Tuesday, 17 February 2015

As Indians - Do we short sell? An historical perspective!

The East India Company & Indian Princely Kingdoms of 1783

This is an excerpt of 

Parliamentary Register; 
 of the 
Proceedings and Debates
 of the 
House of Commons;

(Oftentimes we as Indians become very parochial in our attitude, and this reflects in our nature. To put into perspective my title of this blog and to bring the reader to understand this nature, I have taken this excerpt which has (Mr. Edmund Burke, Paymaster of the Forces) of what was perhaps the action of the English at that time).

The nature of profiteering at the level of an individual, perhaps summarize the Indian nature.

British India 1783-84

The comparisons between Indian Princely states and those of similar possessions of the English;

The Nabob of Oudh with the King of Purssia
The Nabob of Arcot with Elector of Saxony
Cheyt Singh, Rajah of Benares to Prince of Hesse
Rajah of Tanjore to Elector of Bavaria
The Polygars and Northern Zamindars to the rest of Princes, Dukes, Counts, Marquisses and Bishops.

The Great Sale;

1. The first Potentate sold by the Company (EIC) for money was The Great Mogul - the descendant of Tamerlane.

Interesting here is to note an observation by Edmund Burke Paymaster to the Forces (1729-1797).

Mr. Burke's speech, on the 1st December 1783: upon the question for the Speaker's leaving the chair, in order for the House to resolve itself into a committee on Mr. Fox's East India Bill.

 "of the conduct of those British subjects who had disposed of the power and person of 'The Great Mogul'. Awful lessons are taught by it, and by other events, of which it is not yet too late to profit."

His (The Great Mogul's) two districts, Corah and Allahabad, out of his immense grants was reserved as a Royal Demesen to the donor of a kingdom, and the rightful sovereign of so many nations. After withholding the tribute of Pounds 260,000 a year, which EIC was, by the charter they had received from this Prince (Shah Alam II), under the most solemn obligation to pay, these districts were sold to his chief minister Sujah ul Dowlah.

2. The next sale was that of the whole nation of Rohillas, which was again sold to Sujah ul Dowlah. Here too the grand salesman was the Prince. He (the Prince) sold the people to utter extirpation, for the sum of Pound 200,000.

3.The events thereafter were a series of sales, which included all possessions;

a) In Bengal, Sujah ul Dowlah was sold to Mir Jaffer
b) Mir Jaffer was sold to Mir Cossim
c) Mir Cossim was sold to Mir Jaffer again,
d) The succession of Mir Jaffer was sold to his eldest son; - aonther son of Mir Jaffer, Mobarech ul Dowlah
e) Mobarech ul Dowlah sold to his step-mother
f) The Mahratta empire was sold to Ragoba
g) Ragoba was sold and delivered to the Peshwa of the Mahrattas
h) Both Ragoba and the Peshwa of the Mahrattas were offered to sale to the Rajah of Berar
i) Scindia, the Chief of Malwa, was offered to sale to the Rajah of Berar
j) The Subah of Deccan was sold to the great trader Mahomet Ali, Nabob of Arcot
k) Hyder Ali and the Kingdom of Mysore was also sold to the Nabob of Arcot
l) The Kingdom of Tanjore was also sold to the Nabob of Arcot
m) The Polygars and the remaining 12 sovereign princes were also sold to the Nabob of Arcot

and to keep things even,

n) the territory of Tinnivelly, belonging to the Nabob, was sold to the Dutch,

and to conclude the sales, their great customer, the Nabob of Arcot himself, and his lawful succession, had been sold to his second son, Amir ul Omrah.

A distance of 2000 miles from North to South and back was in a state of turmoil.

Mr. Edmund Burke goes on to say, "that the Company has never made a treaty which they have not broken". All most all sale treaties were eventually broken, and all agreements to pay yearly pensions were not honoured too!

This action was not without a reason! The Northern and Southern sales which was so supported by the Company came to realise that if the terms of these several treaties had been kept, two British armies would at one and the same time have met in the field to cut each other's throats.

He observes; "The wars which desolate India, originated from the most atrocious violation of public faith on our part".

Thereafter began the conquest by the Company's troops as they invaded the Mahratta territories.

This brings me back to my title - Do we as Indians - short sell? It is rather difficult to gauge what benefits accrued to the sellers and buyers, (both of whom were essentially Indians), and to the people of the kingdom and for how long was the gains sustainable! 

From this report it appears the benefits was not for long as described. 

So is this a peculiar trait that still exists within us? 

1 comment:

  1. If you read "Impressing the Whites" and "The Killing of an Author", the answer to your title question is pretty much made clear: with actual illustrations from modern history.