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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