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From Robbery to ‘Free Trade’: British Politics & Intensification of Colonial Exploitation of India

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From Robbery to ‘Free Trade’: British Politics & Intensification of Colonial Exploitation of India
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Some Unusual Concern for India

As the eighteenth century rolled into its penultimate decade, we observe some curious activity in the Palace of Westminster – home to the two houses of British parliament. The British political establishment at large, irrespective of party difference, was getting vocally critical of the East India Company (henceforth EIC), despite it having begun an empire in India for Britain (which soon more than compensated for the loss of another in North America). For example, on May 23 1781, Lord North, a Tory[1] and then Prime Minister of Great Britain, announced in the House of Commons the formation of a ‘Committee of the whole House’ to evaluate the affairs of the EIC, apparently because it was being too profligate with its expenses and getting into debts. This seemingly overpopulated and cumbersome Committee took a while to form its conclusions. When it finally tabled its report in the House of Commons on March 12 1783, a lively discussion ensued. None other than the philosopher Edmund Burke, then a Whig politician and MP, rose to contribute to it at a point. Though he was not against the EIC being provided financial relief, Burke was sure that it could not continue in the current vein. He emphatically told his fellow MPs that “The relief and reformation of the Company must go together.”[2] The Tory government in power, it appears, had come around to the same point of view, because we soon see it getting candid about the depredations of the EIC in India. On April 14 1783, thus, William Pitt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, confessed to the House of Commons that “enormous abuses” had been committed in the management of its Indian affairs by the EIC.[3] In about a year’s time, Mr. Pitt, by now the Prime Minister, came clean on how he thought these abuses must be remedied. It could be done, he thought, by depriving of political authority the men of commerce who had, by quirks of fortune, come to rule swathes of India. William Pitt declared in the House of Commons on January 14 1784 that

“the political concerns of this country in India, that is, the civil and military government of India, the political establishments, the political system, the collection of the revenues, and to give it one short and general definition, the imperial dominion of our territories in the East, ought to be placed under other control than that of the company of merchants in Leadenhall street…”[4]

In plain language, Pitt was clear that the EIC ought not to be governing India. This does not mean that he wished Britain to give up the parts of India that the EIC had conquered by then (Bengal and a fair chunk of the South). Apparently, he had envisaged a benign form of British domination of India which will benefit both the countries. On July 6 1784, he told the House of Commons that he wanted to “confirm and enlarge the advantages derived to this country from its connnexions (sic.) with India…[and] render that connexion (sic.) a blessing to the native Indians….”[5] To bring about this (from his point of view) highly desirable state of affairs, Pitt wanted to put India under a government which is “not independent of this country [Great Britain]; but so constituted as to secure obedience to the system of measures dictated from home….”[6] Simply put, Pitt wanted  to entrust India to administrators who would listen to the Palace of Westminster and do as told. In retrospect, however, his desire to put an end to the political and administrative role of the EIC in India was not fulfilled. Nevertheless, he did succeed in bringing the EIC under the control of the British parliament by passing the ‘East India Company Act’ in about a month’s time. Also remembered as the ‘Pitt’s India Act’, it improved upon and addressed the shortcomings of the ‘Regulating Act’ of 1773 which too had been passed with the objective of empowering the British parliament to supervise the EIC.

Why the Unusual Concern?

