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British Rule – Taken Over By Force

The presence Britishers in India dates back to the early 17th century. The East India Company was chartered by Queen Elizabeth on December 31, 1600 to develop commerce and trade with the East Indies. The main motive of the English to come to India was to break the monopoly of Dutch in the spice trade. Sir Thomas Roe presented himself before the Mughal Emperor Jahangir with the proposal seeking permission to build and reside in Surat and other coast areas. In 1619, the Mughal Emperor gave permission to the British establish themselves in India. Fort St. George, Madras was founded in 1639, followed by the war with the mughal emperor Aurangzeb in 1688 – 91. From then onwards there was no looking back for the East India Company. In 1699 the British established themselves in Calcutta.

The company succeeded in establishing itself in Bengal, Orissa, Bihanr and the east coast by the middle of eighteenth century. After the victory in the battle of Plassey, in 1757, the company transformed from the association of traders to rulers by exercising political sovereignty on the people of Bengal. In return for maintaining law and order in this land the Mughals gave the Britishers permission to collect land revenues. After the decline of the Mughal Empire, the company defeated Tipu Sultan and took over Mysore in 1792. It defeated the Marathas in 1817 – 1819 AD. The Company expanded its rule by wining Nepal in 1814- 1816, Punjab in 1848 – 49, Sind in 1843 and Burma in 1886.

The British created enormous dissatisfaction among the people of India by bring changes in the administration and the ways of life. From 1816 – 1857 there were many rising in various parts of the country which the British managed to control. But in 1857 by the collective efforts of the Sepoys and the terrorist farmers the Indian Rebellion or the First War of Independence broke out. This mutiny shook the foundation of the Britishers rule in India. The last mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah sided with the freedom fighters and Sepoys to gained control over Delhi. The Britishers stayed away from Delhi for some time but it was recaptured by the company in late 1857. The company put on trial Emperor Bahadur Shah and nearly crushed the rebellion by mid 1858. Despite of debacle of the large scale struggle to defeat the English, the first war for independence proved to be turning point in the history of India. From thereon, the British Parliament took over the full responsibility for the governance of India. The governing power was to be exercised by the Secretary of the state assisted by an Indian council, which only had advisory powers. India was divided into three presidencies namely Madras, Bengal and the Bombay presidency for administrative purposes.

Queen Victoria assured that she and her officers would work for the welfare and upliftment of their subjects. The interest of the British in the governance of India became obvious. They utilized Indian resources to serve the interests of the British Empire in costly wars and other parts of the world. The British overthrew many princely states and formulated laws and policies of their own. Gradually the whole of India came under British rule. The English introduced railways, telegraph and postal services in India during the 19th century. This was a step towards establishing themselves permanently in India.

The acts passed by the British were met with bitterness and discontent by the Indians. As a result of which the Indians revolted against the British rule forming large groups. The British forces cruelly crushed each and every movement started by the Indian freedom fighters. Leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawarharlal Nehru, Lala Lajpat Rai, Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and many more like them rose and candidly criticized the British. They were the courageous people’s leaders who encouraged the masses to stand up for their freedom and not to be scared of the British forces.

Finally, India gained Independence from the British rule on 15th August, 1947 after 200 years of British Rule. Muslims formed a separate nation, Pakistan. Partition of India and Pakistan led to incidents of rioting, spreading horror in both the countries. Lives of many people were scarified to achieve freedom.

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