Tuesday, April 26, 2011

War in India-Warren Hastings (contd-4)

The death of Clavering in 1777 put Hastings once again in possession of full power, although Francis' opposition dragged on for another three years. It ended in a pistol duel between Hastings and Francis, the latter was wounded, and he returned to England. But by 1777 the energies of the Bengal Government  were becoming more and more absorbed in War.War against Indian states was always a likely consequence of the company's conquest of Bengal. As full participants in the unstable world created  in India by the fall of the Mughal Empire, the company now found it difficult not to be drawn into the rivalries of the powers that had set themselves up in the ruins of the empire. Hastings' policy was to avoid further conquest and war but to maintain peaceful relations with neighbouring states by a series of alliances . He had, however, already taken part in on war in 1774, when he helped the company's ally on the northwestern boundary of Bengal, the vizier of Oudh, to take over territory occupied by a people called the Rohillas; and in 1778 he became involved in war with the Marathas, a loose federation of Hindu peoples in western and central India. Rightly or wrongly, Hastings came to believe that it was necessary for the safety of the British in India to ensure that the Maratha leaders  were friendly to the company that he would be justified in applying military pressure to achieve this end.. After the entry of France into the American Revolution in 1778. he also confronted with French expeditionary forces in the Indian ocean. Finally in 1780, Hyder Ali, the ruler of the south Indian state of Mysore, attacked the British at Madras. War on several fronts brought out the best in Hastings, and his achievements in organising the company's military and financial resources to counter every threat was a remarkable one. The Marathas were brought to peace in 1782, as was Mysore in 1784, and the French were held in check until peace was made in Europe in 1783. But war stretched the company to the limit, disrupting its trade and thus antagonising opinion at home. War also forced Hastings into dubious acts to raise extra funds,. two of which - the demand for a subsidy to the company from Chait Singh, the Raja of Benaras, and the requisitioning of the treasurers of the Begums of Oudh (the mother and grandmother of the vizier)- were to count heavily against him later.