Company rule in India

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Company rule in India (sometimes, Company Raj, "raj", lit. "rule" in Hindustani) refers to the rule or dominion of the British East India Company over parts of the Indian subcontinent. This is variously taken to have commenced in 1757, after the Battle of Plassey, when Mir Jafar, the new Nawab of Bengal enthroned by Robert Clive, became a puppet in the Company's hands; in 1765, when the Company was granted the diwani, or the right to collect revenue, in Bengal and Bihar; or in 1773, when the Company established a capital in Calcutta, appointed its first Governor-General, Warren Hastings, and became directly involved in governance. By 1818, with the defeat of the Marathas, followed by the pensioning of the Peshwa and the annexation of his territories, British supremacy in India was complete.


  • It is unnecessary for our pupose to go into the sordid details of the Company's early administration of their Diwani of Bengal. In brief, it may be stated that for a decade the whole power of the organized State was directed to a single purpose ‑ plunder. It was a robber State that had come into existence, and Richard Becher, a servant of the Company, wrote to his masters in London on May 24, 1769, as follows: `It must give pain to an Englishman to have reason to think that since the accession of the Company to the Diwani the condition of the people of this country has been worse than it was before .... This fine country, which flourished under the most despotic and arbitrary government, is verging towards ruin.'...
    • Richard Becher quoted in K. M. Panikkar. Asia and Western Dominance: a survey of the Vasco Da Gama epoch of Asian history, 1498–1945.
  • “I don't think Erik Prince has much idea about the EIC,” John Keay, who wrote The Honourable Company, a history of the corporation, wrote in an email.
    For most of its history, he noted, the company was a pure corporate concern. When it started taking over territory, the British government began regulating it more closely, appointing its top officers and establishing a board in London that helped run the company. In 1770, the company required a bailout from the British treasury.
    “Roughly from 1785 until its dissolution in 1858, the EIC was a government surrogate. For ‘achievements’ in India the government could claim the credit, and for failings in India the Company could be made a scapegoat. Would this appeal to Prince?” Keay said. And when the company was dissolved, the end came because of a major popular uprising against it, which led the British government to take over all operations, including the company’s private military. One further result was that all Indians became British subjects—imposing a vastly larger national involvement and liability on London, not to mention what it imposed on the Indians.
    “It seems to me that the Company's story is the very reverse of what [Prince] is proposing,” Keay said. “It makes the case for government intervention, not retraction.”

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