The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834

The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834

The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834

The Central Administration of the East India Company, 1773-1834

Excerpt

The object of this work is to study the Indian administration of the English East India Company, which began as a trading corporation in 1600 but in 1858 ended by administering India. I am here concerned not so much to tell the fascinating story as to examine the constitutional and administrative problems that arose and the ways in which these were solved. And I have looked at these problems from the standpoint of the Supreme Government at Calcutta. From time to time Madras and Bombay have also been brought into the picture, but as their subordination to the Centre did not extend in our period beyond foreign relations and matters of war or peace, I have written of them mainly in relation to the Centre. In short, the scope of this book chiefly spans the administration of the territories placed directly under the Governor-General in Council.

Our story appears to begin in 1784, but actually it goes back much earlier and deals with the peculiar features of such of the indigenous institutions as influenced the form and character of the early English administration. No appreciation of the Company's rule can emerge except through a clear understanding of what it took over from the Mughals.

The period of this study is highly significant in English history. It was characterised by the birth of industrialism. Political, economic and social thought in England had its influence in India. Clive, Cornwallis, Moira and Bentinck, for instance, all represented and reflected different trends of thought prevalent in English political life. In 1784, Parliament revised the constitution of the Company and appointed a Board of Commissioners effectually to control its civil and military affairs in India. By the year 1834, the Company had lost its entire trading monopoly and commercial character. It became a new kind of corporation, purely administrative and subject to the British Parliament. Meanwhile it was evolving a machinery of Government and administration which, although influenced in its early stages by the Mughal pattern and tradition, developed features distinguishing its rule fundamentally from that of its predecessors. As a consequence it was able to introduce an era of social reform and education which prepared the way for a cultural revival and religious nationalism in India.

In relation to India in this period the history of institutions has been inadequately studied. There is no comparable, comprehensive monograph on the Indian side like that of Professor Philips' The East India Company 1784-1834 . . .

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