What exactly had come over the British political elite at the turn of the 1780s? Was the seeming concern that they were displaying for India issuing from their humanity and sense of justice? Informed by hindsight, the answer to this question has to be a simple and straightforward ‘no’. If humanity and justice were truly motivating the likes of North, Burke and Pitt, they could have demanded that the EIC give up its territorial possessions in India. But this they did not do. Their chief worry was the EIC’s financial and administrative inefficiency. As a matter of fact, we saw above that Pitt wanted to relieve the EIC of its political role in our country so that Britain could derive greater advantages from her. Alongside, he also wished to turn the “connexion” with Britain a blessing for us Indians. What might he have meant when he made these remarks in the House of Commons? Considering the fact that it was a historical juncture when the ‘industrial revolution’ had begun to take off in Britain, one hazards the guess that Pitt wished to sell British manufactures in India and turn Indians into consumers thereof. The idea, it seems, was to bless us benighted brown folks with the products of the enlightened West and make some money in the process. This is very likely the mutually beneficial “connexion” that Pitt was envisioning between Britain and India. In other words, one could say that the British political establishment now wished to take the colonial exploitation of India to a higher, and more efficient, gear. The ire that they were directing at the EIC was because it was getting in the way of this endeavor. No, their hearts were not bleeding for India at all. They only wished our country to more systematically subserve the requirements of British ‘political economy’.

Colonialism, a Protean Beast

The word ‘protean’, as we know, literally means to change forms. I am no expert on English etymology, but I guess ‘protean’ is derived from ‘Proteus’, the name of a character in Homer’s Odyssey. If I remember correctly as I write these lines, Homer depicts him as a shepherd of seals who has the capacity to assume any form he likes. Colonialism was similar. It had the capacity to mutate. As understood by theorists, it mainly assumed three forms over its many centuries’ long career – ‘mercantile’, ‘free trade’ and ‘finance capitalist’. Have you, dear reader, watched this delightful animation film called ‘Spirited Away’ by the Japanese production house Studio Ghibli? It is about Chihiro, a little girl who somehow crosses over to the world of spirits and ends up working in a bath house run by a mean old witch. One day, the establishment is visited by an especially malevolent spirit. Lolling in a tub, it constantly demands food. But its hunger is never sated. On the contrary, the more it eats, the hungrier and fiercer it gets (till an act of moral courage by Chihiro enfeebles and banishes it). I think, this insatiable spirit in one of the most lovable animation films ever made (take my word on this) can serve as a good analogy to help one get a proper grasp of colonialism and its multiple guises. These were the more ravenous and fiercer forms of a protean beast whose hunger was never sated. Instead, the more it ate (or exploited a colony), the hungrier and fiercer it got. 

How exactly did colonialism function in its three forms?[7] Before we answer this question we must understand as to what colonialism was about in its most prominent and obvious aspect, namely, the economic one. (Colonialism, of course, had a cultural aspect too in the form of racism and ‘othering’ of colonized peoples, but that is outside the scope of this article.) Simply put, the economic aspect of colonialism was all about the extraction and appropriation of a colony’s social surplus. In historiographic scholarship we use the expression ‘social surplus’ to denote that part of the output of human labor which is above and beyond the needs of mere sustenance (I hear they have a different and very abstruse definition of it in economics). So, let us say that ‘social surplus’ is all the wealth and resources that a society has to spare after meeting its basic needs pertaining to food, clothing and shelter. As colonialism moves from the first to the second stage, the dominant form of the appropriation of the colony’s social surplus changes. In the third stage, a further economic dimension is added to the prevailing colonial form of the appropriation of social surplus.

