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Paper 21: EIC Trade to Dominion
Was the career of the East India Company after 1750 determined more by thedesire for profit or for political control?-
* crux: how to explain the shift from commerce to political domination under the auspices of a trading company, whose directors saw no commercial imperative for territorial acquisition?
o before 1757: peaceful + profitable trading concern (90% EIC cargo from India; annual sales of PS1.25-2m) o after 1757: wars of conquest that culminate in territorial domination and revenue drawn from land (1765: diwani of Bengal PS3m) + informal influence and cash from subsidiary alliances (1833 Charter Act disinvests EIC of all commercial function) ? profit now dependent on political control.
? paradigm shift or a development of previous policy? dependent on context of Indian affairs and international war as well as the EIC's interests.
*-Debate: political domination the aim, or was scramble for territorial power "accidental and inexorable" [Judd, echoing the 19thC view]
Debate: degree of political change (up to 1780s) from pre-conquest polities? [Ray, Bose+Jalal vs. Marshall]. Qualitative changes may indicate a 'reformist' agenda. (Changes necessary for rule, but also expressions of power? [Metcalf]) development: before 1757 vs. after 1757: no longer a matter of survival + increasing state control from the 1780s ... thereafter political control relatively more important: o 'enlightened despotism'?
o or [Schumpeter]: glory-seeking? or [Cain+Hopkins]: 'gentlemanly capitalism'. o vs. [Bayly]: government's aim was always to engross trade, labour and production.
- Economic imperative?
military fiscalism: agrarian (and hence political) control out of need to fund rising military costs - context of international war and Indian politics, but ultimately to secure trade.
o 1740s +1750s: army built up defensively vs. French threat in the Carnatic: an economic threat (French intervening on promise of concessions from candidate for nawabdom) 1747: ask British gov't for military assistance; 1756-1763 Seven Years War: EIC army fighting French expeditionary force. o Bengal:
? from 1740s: growth of activity in Bengal (secure framework for trade provided; EIC purchase of textiles increases; private trade increases; Calcutta growing)
? 1757 in response to aggression from Siraj-ud-Daula (feeling threatened: Calcutta fortified) ? EIC safeguarding economic interest (Clive does not take over straight away - Mir Jaffar, then Mir Qasim installed: diwani only demanded after Buxar) o thereafter military fiscalism: revenues needed to finance growing army used to safeguard territory ? 'military-fiscal frontier' creeping forward:
[Bayly]: original aim to safeguard trade, but agrarian control guarantees aims.
? from 1765: subsidiary alliances to support the army.
? 1756: 3000 ? 1766: 26,000 troops in Bengal.
? 1814: Bengal Army 65,000 sepoys o [Bayly]: fits with wider context of European expansion; expansion of garrison state in France + Russia ? fuels secondary conquests (Napoleon reorganizing conquered territories to pay for the army).
private financial concerns: British private merchants and EIC servants increasingly dominant in inter-Asian 'country trade' + Indian finance; had helped bring Indian rulers into dependence through loans ? debt trap o e.g. Arcot: dependent on British financial aid during war of succession ?
1800: Arcot annexed. o e.g. Awadh ? 1800: western territories ceded because of debt.
mercantilism: Indian taxes and goods used to finance Asian trade (esp. for Chinese tea) without need for silver imports: opium buying monopoly in Bengal, 1773. +
after 1806: less Mexican silver (wars in S. America) o [Mukerji]: monopoly rights assured the EIC exclusive rights, but not low prices ? political control.
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