|Robert Clive most efficient but corrupt Gov.of Bengal. en.wikipedia.org|
One ought to read Robert Clive's speech quoted below to understand the prosperity of Bengal in1700s.
|British East India co's corrupt officials. www.slideshare.net|
Robert Clive himself amassed a vast fortune in India. Arrived in Madras penniless (now Chennai) from England in 1743 at the age of 18 and started as a junior clerk with the East India Company, when he returned to England in 1767 his Indian fortune was worth £401,102.00 – a whooping sum in those days. Interestingly, when he was appointed as the Governor of Bengal in 1764, the authorities in England asked him to put an end to corruption in company affairs in India which became a serious issue back home. But, what he did was just opposite and in pursuit of his official duty, he became the most corrupt man in British history. After acquittal from corruption charges, he committed suicide in 1774.
Clive's House of Commons Speech, 1772:
''…. Indostan (India)was always an absolute despotic government. The inhabitants, especially of Bengal, in inferior stations, are servile, mean, submissive, and humble. In superior stations, they are luxurious, effeminate, tyrannical, treacherous, venal, cruel. The country of Bengal is called, by way of distinction, the paradise of the earth. It not only abounds with the necessaries of life to such a degree, as to furnish a great part of India with its superfluity, but it abounds in very curious and valuable manufactures, sufficient not only for its own use, but for the use of the whole globe. The silver of the west and the gold of the east have for many years been pouring into that country, and goods only have been sent out in return. This has added to the luxury and extravagance of Bengal.''
….... the custom of that country, for an inferior never to come into the presence of a superior without a present. It begins at the Nabob (Nawob), and ends at the lowest man that has an inferior. The Nabob has told me, that the small presents he received amounted to 300,000 1. a year; and I can believe him; because I know that I might have received as much during my last government. The Company's servants have ever been accustomed to receive presents. Even ….. the governor and others used to receive presents; and I will take upon me to assert, that there has not been an officer commanding his Majesty's fleet; nor an officer commanding his Majesty's army; not a governor, not a member of council,........ have connection with the country government, who has not received presents. With regard to Bengal, there they know in abundance indeed. Let the House figure to itself a country consisting of 15 millions of inhabitants, a revenue of four millions sterling, and a trade in proportion........Those agents, and the Banyans' (Bhaniahs - South Asian merchants and commission agents) never desist, till ….... The advantages arising from the Company's service are now very generally known; and the great object of every man is to get his son appointed a writer to Bengal; which is usually at the age of 16...........
Let us now take a view of one of these writers arrived in Bengal, and not worth a groat. As soon as he lands, a banyan, worth perhaps 100,000 1. desires he may have the honour of serving this young gentleman, at 4s. 6d. per month. The Company has provided chambers for him, but they are not good enough;-the banyan finds better. The young man takes a walk about the town, he observes that other writers, arrived only a year before him, live in splendid apartments or have houses of their own, ride upon fine prancing Arabian horses, …..... When he returns he tells the banyan what he has observed. The banyan assures him he may soon arrive at the same good fortune; he furnishes him with money; he is then at his mercy; ….....he is in a state of dependence under the banyan, who commits acts of violence and oppression, as his interest prompts him to, under the pretended sanction and authority of the Company's servant. Hence, Sir, arises the clamor against the English gentlemen in India. But look at them in a retired situation, when returned to England, when they are no longer Nabobs and sovereigns of the east......''
This speech (given 4 years before America's independence) will give us some picture about India's past affluence and healthy economy.During the British rule the economic condition was,unfortunately, topsyturvy.
Source: English Historical Documents, via Internet History Sourcebook