Jagat Seth, a banker to the Nawabs and the English company, Bengal!! - his dark side

Jagat Seth, the banker of the world, Bengal, 1700s tbsnews.net

EIC's victim,Nawab Siraj of Bengal, Nawab Siraj of Bengal, wikipedia 
The arrival of Robert Clive of  East India company from its Madras  branch to Calcutta in the mid 1700s  to tackle the belligerent Nawab of Bengal Siraj-ud daulah (1733 – 2 July 1757, grandson of Nawab Alvardi Khan, was not accidental. Rising from an ordinary job of clerk in the beginning, it was his successful handling of the the Siege of Arcot  (part of second Carnatic war; 23 September -14 November 1751)  against the forces of  Nawab Chanda Sahib,who  was the son-in-law of the Nawab of Carnatic Dost Ali Khan, under whom he worked as a Dewan  was a turning point in his career. He was  supported  by a small number of troops from the French East India Company. Robert Clive, who led the British army, came out victorious despite odds and impediments  proved his innate talents in military warfare and strategies. The English company was much impressed with Clive, and gave his more responsible job.

After arriving from Madras, Robert Clive got into business and  took  drastic steps  to eliminate the unfriendly Nawab of Bengal with the help of his relatives who were ready to betray him for pelf and power. In Bengal, the English company had a row with the ruler  as he was not cooperative with their trade activities.that were going on in violation of  the trade agreements.  The main reason was  EIC never paid the custom duty  fees and other taxes, as time went by, arrears of taxes mounted. Obviously, their breach of trade treaty and promises infuriated the Nawab and this led to several skirmishes, culminating in the capture of Ft.William in Calcutta, a trading post run by the company. During the raid the unfortunate death of numerous English men and women in a small room - a dungeon on the fort premises, later came to be famously called the ''Black Hole of Calcutta''(26 June  1756.),  was purely an accidental one.  The English company purposely  spread a false story about the number of causality to gain sympathy and turn the British public and the British Crown against  Nawab. Siraj. This stratagem worked well for them.

Robert Clive recaptured the Ft.William  with additional army and  decided to  speed up measures to get rid of Nawab Siraj.  Many of the members in the Nawab's council  were poorly treated by Siraj who had a bad temper, Clive  intelligently used the whistle blowers in the royal court to his advantage. The persistent  irksome issues with the ruler led to the Battle of Plassey  and this major battle in Bengal saw the downfall of Nawab Siraj who was later killed by his own relative. Thus Mir Jaffer, the head of Nawab's army, who had been demoted  by the Nawab  became  a puppet  Nawab.

In the conspiracy initiated by the English company that eliminated Siraj, besides the dissident members, there was yet another unexpected silent partner who had a financial muscle in the Bengal province. Mahtab Rai, also known as Jagat Seth, was a well known financier and  banker and no big financial transactions would take place there without his knowledge and help. Being  banking and financial wizard, the family of Seth  was held in great esteem by the rich people. He came from a rich Marwari Jain business family migrated  from Rajasthan to Bengal  in the 17th century and his spiritual guru was Jain Acharya Sri Bhratruchandra Suri. The Seths were among the most powerful bankers of India during the first half of 18th century. Roben Orme (official historian of East India Company) described Jagat Seths as 'the greatest shroff (money changer) and banker' in the known world'.

The founder of the house of Jagat Seth was Manick Chand  who came to Dhaka from Patna in the early 18th  century and established a trading firm.  Initially they made money in the  saltpeter business  which was in great demand world over by the military. At one stage, the Seths used to give financial tips to Mogul rulers of Delhi.. Earlier, Manik Chand  expanded his business with the help of Murshid Quali Khan, the then Diwan of Bengal. When Murshid Quli Khan, transferred his capital to Murshidabad, Manick Chand moved with him to the new capital. Emperor Farrukhsiyar, soon after his accession to the throne of Delhi in 1712, honored Manick Chand with the title of "Nagar Seth" (Banker of the city). Manick Chand died in 1714 and Fateh Chand, his nephew,  adopted son and successor to the the house achieved real greatness. The title of Jagat Seth '(meaning banker of the world) was bestowed on Fateh Chand by emperor Muhammad Shah in 1723.The transactions of this firm have been compared with those of the Bank of England.

