top-rated free essay

British East India

By misscouture92 Nov 25, 2013 2839 Words
In order to dominate, one must first to gain the rights to conquer. If one wanted to be a competitor of the current imperialistic power, it must first defeat the imperialistic power. This is the case for the British East India Company. Before its establishment, the company faces many strong powers such as the Portuguese, Spaniards, and Dutch. In 1588, Spanish Armada were defeated, British were able to enter this competitive field in order to start their quest in exploring and colonizing the international markets. This marked the start of the British East India Company. Initially, the doubtful Queen Elizabeth did not approve of this venture for the British, but after the defeat of Spanish Armada, she became more confident. As a result, on the last day of the year 1600, she granted a charter incorporating 217 subscribers under the name of “The Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies”. This company was also known as the British or the English East India Company. This provided the company with an exclude trade with India for fifteen years. The first governor and the twenty-four committees were nominated that year, and afterward, these positions were elected annually. This company was also the first limited liability corporation, and it began with 125 shareholders and £72,000 of capital. In many ways, this company gradually evolved from a company to an extent of the British government, and influenced its political power especially in the state of India. The first problem they faced initially was their lack of knowledge of the East. There were many unprecedented tasks ahead for the company. For example, it was critical for them to map out the Indian seas and coasts, to work out a system of commerce, to train its staffs, and to find the right commodities and merchandise. In addition, the company did not have an example to follow to build its company, for this company was the first organized attempt to trade with India. In addition, the support from the crown was weak for their first voyage to the east. In the beginning of its history, the departure and return of the trip sometimes took up to two years, and little profits were resulted. After more than 50 years of trial, the company finally adopted a permanent joint stock. Like the many Europeans’ ventures, this company were interested in finding spices for the European market. On Feb 13, 1601, James Lancaster led the first voyage with five vessels and they sailed to Achin in Sumatra. It was a successful voyage because they delivered Queen Elizabeth’s letter to the King, captured a Portugese carrack, and established a factory at Bantam in 1602. Ten years later, this Sumatra the chief supplier pepper for the company from 1613. In the second voyage, Middleton led the vessels and visited Bantam and the Spice Islands, Amboyna, Ternate, and Tidore, and in this voyage, the company faced challenges from the Dutch. During this time, the Dutch were eight times stronger in capital compared to the English, and they aimed to monopolize the spice trade of Archipelago. Between 1601 and 1612, twelve voyages were to Bantam in Java where the factory was established. In 1608, Captain Hawkins finally led the third voyage to land in the mainland of India. He disembarked at Surat and visited the court of Jahangir at Agra. The Emperor received him favorably, and he even granted Hawkins the permission to settle in Surat. However, the strong hold of the Portuguese in this region caused the revocation of this decree. Hawkins then waited for two and a half years at Agra hoping for a change, but eventually left in an English ship with no agreements favorable for the company. This was the typical result for the company up till 1612. For the first twelve years of the company history, the English did not have any permanent establishment on the mainland of Indian, and they were weak in their position in the eastern islands compared to their competitors such as the Dutch. Even in the Red Sea region, the company’s reputation was tainted because they robbed the Indian vessels. Finally, in the year of 1612, in its ninth voyage, the company had a naval victory over the Portuguese off Swally, which was the company first definite armed success over a European rival, and this resulted in permission to build a factory at Surat. This factory remained the chief English settlement in the East until 1687 when Bombay became the new chief place for settlement. In India, Bengal on the northeastern coast, Madras near the tip of the subcontinent, and Bombay on the western coast became the three major locations for the company’s factories. The company was not supported by the military of Great Britain, instead men were hired to protect these locations. These men formed the military force operated by “John Company” and eventually they became the Indian army. In Bengal, the military force includes an ensign, 30 men, and a gunner and his crew hired in the late seventeenth century. On the other hand, the military force in Madras was the watchmen and security guard. Many of these men in the military force were native Indians, and they served under the leadership of Englishmen. Most of the men in Mandras and Bombay were mostly recruited from the region, but Bengal’s army was mostly recruited from more warlike populations such as the Oudh and the North-West provinces. This type of practice was common, for example, the French first started using native men as their forces in order to establish their presence in this region. This practice continued until Indian independence in 1947. They learned that a force trained in European tactics and led by European officers are much more superior and could easily defeat Indian armies. Many of the local prices and sultans also formed large-scale armies in order to protect their territory and expand. The European then offered their trained forces to the princes and sultans for profits as well as gaining their entry into the local politics. Additionally, this would increase the company’s competitive edge by providing them with leverage in trade concessions and allow them to challenge other European competitors. By 1748, the British East India Company had finally established a firm holds in India. For example, the British government had set up local administrations under the direction of officials sent from London in India, and thus it resulted in the presidencies of Bombay, Madras, and Bengal. The British government even sent a regiment of the British army to serve along John Company, in order to present the company’s interest in maintaining the strongest presence in India and to intimidate the French. This drive to dominate in India was then increased by the outbreak of the Seven Years War in Europe. As British and French forces fought battles around the world, the units raised by European officers in India now fought each other for the purpose of influencing the local ruling monarch and of asserting European influence. A key battle in India during this period between the British and the French was the Battle of Plassey in 1757. On June 23, 1757, Clive led the British forces while the French forces were led by Nawab. At first glance, the British seemed to be far outnumbered by the French forces, but the majority of the French forces were commanded by the traitor, Mir Jafar. Hence, Mir Jafar’s forces joined Clive’s force during the battle. British General Clive wrote about Mir Jafar four days before his battle at Cutwa: “I feel the greatest anxiety at the little intelligence I receive from Mir Ja’far, and if he is not treacherous, his sang-froid, or want of strength, will I fear, overset the expedition. I am trying a last effort, by means of a Brahmin, to prevail upon him to march out and join us.” Only handful of Frenchmen in Nawab’s forces posed resistance to the British Force. This battle merely impacted the British force. The British and the French killed and wounded the same number of people despite the disparity in the sizes of the forces. The victory in this battle thus determined the British as the European dominant power of India for next two centuries. This defeat for the French in India eventually resulted in total withdrawal of French from the subcontinent, and this meant the victorious power, the British, now began its expansion of the military forces in India. Now that other European powers were no longer in opposition, the British now faced resistance from the local forces. Indian rajahs or princes resented the British, yet they continued to hold on to the view of John Company