Looter and the looted, British atrocities prior to Indian Sepoy Revolt of 1857 - 03

British imperialism. India punch.photoshelter.com

British imperialism. 2ndlook.wordpress.com

Gov. General Richard  Wellesley, British India. en.wikipedia.org

The arrival of Lord Wellesley, a shrewd and intelligent man ushered in an unprecedented period of expansionism and British company's assertion of ascendancy and dominance. He knocked down the power centers of Maratha rulers, took over Mysore, Thanjavur kingdoms, etc.

Gov. General Lord  Dalhousie..lookandlearn.com

The Rani of Maratha-ruled Jhansi. en.wikipedia

 Wellesley introduced ''Subsidiary Alliance'' with some Indian rulers which means Company will take over the administration of the kingdom leaving the ruler to enjoy the royal estate with a fancy (funny) title and a fixed revenue. No collaboration with enemies of the British company by the ruler at any cost. Or in case of poor administration, under subsidiary alliance, the British army will be stationed for internal and external security of  his kingdom  for an annual  allowance which is subject to revision. In the event of non payment of maintenance annual fee, part of the kingdom or entire kingdom will be automatically taken over  by the company. It all depends on the  amount of arrears due to the government. It was a subtle, indirect interference in the ruler's administration and swallowing the huge kingdom in snatches. This way the British would hold the control on the ruler and his kingdom and  squeeze  enough dough from the ruler or rulers to meet their war expenses and sundries else where. 

The major attraction of ‘Subsidiary Alliance’ system
was the native states would get the military protection by the company’s army from the attack by another native state and this got the priority over other major social and welfare issues of the kingdoms. As already pointed out, the Indian rulers were not united and eyed each other as arch enemies and the British took advantage of this human frailty.

Hyderabad Nizam was the first native ruler  signed in the Doctrine of  ''Subsidiary Alliance’ in the same year of its announcement without realizing the consequences and many rulers blindly followed suit. The Hyderabad ruler paid a huge sum initially and in course of time was not able to meet the  hiked  allowance and at last ended up shedding fertile parts of the kingdom. The Nawob of  Awadh was one among the  victims of this tricky doctrine even though he was cooperative and a good alley of the British. Ruler of Travancore, Kochi and Maratha, who joined the ‘Subsidiary Alliance’ system, felt the pinch in due course. Tipu Sultan of Mysore and Maratha Peshwa, who did not join this band wagon, were considered enemies of the British company. Because of the presence of British army, many rulers dismissed their own army and now became more vulnerable to the British  and this resulted in their interference in the internal affairs of the company. This meant more empowerment of British supremacy in India and this created more law and order and other problems in the native states such as loss of jobs, several welfare schemes,etc to meet the allowances to be paid to the British. In a nutshell ‘subsidiary Alliance’ system badly affected the life common people. ''It was a dangerous rattler hidden in a woodpile''

Lord Dalhousie (1848 to 1856), yet another Machiavellian, introduced ''the doctrine of lapse.'' This doctrine  is much more potent than the other one - a concoction of the venom of king cobra and American cotton mouth.  It means if the ruler does not have legal  heir - son or daughter (adoption of legal heir barred) to take over the kingdom  after ruler's death, the company will  take over the kingdom directly. No opposition to this oppressive doctrine, if it is imposed. 

Lakshmibai, the Rani of  Maratha-ruled Jhansi  and Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal Emperor, in 1835 lost their kingdoms as a result of the Doctrine of Lapse. Later, Lord Canning, the next Governor-General of India, announced in 1856 that Bahadur Shah's successors would not even be allowed to use the title of 'king'. Such discourtesies and disrespect were resented by the deposed Indian rulers. Royal soldiers and people employed by the former rulers,  in the wake of imposition of these doctrines, lost their jobs and were facing dark days.

Bahadur Shah Zafar  En .wikimedia. org

Later William Bentinck, in the name of land reforms, introduced rules that were against the people. The lands given  to the peasants, enam lands (free) and vast lands under the Zamindars became the properties of East India company. The peasants  and land owners were literally panting under 'permanent  settlement'  and cruel Mahalwari and Ryotwari  systems of revenue sharing; as a matter of fact  there was nothing left to share but peanuts that too without nuts. These people were pushed to edge of poverty with no income.  Indian cottage industries almost closed because of excess  taxes and suppression of sales. 

The British rulers gave least importance to India's past heritage and native  people's capability and vehemently  discouraged study of indigenous books and system of education - Gurukulam, etc. Indian culture and civilization were condemned and laughed at. They were bent on the promotion of English education and the English language. This would help the natives learn British manners, social grace, etc.

The  eccentric English Sahibs mocked at Hindu Gods and Goddess and their varied forms with multiple heads or arms, etc. They refused to know that those forms - physical manifestations representing various ''Gunas'' or stages of mind. Utterly nonspiritual and poorly philosophical, they  made fun of other religions too -  Buddhism, Jainism and Islam. Nor did they follow the teachings of Christ in true spirit. Most of them were ardent followers of ''epicurean philosophy,'' nothing more than this.

 They made religious conversion legal and subtly encouraged Christian missionaries to start the conversion work by enticing Indians - free education, free food and jobs in high offices and other perks. They encourage the foreign missionaries to learn the local languages not to appreciate their nuances, but to preach the Gospel in the local languages. Whatever nonsense, some of the  pseudo British scholars wrote on the Indian history, became a standard reference for the future studies. They thought the Indians were uncivilized  and they could become refined and be like westerners only if they followed Christianity and pursued English education.  On the contrary, majority of the priests did not seriously engage in religious conversion and many European scholars refused to accept many of the early studies on Indian History that had lots of holes,

As for Military, they purposely inducted Indians based on caste and religion  and kept them separate. The pay scale  was very poor unlike their British counter parts. They asked Indians to remove the religious mark on the forehead and the Muslims to remove the beard. The Bengal army was made of higher castes. Kshatrias and Rajputs  and people from this division did not want to work along with other divisions where low caste people were employed as soldiers. Superior officers  did not treat the Indian soldiers with courtesy. They ridiculed them and openly degraded them and their dietary habits - Muslims shunning pork and Hindus and Jains shunning beef.

In the midst of a host of problems that affected most of the Indian population, their basic quality of life and legitimate right to make a decent living, the British Bobs were busy either counting the pounds in their coffers or throwing booze parties and dallying with the ballerinas.

The British earned a bad name through out the length and breadth of India covering a vast population.