East India Company

East India Company

• East India Company was established for the exploitation of trade with East and Southeast Asia and India. It was established on 31st December, 1600 in London.

• John Watts and George White was the founder of the company.

• The company was known by different names in different time periods. It was known as Governor and Company of Merchants of London Trading into the East Indies till 1708. From 1708 to 1873 it was known as United Company of Merchants of England Trading to the East Indies.

• The company achieved a major victory over the Portuguese in the Battle of Swally in 1612, at Suvali in Surat.

• In 1612, James I instructed Sir Thomas Roe to visit the Mughal Emperor Jahangir to arrange for a commercial treaty. In return, the company offered to provide the Emperor with goods and rarities from the European market.

• The East India Company first established its factory in Surat in the year 1619. By 1647, the company had 23 factories. The company's mainstay businesses were by then cotton, silk, indigo dye, saltpetre, and tea.

• East India Company was able to capture Goa, Chittagong, and Bombay from Portuguese. Bombay was handed over to England as part of the dowry of Catherine of Braganza on her marriage to King Charles II.

• The company gradually started to convert major factories to walled fortress. Such wall forts are found as Fort William in Bengal, Fort St George in Madras, and Bombay Castle.

• In 1717 Mughal Emperor completely waived customs duties for company’s trade.

• The company involved war with different counterparts to established strongholds in India. By 1778, the company had 67,000 troops. It recruited largely Indian troops and trained them along European lines. Once the company established military supremacy over rival European trading companies like Dutch and France, it started to take interest in local politics also.

• The Company established military supremacy over rival European trading companies and local rulers, culminating in 1757 in the seizure of control of the province of Bengal.

• The win in the Battle of Plassey (1757), Battle of Buxar (1764) and three Anglo-Martha wars, the East India Company was able to established dominance in most of the parts of Northern India. In 1765, the Mughal Emperor granted the Company the right to harvest the revenues of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, which provided funds to bolster the Company’s military presence in the sub-continent.

• In 1773, Warren Hastings becomes the first Governor-General of India under Company's rule.

• The fall of Mysore after Siege of Seringapatam (1799) lead to the company’s dominance in South India also.

• The company also brings many laws to reform Education and Justice Systems in India. They also bring the Hindu Widows' Remarriage Act in 1856 and set out to outlaw sati (widow-burning) systems from the Indian society. Railway and telegraph were introduced in India during the period of Company’s rule.

• After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, under the provisions of the Government of India Act 1858, the British Government nationalised the company. The British Queen took over its Indian possessions, its administrative powers and machinery, and its armed forces.

• The East India Company was finally dissolved on 1st June 1874, after shareholders received compensation from Parliament.

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