Modern Indian History

East India Company Rule in India

The British East India Company, which is also referred to as “John Company”, was formed as a Joint- Stock Company that was established as The Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies, in 1600. That was the time when other trading companies, that were established by the Portuguese, Dutch, French, and Danish were active in the region.
British Company began functioning in India in year 1612 after they were  granted the rights to establish a factory in Surat. Sir Thomas Roe who was a representative diplomat of Queen Elizabeth 1st of England went to the court of Mughal emperor Jahangir to seek permission.
Thereafter the formal British rule in India commenced in 1757, after Battle of Plassey, when the Nawab of Bengal surrendered his dominion to the British East India Company.
Methods followed by British to expand their empire:
  1. By wars and conquests
  2. By Subsidiary Alliance system
  3. By annexation through adaptation of doctrine of lapse.
 british east india company rule in india
Let us study the expansion of British Company rule in India:

British Annexation of Bengal:

The beginning of British political control influence is traced to the battle of Plassey in 1757. In the Battle English East India Company defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah who was the Nawab of Bengal. Bengal was very fertile and was considered the most richest provinces of India. Therefore, company rule was desirable to secure their trading interests in the province. The company secured valuable privileges under the royal farman by Mughal Emperor in 1717. The farman granted export and import  freedom to British goods in Bengal  without paying taxes and the right to issue passes or ‘Dastaks’ for movement of such goods. The company servants were also allowed to trade but not under the farman.

Events leading to establishment of company rule in Bengal:

In Bengal, Murshil Quli Khan(1717-27) : He was appointed as Subedar in Bengal by Mughal emperor Farrukh Siyar. He transferred the capital from Dhaka to Murshidabad.

Alivardi Khan (1740-1756) : He legalised his reception of farman from Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah ‘Rangeela’ after paying him two crore rupees. He had prevented the English and the French from fortifying factories at Calcutta and Chandranagore. Alivardi Khan was succeeded by his grandson Sirajuddaula.

Sirajuddaula (1756-57) :

He seized the English factory at Kasimbazar. On 20th June in 1756, Fort William surrendered but Robert Clive managed to recover Calcutta.

Treaty of Alinagar: was signed on 2nd Jan 1757, in which Siraj conceded his demands and British managed to capture Chandranagore which was occupied by French till now.

Battle of Plassey was fought on 23 June in 1757 between Sirajuddaula of Bengal and British company forces. Owing to the conspiracy led by Mir Jafar, Nawab was defeated.
Nawab Sirajuddalua was betrayed by Mir Jafar, who was the Mir Bakshi,Amichand, who was a Sikh merchant, Manikchand, who was the officer in charge of Calcutta, Jagat Seth, who was the biggest banker of Bengal and by Khadim Khan who commanded a large part of Nawab’s forces.

Importance of Battle of Plassey:
The battle of Plassey has immense historical importance because it allowed for the conquest of whole Bengal and thereafter the whole of India.
It boosted the morale of the English company and gave them rich revenues helped them to organise a strong army for defence.

Mir Jafar (1757-60) became the Nawab of Bengal while giving 24 parganas to the company to collect revenues and free trade in Bengal.

Mir Qasim(1760-64) moved the capital from Murshidabad to Munger. He also ceded Burdwan, Midnapore and Chittagong. Mir Qasim forrmed with Awadh ruler Shujauddaula and Mughal emperor Shah Alam II. He was was angry with the British for misusing the dastak(free duty pass).

Battle of Buxar (1764) : Mir Qasim, Shujauddala and Shah Alam II were defeated by forces of Munro. It was the most decisive battle in Indian history and it established the British firmly in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. This win ensured British supremacy in Northern India where now they were rivals for the Afghans and the Marathas.

Mir Jafar was again placed on the throne. Upon his death, Nizamuddaula, his son was placed on the throne and signed traety with British to disband their army and to administer Bengal through a Deputy Subedar nominated by the Company.
Robert Clive concluded two separate treaties of Allahabad with Shah Alam II and Shujauddaula.

In 1765, dual Government began in Bengal. The company rule had Diwani and Nizamat rights from Nizamuddaula, Nawab of Bengal. But company did not take over direct administration and revenue collection in Bengal. In 1772, Warren Hastings ended this dual system of government.

A list of Important Governer Genarals of Bengal and India is given below with their period and important work they are associated with:

Year Governor Generals of Bengal Major reforms
1772-1785 Warren Hastings


first Governor of Bengal

End to the dual system of administration

Regulating Act of 1773

Supreme court at Calcutta

Asiatic Society of Bengal

first Anglo-Maratha war and treaty of Salbai

First English translation of Bhagawadagita

Pitt’s India Act-1784


1786-1793 Lord Cornwallis(Governor Generals of Bengal) Establishment of Appellate courts and lower grade courts

Establishment of Sanskrit college

Third Anglo-Mysore war and Treaty of Seringapatam

Introduction of Permanent Settlement and civil services

1793-1798 Sir John Shore(Governor Generals of Bengal) Charter act of 1793

Policy of Non-intervention

Battle of Kharda

1798-1805 Lord Wellesley (Governor Generals of Bengal) Introduction of Subsidiary Alliance System

fourth Anglo- Mysore war and treaty of Bassein

second Anglo – Maratha war

establishment of madras presidency

establishing Fort William College at Calcutta

1813-1823 Lord Hastings (Governor Generals of Bengal) Policy of Non-intervention came to an end

third Anglo-Maratha war

Abolition of Peshwaship

Establishment of the Ryotwari System in madras and Bombay

Mahalwari system in north-western Provinces and Bombay


Governor Generals of India

Year Governor Generals of India


Major reforms
1828-1835 Lord William Bentinck First Governor General of India

abolition of Sati

Suppression of Thugi, infanticide and child sacrifices.

English Education Act 1835

Medical College and Hospital, Kolkata


1835-1836 Lord Charles Metcalfe(Governor Generals of India) ‘Liberator of Indian press

detached all restraints on open press

1848-1856 Lord Dalhousie (Governor Generals of India) introduced ‘Doctrine of Lapse‘

Doctrine of Good

Charles Wood Dispatch

Post Office Act, 1854

1st Railway line connecting Bombay and Thane

Established engineering college in Roorke

Second Anglo-Sikh War

First telegraph line

Establishment of Public Works Department

Abolition of titles and pensions.

Started Competitive  examination for Indian Civil Services

Widow Remarriage Act

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