Tamil Nadu History Book

Chapter-5 Expansion and Consolidation of British Power in India (Spectrum Modern History Short Notes)



Expansion and Consolidation of British Power in India

Spectrum – Modern History of India – Short notes


  1. The British Imperial History
  • The ‘first empire’ stretching across the Atlantic towards America and the West Indies, and the ‘second empire’ beginning around 1783 (Peace of Paris) and swinging towards the East—Asia and Africa.
  • The imperial history of Britain started with the conquest of Ireland in the sixteenth century.
  1. Was the British Conquest Accidental or Intentional?
  • John Seeley leads the group which says that the British conquest of India was made blindly, unintentionally and accidentally, and in a “fit of absent-mindedness”.
  • School of opinion argues that the British came to trade in India and had no desire to acquire territories or to squander their profits on war waged for territorial expansion.
  • The English, it is argued, were unwillingly drawn into the political turmoil created by the Indians themselves, and were almost forced to acquire territories.
  • The other group says that the British came to India with the clear intention of establishing a large and powerful empire,
  • A desire for quick profits, personal ambitions of individuals, plain avarice and effects of political developments in Europe were some of the factors.
  • L. Grover writes: “Lord Wellesley resorted to aggressive application of the subsidiary alliance system to extend British dominion in India as a defensive counter measure against the imperialistic designs of France and Russia.
  1. When did the British Period Begin in India?
  • Some historians regard the year 1740, when the Anglo-French struggle for supremacy in India began in the wake of the War of Austrian Succession in Europe, as the beginning of the British period.
  • Some see the year 1757, when the British defeated the Nawab of Bengal at Plassey, as the designated date.
  • Others regard 1761, the year of the Third Battle of Panipat when the Marathas were defeated by Ahmad Shah Abdali, as the beginning of this phase of Indian history.
  1. Causes of British Success in India

Superior Arms, Military and Strategy

  • The firearms used by the English, which included muskets and cannons, were better than the Indian arms both in speed of firing and in range.

Better Military Discipline and Regular Salary

  • A regular system of payment of salaries and a strict regime of discipline were the means by which the English Company ensured that the officers and the troops were loyal.

Civil Discipline and Fair Selection System

  • The Company officers and troops were given charge on the basis of their reliability and skill and not on hereditary or caste and clan ties.

Brilliant Leadership and Support of Second Line Leaders

  • Clive, Warren Hastings, Elphinstone, Munro, Marquess of Dalhousie, etc., displayed rare qualities of leadership. The English also had the advantage of a long list of secondary leaders like Sir Eyre Coote, Lord Lake and Arthur Wellesley who fought not for the leader but for the cause and the glory of their country.

Strong Financial Backup

The income of the Company was adequate enough to pay its shareholders handsome dividends as also to finance the English wars in India.

Nationalist Pride

  • The lack of materialistic vision among Indians was also a reason for the success of the English Company.


  1. British Conquest of Bengal

Bengal on the Eve of British Conquest

  • Bengal, the richest province of the Mughal Empire included present day Bangladesh, and its Nawab had authority over the region constituting present day states of Bihar and Odisha.
  • Exports from Bengal to Europe consisted of raw products such as saltpetre, rice, indigo, pepper, sugar, silk, cotton textiles, handicrafts, etc.
  • The Company paid a sum of Rs 3,000 (£ 350) per annum to the Mughal emperor who allowed them to trade freely in Bengal. In contrast, the Company’s exports from Bengal were worth more than £ 50,000 per annum. The region of Bengal was fortunate enough to escape these challenges.
  • The population of Calcutta rose from 15,000 (in 1706) to 100,000 (in 1750) and other cities like Dacca and Murshidabad became highly populous.
  • Between 1757 and 1765, the power gradually got transferred from the Nawabs of Bengal to the British

Alivardi Khan and the English

  • In 1741, Alivardi Khan, the Deputy Governor of Bihar, killed the Nawab of Bengal Sarfaraz Khan in a battle and certified his own position as the new Subahdar of Bengal.
  • He died in April 1756 and was succeeded by hisgrandson, Siraj-ud-daula.

Challenges Before Siraj-ud-daula

  • Internal rivals were added the threat to Siraj’s position from the ever-growing commercial activity of the English company.

The Battle of Plassey

  • Black Hole Tragedy’. Siraj-ud-daula is believed to have imprisoned 146 English persons who were lodged in a very tiny room due to which 123 of them died of suffocation.
  • The Battle-The arrival of a strong force under the command of Robert Clive forged a secret alliance with the traitors of the nawab—Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh, Jagat Seth (an influential banker of Bengal) and Omichand.
  • Under the deal, Mir Jafar was to be made the nawab who in turn would reward the Company for its services. So the English victory in the Battle of Plassey (June 23, 1757) was decided before the battle was even fought.
  • Siraj-ud-daula was captured and murdered by the order of Mir Jafar’s son, Miran. Mir Jafar became the Nawab of Bengal. He gave large sums of money plus the zamindari of 24 parganas to the English.
  • The Battle of Plassey had political significance for it laid the foundation of the British empire in India; it has been rightly regarded as the starting point of British rule in India.
  • The battle established the military supremacy of the English in Bengal.

