British Relations with Sind, 1799-1843: An Anatomy of Imperialism

British Relations with Sind, 1799-1843: An Anatomy of Imperialism

British Relations with Sind, 1799-1843: An Anatomy of Imperialism

British Relations with Sind, 1799-1843: An Anatomy of Imperialism

Excerpt

Generations of British schoolboys have learned about the characteristic but apocryphal telegram Sir Charles Napier supposedly sent to London after his defeat of the Amirs of Sind at Miani. "Peccavi," he punned -- "I have sinned [Sind]." The tale has linked, probably for all time, the name of Charles Napier and the conquest of the lower Indus Valley by the East India Company. Napier, however, is only the final, if possibly the most important, actor in the drama culminating in the annexation of Sind. The story begins long before his arrival on the scene, and he is concerned merely with the last act.

Throughout most of the eighteenth century the policies of the East India Company were governed largely by considerations of commerce and finance. Thus the Company maintained factories in Sind from 1635 to 1662 and from 1758 to 1775. In the latter year the establishments were removed because of internal unrest and the decline of textile manufactures formerly characterized as "the flower of the whole parcel and preferred before all others in their making." But the act of 1784, which created the Board of Control for India, greatly increased the role of the British Government in the determination of Indian policy; thereafter British relations with Sind were governed by the broader considerations of national security and international affairs.

The British, particularly after 1784, were acutely sensitive to possible invasion threats to India through the western and northwestern passes -- the traditional invasion routes. The crea-

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