above statement does throw light on the 'Ego' of these powers, for which and with  ease he (Clive) could rankle the powers that ruled different parts of India.  Must have been very easy, and may be these powers when vanquished did support the passage of valuables and artefacts. All we have now are reminiscences of a bygone past that was rich

William Dalrymple is his tweet yesterday mentions 'Loot', must have one of the first word to have been included in the English Lexicon.  Maybe so, and not without reason.

In the curtain raiser of his forthcoming book, The Anarchy: How a corporation replaced the Mughal Empire 1756-1803, he goes on very elaborately to say how the East India Company (EIC), that started as a company of Merchants and Traders within few decades became a very large superhouse of power that it established itself as a Government of India for the British Empire.

The power it wielded over the Indian subcontinent was so strong that no Indian princes dared to oppose, and this establishment did take away a large amount of bullion, and other artefacts from India.

In my collection is a newspaper of 1792, mentions of the surrender treaty between Tipu Sultan and Cornwallis.  The treaty demanded immediate payment of Rs, 3.30 Crores, of which Tipu had to pay half the amount next day and balance in 3 instalments with an intervening period of 3 months each.

All payments had to be made in equivalent value of bullion, jewellery, precious stones, etc.

While I do agree that events as such did come to pass, and persons like Clive and Hastings made a lot of money at the cost of kingdoms that were part of India, and they were later castigated for their administration when they were asked to return back to England.

The trial of Hastings took 145 days and his acquittal cost him Pounds 70,000.

My take here is, why did all these come to pass?

Were Kings and Princess that weak that they could be subjugated to the EIC, rather so tamely?

In my earlier posts in this blog, there is an article on the Black Hole of Calcutta:

lot many people in England held a view that this incident was a make believe event orchestrated by Clive to draw money from the Empire.  A fact that could possibly support this thought was that Mr. J.Z. Holwell narrated this to a publication in London.  Said to have happened on 20th June 1756, his narrative was published in the Scots Magazine of February 1758. (I have this copy in original).

Coming to the question of weakness of Indian Kings and Princess - No, they were not weak, but their inadequacy was formed from the fragmented state of Kingdoms and parochialism of its rulers.  To put this into perspective, my recent post, as taken from the Parliamentary Debates 1783-1784, in the House of Commons, more than adequately supports this view.

In a stretch of 2000 miles, almost all Kingdoms were sold and bought, much with the blessings of a treaty with the British, eventually leading the treaties to be dishonoured by the very people that made it happen - British Empire....

The reason: In a situation of war between the North Indian Kingdoms and South Indian Kingdoms, the armies that would come face-to-face would be the British Army. Noticing this possibility, they, the British Empire and EIC, broke all treaties, and because they already had established relationships with Kings and their dominions, it was all too very easy to take over.

What started with the defeat of the Mahratta Empire, eventually reached the Deccan, with Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu putting up resistance till the defeat and final conquer in 1799.

What must be realised is that at this opportune moment, almost all Kingdoms were either friendly to the EIC/British Empire or were opposed to it.  Those opposed to it, were fought of by armies belonging to both the British Empire and friendly Kingdoms like the Nizam and other Nabobs.

The Kingdoms in India never took cognizance of the fact that they were part of a very large country, the world knew as India.  They ruled and pitted against one another much like today's states.  Marked with different languages, culture, habits, etc.

Diversity as we so very often mention when we speak of India, is perhaps our greatest weakness. All countries around us and all over has one language, and culture unique to itself, that all citizens understand and speak.  This may be one of the many factors that need to be worked on to make this nation strong.

To prevent further 'Loot', there is no better time than now to put forward initiatives that form a solid bond within the people of India, and this could best be achieved by policies that support unity in all aspects that are considered as factors of diversity, a 'dhobi mark' of India.

Jai Hind!

1 comment:

  1. The civilisation that had done business with the Italians and those in Europe by way of merchandise of Jewellery and what not, with their "ships" had just been over, when small areas were controlled by chieftains who had no regular army except that of soldiers with swords and spears. When the money was offered they were overawed and without knowing the implications pledged these lands and also when they refused, the Britishers army with higher power overtook them and also there were the people who colluded with British to fight their own men. Thus areas were taken over which finally ended with a whole british regime. The powerful armies of the 1000 ADs had disappeared in India (Splinter regimes with different controls yet powerful) and 1600/1700 saw several administrations who could not defend when it came to a war. Those who fought were subjugated both by power as well as by deceit.