1857: the Indian Rebellion

The British East India Company first landed in Indian shores during the reign of the Mughal emperor Jahangir (1605-1627 CE), and soon got rights to establish trading posts at Surat, Broach, Ahmadabad, Agra, and Masulipatnam. For the very beginning, they combined trade and diplomacy with war and control of territory. They even had the audacity to declare war on the Mughal emperor Aurangazeb (16561707 CE), and when utterly routed did not have any qualms to fall on the emperor's feet asking for pardon. They pitted the natives one against the other, and slowly but steadily extended their influence and began to fill the political void that resulted from the decline of the Mughal empire following the death of Aurangazeb and the invasion on Nadir Shah (1738).

The East India Company made huge profits by trading in India. In 1740, their profits stood at 1,795,000 pounds. However, this was not enough for them. They took the earliest opportunity to acquire monopolistic control over not only trade but also domestic businesses. The peasant had to sell cotton to the East India Company at low prices, and the weaver had to pay exorbitant price to procure this same cotton. The greed of the East India Company was still not satiated. They used their political power to dictate terms to the weavers of Bengal. They had to sell their products at dictated low price, often at a loss. Those who shut shop ended up working for the East India Company at starvation wages. To cap it all, any Indian textile that still made its way to England had to pay heavy duties. After 1813, with the spread of Industrial Revolution, the British dumped factory made goods produced in England. All these completely ruined the traditional economic fabric.

The policies and administration of the East India Company geared towards the welfare of British economy not confined to trade related matters. They began to charge exorbitant land revenue, which soon led to traditional zamindars or...