Mir Kasim and the Treaty of 1760

  • Mir Kasim, the son-in-law of MirJafar, and the Company was signed in 1760.

Important features of the treaty were as follows:

  1. Mir Kasim agreed to cede to the Company the districts of Burdwan, Midnapur and Chittagong.
  2. The Company would get half of the share in chunam trade of Sylhet.
  • Mir Kasim agreed to pay off the outstanding dues to the Company.
  1. Mir Kasim promised to pay a sum of rupees five lakh towards financing the Company’s war efforts in southern India.
  2. It was agreed that Mir Kasim’s enemies were theCompany’s enemies, and his friends, the Company’s friends.
  3. It was agreed that tenants of the nawab’s territory would not be allowed to settle in the lands of the Company, and vice-versa.
  • A pension of Rs 1,500 per annum was fixed for Mir Jafar. Mir Kasim shifted the capital from Murshidabad to Munger in Bihar. The move was taken to allow a safe distance from the Company at Calcutta.
  • His other important steps were reorganising the bureaucracy.

The Battle of Buxar

  • By an imperial farman, the English company had obtained the right to trade in Bengal without paying transit dues or tolls.
  • The combined armies of Mir Kasim, the Nawab of Awadh and Shah Alam II were defeated by the English forces under Major Hector Munro at Buxar on October 22, 1764 in aclosely contested battle.
  • The victory made the English a great power in northern India and contenders for the supremacy over the whole country.
  • After the battle, Mir Jafar, who was made Nawab in 1763 agreed to hand over the districts of Midnapore, Burdwan and Chittagong to the English for the maintenance of their army.

The Treaty of Allahabad

  • Robert Clive concluded two important treaties at Allahabad in August 1765—one with the Nawab of Awadh and the other with the Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II.

Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula agreed to:

  1. surrender Allahabad and Kara to Emperor Shah Alam II;
  2. pay Rs 50 lakh to the Company as war indemnity and give Balwant Singh, Zamindar of Banaras, fullpossession of his estate.

Shah Alam II agreed to:

  1. reside at Allahabad, to be ceded to him by the Nawab of Awadh, under the Company’s protection;
  2. issue a farman granting the diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the East India Company in lieu of an annual payment of Rs 26 lakh; and a provision of Rs 53 lakh to the Company in return for nizamat functions (military defence, police, and administration of justice) of the said provinces.

Dual Government in Bengal (1765-72)

  • Robert Clive introduced the dual system of government, i.e., the rule of the two—the Company and the Nawab—in Bengal in which both the diwani, i.e., collecting revenues, and nizamat, i.e., police and judicial functions, came under the control of the Company.
  • The Company exercised diwani rights as the diwan and the nizamat rights through its right to nominate the deputy subahdar. The Company acquired the diwani functions from the emperor and nizamat functions from the subahdar of Bengal.
  • The dual system led to an administrative breakdown and proved disastrous for the people of Bengal.
  1. Mysore’s Resistance to the Company-
  • The Wodeyar / Mysore Dynasty-
  • The battle of Talikota (1565) gave a deadly blow to the great kingdom of Vijayanagara.
  • In 1612 a Hindu kingdom under the Wodeyars emerged in the region of Mysore.
  • Chikka Krishnaraja Wodeyar II ruled from 1734 to 1766.
  • Mysore emerged as a formidable power under the leadership of Haidar Ali and Tipu

Rise of Haidar Ali-

  • Haidar Ali became the de facto ruler of Mysore in 1761. He realized that the French-trained Nizami army could be silenced only by an effective artillery.
  • Haidar Ali took the help of the French to set up an arms factory at Dindigul (now in Tamil Nadu), and also introduced Western methods of training for his army.
  • With his superior military skill he captured Dod Ballapur, Sera, Bednur and Hoskote in 1761- 63, and brought to submission the troublesome Poligars of South India (in what is now Tamil Nadu).
  • Recovering from their defeat at Panipat, the Marathas under Madhavrao attacked Mysore, and defeated Haidar Ali in 1764, 1766, and 1771. And recovered all the territories during 1774-76.

First Anglo-Mysore War (1767-69)

  • The Nizam, the Marathas, and the English allied together against Haidar Ali.
  • English conclude a treaty with Haidar on April 4, 1769—Treaty of Madras.
  • The treaty provided for the exchange of prisoners and mutual restitution of conquests.
  • Haidar Ali was promised the help of the English in case he was attacked by any other power.

