British Penetration of India

British Penetration of India

European powers had had trading posts on the coasts of India for several centuries since Vasco da Gama landed in Calicut in 1498. The European East India Companies were endowed with state powers, but initially only acquired limited territorial rule under the sovereignty of Indian princes. The British East India Company (founded in 1600) soon surpassed all others, but in the 18th century had to deal with the French company, which was governed by J.-F. Dupleix (1742–54) pursued an active territorial policy. Dupleix ‘s British opponent R. Clive pursued a similar policy, he defeated the Nawab of Bengal in a battle near Plassey in 1757 and secured the British dominance in this area.

In 1761, the Marathas and Afghans ravaged each other in a great battle at Panipat, and a power vacuum developed in northern India. In 1763, the Peace of Paris put an end to French ambitions in India.

In 1765 the Great Mughal transferred administrative sovereignty (Diwani) over Bengal to the British East India Company. This created the basis for British territorial rule. Madras (British since 1639) and Bombay (since 1661) offered further starting points. The governors of Madras and Bombay were subordinate to the governor-general of Bengal. W. Hastings , who was installed as the first Governor General in 1774, consolidated British power. Large areas of India were conquered under his successors over the next few decades. Tipu Sultan who had established a great empire in the south, was defeated in 1799. The Marathas were finally subjugated in 1818. The conquered territories were either brought directly under British administration or left under the rule of Indian princes, who recognized the rule of the British crown in special treaties.

In 1833 the British East India Company lost its privileges. Reformers in Britain emphasized the humanitarian tasks of British rule in India, calling for the abolition of widow burning and freedom of movement for missionaries. Governor General Lord W. H. Bentinck advocated this, his Justice Minister T. B. Macaulay promoted the introduction of the British education system and the spread of the English language. Local circles supported these efforts in order to secure the Indians opportunities for advancement in the new system of rule. This phase of internal consolidation was followed by another phase of territorial expansion. The British waged the first war with Afghanistan in 1838–42, and Sind was annexed in 1843. In 1849 the empire of the Sikh, who had established their rule in the Punjab under Maharajah R. Singh , was subdued after several campaigns. In 1852 southern Burma was annexed. This marked the borders of British India. The grandeur of British rule encouraged Governor General Lord Dalhousie in order, in a new phase of internal consolidation, to do away with the Indian principalities which had continued to exist as enclaves in the British-Indian territory. The death of the prince and the lack of a legitimate heir (e.g. the principalities of Nagpur, Jhansi) or mismanagement (Oudh) were used as an opportunity to confiscate principalities. The annexation of Oudh (1856), however, led to an armed uprising (1857–59, called “Mutiny” or “Sepoy uprising”) in which mutinous troops of the British-Indian Army (Sepoys) joined forces with the disempowered upper class. The widow of Prince von Jhansi and the Marathi Prince Nana Sahib, who lives in exile in North Indiaplayed an important role as leaders of the uprising. The uprising was badly organized, however, and was restricted to northern India. With the help of the Sikh troops, the British managed to knock him down quickly. As a result of the uprising, the East India Company was disbanded and India was placed directly under the Crown; the governor general became viceroy (1858). Queen Victoria assumed the title of Empress of India in 1876.

In the second half of the 19th century, the British-Indian administration was expanded. With the support of government guarantees, a large railway network was built, and the export of raw products and the import of finished goods were promoted. The government was dependent on property tax, the opium monopoly and salt tax as the main sources of income and, in addition to the defense costs of the world empire, also had to transfer considerable sums to Great Britain. It was denied an independent customs policy in the interests of British free trade. The local industry was not promoted. An expansive border policy (2nd Anglo-Afghan War 1878–80, annexation of Oberbirmas in 1885) put a strain on the state budget. Increases in property taxes, tensions between landowners and tenants, Peasants and moneylenders and frequent famines created unrest. The new Indian educated class criticized the British-Indian government, and Indian nationalism was born.


According to recipesinthebox, the total strength of the volunteer army is 1.4 million, that of the paramilitary forces (including the central police reserve, border security forces) around 1.6 million men. The army (1.2 million soldiers), divided into four field armies with twelve corps, has four rapid reaction divisions with mechanized infantry units, three armored, 18 infantry and 10 mountain divisions as well as 16 independent combat brigades, including a paratrooper brigade. Combat support is provided by artillery divisions, anti-aircraft and engineer brigades. The Air Force has 127,000 and the Navy 56,000 soldiers. India has been a nuclear power since 1974.

British Penetration of India