Robert Clive of the British East India co.- the thief par excellence

Clive statue at Whitehall,

Theif on the double.www.

  British auction firm Christie's sold in 2004 rare Mogul treasures worth £4.7 millions. These were plundered by the British India under Robert Clive. His descendants sold them through the auctioneers. They got a bundle more than what they had bargained for  a 17th Century Jewelled jade flask, which had been on display at London's Victoria and Albert Museum fetched £2.9 million. The flask was once part of the Imperial Collection in Delhi and was probably looted from the Mogul emperor Muhammad Shah by the Persian Nadir Shah who invaded India in 1739. The collectors were simply baffled by an array of dazzling Indian treasures of yore they had not seen before. How did Clive acquire the flask? Probably from the collection of Siraj-ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Bengal who had an eye for expensive artifacts. The Nawob was deposed by Clive in collusion with Nawab's traitor, Mir Jaffer who happened to be the Nawob's military commander and a close relative. On his visits Clever Clive, it is believed, forced his affluent guests – Nawobs, kings and their close associates to give him expensive gifts – a sort of forced hospitality towards the company officials. Clive and his cronies used both Nawob Mir Qasim and Mir Jaffer as much as they could - as if they were treasure troves in which they could dig in at any time and scoop out to their heart's content. The helpless, rather hapless  Nawobs saw their treasury being emptied under their very nose.

At the auction house, the list of Robert Clive's stolen treasures goes on: A fly whisk of bended agate and studded with rubies, fetched £901,000.00; a unique dagger adorned with Jeweled floral sprays was sold for £733,000.00. After active bidding, a "hookah" with blue enamel and sapphires brought £94,000.00 and a pale green nephrite jade bowl went to a bidder for £53,000.00. The auctioned items - a huge bounty was not bad for a man who began his carrier as an ordinary clerk in the British East India Company, Madras, now Chennai. When in 1767 he left India for home his kitty was bulky with bursting seams  and his Indian fortune (actually loot) was worth £ 401,102.00. Interestingly, when he was appointed the Governor of Bengal in 1764, he was asked to remove corruption in the company administration, but on the contrary, he himself became an embodiment of corruption and extortion. What a paradox!! Asking a highly corrupt man to weed out corruption in the office was akin to proverbial 'fence eating the crops!'

Robert Clive. his famous quote before English parliament.

Despite being involved in various scams and scandals in British India, Clive was a hero in England because he laid the necessary basic foundation of the British Empire. After his return to England in 1767, he faced a Parliamentary inquiry over allegations of corruption. At his hearing in front of a Committee in Parliament in 1772 when being cross-examined, Clive declared that he had shown admirable restraint after the Battle of Plassey -1757. This is what he said:

....''Consider the situation in which the victory at Plassey had placed me! A great prince was dependent on my pleasure; an opulent city lay at my mercy its richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles; walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels! Mr Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my moderation.''

He was  at last exonerated by the Parliamentary Committee, but committed suicide in 1774 when he was only 49. It is likely that the ghosts of India's famed rich rulers, who were ripped off by him and pushed to the edge of bankruptcy, might have haunted Clive wherever he went or roosted for his thievery and down right cheating and at last taken revenge on him!! Can you call  it vigilante justice by the departed souls of India's past rulers pronounced on the most corrupt and daring British East India company officer?