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Ryotwari Settlement: Land Revenue System in Colonial India

The Ryotwari Settlement was introduced by the British East India Company to streamline land revenue collection and address the administrative challenges posed by the expansion of British rule in India. There were many shortcomings in the system of Permanent Settlement , so it had more opponents than supporters. The problem became more serious when the Company started expanding its empire as it was not sure which settlement should be made in the newly annexed territory. The pioneer of Ryotwari Settlement was Thomas Munro. For him, the benefit to the people was the primary concern of any settlement. Under Ryotwari Settlement, land revenue was collected directly from the peasant, as Ryot itself meant peasant in Persian. It was implemented first in the Madras Presidency in the early nineteenth century. Interestingly, the reason given by Reid, an English officer in Madras, was that there was no big zamindar in Madras, unlike in Bengal, for the settlement. Different systems were prevailing

Permanent Settlement: Impact on Land Ownership in Colonial India

The Zamindari System, also known as the Permanent Settlement, was a land revenue policy implemented by the British East India Company in 1793. It marked a significant shift in land ownership and revenue collection in colonial India, particularly affecting Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Banaras, and parts of Tamil Nadu. Background of Permanent Settlement Ever since the direct rule was established in Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa (1772), the East India Company had to face a most complicated problem, which was how to administer revenue. It was a private trading company, having no knowledge of India, especially its revenue or judicial administration. In 1772, Warren Hastings, the Governor-General, leased the right to collect the revenues to the highest bidders for five years. This quinquennial settlement proved to be a failure. At the time of bidding, the zamindars promised to give high revenue, but most of them failed at a later stage. In 1777, the quinquennial settlement was removed, and the sys

De-industrialisation: Causes and Impacts

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De-industrialisation means the ruining of industries. One of the major debates in modern Indian history revolves around this question. Nationalist historians like R.C. Dutt, R.P. Dutt, Tarachand, etc. wrote that due to various economic policies of the British and the Industrial Revolution in England, traditional Indian industries heavily suffered, though slowly but certainly. The colonial historians, however, refute this charge. Morris D. Morris, a US scholar, called de-industrialisation a myth. It is also interesting to note that de-industrialisation was never seriously discussed by the nationalist leaders as they discussed the drain of wealth . Even the literature of that period did not show any great concern on this issue. Statistically too, it is not easy to prove the extent of industrial ruin in the colonial regime as documents from villages, district towns related to local industries, the total number of employed people in it, and its role in revenue generation, are not available

Drain of Wealth: The Economic Impact of Colonial Exploitation

Drain of wealth means a part of India's national wealth was being exported to England for which India got no adequate economic or material returns. For many nationalist scholars, it was the root cause of poverty in India. The issue was raised for the first time in the second half of the 19th century and brought the nationalist leaders onto one platform. Dada Bhai Naoroji, the grand old man of India, was the first person who exposed the true nature of British rule in India through his paper "England's Debt to India," which he read before a meeting of the East India Association on May 2, 1867, in London. He wrote that "out of the revenues raised in India nearly one-fourth goes clean out of the country, and is added to the resources of England." He presented some more papers on the same subject like "The Wants and Means of India" (1870) and "On the Commerce of India" (1871) in London. But the book which drew the attention of both the Indian

The Carnatic Wars: A Turning Point in Indian History

The first French company to successfully establish permanent trade relations with India was Compagnie des Indes, chartered by King Louis XIV and planned by Colbert, the minister, in 1664. Its initial factory was founded at Surat in 1668 by Coron, a Dutchman in the French Service, and another was established at Masulipattinam in 1669. Francois Mortin founded Pondicherry, which became the capital of French India, in 1674. In Bengal, its first factory was set up at Chandranagar in 1690-92 on the bank of the River Hughli. In 1725, they acquired Mahe (Malabar), and in 1739, Karikal (Coromandel). The king provided the company with a loan of 3,000,000 livres, free of interest. The French East India Company was granted a monopoly for twenty-five years to trade from the Cape of Good Hope to India and the South Seas. The French obtained a firman from Aurangzeb, granting them permission to trade on the coast of Gujarat. The Carnatic Wars were fought between the English East India Company and t

The Rise and Fall of Bengal: A Historical Journey

Bengal was the richest province in the eighteenth century. The English East India Company benefitted most from this province. It is, thus, natural for the English East India Company to strengthen its position in Bengal. They had some advantages there as the headquarters of the Company in India was at Calcutta. The Dutch and the French were present in Bengal only through their subordinate factories, like Chinsura of the Dutch and Chandernagore of the French. In 1756, Siraj-ud-Daula became the successor of Alivardi Khan. He was young and inexperienced; besides, he had many enemies within his family. The English East India Company and the French were fighting in the South. The English started fortifying Calcutta without the permission and knowledge of Nawab Siraj-ud-Daula. Siraj ordered them to stop their enhancement of military preparedness, but the Company refused to do so. The English were also misusing Dastak (free permit) based on the Mughal Firman, issued to them in 1717 by Farrukh