provided peace that was good for business. This meant British was the policing power that intervened when a prince in a territory close to British-dominated land threatened peace by oppressing his people or by waging war against his neighbors. This policing power that aims to provide order eventually led the British to expand their influence to most of Indian. Even though expansion was not the company’s initially agenda, expansion “just happened”. As a result, the armies of the presidencies grew by the end of the eighteenth century. By 1795, the company needed to have a general reorganization within the Company's army along the same fashion as the army employed by the British Army. At this time, 13,000 Europeans were living in India and 33,000 Indians were serving in the Company’s armed forces. Even though the three separate commands were still in place, this reorganization led to the establishment of a regular army. For example, in Bengal, three battalions of artillery, three battalions of British infantry, four regiments of native cavalry, and 12 regiments of native infantry made up the forces. In Madras, the forces included two battalions of British infantry, two battalions of artillery, four regiments of native cavalry, and 11 regiments of native infantry. These forces accepted recruits not only from India, but also from Afghanistan. Many of these hired men were misfits or exiles, so many did not hesitate when they fought against their own people. In addition, many of the recruits were from the lowest castes of the Hindu society, so thus, a job in the army was viewed as the only way out of a hopeless future. The cavalry units also consisted many of the refugees from the private armies of defeated princes. The incentive for the Indians serving in the army is the promise of regular food and pay, which was something they could not achieve anywhere else. Since many of the Indians were identified themselves with different ethnic, religious, and political backgrounds, rarely did these armies have a notion of fighting their own people when they were at wars. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, British administrators in India had a new agenda: to grasp control of the subcontinent. This drive was stimulated by rise of Napoleon’s power, for Napoleon’s power was threatening many of the European interest. As Napoleon rise to power, he conquered numerous countries, and this also resulted in gaining the colonies these countries controlled. Because of the threat of Napoleon, British “temporarily” occupied colonies of other European nation, like the colonies in the Dutch in Africa and Far East, in the name of denying these territories to the French, and this also was the first time the British used its troops from India as forces outside of India. In India, the British faced opposition from independent aristocrats, who were influenced by the French agents. Between 1803-1804, the British established its control in central India by defeating the native forces, and this quest was led by Marquis Wellesley, the Governor-General of the entire colony, Wellesley's brother, Arthur (soon to become Duke of Wellington), and Commander-in-Chief General Lord Lake. In particular, these battles opened many opportunities for Arthur Wellesley. He was thirty-seven years old, and came to India at the right time. This was an auspicious time because the policy of non-interference and neutrality was slowly breaking down. He participated in the company, and did not shy away. He gained command experience from this quest and an official notice, which resulted his transfer to Spain and victory against Napoleon’s armies in Europe. As a result of this victory, the British enjoyed a period of relative peace. Again, the Company's army reorganized, and its agenda now was to expand its size. One problem they encountered was the disparity in the numbers of the numbers of Indian regiments and British regiments. For instance, the Indian infantry regiments outnumbered the British by nearly 24 to 1, however, all the Indian regiments had British officers. This caused many negative consequences when Indians were used in the units of artillery. In 1857, when Sepoy Rebellion broke out, the Indian artillery units in the rebel forces used the learned skill and did great harms to the British and loyal Indian. This was when the company realized the effects of sharing the decisive technology to the Indians. As a result, one of the immediate changes after the rebellion was the banning of all Indian artillery forces. Between the 1820s and 1850s, the British’s main agenda was to use its army to grow and fight within India while simultaneously maintaining order. At this point, the service in the army were no longer view as an escape for the misfits instead it had become a respectable profession. Before the opening of the Civil Service to Indian employees, the Company also was the only organization It was the only organization in India, that took recruits from any background and mixed men of all social and religious standing. Another desirable aspect was that within the company, the only caste system individuals faced were of rank and of the British overlords and the Indian subordinates. The company also recruited the best soldiers into the army when they incorporated new provinces under British control. It seemed that the Company were constantly expanding. For instance, after two wars against the Mahrattas, the Mahrattas were included into the army. This was the similar fate for the Sikhs and the Gurkhas. The company placed the same inclusive characteristic into its army. All armies of the three presidencies enlisted men from every region as well as every ethnic group in India, and despite the diversity, these men usually served together. They were also westernized. They were trained in European tactics and weaponry, and wore European uniforms. This change in uniform happened after the Sepoy Rebellion. Uniforms became more impressive and more colors were now incorporated into the army’s outfits. The Indian soldiers were also the first that began to wear khaki. This use of khaki is now common part of military dress code worldwide. The life span of the company was cut short after the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857. At the time of the rebellion, the company had more than 311,000 Indian troops and roughly 40,000 British troops, both regular army and Company soldiers. The British government realized that the Company should be dismantled due to its long economic loss, and it also had loss power politically. The company revolved from an extension of British government to a fully functional colonial administration. After the dismantling of the company, reforms were placed in the military, and this aided the disparity between the British and Indian troops and also changed many other things. In the end of this transition, the Indian Army became a very professional and capable force. These armies did not disappeared with the ending of the company, but instead the forces followed the British Empire throughout the world. By the time India gained its independence in 1947, India now had one of the most experienced and best army in Asia. In addition, the dismantling of the company’s power in colonial rule began the 1784 East India Company Act. The Company had grown into a power that was powerful that its power was rivaling that of the British government, and thus ruling many of the British Empires territories. This act helps separate the Company’s from its political functions and its commercial activities. Directly, it placed the Company explicitly subordinate to the British government. One could infer that the British government finally saw the flaw with the danger of blending of political and economic powers in this company. As one could see from the start to the end of the British East India Company history, a company must experience hardships, have patience, and have the right base in order to succeed in their goals. The company did not immediately gain power once the moment it formed, but instead it needed to defeat power both internationally and locally. It was also critical that it thrive in an environment where the ethnic backgrounds are diverse. The company would not have the same military force if India’s people were more united in both race and beliefs. The success of the company were based on many of the “right” times and the “right” people. It also shows that colonialism is not only enforced by a government or a country but it is also driven by a company.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Imperialism and India