In its first, mercantile, stage, the colonial appropriation of social surplus takes the form of plain and simple large scale plunder, or robbery. The chief agent of this robbery could be a mercantile company enjoying monopoly trading rights with the country that is being acquired as a colonial possession – as the EIC once did with India (or the Dutch East India Company with what eventually became Indonesia). The robbery might be facilitated by the assumption of political authority in the colony by the mercantile company in question. Once again, that was the case in India (and Indonesia). Following its victory over the Nawab of Bengal in 1757, the EIC gradually assumed the trappings of a state. In this initial form of colonialism, the mercantile company become state would typically put the plundered wealth to two uses – purchasing the manufactures of the colony for exporting them to the mother country, and maintaining a military and administrative apparatus (which, being very expensive, will necessitate even more plunder). Colonialism transitions to its second, free trade, stage when industrial capitalism begins to develop in the metropole (the colonizing country). The colony, consequently, comes to be viewed as a potential market for its manufactured goods. As a result, industrial interests in the metropole could demand that a regime of ‘free trade’ be established with the colony and the mercantile company that had acquired it in the first place be deprived of the monopoly right to trade with it. All industrial and commercial interests in the metropole would be thus allowed to make exports to the colonial market. At the same time, the colony would be integrated into the economy of the metropole in a subordinate position. The extraction of the colony’s social surplus now takes the following form – it is made a net exporter of raw materials to the metropole which are bought cheap, these raw materials are then turned into manufactured goods (undergoing ‘value addition’) and re-exported to and sold in the colonial market (where all tariff barriers upon imports from the metropole are removed). The metropolitan elite might now talk a great deal about bringing ‘development’ and ‘modernization’ to the colony (due to which this is also termed, ironically, the ‘liberal’ stage of colonialism). The objective of this rhetoric would be to transform the colony economically and culturally so that it becomes an amenable market and absorbs the products of the metropole. The third, finance capitalist, stage of colonialism (out of the purview of this article) has been argued to be an outcome of the emergence of monopoly capital conditions in the metropole (in which its economy is dominated by a handful of large industrial houses or corporations) and the merger of industrial and banking capital (the industrial houses and corporations borrow large volumes of working capital from the banks). However, this stage sees the diminishment of investment opportunities in the metropole since the industrial houses maintain their production at a level that earns them a steady rate of profit, they avoid making a lot of productive investments so as not to glut the market with goods and reduce prices. The colony, thus, is turned into an investment field for the metropole’s surplus capital – significant sums of capital are exported there by industrial houses and banks. The capital that is exported to the colony, however, objectively represents only a portion of the social surplus that was appropriated from it in the first place.[8]

Towards ‘Free Trade’ – the Intensification of the Colonial Exploitation of India

What the EIC had been committing in India in the eighteenth century was classically mercantile plunder, or robbery. Again, in a classically mercantile manner, the context for this robbery was the deployment of military force and assumption of political power and administrative authority by it. After the EIC defeated the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daulah, in a facile battle at Plassey in 1757, its officers were given cash ‘rewards’ amounting to £ 2 million by Mir Jafar, the collaborator whom Lord Clive had now installed as the new Nawab.[9] Lord Clive himself received (by eighteenth century standards) a stunning £ 234,000[10], very likely because he had led the ‘Madras Army’ that had defeated Siraj. I think, a more apt description for these vast sums ought to be ‘tribute’, since they were extracted from a client ruler veritably at gun point (a clear instance of mercantile plunder). Further, since these monies must have found their way into the treasury at Murshidabad (the capital of the Bengal Nawabs) in the form of taxes extracted from the peasants, artisans and merchants of Bengal, one could legitimately say that the EIC had scooped up a fair portion of the social surplus that this very fertile corner of India had yielded (Siraj himself had been a rapacious tyrant when it came to taxing his realm). It now used this social surplus to finance its own trading activities. “Soon after Plassey,” writes Tirthankar Roy, “state revenues [of Bengal] were used [by the EIC] to finance exports from India.”[11] That is, the EIC used Indian money to buy Indian products (mostly cloth) and sold them in Britain (another instance of mercantile plunder). Concurrently, individual functionaries of the EIC made tidy sums by abusing the right to issue dastaks, or passes whose possession entitled one’s goods to duty free movement, that it had received from the Mughal Emperor Farrukhsiyar. They now commonly sold dastaks to private English traders operating in Bengal.

A few years after, in 1764, some formal administrative authority devolved upon the EIC when it defeated the combined armies of the Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam II, and the Nawabs of Awadh and Bengal, Shuja-ud-Daulah and Mir Qasim (who had succeed Mir Jafar) in the Battle of Buxar. Under the treaty of Allahabad, signed with Shah Alam II in its aftermath, the EIC acquired the Diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha – it now had the legitimate right to the revenues of these territories. The EIC made the most of this opportunity by engaging in plunder to the extent that “in the thirty years after the battle of Buxar” the average amount of silver imported into India by it declined.[12] Clearly an indication that the trend afoot since the battle of Plassey was coming to a head, the EIC was now increasingly using Indian money to finance its operations in India.