Second Anglo-Mysore War (1780-84)

  • Haidar considered the English attempt to capture Mahe a direct challenge to his authority.
  • Haidar forged an anti-English alliance with the Marathas and the Nizam.
  • He followed it up by an attack in the Carnatic, capturing Arcot, and defeating the English army under Colonel Baillie in 1781.
  • Haidar faced the English boldly only to suffer a defeat at Porto Novo in November 1781.
  • Fed up with an inconclusive war, both sides opted for peace, negotiating the Treaty of Mangalore (March, 1784) under which each party gave back the territories it had taken from the other.
  • Haidar Ali died of cancer on December 7, 1782.

Third Anglo-Mysore War

  • In April 1790, Tipu declared war against Travancore for the restoration of his rights. In 1790, Tipu defeated the English under General Meadows.
  • In 1791, Cornwallis took the leadership and at the head of a large army marched through Ambur and Vellore to Bangalore (capturedin March 1791) and from there to Seringapatam.
  • Treaty of Seringapatam- Under this treaty of 1792, nearly half of the Mysorean territory was taken over by the victors. Baramahal, Dindigul and Malabar went to the English, while the Marathas got the regions surrounding the Tungabhadra and its tributaries and the Nizam acquired the areas from the Krishna to beyond the Pennar. Besides, a war damage of three crore rupees was also taken from Tipu.

Fourth Anglo-Mysore War

  • In 1798, Lord Wellesley succeeded Sir John Shore as the new Governor General.
  • The war began on April 17, 1799 and ended on May 4, 1799 with the fall of Seringapatam.
  • Tipu was defeated first by English General Stuart and then by General Harris.
  • The English were again helped by the Marathas and the Nizam. The Marathas had been promised half of the territory of Tipu and the Nizam had already signed the Subsidiary Alliance.

Mysore After Tipu

  • Wellesley offered Soonda and Harponelly districts of Mysore Kingdom to the Marathas, which the latter refused.
  • The Nizam was given the districts of Gooty and Gurramkonda.
  • The English took possession of Kanara, Wynad, Coimbatore, Dwaraporam and Seringapatam.
  • The new state of Mysore was handed over to the old Hindu dynasty (Wodeyars) under a minor ruler Krishnaraja III, who accepted the subsidiary alliance.
  • In 1831 William Bentinck took control of Mysore on grounds of misgovernance.
  • In 1881 Lord Ripon restored the kingdom to its ruler.
  1. Anglo-Maratha Struggle for Supremacy

Rise of the Marathas

  • Bajirao I (1720-40), considered greatest of all the Peshwas, had started a confederacy of rapidly expanding Maratha power, and to some extent appease the kshatriya section of the Marathas (Peshwas were brahmins) led by the senapati
  • The Maratha families which emerged prominent were—
  • (i) the Gaekwad of Baroda,
  • (ii) the Bhonsle of Nagpur,
  • (iii) the Holkars of Indore,
  • (iv) the Sindhias of Gwalior, and
  • (v) the Peshwa of Poona.
  • The defeat at Panipat and later the death of the young Peshwa, Madhavrao I, in 1772, weakened the control of the Peshwas over the confederacy.
  • Entry of the English into Maratha Politics
  • The English in Bombay wanted to establish a government on the lines of the arrangement made by Clive in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-82)-

  • After the death of Madhavrao in 1772, his brother Narayanrao succeeded him as the fifth peshwa.
  • Treaties of Surat and Purandhar Raghunathrao, unwilling to give up his position in power, sought help from the English at Bombay and signed the Treaty of Surat in 1775.
  • Under the treaty, Raghunathrao ceded the territories of Salsette and Bassein to the English along with a portion of the revenues from Surat and Bharuch districts. In return, the English were to provide Raghunathrao with 2,500 soldiers.
  • The British Calcutta Council, condemned the Treaty of Surat (1775) and sent Colonel Upton to Pune to annul it and make a new treaty (Treaty of Purandhar, 1776) with the regency renouncing Raghunath and promising him a pension. The Bombay government rejected this and gave refuge to Raghunath.
  • In 1777, Nana Phadnavis violated his treaty with the Calcutta Council by granting the French a port on the west coast.
  • Mahadji lured the English army into the ghats (mountain passes) near Talegaon and trapped the English from all sides and attacked the English supply base at Khopali. The Marathas also utilised a scorched earth policy, burning farmland and poisoning wells.
  • As The English surrendered by mid-January 1779 and signed the Treaty of Wadgaon that forced the Bombay government to relinquish all territories acquired by the English since 1775.
  • Treaty of Salbai (1782): End of the First Phase of the Struggle Warren Hastings, the Governor-General in Bengal, rejected the Treaty of Wadgaon and under Colonel Goddard who captured Ahmedabad in February 1779, and Bassein in December 1780.
  • Another Bengal detachment led by Captain Popham captured Gwalior in August 1780. In February 1781 the English, under General Camac, finally defeated Sindhia at Sipri.
  • Sindhia proposed a new treaty between the Peshwa and the English, and the Treaty of Salbai was signed in May 1782; it was ratified by Hastings in June 1782 and by Phadnavis in February 1783.
  • The treaty guaranteed peace between thetwo sides for twenty years.

