East India Company

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EAST INDIA COMPANY (EIC) Before the Mughal Empire went into decline the Europeans were casting curious eyes on India’s wealth: The Portuguese had established a base in Goa (1560) but it was the British how were most determined to establish trading bases in India. In 1600 Queen Elizabeth I granted permission to set up the East India Company. The British government did not send out its own expedition to carry out its own trading instead it gave permission to groups of individuals to do so. The Government did however make sure that this group operated in a way that was acceptable to the government. The EIC was given the Monopoly to trade between Britain and new areas east of Africa: that meant that no other British Company could trade in that area, The merchants were hoping to break into the spice trade in the East Indies (Indonesia), but the Dutch had already won control of the spice trade and would not let any other European power share it. So the EIC turned to India as an alternative. They first landed in Surat (1608) and it was in 1612 that they were allowed to begin trading when Shah Jehan (Governor of Gujarat) granted permission to trade, after Jahangir’s death. EIC Influence grows: The British influence in India grew slowly. At first the EIC had just a few bases on the Indian coast but by the latter half of the seventeenth century hah established their headquarters in Bombay (1662) and a trading post in Calcutta (1690). The EIC even had the audacity to go to war with Aurengzeb in 1686. Who defeated the EIC‘s forces and made them pay a heavy fine. But the EIC were more successful in fighting other European nations who wanted the opportunity to share in the highly profitable Indian trade. During the 17th century both the Portuguese and the Dutch were defeated, but the main rivalry came from the French. They had set up their trading company in 1664 and soon came in conflict with the EIC but the military skills of Robert Clive enabled the EIC to defeat the French and took advantage of India’s unsettled conditions to increase and influence. EIC began to expand its forces to make local Indian princes accept authority and in parts of India set up its own governments. British Gains Control 1. The Battle of Plessey In 1756 the French encouraged the Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud-daula to attack the EIC base at Calcutta. He captured the city, but was unable to keep control of it. In 1757 Clive arrived with EIC soldiers and defeated Siraj-udd-daula’s troops in the Battle of Plassey. Clive’s victory had been made easy by the treachery of Siraj-udd-daula’s general Mir Jafar.The EIC rewarded him by making him the Nawab of Bengal. Thus one of the India’s richest provinces fell under British control. Mir Jafar was forced to give the company gifts of land and money to make some of the EIC officials very rich. 2. Battle of Buxar In 1764 Mir Jafar’s son Mir Qasim joined forces with the Nawab of Oudh and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II to drive the EIC out of Bengal. They were unsuccessful and after their defeat in the Battle of Buxar the British influence actually increased. The EIC now took control of the revenue collection in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa and also extended its influence into Oudh. 3. Bengal Exploited The EIC had been...
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