Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Lord Wellesley (1798-1805) and his Indian affairs


Lord Mornington - the Marquis of Wellesley (the Duke of Wellington's elder brother) - was the Governor-General from 1797 to 1805 and his predecessor was  Cornwallis who administered India using Pitt's India Act. To Wellesley the British paramountcy with a sort of federal set-up in India was  dearer  to him than anything else,  and he had begun to give shape to his  supreme task of acquiring more lands without antagonizing powerful  Indian rulers. The  tricky strategy  that he adopted to achieve his ambition  is known as the ‘Subsidiary Alliance’. This doctrine saw enormous expansion of British power in India. He expanded the British rule that was founded and later consolidated by Robert Clive and Warren Hastings respectively.  Further, India gave him a chance to prove his ability to outwit the French who had been on the war path under Napoleon Bonaparte and he succeeded in reducing the French influence in the subcontinent.
Wellesley's generous  attitude towards the Indians, especially Hindus, did leave much impression on the natives.  However,  racial discrimination did exist during his period as  Indians were not entitled  to hold  top administrative posts, besides they were not allowed to attend  social events organized by whites. There were clubs exclusively for the British Sahibs served by the Indian servants. None of the Indian elite enjoyed admission to  such social clubs. His overbearing  and  excessive vanity caused irritation to his own people around him.  Carried by ego and vanity, he used  to wear his medals and decorations even in bed, wallowing in self adulation and he himself adding feathers on his own head.- according to "reliable reports".

 Equestrian statue of The Duke Of Wellington-Royal Exchange-London./en.wikipedia.org/wiki

The following facts  are worthy of note:

1. He was a hardcore imperialist and he described  himself  as Bengal Tiger.

2. He was the one who created the Madras Presidency after the annexation of kingdom  of Tanjore, now in Tamil Nadu and Carnatic ruled by the Nawob of Arcot, using the doctrine of subsidiary alliance

3. He introduced the novel system of Subsidiary Alliance in 1798 that envisaged full protection of states  against  invasions by stationing the British Army to be maintained by the alley plus an annual allowance to be paid the British Crown that would be subject to periodic changes without limit and prior notice. It was more a trap than a sob. The company made itself responsible for the defense of the states and gained control of the province's trade in a subtle manner. As a resu


lt of this doctrine, at stake was the privacy of the royal families. The ruler was in check without his knowledge.

4. Some of the states that fell into the trap and signed the alliance were - Hyderabad (first to sign) in 1798 and then Mysore, Tanjore, Awadh, Jodhpur, Jaipur, Mecheri, Bundi, Bharatpur, Berar, etc. Literally these states  tolled their own death knell - loss of power, crown and land.

5. Wellesley led the British army in the Fourth Anglo - Mysore War that resulted in the death of Tipu Sultan on the 4th of May,1799. The Woddayar Dynasty, who Hyder Ali had deposed, was restored to the throne of Mysore.

6. Signed Treaty of Bassein with the  Maratha Peshwa in 1802.

7. Fought Second Anglo-Maratha war in which the Maratha rulers Scindhia, Bhonsle and Holkar were defeated. With the declining influence of Marathas and the death of Tipu Sultan Wellesley added more territories under the British control. Bombay and the surrounding areas became British possessions. It meant money to the British coffers.

8. Lord Lake captured Delhi and Agra and the Mogul  emperor was put under Company’s protection under subsidiary alliance. Last Mogul Bahadur Shah Safar also was trapped and face humiliation in the later period.

9. Raja Ram Mohan Roy wrote the Tuhfat-ul-Muwahhiddin.

10. The first major rebellion in India by the native people against the British rule in India began in southern Kerala under Veluthambi, the Dalawa (Diwan or Prime Minister) of Travancore in southern Kerala (1805). The company directors did not go along with his reforms. So, his services lasted till 1805.

11. He founded the Fort William College in Calcutta in 1800 to train the English Civil Servants, mainly rookies, on the affairs of Indian subcontinent to run the administration with efficiency and dedication. He also tried to remove trade restrictions to improve trade.

12.He had an enormous collection of over 2,500 painted miniatures in the Company style of Indian natural history. 
13.The Township of Wellesley, in Ontario, Canada, was named in Richard Wellesley's honor. So were the  Islands off the north coast of Queensland, Australia, named by Matthew Flinders in honor of Richard Wellesley. They are called  Wellesley islands, the largest island in the group being Mornington Island.