East India Company - world's first major ''Opium' producer and illegal exporter'' (18th - 19th century)!!


A  Chinese population addict granger.com

Above image:  British Bob and the Chinese addict. Credit goes to  the East  India company based in India  which turned a large section of Chinese into habitual opium smokers. The more Chinese became addicts, the bigger the profit went to the company's coffers....

Arrival of English Co in India. lideshare.ne

 The East India Company founded by British investors in 1600 with a Royal Charter (trhat granted it a monopoly over business with Asia)  
from Queen Elizabeth I  was the first registered company in the world  producing  opium in India and illegally exporting large quantity  to China mainly to barter  opium for tea and to improve gold / silver reserve for international trade. In the late 18th and 19th century the autocratic English company   was the modern day version of the Sinaloa  drug Cartel  founded in the late 1980s and based in Mexico. Considered the biggest supplier of illegal drugs to the US worth billion of dollars, the Sinaloa Cartel was known for its brute forces to run the illegal trafficking. Unlike Sinaloa which has aggressive  rivals like the Jalisco  drug cartel of Mexico. the EIC never had any competitor, but was equally brutal and good at illegal trafficking of opium centuries ago. 

China banned import of drug  like opium centuries ago  as it was dangerous to smoke or chew with tobacco,  so EIC officials being shrewd as they were, saw to it  the company was not directly involved in opium export. To run the illegal trafficking, the company  relied on what were called  ''country traders” i.e., private traders 'licensed by the company''  to take goods from India to China. The country traders, in collusion with local smugglers operating on the east coastal towns like Canton sold opium and got the payment in gold or silver or sometimes tea, etc. The British needed silver or gold to import Chinese Pottery, silk, etc. To counterbalance the shortage of gold and silver  foreign reserve, EIC illegally exported processed opium  to meet import obligations from China.

Illegal opium sea route to China from India  timewisetraveller.co.uk

In the middle of 1700s, EIC consolidated its hold in India and ran a proxy government backed by  company’s royal charter that allowed it to use  military force to protect itself, its settlements  and fight rival traders. The East India Company and its servants had highly profitable trading interests in the province of Bengal which was rich in natural resources and fertile lands. The company took control of  huge Bengal province  by 1765  under Robert Clive  from the Mogul rulers after winning  three major battles. The Diwani rights gave them the power to collect the revenues from the huge province including part of Bihar and Assam. Primarily ETC was a wholesale importer of tea from China  as the demand was way high in England and the tax on tea  10% was good enough to meet all the expenses to run the government, infrastructure development, etc. The British crown  allowed its overseas operation in particular from India. 

With additional revenue from Bengal, taking the cue from the Dutch East India Company, EIC focused on export of Opium to China.  They came up with a new version of  smoking opium - tobacco soaked in opium for smoking and it got good demand on the market.  In  the late 1700s India's opium production was low about 10000 chest  (wt. of each chest was 65 kg. The new type of opium was popular and the mark up was good. 

opium factory in north India.  bbc.com

EIC forced the Indian farmers to raise opium in their lands by using brute  forces during that period. In the late 1700s large areas in north India, including the Princely state lands and company held plantation came under opium cultivation.  EIC also built factories  to process opium in India to be exported to China and elsewhere. The opium factory located in the town of Ghazipur, Utter Pradesh, during the colonial period, was the first one in India (1820) and was the main source of opium production in India.. It is now known as the Opium Factory Ghazipur or more formally, the Government Opium and Alkaloid Works

By 1773 EIC was the main supplier of opium to China through illegal channels.
 In mid 1830s the EIC was exporting opium worth 15 million dollars annually.  EIC  pushed more export of opium to China, unmindful of a big chunk of population becoming  slaves to opium smoking. In 1834-35 alone, the English Co. exported 10,107 chests of opium from Calcutta to China, chiefly to the port of Canton (now known as Guangzhou) , unashamedly turning a large population of Chinese into zombies

The East Indian Company ran the trade diligently under a powerful colonial institution called the Opium Agency backed by government machinery and protection forces with 2500 employees and 100 offices. The agency kept an eye on the Indian poppy peasants and enforced contracts and quality. Threats, kidnapping and punishment - criminal prosecution and jail for erring farmers were common if farmers failed to follow the government orders. They were as brutal murderous and aggressive as the present day Drug Lords of Mexico or Columbia. 

Chinese opium addicts 17th-18th CE agencebeable2.com

EIC first opium war en.wikipedia.org

Above image; Opium wars were fought between the British Empire and the Qing dynasty of China between 1839 and 1842,. primary cause: Illegal dumping of opium by the British despite the ban on Opium. This state-run trade was achieved largely through two wars, which forced China to open its doors to British Indian opium.  Historian William Dalrymple, author of The Anarchy, a new book on the East India Company, says it "ferried opium to China, fighting the opium wars in order to seize an offshore base at Hong Kong and safeguard its profitable monopoly in narcotics".....................

The English company became autocratic and illtreated the natives besides taking over the Indian kingdoms illegally using various excuses. This led to a major widespread rebellion in 1857-58 in the north Indian states. Opium financed British rule in India 'but it wrecked the lives of Opium farmers and their lands. Not happy with the EIC and its illegal activities with a military force of more than 200000 men, the Crown administration took over complete  control of the Indian subcontinents; in the later years, EIC was dissolved by the British government. Its 231 year of trade activities in India came to an end., The very settlement was built in 1612 in Surat (Gujarat), now a major Diamond center in the world.

During the Raj after 1859  export of opium to China continued for some period. The opium trade kept growing after the British government took direct control of India. Exports increased from 4,000 chests per year at the beginning of the 19th Century to more than 60,000 chests by the 1880s. Opium, says Dr Bauer, a German historian for the large part of the 19th Century, the second-most important source of revenue for the colonial state. It was only outmatched by land taxes. colonial India remained  the world's biggest producer of legal opium for the global pharmaceutical market.