The main provisions of the Treaty of Salbai were:

  1. Salsette should continue in the possession of the English.
  2. The whole of the territory conquered since the Treaty of Purandhar (1776) including Bassein should be restored to the Marathas.

In Gujarat, Fateh Singh Gaekwad should remain in possession of the territory which he had before the war and should serve the Peshwa as before.

  1. The English should not offer any further support to Raghunathrao and the Peshwa should grant him a maintenance allowance.
  2. Haidar Ali should return all the territory taken from the English and the Nawab of Arcot.
  3. The English should enjoy the privileges at trade as before.
  • The Peshwa should not support any other European nation.
  • The Peshwa and the English should undertake that their several allies should remain at peace with one another.
  • Mahadji Sindhia should be the mutual guarantor for the proper observance of the terms of the treaty.

Second Anglo Maratha War (1803-1805)

  • The death of Nana Phadnavis in 1800 gave the British an added advantage.
  • On October 25, 1802, Jaswant defeated the armies of the Peshwa and Sindhia decisively at Hadaspar near Poona and placed Vinayakrao, son of Amritrao, on the Peshwa’s seat.
  • A terrified Bajirao II fled to Bassein on December 31, 1802,

Treaty of Bassein (1802) Under the treaty, the Peshwa agreed:

  1. to receive from the Company a native infantry (consisting of not less than 6,000 troops), with the usual proportion of field artillery and European artillery men attached, to be permanently stationed in his territories;
  2. to cede to the Company territories yielding an income of Rs 26 lakh to surrender the city of Surat;
  1. to give up all claims for chauth on the Nizam’s dominions;
  2. to accept the Company’s arbitration in all differences between him and the Nizam or the Gaekwad;
  3. not to keep in his employment Europeans of any nation at war with the English; and
  • to subject his relations with other states to the control of the English.
  • (i) Defeat of Bhonsle (December 17, 1803, Treaty of Devgaon);
  • (ii) Defeat of Sindhia (December 30, 1803, Treaty of Surajianjangaon); and
  • (iii) Defeat of Holkar (1806, Treaty of Rajpurghat).
  • Treaty was signed by a Peshwa who lacked political authority, but the gains made by the English were immense.
  • The treaty “gave the English the key to India,”

Third Anglo-Maratha War (1817-19)

  • By the Charter Act of 1813, the East India Company’s monopoly of trade in China (except tea) ended
  • Bajirao II made a last bid in 1817 by rallying together the Maratha chiefs against the English in course of the Third Anglo-Maratha War.
  • The Peshwa attacked the British Residency at Poona. Appa Sahib of Nagpur attacked the residency at Nagpur.
  • The Peshwa was defeated at Khirki, Bhonsle at Sitabuldi, and Holkar at Mahidpur.

Important treaties were signed. These were:

  1. June 1817, Treaty of Poona, with Peshwa.
  2. November 1817, Treaty of Gwalior, with Sindhia.
  • January 1818, Treaty of Mandasor, with Holkar. In June 1818,
  • The Peshwa finally surrendered and the Maratha confederacy was dissolved. The peshwaship was abolished. Peshwa Bajirao became a British retainer at Bithur near Kanpur.
  • Pratap Singh made ruler of Satara, formed out of the Peshwa’s dominions.

Why the Marathas Lost

  • Inept Leadership-the later Maratha leaders Bajirao II, Daulatrao Sindhia and Jaswantrao Holkar were worthless and selfish leaders.
  • Defective Nature of Maratha State- The cohesion of the people of the Maratha state was not organic but artificial and accidental, and hence precarious.
  • Loose Political Set-up-The lack of a cooperative spirit among the Maratha chiefs proved detrimental to the Maratha state.
  • Inferior Military System Though full of personal prowess and valour, the Marathas were inferior to the English in organisation of the forces, in war weapons, in disciplined action and in effective leadership.
  • Unstable Economic Policy The Maratha leadership failed to evolve a stable economic policy
  • Superior English Diplomacy and Espionage The English had better diplomatic skill to win allies and isolate the enemy.
  • Progressive English Outlook The English were rejuvenated by the forces of Renaissance The English attacked a ‘divided house’ which started crumbling after a few pushes.
  1. Conquest of Sindh-

