[AI] Hidden facts from the history.

muhammad deen fakhruteacher at gmail.com
Thu Apr 22 15:43:34 EDT 2010

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: sandesh <sandeshnarayane at gmail.com>
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 2010 22:30:12 +0530
Subject: [SayEverything] India - 18th century
To: sayeverything at yahoogroups.co.in

India - 18th century

Publication: New-Diaspora.com
Date: February 26, 2010

Decline of the Mughals, Rise of the British - Plunder of Bengal

Aurangzeb's successor, Bahadur Shah I, died in 1712. Wars of
succession followed and culminated in the accession of Mohammed Shah.
He was able to subdue
the Sikhs but the Marathas proved tougher and they forced a treaty in
1738 that required the province of Malwa to be ceded to them.

In 1735, the Persians had defeated the Ottomans at Baghavand and in
1739, the Persian King Nadir Shah invaded India from the North West,
taking Kabul and
defeating the Mughals decisively at Karnal. He occupied and plundered
Delhi, departing with the Peacock throne. The Persian invasion
emboldened the Afghans
to make incursions. They were repulsed in 1748 but Mohammed Shah died
the same year. Soon Sind and Gujarat fell, followed by Oudh and
finally Punjab. Only
Bengal was left.

The British were deeply involved with indigo, saltpetre, cotton, silk
and spices. Saltpetre was used to make gunpowder, required for the
European wars.
With free trade concessions and easy access to the waterways, the
value of the trade was more than 10% of the revenues collected in
Britain itself. The
East India Company, based in Calcutta, now saw its chance for
dominion. First the French tried their luck. After the death of the
old Nizam of Hyderabad
in 1748, their astute governor, Dupleix, had installed a puppet as
successor and sought to surround the English-ruled port of Madras with
hostile forces.
An EIC maverick with military talent, Robert Clive, saved the day. He
took charge with 210 men and seized Arcot in 1751, leading to the
eventual surrender
of the French.

Bengal was still ruled by Mughal viceroys or Nawabs. Alivardi Khan who
had ruled since 1740, died in 1756 and was succeeded by his impetuous
grandson, Suraj-ud-Daulah,
aged 20. Not happy with the designs of the EIC, he marched to Calcutta
and captured Fort William on June 20, 1756. The prisoners were held
overnight, it
is claimed, in conditions so cramped that most of them died from
suffocation and heat exhaustion. The dungeon came to be labelled the
Black Hole of Calcutta
by the British.

A British force had just arrived at Madras. Clive again took charge,
leading 900 European and 1500 Indian troops. In January 1757, Calcutta
was retaken.
But Clive did not stop there. Driven by ambition and greed, he drew
Siraj into battle and defeated him decisively at Plassey in June 1757.
It was turning
point in the political fortunes of the British. Clive found himself a
rich man and the company rose from trader to a military power to
reckon with.

Regarding the Black Hole of Calcutta

A diary kept by John Zephaniah Holwell, a survivor, claims that 123
prisoners died out of 146 prisoners held. However, later historians
say such a high
number is unlikely or impossible.

Historian Nicholas B Dirks in his 2007 book (The Scandal of Empire:
India and the Creation of Imperial Britain (2007, Harvard University
Press, 389 pp)
dismisses the Black Hole as a myth:

"Consider the fabrication of European deaths in the Calcutta Fort in
1756 into the mythical Black Hole incident. Combat rather than
imprisonment caused
most of the deaths, and that there were far fewer fatalities than
initially claimed. But Europeans were so quick to believe the lurid
tale of Oriental
barbarism that the Black Hole soon acquired a mythical status. When
the Company carried out sustained wars against indigenous rulers in
the last quarter
of the 18th century, the desire to punish native perfidy encouraged
the brutal campaigns."

The Plunder of Bengal

The Company's servants, rapacious and racist, helped themselves to the
state revenues, leaving the former rich province into utter
destitution in a few
years. And with rising military expenditures, the Company itself was
on the verge of bankruptcy. Robert Clive had returned to England in
1760 with a fortune
of £234,000 [£20 million in today's money] but the Company sent him
back in 1765. In two years, he had transformed the situation and laid
the foundation
of the Company's Indian dominion. With Mughal rule tottering, Clive
restricted the rule of the heir-apparent in Delhi, Shah Alam to a
limited region near
Allahabad and Bihar. He next got the Company to become the official
revenue collector for Bengal and Bihar. And finally he disciplined the
Company's servants
with a system of graded salaries. He returned to England in 1767 and
died seven years later by slitting his throat.

