Thursday, 25 December 2014

Gov. General Warren Hastings - he encouraged oriental studies! British India

  First Governor General of India Warren Hastings. www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au
First Governor General of India Warren Hastings. www.photographersdirect.com
 While Governor of Bengal, Warren Hastings launched a major crackdown on bandits operating in Bengal which was largely successful but unsuccessfully  faced the worst Bengal Famine.
Devastating famine in Bengal between 1770 and 1772 (4 years before the American War of Independence) resulted in he death of 1/6 th of the population  and decline in the revenue to the East India Co. Economic stagnation and trade depression in Europe further aggravated already the worst situation in Bengal,  and now the company was on the brink of bankruptcy. In order to bail out the ailing British co in India the British Parliament passed Tea Act in 1773. The offshoot of this act was the famous Boston Tea Party - December 16, 1773. After 1783 the company and India came under the direct control of the  British Crown. 


Warren Hastings was India's first Governor-General (1732-1818) and  unfortunately during his administration corruption and unscrupulous money dealings were so blatant and continued unchecked,  the British Government  went to the extend of ordering his impeachment. Contrary to his predecessor Clive, Hastings never aspired for a big fish. His occasional acts of illegal gratification  might have been committed in a moment of aberration. In reality he was a man with  scruples. On the other hand  for Robert Clive, corruption and swindling of other's possession was rather habitual. He was an addict and interestingly he was not ashamed of his immoral, dirty  acts. He did all these with  fine  dexterity. At the same time he was the most competent and capable, cool leader and knew how to get the best out of a bad deal.     
 

Hastings, who deferred from  other British officials, did consolidate  the British rule and at the same time had keen interest in India's ethos and heritage.  He  fostered education, encouraged the codification of Hindu law,  stimulated the study of Sanskrit by European scholars along with Jones, founded a Mohammedan college in Calcutta and an Indian institute in London, opened a trade route to Tibet, sponsored a survey of Bengal, and organized expeditions to explore the seas. He established the system of civil administration that was the basis of Anglo-Indian security and prosperity. In 1781, Hastings founded Madrasa 'Aliya; in 2007, it was transformed into Aliah University by the Government of India, at Calcutta. In 1784, Hastings supported the foundation of the Bengal Asiatic Society, now the Asiatic Society of Bengal, founded by the oriental scholar Sir William Jones. Indians are always grateful to him for his vision, inspiration and interest in the betterment of   native Indians who were  stoic victims of colonial exploitation and discrimination.
He was impeached by Parliament in 1786, but the trial opened two years later and lasted  for 7 years. The House of Lords found him not guilty.
 

Warren Hastings - his legacy: 'Hastings' is the name of one of the four School Houses in La Martini-ere for Boys, Calcutta. It is represented by the color red. 'Hastings' is a Senior Wing House at St Paul's School, Darjeeling, India, where all the senior wing houses are named after Anglo-Indian colonial figures. There is also a road in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, named after him. Indians will remember his immense contribution in various areas with gratitude.