E.I.C. Timeline History of India

East India Company (British)

Origins : Established in 1600 and granted a monopoly for English trade with the region east of the Cape of Good Hope, the company pursued a policy of seeking to establish trade relations with countries of the east, preferentially under conditions in which their trading partners agreed not to trade with the E.I.C.'s European rivals. In order to ensure a favourable atmosphere, the E.I.C. forbade their employees to engage in missionary activity. However, in the 17th century, the E.I.C. was outshadowed by her Dutch rival, the V.O.C.. In 1639 the E.I.C. obtained a trading concession at Madras, in 1668 it acquired Bombay (Portuguese until 1661), her first footholds in India. Her activities were not limited to the Indian subcontinent; in 1711 a trading post in Canton (China) was established.

Anglo-French Struggle over Supremacy in India : Soon after the arrival of the Portuguese on the Indian subcontinent, European firearms, cannon and strategies (officers) began to influence Indian warfare, employed by Indian belligerents. This was increasingly the case when the Mughal Empire disintegrated during the early decades of the 18th century. In the early 18th century, the E.I.C., as well as the French East India Company gained in importance at the expense of the Dutch V.O.C..
Joseph François Dupleix took Madras from the E.I.C. in 1746; it was returned by the Treaty of Aachen in 1748. Dupleix established alliances with several Indian princes, a.o. with Hyderabad and Bengal. The Seven Years War, on Indian soil, saw the French allies face the East India Company and her allies. The Battles of Plassey (1757) and of Buxar (1765) established British control of Bengal and domination of Eastern India; the French were limited to a number of tiny coastal outposts.

An Expanding Colonial Empire : In 1765 the E.I.C. assumed the administration of Bengal, with Bihar and part of Orissa, nominally in the name of the Mughal Emperor. This meant a dramatic change, as the E.I.C., hitherto mainly a monopolist trading company, took on the responsibilities and rights of a state.
The E.I.C. found herself a new player in a fluctuating political landscape. In the late 18th and early 19th century, she pursued a policy of establishing a permanent peace based on treaties which bound the native states to the E.I.C., and expansion; the annexed areas coincided with the more densely populated, economically more productive regions of India. The dates in this policy of expansion can be read in the timeline.
This policy required the E.I.C. to establish a standing army, consisting of regiments of native soldiers (sipahis or sepoys) commanded by European officers, a structure which proved problematic on the occasion of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857-1858.
The E.I.C. undertook steps to develop the economy of the area under her administration (tea, opium plantations) but generally shied away from projects which required large scale investments which would not pay off until years later. Only in 1850 was construction of India's first railroad line begun, to connect a coal mine with a port. The E.I.C. used her position to squeeze the economic competitors., most notably the V.O.C., out of the market. The E.I.C.did not permit missionaries to proselytize in territory under her administration; pioneer missionary William Carey had to search the protection of the Danish crown.
The E.I.C. board of directors and the British parliament shared in the legislation of British India. Regarding legislation, the E.I.C. respected Indian legal tradition to a large extent; steps, however, were undertaken to end the practise of burning widows (suttees) alive along with the corpse of their deceased husband, and to end female infanticide. In 1835, English was introduced as language of administration and education, replacing Persian.
The centers of E.I.C. administration of India were Bombay, Madras and Calcutta.
In 1813 the E.I.C. was deprived of her monopoly, among British merchants, of trading with India. In 1858, following the ruinous Sepoy Rebellion, the E.I.C. ceded her territory in India formally to the British crown; British India became Crown Colony.

Article (British) East India Company, Company Rule in India, from Wikipedia

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on December 14th 2005

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