On the way to becoming a sovereign power in its own right, the EIC was shooting its grasping tentacles into every nook and corner of local society. With the political and administrative authority it had been accumulating, it put itself in a position of undue advantage in relation to the Indian economic agents. This further helped it economically exploit our country by securing forced deliveries of goods, squeezing primary producers, and manipulating markets (all ways of siphoning off the social surplus). I have been intermittently studying the EIC documents in possession of the National Archives of India (located in New Delhi) for the past few years. Though I have till now looked at only an infinitesimal portion of what must be lakhs of papers, they still provide a picture of the exploitation and oppression of Bengali society which, to put it mildly, is spine chilling. Take, for example, this letter dispatched from Dhaka to Fort William (from where the EIC ran its administration in Bengal) on 11 February 1768. It spoke of the need to resort to a “severe measure” to “compel” weavers “to furnish cloths at the Company’s stated prices….”[13] Again, I found this letter sent by the ‘Committee of Works’ to Fort William on 5 October 1770. It informed the bosses at the headquarters of the EIC regime that the Committee of Works had thought it necessary to “secure [the]…persons” of “Juggetram Chuckerbutty, Anunderam Chuckerbutty and Ramprasad Chattargee (brick contractors)” on account of failing to deliver bricks.[14] That is, the said Bengali gentlemen (the surnames are badly garbled) had been sent to prison for not producing what the Committee of Works had sought from them. In case the reader is not aware, let me add that 1770 was a year in which Bengal was being devastated by a grievous famine that had followed in the wake of a drought. It was killing off peasants and artisans by the hundreds of thousands. One can, thus, understand Bengali brick contractors not being able to deliver their wares in such a situation. But looks like the Committee of Works did not believe in taking note of such a minor disturbance as a mere famine and showing any quarters when dealing with them. Besides the exacting nature and severity of the alien regime when securing the delivery of goods from locals (even in the midst of a famine), another context of the oppression of Bengalis, it seems, could be competition between EIC functionaries engaged in private trade. For example, I came across this letter written by one Mr. John Reed to Fort William on 27 December 1771 complaining that a certain Mr. Killican’s agents “have seized many of the molungys” in the 24 Parganas to whom he had made advances for making salt. These abductors of the molungys claimed that they owed deliveries to Mr. Killican since the previous year. Mr. Reed pleaded with the Board (of Directors?) that Mr. Killican be asked “not to seize or molest” his molungys.[15] And, then, an EIC functionary’s apparent attempt to establish control over a local market could bring oppression upon someone. This is indicated by this complaint registered by “Manic, Banyan [bania] and Weighman of the Buzar (sic.)” at Munger (now a district in Bihar)[16] against “Serie (sic.) Chand, Banyan to Bolt Grant.” Manic accused that Serie Chand “put him in confinement one day and ordered him not to weigh off any more Goods in the Buzar (sic.) and severely threatened him that if he weighed or sold any more goods he would have his ears cut off, tonsured and turned out of the Buzar….”[17] Needless to say, Serie Chand could go to this extent because he worked for Bolt Grant, a representative of the EIC. I wish these ordinary, everyday victims of the EIC’s tyranny, the weavers, brick contractors, salt makers and banias, had found a mention somewhere in Willian Dalrymple’s The Anarchy.[18] Unfortunately, they are completely absent in this book, despite the fact that one of its objectives, as indicated in the subtitle, is to document the “corporate violence” that the EIC inflicted. It is also strange, considering that Mr. Dalrymple claims to have consulted the EIC documents at the national archives.[19] Maybe, he ignored the unglamorous victims of the EIC’s ‘corporate violence’ and dedicated himself to telling the story of its conquering march across Southern and Eastern India (that is what the book largely does) because the posh crowd at Jaipur Literature Festival, whose presiding deity he happens to be, won’t be interested in them. I don’t know, I can only wonder.