Rise of Talpuras Amirs-

  • Prior to the rule of Talpuras Amirs, Sindh was ruled by the Kallora chiefs.
  • In 1758, an English factory was built at Thatta, owing to a parwana given by the Kallora prince, Ghulam Shah. In 1761, Ghulam Shah, on the arrival of an English resident in his court, not only ratified the earlier treaty, but also excluded other Europeans from trading there.
  • This advantage was enjoyed by the English upto 1775
  • In the 1770s, a Baluch tribe called Talpuras, descended from the hills and settled in the plains of Sindh.
  • In 1783, the Talpuras, under the leadership of Mir Fath (Fatah) Ali Khan, established complete hold over Sindh
  • They conquered Amarkot from the Raja of Jodhpur, Karachi from the chief of Luz, Shaikarpur and Bukkar from the Afghans.
  • Gradual Ascendancy over Sindh-
  • Under the influence of Tipu Sultan and the jealousy of the local traders, aided by the anti-British party at Hyderabad (Sindh), the amir in October 1800, ordered the British agent to quit Sindh within ten days.

Treaty of ‘Eternal Friendship’-

  1. Metcalfe was sent to Lahore, Elphinstone to Kabul and Malcolm to Teheran.
  2. After professing eternal friendship, both sides agreed to exclude the French from Sindh and to exchange agents at each other’s court.
  • The treaty was renewed in 1820 with the addition of an article excluding the Americans andresolving some border disputes on the side of Kachch after the final defeat of the Maratha confederacy in 1818.
  • Treaty of 1832-In 1832, William Bentinck sent Colonel Pottinger to Sindh to sign a treaty with the Amirs. The provisions of the treaty were as follows:
  1. Free passage through Sindh would be allowed to the English traders and travellers and the use of Indus for trading purposes; however, no warships would ply, nor any materials for war would be carried.
  2. No English merchant would settle down in Sindh, and passports would be needed for travellers.
  • Tariff rates could be altered by the Amirs if found high and no military dues or tolls would be demanded.
  1. The Amirs would work with the Raja of Jodhpur to put down the robbers of Kachch.
  2. The old treaties were confirmed and the parties would not be jealous of each other.
  • Lord Auckland and Sindh-Lord Auckland, who became the Governor-General in 1836,
  • Tripartite Treaty of 1838– the Company persuaded Ranjit Singh to sign a tripartite treaty in June 1838 agreeing to British mediation in his disputes with the Amirs, and then made Emperor Shah Shuja give up his sovereign rights on Sindh, provided the arrears of tribute were paid.
  • Sindh Accepts Subsidiary Alliance (1839)- 
  • Capitulation of Sindh -The first Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42), fought on the soil of Sindh.
  • The whole of Sindh capitulated within a short time, and the Amirs were made captives and banished from Sindh.
  • In 1843, under Governor-General Ellenborough, Sindh was merged into the British Empire and Charles Napier was appointed its first governor.

Criticisms of the Conquest of Sindh-

  • In the instance of the First Afghan War, the English suffered terribly at the hands of the Afghans with a corresponding loss of prestige.
  • To compensate for this, they annexed Sindh which prompted Elphinstone to comment: “Coming from Afghanistan it put one in mind of a bully who has been knocked in the street and went home to beat his wife in revenge.”
  1. Conquest of Punjab

Consolidation of Punjab under the Sikhs-

  • In 1715, Banda Bahadur was defeated by Farrukhsiyar and put to death in 1716. Thus the Shikh polity, once again, became leaderless and later got divided into two groups—Bandai (liberal) and Tat Khalsa (Orthodox).
  • In 1784 Kapur Singh Faizullapuria organised the Sikhs under Dal Khalsa, with the objective of uniting followers of Sikhism, politically, culturally and economically.
  • The whole body of the Khalsa was formed into two sections— Budha Dal, the army of the veterans, and Taruna Dal, the army of the young. The Sikhs consolidated in mislsMisl is an Arabic word which means equal or alike. Another meaning of Misl is State.
  • Sukarchakiya Misl and Ranjit Singh
  • At the time of the birth of Ranjit Singh (November 2, 1780), there were 12 important mislsAhluwaliya, Bhangi, Dallewalia, Faizullapuria, Kanhaiya, Krorasinghia, Nakkai, Nishaniya, Phulakiya, Ramgarhiya Sukharchakiya, and Shaheed.
  • The central administration of a misl was based on Gurumatta Sangh
  • In 1799, Ranjit Singh was appointed as the governor of Lahore by Zaman Shah, the ruler of Afghanistan.
  • In 1805, Ranjit Singh acquired Jammu and Amritsar and thus the political capital (Lahore) and religious capital (Amritsar) of Punjab came under the rule of Ranjit Singh.
  • Ranjit Singh and the English-
  • The Napoleonic danger receded and the English became more assertive, Ranjit Singh agreed to sign the Treaty of Amritsar (April 25, 1809) with the Company.

