Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Essay, Paragraph, Speech on “What Made The British Conquer India?” Complete Paragraph, Speech for Classes 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

Essay, Paragraph, Speech on “What Made The British Conquer India?” Complete Paragraph, Speech for Classes 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12.

What Made The British Conquer India?

“British came to India merely as humble traders but either the misfortune of Indians or the fortune of the British they became the ruler and ruled this vast country for centuries very successfully brilliantly.”

It is indeed a Herculean task to sum up the circumstances, reasons, causes, godly favours and other facts which made the traders the despotic rulers.

 Some historians is of the view that British empire was established almost in a fit of absent mindedness but it will be an unreasonable point of view to infer as without motive, without perspective of circumstantial success the British could not have become the ruler. So keeping in view the reasonably acceptable motivation of all those who set up British Raj in India, some justice could be done with concluding scenario. Let us study the various factors and circumstances prevailed and the changing motives with bright future perspective which turned the commercial people into successful rulers.

The first factor to be taken into account is that the British by nature are conservative. Their history illustrates that rarely they had put a programme or a plan before themselves and then acted upon it. The classic example in English history was the victory of the Parliament over the King. For more than one and half centuries in British history those was a confused wrangle between the king and the parliament. One can safely say that the parliament came out victorious is the year 1688. Surprisingly, to a foreigner, the justification or theory for this victory of parliament was provided by John Locke after 1688. This example proves that the English by nature are not given to theorize but are guided by pragmatism. In all probability it was pragmatism that governed the British conquest of India.

The second factor or force was the truth that although the East India Company was set up as an autonomous body, its policies were affected by the home government. We find that as early as 1784 the home government issued directives to the company rotating to its political conquests. That is why it is believed that what the company did in India was considerably influenced by the home government. Further, the policy of the home government underwent periodic changes regarding the overseas possessions or the empire of England.

The third factor was the internal condition of India. After the death of Aurangzeb the Mughal empire started declining rapidly. The Sikhs, the Rajputs, the Marathas, the Nizam and the provincial vice-roys of Oudh and Bengal virtually severed themselves from the Mughal Empire. Specially, after the invasion of Nadir Shah there was terrific confusion in the political field. And as historical evidence indicates this confusion could not be exploited to one’s own ends either by the Rajputs, the Marathas or the Nizam. In other words, there was political vacuum in India and this itself was an attraction to the British to set up their rule.

The fifth factor or force that led to the establishment of the British Raj in India was the changing political consciousness of England. In the seventeenth century much thought was not given to the establishment of an empire. The concentration was more on the earning of bullion because mercantilism was the governing principle of the country’s economic policy. Therefore the changes in the political awareness of England also influenced the British conquest of India.

Keeping all the factors in mind and in particular the proverbial nature of the British nation in christening events and achievements after their occurrence, we can look into the motivation behind the conquest of India. In the very early stages the directors of the company were very reluctant to involve themselves in any activity beyond trade. The historian of the East India Company, Kaye, states that above all things the London merchants hated the increase of dead stock were frightened of the growing number of the factories and held forts as abominations. They primarily concentrated on brisk trade and good dividend. Secondly it is also keen to note that the chief cities of Bombay, Madras and Calcutta were acquired by the British by agreement and not by conquest. Madras was acquired from the Raja of Chandragiri on lease when the company’s agent, Day, proposed to fortify the place, he was rebuked by the Court of Directors in England. Calcutta was also acquired in the form of the three villages of Sutanati, Calcutta and Govindpur by Job Charnock. Interestingly, in 1746 one Col. James Mill worked out a plan for the conquest of Bengal and this was submitted neither to the East India Company nor to the British Government, but to the Austrian Emperor. Although the Directors-In-General discouraged acquisition of territory, some of the steps taken by them were significant.

In the charter issued to the East India Company in 1661 it was recognized that the Company was allowed to establish a municipal corporation for Madras, thereby putting the official stamp on the territorial character of the company. Even after the victory of the company over the French and the acquisition of the Diwani territories, the directors of the company and also the House of Commons expounded their distrust at the growing political nature from time to time. The Court Of Directors recalled Lord Wellesley when they found that he was proceeding too fast. It also censured Lord I Castings both for his military campaigns and also for expanding the territory. In spite of these pious professions and warnings the British territory in India expanded because most of the pro-consuls sent India took decisions on their own. They adopted the policy of expansion as a matter of choice.

In this expansion, the year 1818 marks the establishment of the British Paramountcy. And in 1841 the Court of Directors laid down that the company should “preserve in the one clear and direct course of abandoning no just and honourable acquisition of territory or revenue, while all existing claims or rights are at the same time scrupulously respected.”

Once again here too, we must concede that the British were often started by the magnitude of their success. A number of leaders prognosticated on the gloomy future. Charles Metcalfe underlined the precariousness of the new dominion and Sir John Malcolm wrote that “in an empire like that of India we are always in danger”.

Nevertheless, the British policy of expansion became clear by the year 1818. Therefore, we can say that although the British policy began without any clear-cut-aim it ended as paramountcy in 1818 and from paramount to imperialism, as acknowledged in the proclamations of Queen Victoria as the Empress of India (1876), was a short step forward.


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