Monday, 17 November 2014

British East India company operations in India


Sir James Lancaster commanded first EIC voyage -1601. credit: en

Indian trade links with Europe began on a large scale through sea route only after the arrival of Vasco da Gama in Calicut, India on May 20, 1498. In 1601 the East India Company was chartered, and the English began their first inroads into the Indian Ocean.

At first the British were little interested in India, but rather, like the Portuguese and Dutch before them, were interested in spices of Spice Islands. Unable to dislodge the Dutch from Spice Islands in 1610, the British chased away a Portuguese naval squadron, and the East India Company created its own outpost at Surat. This small outpost marked the beginning of a remarkable presence that would last over 300 years and eventually dominate the entire subcontinent.
British East India co currency/bill  credit.
In 1608, the English East India Company established a settlement atSurat (now in the state of Gujarat), and this became the company's first headquarters town. In the mid-19 th century, the East India Company had become the paramount political and military power in South Asia, its territory held in trust for the British Crown. Slowly and steadily the company's' expansion was progressing steadily.

Ft.St.George, Chennapatnam 1639 credit: en wikipedia. org

The East India Company, which was incorporated on 31 December 1600, established trade relations with Indian rulers in Masulipatam on the east coast in 1611. As a result of English failure to compete with the Dutch from the Spice Islands, they turned instead to India. In 1614 Sir Thomas Roe as instructed by King James I visited the court of Jahangir, the Moghal emperor of Hindustan and succeeded in arranging a commercial treaty and to secure for the East India Company sites for commercial agencies, -"factories" as they were called. East India Company set up factories at Ahmedabad, Broach and Agra. In 1640 East India Company established an outpost at Madras. In 1661 the company obtained Bombay from Charles II and converted it into a flourishing center of trade by 1668. English settlements came up in Orissa and Bengal. In 1633, in the Mahanadi delta of Hariharpur at Balasore in Orissa, factories were set up. Meanwhile, in eastern India, after obtaining permission from the Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan to trade with Bengal, the Company established its first factory at Hoogly in 1640.
ESI factory, Cossim bazaar, Bengal 1795 pic.

Almost a half-century later, after Emperor Aurengzeb forced the Company out of Hooghly, Calcutta was founded by Job Charnock in 1686. An English factory was set up in 1651 at Hugli (also Hoogley). In 1690 Job Charnock established a factory. In 1698 the factory was fortified and called Fort William. The villages of Sutanati, Kalikata and Gobindpore were developed into a singlet area called Calcutta. Calcutta later became a major trading center for East India Company.

Once in India, the British began to compete with the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the French. Through a combination of outright competition, clever alliances with local princes and choice of locations, the East India Company gained control of all European trades in India by 1769. In 1672 the French established themselves at Pondicherry it started rivalry
Red Draggon British ship fought against Portuguese credit: wikipedia

between the British and French for control of Indian trade.

The following presidencies were under the East India company's control:

The presidency town of Calcutta was established in 1690 by Job Charnock . Factories were fortified and called Fort William in 1698.
Madras Presidency: The company rented a trading outpost in Madras in 1639;established in 1640 – Ft. St. George (where the present Tamil Nadu legislature and the government are housed).
Bombay Presidency: East India Company's headquarters moved from Surat to Bombay (Mumbai) in 1687.