Treaty of Amritsar-

  • It checked one of the most cherished ambitions of Ranjit Singh to extend his rule over the entire Sikh nation by accepting the river Sutlej as the boundary line for his dominions and the Company’s.
  • Now he directed his energies towards the west and captured Multan (1818), Kashmir (1819) and Peshawar (1834). In June 1838, Ranjit Singh was compelled by political compulsions to sign the Tripartite Treaty with the English

Punjab After Ranjit Singh

  • Beginning of Court Factions-Discontent was growing among the troops as a result of irregularity of payment. The appointment of unworthy officers led to indiscipline. These marches resulted in commotion and economic dislocation in Punjab.
  • Rani Jindal and Daleep Singh-Daleep Singh, a minor son of Ranjit Singh,was proclaimed the Maharaja with Rani Jindan as regent and Hira Singh Dogra as wazir.

First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-46)

The causes were as follows:

(i) the anarchy in the Lahore kingdom following the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh resulting in a power struggle for domination between the court at Lahore and the ever powerful and increasingly local army;

(ii) suspicions amongst the Sikh army arising from English military campaigns to achieve  the annexation of Gwalior and Sindh in 1841 and the campaign in Afghanistan in 1842; and

(iii) the increase in the number of English troops being stationed near the border with the Lahore kingdom.

  • The war began in December 1845 with 20,000 to 30,000 troops in the British side, while the Sikhs had about 50,000 men.
  • Treachery of Lal Singh and Teja Singh caused five successive defeats to the Sikhs at Mudki (December 18, 1845),
  • Ferozeshah (December 21-22, 1845),
  • Buddelwal, Aliwal (January 28, 1846),
  • and at Sobraon (February 10, 1846).
  • Lahore fell to the British forces on February 20, 1846 without a fight.
  • Treaty of Lahore (March 8, 1846) The end of the first Anglo-Sikh War forced the Sikhs to sign a humiliating treaty on March 8, 1846.

The main features of the Treaty of Lahore were as follows:

  1. War indemnity of more than 1 crore of rupees was to be given to the English.
  2. The Jalandhar Doab (between the Beas and the Sutlej) was annexed to the Company’s dominions.
  • A British resident was to be established at Lahore under Henry Lawrence.
  1. The strength of the Sikh army was reduced.
  2. Daleep Singh was recognised as the ruler under Rani Jindan as regent and Lal Singh as wazir.
  3. Since, the Sikhs were not able to pay the entire war indemnity, Kashmir including Jammu was sold to Gulab Singh and he was required to pay Rupees 75 lakh to the Company as the price.
  • The transfer of Kashmir to Gulab Singh was formalised by a separate treaty on March 16, 1846.
  • Treaty of Bhairowal -The Sikhs were not satisfied with the Treaty of Lahore over the issue of Kashmir, so they rebelled. In December, 1846, the Treaty of Bhairowal was signed. According to the provisions of this treaty, Rani Jindan was removed as regent and a council of regency for Punjab was set up.
  • The council consisted of 8 Sikh sardars presided over by the English Resident, Henry Lawrence.

Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848-49)-

  • Sher Singh was sent to suppress the revolt, but he himself joined Mulraj, leading to a mass uprising in Multan. This could be considered as the immediate cause of the war.
  • Three important battles were fought before the final annexation of Punjab.
  • These three battles were:
  • (i) Battle of Ramnagar, led by Sir Hugh Gough, the commander-in-chief of the Company.
  • (ii) Battle of Chillhanwala, January, 1849.
  • (iii) Battle of Gujarat, February 21, 1849; the Sikh army surrendered at Rawalpindi, and their Afghan allies were chased out of India.
  • At the end of the war came:
  1. surrender of the Sikh army and Sher Singh in 1849;
  2. annexation of Punjab; and for his services the Earl of Dalhousie was given the thanks of the British Parliament and a promotion in the peerage, as Marquess;
  • setting up of a three-member board to govern Punjab, comprising of the Lawrence brothers (Henry and John) and Charles Mansel.
  • In 1853 John Lawrence became the first chief commissioner.
  • Significance of the Anglo-Sikh Wars-The Anglo-Sikh wars gave the two sides a mutual respect for each other’s fighting prowess.
  1. Extension of British Paramountcy Through Administrative Policy-
  • The process of imperial expansion and consolidation of British paramountcy was carried on by the Company during the 1757-1857 period through a two-fold method: (a) policy of annexation by conquest or war; and (b) policy of annexation by diplomacy and administrative mechanisms.
  • The Policy of Ring-Fence-
  • Warren Hastings followed a policy of ring-fence which aimed at creating buffer zones to defend the Company’s frontiers.
  • This policy of Warren Hastings was reflected in his war against the Marathas and Mysore.
  • The states brought under the ring-fence system were assured of military assistance against external aggression—but at their own expense.
  • Wellesley’s policy of subsidiary alliance was, in fact, an extension of the ring-fence system which sought to reduce the Indian states into a position of dependence on the British government.