The great famine of 1769-70 claimed 10 million victims; the Company
did nothing to alleviate the situation. The Company, still not in good
shape, led to
state intervention. Lord North's India Bill (1773) provided for
greater parliamentary control over the affairs of the Company and
appointed Warren Hastings
as India's first Governor-General.

There are various accounts of the Plunder of Bengal. Here is a sample.

1. Teresa Hayter, The Creation of World Poverty (Pluto 1990, 2nd edition):

[pg 45] "The arrival of the Bengal loot in London soon after (the
Battle of Plassey 1757) coincided with the beginning of the industrial
revolution in Britain.
It has been estimated that the total British plunder of India between
1757 and 1815 amounted to £ 1000 million; the national income of
Britain in 1770
was about £125 million. Direct tribute payments alone through the EIC
approximated £1 million in some years.

"The British subsequently proceeded to destroy the industrial economy
of India itself. Between 1815 and 1832 the value of Indian cotton
goods exported fell
from £1.3 million to below £100,000. BY the middle of the 19th
century, India was importing a quarter of all British cotton goods.

"The Indian weavers suffered great hardship. Sir Charles Trevelyan
declared to a parliamentary inquiry in 1840: "Dacca which used to be
the Manchester of
India has fallen from a flourishing town to a very poor one." A
governor-general of the EIC wrote in 1835: "The bones of the weavers
are bleaching the
plains of India."
Not only the textile industry, the iron and steel industry was
destroyed as well.

2. Peter Fryer, Black People in the British Empire, (Pluto 1993, 2nd
edition, p18-20)

The Battle of Plassey put an end once and for all to the need for
Britain to send precious silver to India (from the sale of slaves in
the West Indies).
The EIC could now get their hands on India's wealth without having to
send wealth in return. The first step was the dewani. the right to
collect the revenue
on Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. Before the British came, there was no
private property; the self-governing village community handed over
each year to the
ruler or his nominee, the 'king's share' of the year's produce. The
EIC stopped this practice and introduced a new system in which the
State was the supreme
landlord. The cultivator had to pay a fixed sum to the government
every year whether or not his crop had been successful. In the years
of bad harvest,
the cultivators were forced to borrow from moneylenders to pay their
taxes and British authorities did not hesitate to charge 200% interest
or more.
Furthermore, Indian and other merchants (French, Danish) were
prevented from trading in grain, salt, betel nuts and tobacco, In
1769, the Company prohibited
the homework of silk weavers and compelled them to work in its
factories. Weavers who disobeyed were seized, jailed, fined or

India was not only agricultural but also had an established industrial
base. It had a prosperous textile industry whose cotton, silk and
woollen products
were marketed to Europe and elsewhere in Asia.

It had remarkable skills in iron-working. Calcutta, Daman, Surat,
Bombay and Pegu were important shipbuilding centres and in 1802
skilled Indian workers
were building British warships at the Bombay Shipyard of Bomanjee &
Maneckjee. It was acknowledged that the teakwood vessels of Bombay
were greatly superior
to the oaken walls of Old England. Benares was famous for its brass,
copper and bell-metal wares. Other industries included the enamelled
jewellery and
stone-carving of Rajputana towns, as well as filigree work in gold and
silver, ivory, glass, tannery, perfumery and paper-making.

The British destroyed the Indian textile industry and throttled tha
shipbuilding, metalwork, glass and paper industries. An order by Sit
Charles Wood, Secretary
of State for India (1859-66) obliged the British government in India
to use only British-made paper. As the industrial revolution took off
in Britain,
heavy duties were levied on Indian textiles while British goods
secured virtual free entry into India.

Systematic plunder led to the 1769-70 famine in which 10 million
people died. A commons Select Committee reported in 1783 that "the
Natives of all ranks
and orders had been reduced to a state of depression and misery."

3. Third World Network postings (02 Aug 1998)

"A statement presented in the British Parliament in 1773 said that the
total net revenue from Bengal was £13,066,761. The total expenditure
was £9,027,609
and the total remitted to England was the difference, a little over £4 million.

