HISTORY CHAPTER 2
FROM TRADE TO TERRITORY
EAST INDIA COMPANY
In 1600, the East India Company acquired a charter from the ruler of England, Queen Elizabeth I, granting it the sole right to trade with the East. Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, who had discovered this sea route to India in 1498.
EAST INDIA COMPANY BEGINS TRADE IN BENGAL
The first English factory was set up on the banks of the river Hugli in 1651. This was the base from which the Company’s traders, known at that time as “factors”, operated. The factory had a warehouse (BUILDING FOR STORAGE OF GOODS) where goods for export were stored, and it had offices where Company officials sat. By 1696 it began building a fort around the settlement. Two years later it bribed Mughal officials into giving the Company zamindari rights over three villages. One of these was Kalikata, which later grew into the city of Calcutta or Kolkata as it is known today.
It also persuaded the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb to issue a farman granting the Company the right to trade duty free.
HOW TRADE LED TO BATTLES
Through the early eighteenth century the conflict between the Company and the nawabs of Bengal intensified. After the death of Aurangzeb, the Bengal nawabs asserted their power and autonomy, as other regional powers were doing at that time. Murshid Quli Khan was followed by Alivardi Khan and then Sirajuddaulah as the Nawab of Bengal. Each one of them was a strong ruler. They refused to grant the Company concessions
BATTLE OF PLASSEY
Bengal was economically important being in coastal area it was easy to trade.
When rulers became weak, British thought to misuse the farman.
i) MISUSE OF FARMAN
• SIRAJ-UD-DAULAH wanted to put down the misuse of Farman.
• FARMAN granted the freedom to import and export goods in Bengal without paying taxes and right to issue dastaks or passes for the convenience of exchange of goods.
• This meant a loss of revenue to Bengal. Also the Indian traders were deprived of this facility.
• Instead of allowing only company goods for exporting, personal goods were also exported. Some servants illegally sold their dastaks or passes to Indian merchants.
➢ This way the Farman was misused.
ii) POLITICAL INTERFERENCE OF THE BRITISH
• British interfered in the political affairs of the nawab.
• Siraj-ud-daulah wanted to maintain his independence.
iii) FORTIFICATION BY THE BRITISH
• Company began to fortify their factories
• Siraj ordered the English to remove fortification but the British refused to do so.
➢ These causes led to Battle of Plassey.
SIRAJ-UD-DAULAH attached Kassimbazar and Calcutta and seized the British factory (Fort William).
Finally, in 1757, Robert Clive led the Company’s army against Sirajuddaulah at Plassey. Siraj was defeated as Mir Jafar, one of Sirajuddaulah’s commanders supported the British as he was promised that after crushing Sirajuddaulah, he will be the nawab. After the defeat at Plassey, Sirajuddaulah was assassinated and Mir Jafar was made the nawab.
The Company was still unwilling to take over the responsibility of administration. Its prime objective was the expansion of trade. Even the puppet nawabs were not always as helpful as the Company wanted them to be as they had to maintain a basic appearance of dignity and sovereignty if they wanted respect from their subjects. So, Mir Jafar was deposed and Mir Qasim became the Nawab of Bengal.
Mir Qasim was an able ruler and wanted to improve the condition of Bengal. He tried to check tax free trade by the English.
The English got annoyed over this issue, he in turn was defeated in a battle fought at Buxar (1764) and driven out of Bengal, and Mir Jafar was reinstalled.
The Nawab had to pay Rs 500,000 every month
By the time Mir Jafar died in 1765 the mood of the Company had changed. Having failed to work...
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