Subsidiary Alliance-

  • The subsidiary alliance system was used by Lord Wellesley, who was governor-general from 1798-1805
  • Under the system, the allying Indian state’s ruler was compelled to accept the permanent stationing of a British force within his territory and to pay a subsidy for its maintenance.
  • The Indian ruler had to agree to the posting of a British resident in his court. Under the system, the Indian ruler could not employ any European in his service without the prior approval of the British.
  • Nor could he negotiate with any other Indian ruler without consulting the governor-general. In return for all this, the British would defend the ruler from his enemies and adopt a policy of noninterference in the internal matters of the allied state.
  • Evolution and Perfection-It was probably Dupleix, who first gave on hire (so to say) European troops to Indian rulers to fight their wars.
  • The first Indian state to fall into this protection trap (which anticipated the subsidiary alliance system) was Awadh which in 1765 signed a treaty under which the Company pledged to defend the frontiers of Awadh
  • It was in 1787 that the Company insisted that the subsidiary state should not have foreign relations. This was included in the treaty with the Nawab of Carnatic which Cornwallis signed in February 1787.

Stages of Application of Subsidiary Alliance-

  1. The first stage, the Company offered to help a friendly Indian state with its troops to fight any war the state might be engaged in.
  2. The second stage consisted of making a common cause with the Indian state now made friendly and taking the field with its own soldiers and those of the state.
  • The third stage when the Indian ally was asked not for men but for money.
  • The Company promised that it would recruit, train, and maintain a fixed number of soldiers under British officers, and that the contingent would be available to the ruler for his personal and family’s protection as also for keeping out aggressors, all for a fixed sum of money.
  • In the fourth or the last stage, the money or the protection feewas fixed, usually at a high level; when the state failed to pay the money in time, it was asked to cede certain parts of its territories to the Company in lieu of payment.

States which Accepted Alliance-The Indian princes who accepted the subsidiary system were:

  • the Nizam of Hyderabad (September 1798 and 1800),
  • the ruler of Mysore (1799),
  • the ruler of Tanjore (October 1799),
  • the Nawab of Awadh (November 1801),
  • the Peshwa (December 1801),
  • the Bhonsle Raja of Berar (December 1803),
  • the Sindhia (February 1804),
  • the Rajput states of Jodhpur, Jaipur, Macheri, Bundi and
  • the ruler of Bharatpur (1818).
  • The Holkars were the last Maratha confederation to accept the Subsidiary Alliance in 1818.

Doctrine of Lapse

  • In simple terms, the doctrine stated that the adopted son could be the heir to his foster father’s private property, but not the state; it was for the paramount power (the British) to decide whether to bestow the state on the adopted son or to annex it.
  • Though this policy is attributed to Lord Dalhousie (1848-56), he was not its originator.
  • Seven states were annexed under the Doctrine of Lapse:-Satara (1848), Jhansi and Nagpur (1854). The other small states included Jaitpur (Bundelkhand), Sambhalpur (Orissa), and Baghat (Madhya Pradesh).
  • Lord Dalhousie annexed Awadh in 1856

Relations of British India with Neighbouring Countries

Anglo-Bhutanese Relations-

  • In 1865, the Bhutanese were forced to surrender the passes in return for an annual subsidy.
  • It was the surrendered district which became a productive area with tea gardens.

Anglo-Nepalese Relations-

  • In 1801, the English annexed Gorakhpur which brought the Gorkhas’ boundary and the Company’s boundary together.
  • The conflict started due to the Gorkhas’ capture of Butwal and Sheoraj in the period of Lord Hastings (1813-23).
  • The war, ended in the Treaty of Sagauli,1816 which was in favour of the British.As per the treaty,
  1. Nepal accepted a British resident.
  2. Nepal ceded the districts of Garhwal and Kumaon, and abandoned claims to Terai.
  • Nepal also withdrew from Sikkim.

This agreement brought many advantages to the British—

  1. the British empire now reached the Himalayas;
  2. it got better facilities for trade with Central Asia;
  • it acquired sites for hill stations, such as Shimla, Mussoorie and Nainital; and the Gorkhas joined the British Indian Army in large numbers.