The mercantile manner of plunder was sure enriching the individuals working for the EIC. The average Company man, it was once lamented in the House of Commons, went to India “to make a fortune as fast as he can by any means, and to bring it away with him.”[20] However, mercantile plunder came with overheads which were being ruinous to the EIC as an organization. This was since it required an elaborate administrative apparatus which kept on consuming more and more of the EIC’s financial resources. This had come to be noticed in the Palace of Westminster. Thus, on February 16 1785, an MP identified as Mr. Francis pointed out in the House of Commons that

“the civil establishment of Bengal, in 1774, stood at no more than 136,002 l. That in consequence of the institution of the governor-general and council, and the supreme court of judicature, it was increased to 251, 533 l.; at which amount it stood in 1776…when the whole power of government devolved on Mr. Hastings, (in whose hands it has continued ever since) the total had increased (according to the statement delivered in the court of directors) to the enormous sum of 927,945 l.[21]

Consequently, we observe the EIC being saddled with considerable debts over the next few years. Mr. Henry Dundas (Principal Secretary of State, Home Department), presented the following grim account of the EIC’s fiscal health (or lack thereof) on May 24 1791 in the House of Commons –

“The debts in India on the 30th April 1789, as per last year’s statement, amounted to 6,680,284 l. Ditto on the 30th April 1790, 7,056, 652 l. – Increase of debts 376,368 l. – Amount of debts bearing interests stated last year 5,260,672 l. Ditto, by this year’s statement 5,406,672 l. Ditto, by this year’s statement 5,406,935 l. – Increase of debt bearing interest 146,263 l. Interest payable in India on the debts, stated last year 438, 426 l. Ditto, on the debts in this year’s statement 447, 106. – Increase of interest 8,680 l.[22]

No doubt, as we saw at the beginning, gentlemen such as North, Burke and Pitt were being so critical of the EIC. We are now at a historical juncture when a till then practiced way of exploiting India had started to get counterproductive. It was time for the British political class to think up a new, more efficient, way of squeezing out economic gains from the political possession of our country. This they soon did.

By the turn of the nineteenth century, we see the EIC’s monopoly privilege of trading with India coming under attack – the British colonial exploitation of India was now gearing to move to the ‘free trade’ from the ‘mercantile’ paradigm and, of course, get more intense. On 25 November 1801, a certain Sir Pulteney suggested in the House of Commons that it was time to deprive the EIC of the exclusive right to trade with India. He assured the House that the opening up of India trade to all British subjects will be greatly beneficial to Britain. “The money sent to India,” he said, “will not be given in presents to the Hindoos. It will be employed in buying raw materials to be brought to England, and will thus encourage industry at home and abroad, and add to the strength of the empire.”[23] Sir Pulteney was quite astute indeed. He had consummately explicated the ‘free trade’ model of exploiting a colonial possession. Perhaps, even William Pitt, dreaming as he was of causing advantages to his country through its “connexion” with India could not have done it better.

Over the next one decade the ‘industrial revolution’ gained strength and British manufacturing began to thrive, primarily outside London in the smaller towns and cities. This made the EIC, now fast becoming a liability on the exchequer with its debts (it periodically appealed to the British parliament for ‘bail outs’), also something of an anachronism, since it was a net importer of goods from India. The provincial manufacturing interest, fast growing vocal, now required an outlet for its products in markets abroad. This very much being in the interests of the British economy at large, it gradually found its protagonists in the House of Commons. Speaking there on 3 July 1812 one Mr. Creevey termed the EIC’s monopoly right to trade with India a “monstrous national grievance” and thought that it was time that the government and parliament heeded “the loud and general voice of the commercial interests of this country” and revoked it.[24] Indeed, this “loud and general voice”, speaking through petitions, was soon clamoring to be heard in the Palace of Westminster. Take, for instance, this petition from “merchants, and manufacturers of Manchester and Salford” which was read out before the House of Commons on 3 February 1813. It sought to convince the honorable MPs that,

