Indian trade links with Europe started in through sea route only after the arrival of Vasco da Gama in Calicut, India on May 20, 1498. The Portuguese had traded in Goa as early as 1510, and later founded three other colonies on the west coast in Diu, Bassein, and Mangalore. In 1601 the East India Company was chartered, and the English began their first inroads into the Indian Ocean. At first they were little interested in India, but rather, like the Portuguese and Dutch before them, with the Spice Islands. But the English were unable to dislodge the Dutch from Spice Islands. In 1610, the British chased away a Portuguese naval squadron, and the East India Company created its own outpost at Surat.This small outpost marked the beginning of a remarkable presence that would last over 300 years and eventually dominate the entire subcontinent. In 1612 British established a trading post in Gujarat. As a result of English disappointments with dislodging the Dutch from the Spice Islands, they turned instead to India.
By the beginning of the eighteenth century only two European trading companies of the British and the French were left in India competing for the Indian resources. The Anglo- French rivalry, taking the form of three Carnatic Wars constituted landmarks in the history of British conquest of south India in the eighteenth century. In order to establish their supremacy, it was necessary for the English East India Company to eliminate the French from this region. As a result of Seven Years’ War (1756–1763) in Europe, the French and English settle- ments in India also became involved in open hostilities. In the third Carnatic war, the British East India Company defeated the French forces at the battle of Wandiwash ending almost a century of conflict over supremacy in India. This battle gave the British trading company a far superior position in India compared to the other Europeans.
The French were defeated by Sir Eyre Coote at Wandiwash in January, 1760, and Pondicherry capitulated a year later. The work of Dupleix and Bussy in the South was thus destroyed in 1760–1761; the French possessions in India were, however, restored by the treaty of Paris (1763). This conflict was resolved in the English East India Company’s favour because of its strong navy in India, its progressively increasing military strength and good leadership, the support they received from the Government in England, and the larger resources at its command in Bengal. A part of the fallout of the events in the Carnatic cycle of wars that the weakness of the Indian regional powers (in particular their inability to make naval interventions and the ineffectiveness of large armies of some of their powers against smaller European forces) became manifest and this had grave implications in the political history of the rest of the eighteenth century.
The ‘First Phase’ of British Colonism is generally dated from 1757, when the British East India Company acquired the rights to collect revenue from its territories in the eastern and southern parts of the subcontinent, to 1813, when the Company’s monopoly over trade with India came to an end.
The ‘Second Phase’ is generally seen to have begun with the charter Act of 1813, when the Company lost its monopoly trading rights in India, and ended in 1858, when the British crown took over the direct control and administration of all British territory in India.
Dual or Double Government: This system was introduced in Bengal after the battle of Buxar. As the Diwan of Bengal the Company directly collected its revenue, while the nizamat or the Police and Judicial powers remained with the Nawab.
Subsidiary Alliance system: The Subsidiary Alliance System was used by lord Wellesley to bring the Indian states within the boundary of the British political power. Under this doctrine, Indian rulers under British protection suspended their native armies, instead maintaining British troops within their states. They surrendered control of their foreign affairs to the British. In return, the East India Company would protect them from the attacks of their rivals.
Doctrine of Lapse: It was an annexation policy by the British East India Com- pany, introduced by lord Dalhousie Governor -general of India. Under the doc- trine princely territory under the direct rule of the East India Company would automatically be annexed if the ruler was either incompetent or died without a direct heir.
Charter Acts: The Charter Acts were passed by the British Parliament to govern the activities of the East India Company, endowed it with enormous Commercial privileges and granted them the powers to rule India up to 1858. The Charter Acts issued enabled the East India Company, commercial privileges in several series, for twenty years each. The first Charter Act was granted in 1793, granting the company provision of 20 years. Later the Charter Act was renewed in the year 1813, 1833 and 1853 respectively.
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