    ...Imperialism and India Throughout history, many nations have implemented imperialism to enforce their will over others for money, protection and civilization. India was no exception. Since its discovery, Europeans were trying get a piece of India's action. In many cases England was the imperial, or mother country. Since India was put under...

    Read More
  • British Colonization

    ...expansion to India began in 18th century had great changes in various field such as economics politic, society, culture and so on. Especially, after British imperialism which became a ruler of India had great effect on India. As a result, there are many essential changes in language and customs in India and even thought they gained independence ...

    Read More
  • What was the most important factor in the Growth of the British Empire?

    ...most important factor in the growth of the British Empire. Do you agree? One of the main factors of the growth of the British Empire is trade. The other main factors are: rivalries with other European countries, the spread of Christianity and the desire to colonise. All of these factors are important, but I think that the m...

    Read More
  • British/India History

    ... British empire did all developments for his interests only.This was a time when world was moving towards industrialization,they crushed the Indian rural economy and forcefully developed a market for British products.The wealthy power of UK Pound is stands on the looted Indian wealth. They divided India in seven parts and left a wound named P...

    Read More
  • East India Company

    ...East India Company From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search This article is about the 17th-19th century English and British trading company. For other uses, see East India Company (disambiguation). |British East India Company | |[pic] ...

    Read More
  • East India Company

    ...The East India Company (also known as the East India Trading Company, English East India Company,[1] and, after the Treaty of Union, the British East India Company)[2] was an early English joint-stock company[3] that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and Ch...

    Read More
  • French East India Company

    ...The French East India Company was one of several companies created to promote Western European commercial interests in Asia, particularly in India, beginning in the 17th century. Lured by Spanish and Portuguese traders’ tales of lucrative spice exports from the Spice Islands (in present Indonesia) during the 16th century, Dutch, British, an...

    Read More
  • Effects of British Colonial Rule in India

    ...Abtract The colonization of India and the immense transfer of wealth that moved from the latter to Britain were vital to the success of the British Empire. In fact, the Viceroy of British India in 1894 called India “the pivot of our Empire …” I examine the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the subcontinent. Besides highlighting th...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.