“…to establish an open commercial intercourse generally with the countries from which the existing charter [issued to the EIC] excludes the British merchants, would not only afford the most effectual relief in the present situation of public affairs, but would, as the petitioners confidently submit, most essentially contribute to the lasting benefit and prosperity of the kingdom at large….”[25]

On the same day, another petition from “several merchants, traders and other inhabitants of the city of Bristol” was presented before the House. It argued that

“…the full and free right to trade to and with all countries and people in amity with their sovereign, and more particularly with those countries and settlements acquired and maintained by the efforts and valour of the forces of his Majesty, is the undoubted birthright and inheritance of the people of this empire; and that the exclusive privilege of the E.I. Company is a manifest infringement of that right…”[26]

These ardent pleas elicited a response from the House of Commons very soon. On 22 March 1813, it (again) resolved to form “a committee of the whole House, to consider of the Affairs (sic.) of the East India Company” and refer “the several Petitions which …[had] been presented … relative to the trade and shipping of the East India Company…”[27] to it. On 14 April 1813, the House of Commons went a step further and announced that “in order to facilitate the progress of the Committee of the whole House on the affairs of the East India Company…a Select Committee [will] be appointed….”[28] This Select Committee moved incredibly fast, very likely because it had no doubts about what conclusion it ought to arrive at regarding the “Affairs” of the EIC. On 3 June 1813, the following resolution by it was read out before the House of Commons –

 “…That it is the opinion of the Committee, that, …it shall be lawful for any of his Majesty’s subjects to export any goods, wares, or merchandize, which can now or may hereafter be legally exported from any port in the United Kingdom to any port within the limits of the charter of the said Company…”[29]

In plain language, the Select Committee had decided to allow all subjects of Great Britain to make exports to the ports in which, till then (as per the charter granted to it), the EIC had the exclusive right to operate – in effect, this meant all Indian ports. After this, it was only a matter of time before the EIC lost the exclusive right to trade with India. Sure enough, the ‘East India Company’s Charter Bill’ was read for the third time and passed by the House of Commons on 13 July 1813. It received the King’s consent on 21 July. With that the EIC’s more than two centuries’ monopoly of India trade was formally ended, it was replaced with a regime of ‘free trade’ that entitled all British people to make sales and have commercial dealings in India. The scenario that William Pitt had envisaged about thirty years ago was finally here. Britain was now all set to derive great advantages from her “connexion” with India. Vast quantities of her manufactured goods were now exported to our country. This situation was anything but a “blessing” for us though, since Indian industry and manufacturing were now gradually extinguished under the onslaught of cheap machine produced British manufactures. ‘Free trade’ with Britain, thus, reduced India, from an erstwhile position of a being leading manufacturing country, to a ‘deindustrialized’ net exporter of raw materials to Britain. She became, as is characteristic of the second stage of colonial exploitation, a subordinate appendage to the British economy. Large scale plunder of India, committed by a band of robber merchants, had now been supplanted by the British state by something even worse – a pervasive and systematic exploitation of all Indians through the sale of British goods. While at least some Indians could escape the robber merchants of the earlier days, none could now evade this new paradigm of being contributors to the British money chest.  

I am grateful to the staff of the Queen’s University Library, Belfast and National Archives of India, New Delhi, where I consulted the British Parliamentary Debates and documents of the East India Company respectively, for their kind help and cooperation. This article, in the works for several years, would not have been possible without it.


Notes and References

[1] The two political parties or ‘factions’ in Great Britain at the time were the Tories and Whigs. They could be, on the basis of their outlooks, be respectively termed ‘conservatives’ and ‘liberals’.

[2]The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. Vol. XXIII. (London: 1814), p.647.

[3] Ibid., p.1209.

[4] The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. Vol. XXIV. (London: 1815), p.322.

[5] Ibid., p.1086.