No doubt, Jagat Seth wielded enormous power and had close relationship with Nawab Siraj and his relatives. He and his family members collected the revenue for the Nawab, made remittances, to foreign traders offered loans to needy traders, big land owners  and companies operating there. Besides, they minted coins for the  Nawab, an excellent source of income  involving procurement of vast gold and silver. The Seths has a huge amount of gold and silver with which he could stop the flow of the Ganges. They also had a big collection of gem stones. The family was the richest among the Indian in India then.Their financial grip on the fertile land of Bengal was so strong, they had  covetous status by monopolizing the financial aspect of this region. With flourishing banking business, their financial services  expanded manifold to other places  like Calcutta, Dhaka, Delhi and Patna  through their branches. According to Nick Robins "the Jagat Seths were unrivaled and matchless in northern India for their financial power and connection with the upper strata of the society.  Known as 'banker of the world', this Marwari family had built up formidable economic resources on the strength  of its control of the imperial mint and extensive money-lending. They wielded this financial clout at the Bengali court and were judged to be 'the chief cause of revolutions in Bengal' by a French commentator at the time."
The founder of the house of Jagat Seth was Manick Chand 

A little known  fact  about Jagat Seth is his unpalatable and unjust  role in the assassination of Nawab Siraj. Jagath Seth, according to some historians, offered a huge sum to the English company for their silent campaign against the rude Nawab.  What made Jagat Seth  shift his loyalty away from Siraj? One  Sudeep Chakravarti, a historian and writer mentioned  an incident in which the reputed financier was insulted. by Nawab Siraj, in rage by slapping him for his failure to raise rupees 30 million. Wounded and humiliated, Jagat since that incident   had stoically suffered pain and agony. Further, the Seths were in perpetual fear of losing their vast wealth under intemperate Nawab Siraj. In a period of  uncertainty, when an opportunity came up from the English company to dethrone Nawab Siraj, Jagat Seth  willfully became one of the many  conspirators, perhaps to save his banking empire and his status in the society.  When many trading issues cropped up with the company, Jagat  acted as an intermediary between the ruler and the British and collected a fee from the latter.  In the light of the  revelation of Nawab Siraj getting in touch with the French at Pondicheery and Chandnagore to drive the British  out of Bengal,  the company became cautious. Further, their patience  reached the fag end over frequent demands of money by Nawab,. The dethronement of the Nawab had become an absolute necessity  so that they could put a puppet ruler in charge and would have him bend the laws in their favor.  Robert Clive chose  an employee  William Watts (c. 1722 – 4 August 1764) to make arrangements for getting rid of  the ruler. with help from the dissident members in the Nawab's court. Thus the decisive  battle of Plassey 

Prime traitor Mir Jaffer, the betrayer of the Nawab, Bengal, wikipedia

(June 1757) and the subsequent murder of Nawab Siraj on 2 July 1757 when he was at large after the war, had its roots in Murshidabad, the then capital of Bengal where the plot was hatched at the instigation of Clive.  It was in that town, Jagat Seth ran the mint. for the Nawab  of Bengal.  

In the annals of world History and the British empire, the Battle of Plassey (a small village in Bengal) was an important turning point. It marked the fall of  the last independent Nawab of Bengal.and  the beginning of British East India Company rule over Bengal and later almost entire South Asia.The victorious British never turned back and in the next  200 years they looted India and its resources as much as they could and became a world power.Their monopoly had an impact on the Americas as well. Thus this war acted as a spring board for the company whose revenue  vastly improved Britain's economy (the GDP was way below 3 then) and later financed the industrial revolution there.The British empire grew like a big banyan tree  with a big canopy cutting across many continents. 

Quote- greed. Pinrest.com 

Diabolical Lord Robert Clive of East India co en.wikipedia.org.

But for conspirators and dissident emirs  like Mir Jaffer, his son Mir Miron, Mir  Kasim, Omi Chand, and ,EIC 's  Qasimbazar chief, William Watts and, to some extend, Jagat Seth, Robert Clive would not laid the basic foundation for the British empire on the soil of fertile Bengal. As for Nawab Siraj, his fate was already sealed well in  Murshidabad before the war at Plassey. The British, here on had an open range and, with unabated greed, they had begun their land-grabbing spree. As for the future of  the Seths, Jagat Seth, Seth Mahtab Rai and his cousin Maharaj Swaroop Chand were captured and shot dead on the orders of Mir Qasim, the new Nawab of Bengal shortly before the Battle of Buxar in 1764. Jagat Seth was considered to be a traitor as he financed the British during the Battle of Plassey which led to the Death Nawab Siraj and the rise of  the British power in the Indian subcontinent.