Monday, April 25, 2011
Warren Hastings (contd-3)
Hasting's period of undisputed power in Bengal came to an end in 1774 with changes in the company's government. He acquired the new title of governor-general an new responsibilities for supervising other British settlements in India, but these powers had now to be shared with a Supreme Council of four others, three of whom were new to India. The new Councillors, who were led by an army officer, Sir John Clavering, and included the immensely able and ambitious Philip Francis, immediately quarreled with Hastings
Hastings admirers have had little patience with Clavering and Francis ; but it is possible to see that Francis had a genuine point of view in his opposition to Hastings and that there was still much in Bengal, even after Hastings' reforms , to shock men fresh from Britain . (Bribery, extortion and other abuses of power by English men, which had been so common since Plassey,
undoubtedly continued). The quarrel between the new councillors and Hastings paralysed the government of Bengal and produced a number of squalid episodes in which the newcomers, to discredit Hastings at Home, encouraged Indians to bring accusations of malpractices against him, while his friends used various methods to deter such accusations. The most notorious of these episodes concerned one Maharaja Nandakumar, who made accusations against the governor-general but was in his turn accused of forgery and hanged for it. Hastings was certainly not guilty of procuring a judicial murder, but recent research does suggest that he knew in advance of the counter plot against Nandakumar.