[6] Ibid., pp.1089-1090.

[7] For a comprehensive discussion of the three stages of colonialism, refer to Bipan Chandra, Essays on Colonialism (Orient BlackSwan, 1999), Chapter Three, ‘Colonialism, Stages of Colonialism and the Colonial State’. For an insightful comparison between the first two stages see Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Origin of Capitalism. A Longer View (London & New York: Verso, 2002), Chapter 7, ‘The Origin of Capitalist Imperialism’. For a detailed analysis of the third stage see Paul M. Sweezy, The Theory of Capitalist Development. Principles of Marxian Political Economy (Delhi: Aakar Books, 2016), Part Four, ‘Imperialism’. In this article, I have mostly paraphrased and summarized the conclusions of Bipan Chandra and Paul Sweezy.  

[8] The reader, however, must not assume that all three forms of colonialism inevitably appear in succession (forming a teleology) and have been manifest in every country that has been a colonial possession. According to Bipan Chandra that is not the case. Sometimes, two stages of colonialism might be simultaneously operative in a colony, or a stage or two of colonialism might not manifest there at all. However, the point still remains that we can make three classifications of colonialism from the economic point of view.

(Chandra’s work on economic history is quite insightful and sensible, to give credit where it is due. But I must caution the reader against his widely read India’s Struggle for Independence. 1857-1947. It is essentially a lengthy eulogy of the Congress and its leadership.)

[9] See Tirthankar Roy, The East India Company. The World’s Most Powerful Corporation (Portfolio. Penguin, 2015), p.169.

[10] See John Keay, The Honorable Company. A History of the English East India Company (Harper Collins, 1993), p.320. Keay writes that the payments made by Mir Jafar to the EIC amounted to £ 2.5 million (p.319).

[11] The East India Company. The World’s Most Powerful Corporation, p.171.

[12] Ibid., p.172.

[13] National Archives of India, Home Department, Public (1.0) Consultation, 1768-69, S. No. 33, I.R. Department, (pp. 32-38). P.34.

[14] National Archives of India, Home Department, Public Branch. P.P. 879, and O. C. 22 Oct., No. 2 (a).

[15] National Archives of India, Home Department, Public Branch. O.C., 28 Dec., No. 1.

[16] At that time, Bengal administratively included Bihar and Odisha.

[17] National Archives of India, Home Department, Public Branch. 22 May, 1771, Copy of cutcherry (sic.) proceedings at Monghyr (sic.). O.C., 10 Jun., No. 10 (b).

[18] The Anarchy. The East India Company. Corporate Violence and the Pillage of an Empire (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2019).

[19] Ibid. ‘Introduction’, p.xxxii.

[20] Remark by an MP identified as Mr. Francis on 23 April 1793. The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. Vol. XXX. (London: 1817), p.697.

[21] The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. Vol. XXV. (London: 1815), pp.146-147. The ‘l’ stands for pounds.

[22] The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. Vol. XXIX. (London: 1817), 608-609.

[23] The Parliamentary History of England from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. Vol. XXXVI. (London: 1820), p.288.

[24] The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803, to the Present Time. Vol. XXII. (London: 1812), 913.

[25] The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803, to the Present Time. Vol. XXIII. (London: 1813), p.355.

[26] Ibid., 358.

[27] The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803, to the Present Time. Vol. XXV. (London: 1813), 227.

[28] Ibid., 825.

[29] The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803, to the Present Time. Vol. XXVI. (London: 1813), p.556.

Featured Image: The Financial Times

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Saumya Dey

Saumya Dey is an associate professor of history at O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana. His primary research interests are intellectual and cultural history. He has, till date, authored one monograph and a collection of essays - Becoming Hindus and Muslims. Reading the Cultural Encounter in Bengal. 1342-1905 (Munshiram Manoharlal, 2015) and The Cultural Landscape of Hindutva and other Essays. Historical Legitimacy of an Idea (Shubhi Publications, 2019). He earned his PhD at the Center for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University.