A Brief History of the British East India Company

East India Company

East India Company has been an important company in the pages of history. This company is also regarded as the British East India Company has so many other names and forms. The Foundation and functioning of East India Company in India has highly influenced the Indian history and struggle. India has always been a rich and vast land. In means of area, fertility or trading, there was no market like India.

The Indian market was very much attraction for the eyes of British, Portuguese, Spanish or French. India and China, the two giants of the Asian continent ruled the market of the world but unfortunately, they were just the producers, not the traders. Their power and the richness of the land was utilized by others who came to their land and took away the products manufactured in the country and label them theirs.

It took a long time for the country to recover the situation and come out of the chaos of these market strategies. The thing which started with trading and just for business purposes was later transformed into politics and ended up ruling the country for more than two centuries in one form or another.

Whenever it comes to the discussion about the East India Company, people usually misunderstand it with British Raj whereas; these two things are completely different. East India Company was a Company formed to start the trading in and from Indian subcontinents.

Later when they were well established in the East, the function of the Company was to maintain this trading system and expand it more. In the meantime, they also played some tricks of the politics along with the business and the end of the stories says that they ruled the country for a long time.

Also Read: History of Tea in India

East India Company, also got some other names like; The East India Company, Honourable East India Company. It also got the name John Company because it was founded by John Watts and George White. It was established at the very beginning of the 17th century or the end of the 16th century.

As per the stats, it was founded on 31st December 1600. Its establishment was done to trade through the Indian Ocean with the Mughal Empire and later with Qing China. Soon, they completely colonized Hong Kong after a war with Qing China. On 31st December 1600, the Company received a Royal Charter from the then queen of Britain, Queen Elizabeth 1st.

Once they defeated Spanish and Portuguese in the 16th century, they were strong enough to voyage any corner of the globe. On 22 September 1599, a group of merchants sat together and discussed the business overseas in the East. They went to the queen for the support and they got what they expected. Once they were in the country, they started exporting different products and items of India to Britain. Sometimes, the raw material was sent, the product was formed and then it was imported back in India for sale.

Initially, the only task and function of the Company were to establish and expand their business. No involvement in politics was observed. All they did was business and to ally with some friends for the purpose of business.

When Aurangzeb died at the age of 88 in 1707, his son took over the throne. By that time, his son was already 63 years old and he too died soon. After him, the Mughal dynasty got no ruler potential enough to maintain the legacy left by their ancestors.

The power of Mughals was losing and their friends too left them and formed their own country. Now they didn’t find the Mughal king potential enough to protect them. This fall of the Mughal Dynasty was what attracted British attention toward politics in India. Now they found a base to stand on.

After the fall of Mughals, there was no single and powerful ruler but the country was ruled by several kings. It still took more than a complete century to throw out the Mughal Empire from India. They started wars and keep winning them soon; East India Company had its own army with about 260000 soldiers which were bigger than the army of Britain itself. This way East India Company is regarded as the initial rulers of India but it was not so long when finally, East India Company was abolished and British Raj was formed.

After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, British Raj was formed. This was also the lime when last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar 2nd was captured by the British Army and he died in the British jail a few years later.

East India Company had a different role than British Raj. They had a different period and functions and they got different outcomes from the country.

 

Image Source: “commons.wikimedia.org”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *