|Lord Robert Clive of British India..portrait by Charles Clive,1764. en.wikipedia.org/wiki|
old image. Clive Hostel before today's urban madness took over .madrasmusings.com
(September 1725 – November 1774), who started out as an assistant shopkeeper in June, 1744 in a small settlement at Fort St. George near the village of Madraspatnam (now Chennai city) gradually grew in stature through intelligence and hard work and played a key role in the establishment of military and political supremacy of the East India Company in Bengal, He along with Warren Hastings, an equally competent and shrewd officer, firmly laid the basic foundation of the British empire. His first major achievement was securing of the Bengal province and complete control over its vast resources. This was a major turning point for England whose economy then was in doldrums. The huge revenue from Bengal boosted the economy of England to an unexpected level. For the British Crown and its manipulative officials, in the following centuries, India was more than a hen laying golden egg - simply El Dorado.
When Clive had begun his career in Madras the political scenario was different. After the death of the Emperor Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mogul power had gradually slipped into the hands of his provincial viceroys or subedars who acted as defacto rulers. As for southern India, the main rulers on the Coromandel Coast (East coast) were the Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah I, and the Nawob of the Carnatic, Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan who owed his allegiance to the Nizam. Both the British and French establishment at Pondicherry were in the Nawob's territory.
The competition among the European countries to secure India's vast resources became so acute that there were several military confrontations among them. French East India Company under Governor-General Dupleix became a major source to reckon with. Major hostilities in India began with a British naval attack on a French fleet in 1745, which led the French Governor-General Dupleix to request additional forces. The recurring clashes between the French and English East India company to consolidate their control and dominance in the subcontinent brought him back to active military service.
First Carnatic War: The French forces, led by La Bourdonnais. retaliated by attacking Madras on 4 September, 1746 and after several days of bombardment, the British surrendered and the French entered the city. British military officers along with Clive were taken to Pondicherry as prisoners. French Governor-General Dupleix was very keen to annex Madras and there was no room for a truce. In the mean time Clive and other British prisoners at Pondicherry escaped from the prison when the prison guards were not alert and went straight to near-by Ft. David (British post at Cuddalore, Tamil Nadu) where he joined the British army for the first time and made a name for himself when he successfully defended the British Fort and later under Major Stringer Lawrence during the siege of Pondicherry in 1748. Subsequently his successful military expedition to Tanjore, Tamil Nadu gave him further opportunity to prove his military leadership and skill.
Nasir Jung, upon the death of his father the Nizam of Hyderabad Asaf Jah, who made his grand son Muzaffar Jung, the ruler of Bijapur his legal heir, seized the throne of Hyderabad. Muzaffar fled and joined Chanda Sahib, who was an alley of the French. In the Battle of Ambur in August, 1749 these forces fought against the Arcot Nawob Anwaruddin's son, Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah who fled to Trichinopoly sought the help of the British forces.
In 1751 the senior British military officers offered Clive to lead an expedition to relieve Trichinopoly (Tiruchirapalli), where Mohamed Ali, the British candidate for Nawob, or ruler, was tactically besieged by Chanda Sahib, the French candidate. With only 200 European and 300 Indian troops, plus three field pieces, Clive, using various superior strategic moves, seized Arcot, Chanda Sahib's capital, there by diverting 10,000 of Chanda Sahib's men from Trichinopoly.
Clive, with skill and forbearance, successfully withstood a 50-day long tough siege and, when reinforcements arrived, he began guerrilla warfare against the French and French-supported troops. The siege of Trichinopoly was finally lifted, and a truce in 1754 recognized Mohamed Ali as the Nawob of the Carnatic. The Treaty of Paris in 1763 confirmed this, and in 1765 the Emperor at Delhi admitted British hegemony in southern India. Clive's brilliant military leadership, timely strategy and tactical moves at Arcot gave him an immense reputation back in England. During the testing time Clive spent his time in Trichinopoly.
After running unsuccessfully for Parliament, Clive returned to India in 1755 as the Governor of Fort St. David, Cuddalore and as lieutenant colonel in the Royal Army.
Clive's legacy in Tiruchirapalli:
|old image.View of St. Joseph's College, High School, Lawley Hall and Digby Hall. www.reocities.com|
|St. Lourd's Church Adjacent to St. Joseph College, Thiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu,India.www.tripfactory.com|
Clive, the British bandit in the making, had a brief sojourn in the heartland of Tamil Nadu and had begun his career, that established him as one of the greatest looters of India's vast resources on one hand and a top class military strategist with Machiavellian skill on the other hand. His contribution was immense in the establishment of the British Empire. One of the greatest British politicians, ever cigar smoking Winston Churchill (former PM of the U.K.) is just dwarf before Clive in terms of military warfare skills and political acumen.
Faught, C. Brad (2013). Clive: Founder of British India. (Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, Inc.).