Anglo-Burmese Relations-

  • The expansionist urges of the British, fuelled by the lure of the forest resources of Burma, market for British manufactures in Burma
  • First Burma War (1824-26)-The first war with Burma was fought when the Burmese expansion westwards and occupation of Arakan and Manipur, and the threat to Assam and the Brahmaputra Valley. The British expeditionary forces occupied Rangoon in May 1824 and reached within 72 km of the capital at Ava. Peace was established in 1826 with the Treaty of Yandabo which provided that the Government of Burma
  1. pay rupees one crore as war compensation;
  2. cede its coastal provinces of Arakan and Tenasserim; abandon claims on Assam, Cachar and Jaintia;
  1. recognise Manipur as an independent state; negotiate a commercial treaty with Britain; and
  2. accept a British resident at Ava, while posting a Burmese envoy at Calcutta.
  • Second Burma War (1852)-The second war was the result of the British commercial need and the imperialist policy of Lord Dalhousie. The British merchants were keen to get hold of timber resources of upper Burma and also sought further inroads into the Burmese market.
  • Third Burma War (1885)– A humiliating fine had been imposed on a British timber company by Thibaw. Dufferin ordered the invasion and final annexation of upper Burma in 1885.

Anglo-Tibetan Relations-

  • Tibet was ruled by a theocracy of Buddhist monks (lamas) under nominal suzerainty of China.
  • Treaty of Lhasa (1904) Younghusband dictated terms to the Tibetan officials which provided that—
  1. Tibet would pay an indemnity of Rs 75 lakh at the rate of one lakh rupees per annum;
  2. as a security for payment, the Indian Government would occupy the Chumbi Valley (territory between Bhutan and Sikkim) for 75 years;
  • Tibet would respect the frontier of Sikkim;
  1. Trade marts would be opened at Yatung, Gyantse, Gartok; and
  2. Tibet would not grant any concession for railways, roads, telegraph, etc., to any foreign state, but give Great Britain some control over foreign affairs of Tibet.
  3. The treaty was revised reducing the indemnity from Rs 75 lakh to Rs 25 lakh and providing for evacuation of Chumbi valley after three years
  • Significance-Only China gained in the end out of the whole affair because the Anglo-Russian convention of 1907.

Anglo-Afghan Relations-

  • Treaty of Turkomanchai (1828)
  • Passes of the north-west seemed to hold the key to enter India. The need was felt for Afghanistan to be under control of a ruler friendly to the British.
  • Forward Policy of Auckland Auckland who came to India as the governor-general in 1836, advocated a forward policy. This implied that the Company government in India itself had to take initiatives to protect the boundary of British India
  • A Tripartite Treaty (1838) was entered into by the British,Sikhs and Shah Shuja The treaty provided that—
  1. Shah Shuja be enthroned with the armed help of the Sikhs, the Company remaining in the background, ‘jingling the money-bag’;
  2. Shah Shuja conduct foreign affairs with the advice of the Sikhs and the British; Shah Shuja give up his sovereign rights over Amirs of Sindh in return for a large sum of money;
  1. Shah Shuja recognise the Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s claims over the Afghan territories on the right bank of the River Indus.
  • First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842) the British decided to go ahead with their forward policy. This resulted in the First Afghan War (1839-The British intention was to establish a permanent barrier against schemes of aggression from the north-west.
  • The British were compelled to sign a treaty (1841) with the Afghan chiefs by which they agreed to evacuate Afghanistan and restore Dost Mohammed. The First Afghan War cost India one-and-a-half crore rupees and nearly 20,000 men.
  • John Lawrence and the Policy of Masterly Inactivity-Lawrence’s policy rested on the fulfilment of two conditions—(i) that the peace at the frontier was notdisturbed, and (ii) that no candidate in civil war sought foreign help.
  • Lytton and the Policy of Proud Reserve-Lytton, a nominee of the Conservative government under Benjamin Disraeli (1874-80), became the Viceroy of India in 1876.
  • He started a new foreign policy of ‘proud reserve’, which was aimed at having scientific frontiers and safeguarding ‘spheres of influence’
  • Second Anglo-Afghan War (1870-80)- Sher Ali fled in face of the British invasion, and the Treaty of Gandamak (May 1879) was signed with Yakub Khan, the eldest son of Sher Ali. Treaty of Gandamak (May 1879) The treaty signed after the Second-Anglo Afghan War provided that:
  1. the Amir conduct his foreign policy with the advice of Government of India;
  2. a permanent British resident be stationed at Kabul; and the Government of India give Amir all support against foreign aggression, and an annual subsidy.

British India and the North-West Frontier-

  • A compromise was finally reached by drawing a boundary line known as Durand Line between Afghan and British territories.
  • Curzon, the viceroy between 1899 and 1905, followed a policy of withdrawal and concentration.
  • He created the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) directly under the Government of India.
  • In January 1932, it was announced that the NWFP was to be constituted as a governor’s province.
  • Since 1947,the province belongs to Pakistan.


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