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ESTABLISHMENT OF BRITISH ASCENDANCY, 1798-1823

Hyderabad

We have seen that after his defeat at Kharda, the Nizam in titter disgust turned to the French for support and freely admitted Frenchmen into his court and army. When Lord Wellesley arrived in India, Frenchmen “of the most virulent principles of Jacobinism”, as Wellesley himself said, dominated the Nizam.

But Wellesley was determined to exterminate French influence and intrigues in India and to extend British control over the Indian powers. Circumstances favoured his policy. The Nizam had been somewhat pacified by British assistance given him during the rebellion of his son ‘Ali Jab in 1797; he had by this time become suspicious of the growing French influence; and his minister Mir Alam, a friend of the English, had been urging him to form an amicable settlement with the English. Wellesley’s first step was to persuade the Nizam to conclude a subsidiary treaty on the Ist September, 1798, which provided for the maintenance and payment of a force of six battalions by the Nizam, the subordination of his external relations to the control of the English, and the expulsion of European officers belonging to other nationalities from his territory. The French-trained troops of the Nizam were disbanded by Malcolm and Kirkpatrick, and he proved to be a sincere ally of the Company in its war against Tipu, for which, as we have already noted, be was rewarded with portions of the Mysore kingdom. As the treaty of 1798 was of a temporary nature, a”perpetual and general defensive alliance” was formed between the English and the Nizam on the 12th October, 1800, whereby the subsidiary force was increased, for the maintenance of which the Nizam surrendered to the English all the territories he had got as spoils of the Mysore Wars in 1792 and 1798. He agreed not to enter into political relations with other powers without the permission of the English. Nizam’Ali died in 1803, and his successor, Sikandar Jab, had no hesitation in confirming all the previous treaties with the English. By a treaty concluded in the time of Lord Hastings, on the 12th December, 1822, readjustment of territories was effected, and the Nizam was exempted from the payment of arrears of tribute to the Peshwa.

The subsidiary alliance guaranteed protection to the Hyderabad State against external aggression; but it produced some diseatrous consequences in its internal administration. As a natural sequel to the habit of dependence on another power, the Hyderabad rulers of this period lost all initiative for good and efficient government, and their country became subject to various disruptive forces, as was also the case with many other provinces of contemporary India, like Bengal, Oudh and the Carnatic, while the kingdom of Tipu, who was not a subsidiary ruler, was in a flourishing condition. “Conceive of a country,” observed the Duke of Wellington, “in every village of which there are from twenty to thirty horsemen, who have been dismissed from the service of the State, and who have no means of living except by plunder. In this country there is no law, no civil government . . . no inhabitant can, or will, remain to cultivate, unless he is protected by an armed force stationed in the village. This is the outline of the state of the countries of the Peshwa and the Nizam.”

The Carnatic

The existence of dual government in the Carnatic, no less disastrous and oppressive to its people than the dual government- of Bengal, could certainly not be tolerated by Lord Wellesley, a man of strong determination and highly imperialistic instincts. To bring the Carnatic under the supreme control of the Company by cutting out this ” festering sore” seemed to him to be an almost imperative need for the extension of his favourite principle, which he thus enunciated later on: “The Company with relation to its territory in India must be viewed in the capacity of a sovereign power.” But “the method he employed was unfortunate and laid him open to the charge of sophistical dealing”. Certain documents discovered at Seringapatam proved, according to the Governor-General, that both Muhammad ‘All and Omdut-ul-Umara, who died on the 15th July, 1801, carried on secret and treasonable correspondence with Tipu Sultan. He declared that they had thus “placed themselves in the condition of public enemies” and bad forfeited their right to the throne of the Carnatic. He ignored the claim of ‘Ali Husain, son of the deceased Nawab, to his father’s territory, and on the 25th July, 1801, concluded a treaty with ‘Azim-ud-daulah, a nephew of Omdut-ul-Umara, who was thereby installed as the nominal Nawab of the Carnatic. He was guaranteed a pension of one-fifth of its revenues, and the entire civil and military administration of the province was taken over by the Company. The assumption of the Carnatic government was declared by Wellesley as “perhaps the most salutary and useful measure which has been adopted since the acquisition of the Dewanny (Diwani) of Bengal”; and writers like Thornton, Owen, and some others, have tried to vindicate his policy in every way. But it earned Mill’s severe criticism. The documents in question did not prove the treachery of the Carnatic Nawabs. Wellesley could have frankly declared what his object was, and could have given effect to it in a more straightforward manner.

Tanjore and Surat


The rulers of Tanjore and Surat were also compelled by Wellesley to surrender their administrative powers to the Company, and to remain content with “empty titles” and “guaranteed pensions”. As for Tanjore, a Maratha principality founded by Shivaji’s father, Shahjl, a disputed succession gave Wellesley an opportunity to intervene in its affairs and thus persuade its ruler to conclude a subsidiary treaty on the 25th October, 1799. By this treaty the whole civil and military administration of this kingdom passed to the Company in return for a pension of 4O,OOO per annum. A similar fate befell the principality of Surat. Since 1759 the Com- pany had undertaken its defence on behalf of the Mughul Emperor, while its Nawab retained the civil administration. But the Nawabs of Surat were unable to pay all the sums required by the Company for the expenses of the garrison it maintained in that State. When the old Nawab of Surat died on the 8th January, 1799, Lord Wellesley, in a high-handed manner, forced his brother and legiti- mate successor, to surrender the whole administration of the terri- tory to the Company in March, 1800. Thus Wellesley committed, in the opinion of Mill, the most unceremonious act of dethronement which the English had yet performed, as the victim was the weakest and most obscure”. Beveridge unhesitatingly declares that “the whole proceeding was characterised by tyranny and injustice”.

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