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The Impact of British Colonization in India - Essay Example

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The British East Indian Company was founded as The Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies by a coterie of enterprising and influential businessmen, who obtained the Crown's charter for exclusive permission to trade in the East Indies for a period of fifteen years…
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The Impact of British Colonization in India
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Download file to see previous pages Traders were frequently engaged in hostilities with their Dutch and Portuguese counterparts in the Indian Ocean. A key event providing the Company with the favour of Mughal emperor Jahangir was their victory over the Portuguese in the Battle of Swally in 1612. Perhaps realizing the futility of waging trade wars in remote seas, the English decided to explore their options for gaining a foothold in mainland India, with official sanction of both countries, and requested the Crown to launch a diplomatic mission. In 1615, Sir Thomas Roe was instructed by James I to visit the Mughal emperor Jahangir (who ruled over most of the subcontinent, along with Afghanistan). The purpose of this mission was to arrange for a commercial treaty which would give the Company exclusive rights to reside and build factories in Surat and other areas. In return, the Company offered to provide to the emperor goods and rarities from the European market. This mission was highly successful.
The company, under such obvious patronage, soon managed to eclipse the Portuguese, who had established their bases in Goa and Bombay (which was later ceded to England as part of the dowry of Catherine de Braganza). It managed to create strongholds in Surat (where a factory was built in 1612), Madras (1639), Bombay (1668) and Calcutta (1690). By 1647, the Company had 23 factories and 90 employees in India2. The major factories became the walled forts of Fort William in Bengal, Fort St George in Madras and the Bombay Castle. In 1634, the Mughal emperor extended his hospitality to the English traders to the region of Bengal (and in 1717 completely waived customs duties for the trade). The company's mainstay businesses were by now in cotton, silk, indigo, saltpeter and tea. All the while, it was making inroads into the Dutch monopoly of the spice trade in the Malaccan straits. In 1711, the Company established a trading post in Canton (Guangzhou), China, to trade tea for silver3. In 1657, Oliver Cromwell renewed the charter of 1609, and brought about minor changes in the holding of the Company. The status of the Company was further enhanced by the restoration of monarchy in England. By a series of five acts around 1670, King Charles II provisioned it with the rights to autonomous territorial acquisitions, to mint money, to command fortresses and troops and form alliances, to make war and peace, and to exercise both civil and criminal jurisdiction over the acquired areas. The Company, surrounded by trading competitors, other imperial powers, and sometimes hostile native rulers, experienced a growing need for protection. The freedom to manage its military affairs thus came as a welcome boon and the Company rapidly raised its own armed forces in the 1680s, mainly drawn from the indigenous local population. By 1689, the Company was arguably a "nation" in the Indian mainland, independently administering the vast presidencies of Bengal, Madras and Bombay and possessing a formidable and intimidating military strength. From 1698 the company was entitled to use the motto "Auspico Regis et Senatus Angliae" meaning, "Under the patronage of the King and Parliament of England"4.
The efforts of the company in administering India emerged as a model for the civil service system in Britain, especially during the 19th century. Deprived of its trade monopoly in 1813, the company wound up as a trading enterprise. In 1858, the Company lost its administrative functions to the British government following the 1857 uprising ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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