"Robert Clive, hero of Plassey, who came with nothing returned home
with a fortune of over £250,000."
The Times (29/9/1997) reviewed Robert Harvey's Clive: the Life and
Death of a British Emperor (Hodder 1997):
"Robert Clive came from the declining landed gentry. He looked to
India to pay his father's debts and so save his Shropshire estate, and
provide dowries
for his five sisters. He joined the EIC as a clerk in 1743, bargained
his way to a commission. He discovered he could lead and a succession
of sieges and
skirmishes led to the victory of Plassey in 1757. He left India in
1765, was put on trial by Parliament in 1772 for violence and
corruption and killed
himself in 1774 by slitting his throat with a pen-knife."

4. The Guardian (Feb 11, 2004) reported that

Part of a treasure looted by Robert Clive and the East India Company
was to be auctioned in London in the spring. The star of the
Christie's auction is
a jewelled Mughal flask, made in jade and studded with bands of
emeralds and ruby flowers set in gold, which was once part of the
royal collection at the
Imperial Court in Delhi, and is now valued at over £1m. It is 25 cm
high and only one of three such flasks. The jade flask will go on
display at Christie's
with Clive's jewelled daggers, bowls and jars, and an agate fly whisk
set with rubies, before the auction in April. Christie's experts
describe it as one
of the greatest surviving pieces of Mughal craftsmanship. However, the
treasures still owned by Clive's descendants have been displayed by
the Victoria
and Albert Museum for many years.

Clive, who came from minor country gentry in Shropshire, eventually
estimated his personal fortune, after 35 years with the East India
Company, at over
£400,000. His original contract with the company offered him £70 a year.
At the parliamentary inquiry in 1773, he declared fiercely: "By God,
Mr Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own moderation."
However, the
experience triggered another of his lifelong bouts of depression, and
he killed himself the following year.

5 Nick Robin's The Corporation that Changed the World: how the East
India Company shaped the modern multinational (Pluto 2006):

After Robert Clive's victory at Palashi (Plassey) in 1757, the company
literally looted Bengal's treasury. It loaded gold and silver onto a
fleet of more
than 100 boats and sent it down river to Calcutta. In one stroke,
Clive netted a cool £2.5 million (more than £200m today) for the
company and £234,000
(£20m today) for himself. Palashi was the company's most successful
business deal...

It was the unrivalled quality and cheapness of textiles that had lured
the East India Company to Bengal, and it would be Bengal's weavers who
felt the full
force of the company's newfound market power. Never rich, the weavers
nevertheless had a better standard of living than their counterparts
in 18th-century
England. At a time when the British state was intervening on the side
of the employer--for example, to set maximum levels for wages--India's
weavers were
able to act collectively, aiding their ability to negotiate favourable
prices. But the East India Company eliminated the weavers' freedom to
sell to other
merchants, and so crushed their limited but important market autonomy.
It imposed prices 40 per cent below the market rate, and enforced them
with violence
and imprisonment. Many weavers were driven to despair. One account
reports that, among the winders of raw silk, "instances have been
known of cutting off
their thumbs to prevent their being forced to wind silk"

6. From William Dalrymple's review of Nicholas Dirks' book in Outlook
India online (Apr 2007)

"Most terrible of all was the plunder of Bengal following its conquest
by the British in 1757. The British commander Robert Clive returned to
Britain with
the huge fortune of £300,000, making him one of the richest self-made
men in Europe; after one single battle-Plassey-he transferred to the
company treasury
no less than £2.5 million that he had seized from the defeated Nawab
of Bengal. The conquered province was left devastated by war and high
taxation, and
stricken by the famine of 1769. [10 million died] Its wealth rapidly
drained into British bank accounts, while its prosperous weavers and
artisans were
coerced "like so many slaves" by their new British masters, and the
markets were flooded with British products. As the contemporary
historian Alexander
Dow put it:
"At that time, Bengal was one of the richest, most populous and best
cultivated kingdoms in the world....We may date the commencement of
decline from the
day on which Bengal fell under foreign dominion."

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

Hai all friends,
            Digging out the facts from the history is not so easy.
This article explores the real prosperous nature ofindia during the
british rule.
   This article also picturises the miserable plights of indian
craftsmen, farmers and others. It further excavates how the wealths of
india had been plundered and even shared among the tyrant british
   These all facts have been brough to the light with the authentic
sources drawn from the old records and journals. Please, read this and
enrich your knowledge.
With warm regards.
Muhammad Fakhruddeen.

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