Anglo-Maratha Wars: Defining Conflicts of Colonial India

The word "Confederacy" is derived from the Anglo-French word "Confederacie," which means a league or union, whether of states or individuals. After the death of Shivaji in 1680, there was no great leader among the Marathas who could unite them. Sahu, the grandson of Shivaji, was under Mughal custody (between 1689 and 1707), which made him weak, passive, and dependent on others. The emergence of the Peshwa as the 'de facto' ruler is directly linked with the weak character of Sahu. When Balaji Vishwanath served as Peshwa (1713-1720), he made the king a puppet in his hands and made his own post hereditary. However, the Maratha Confederacy really began during the Peshwaship of Baji Rao I (1720-1740), son of Balaji Vishwanath, when the Maratha empire expanded in North and South India. The Peshwa put large areas under the control of his subordinates, such as Gwalior under Ramoji Sindhia, Baroda under Damaji Gaekwad, Indore under Malhar Rao Holkar, and Nagpur unde

Anglo-Mysore Wars: Key Battles in British-Indian History

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Haider Ali, son of Fatah Mohammad, descendant of Qureish of Mecca, served the state of Mysore. He rose to prominence with the siege of Devanahalli (a town 23 miles north of Bangalore) in 1749 and his return from Hyderabad with huge wealth. With that wealth, he augmented his troops and began to train them with the help of the French. In 1755, he was appointed as faujdar of Dindigul where he suppressed the Polygars and also established an arsenal with the help of French engineers. Later he took advantage of the rivalry between the Raja of Mysore and Nanjaraj, the commander-in-chief, became the de facto ruler in 1761, and made the Raja a mere pensioner. He never adopted the title of an independent king. Though his son Tipu is called Tipu Sultan, 'Sultan' was his name rather than a title. The First Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69) The First Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69) broke out at a time when the English were allied with the Nizam of Hyderabad and the Marathas. Hyder was not only a goo

Anglo-Sikh Wars: The Struggle for Power in 19th Century India

The Anglo-Sikh Wars were two significant conflicts between the Sikh Empire and the British East India Company during the mid-19th century. These wars ultimately led to the annexation of the Punjab region into British India. The First Anglo-Sikh War Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1799-1839) was the last great ruler of Punjab. After his death in 1839, his son Khadag Singh and then Sher Singh became king. After the killing of Sher Singh, Maharaja Daleep Singh, a minor son of Ranjit Singh, became king. He was only five years old, so his mother Rani Jindan became his regent. Lal Singh, her paramour, aided her. But the Sikh army of Punjab was not happy with Jindan Kaur, the Rani, so they enabled Khalsa Panchayat and started taking decisions on their own. Often the civil administration and the Punjab army were in collusion. The court intrigue in Punjab was also weakening the state. The English East India Company had recently fought a long war against Afghanistan (1836-42). Though they failed to g

Subsidiary Alliance: Strategic Control in British Colonial India

Subsidiary Alliance was one of the policies adopted by the English East India Company to increase its control over Indian states. The policy evolved in the second half of the eighteenth century but developed fully during the Governor-Generalship of Lord Wellesley (1798-1805) who made almost one hundred treaties. The credit for beginning the system goes to Dupleix, the French Governor. He lent his army on rent to the Indian princes. Robert Clive and other Governors-General of the East India Company also adopted the same policy. With Oudh, they signed a treaty in 1765 (at Allahabad) and promised to protect the territory with their troops. The Nawab of Oudh had to bear the cost. An English Resident was appointed in the court of Oudh, at the Nawab's expense. The Nawab of Carnatic, in 1787, during the Governor-Generalship of Lord Cornwallis, agreed not to keep any kind of relationship with foreign powers without the permission of the East India Company. The Nawab of Oudh, in 1798, duri

Doctrine of Lapse: British Imperial Policy in Colonial India

The tradition of adoption is very ancient in India, especially among Hindus. The adopted son, traditionally, enjoyed all kinds of rights, including that of inheriting the property from his 'patron father'. The rulers too had similar rights and they could make their adopted son their successor. The East India Company, in the beginning, honoured this old tradition of India. The Company's government declared in 1825—"Every ruler, under Hindu laws, is free to nominate his successor, real or adopted son. The Company's government is bound to accept this right." But after a few years, the Company changed its policy. In 1831, it declared at Bombay—"The Government may accept or reject, according to the situation, the application of Indian rulers to nominate their adopted son as their heir." The Company's policy, in fact, was not clear. In some cases, it accepted the application while in other cases, it rejected it without any reason. For instance, the Co