How did the British colonize India?

How did the British enter India? They did so at first as traders seeking spices. Spices were the primary way of preserving meat in Europe prior to the modern age. Then, having more modern and effective weapons, the sub-continent was brought into the Empire at gunpoint. As was commonly said: "The sun never sets on the British Empire." It would have been more accurate to say: The British Empire consisted essentially of territories forcefully occupied and governed at gunpoint. The native peoples became subjects of HRH Queen Victoria. Victoria was perhaps the most infamous ruler of the British Empire because she was the head of the vast global opium trade. It was under her rule opium was first cultivated in India.

Millions of Indian's died under her rule - estimates go as high as 35 million - the exact number was unclear. In the contemporary world she may well have been brought to trial for war crimes / crimes against humanity. In her life and times, however, she was very popular in Britain. After all, if indeed "The sun never sets on the British Empire" that was a jolly good thing - right?


  1. Britain came in the 1600s (with Sir Thomas Roe) when India was under the rule of Jehangir. India was a stronger nation back then. So, the British were contended to be traders. However, Nadir Shah's (of Iran) invasion of India in 1738, changed the picture (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nad...). The Mughal rulers were badly defeated and that signalled to the world that India was very weak. The East India Company immediately latched on and made use of the weakness. The timing was key.

    TL;DR - This Indian ruler forgot to get tarpaulin sheets to the battlefield.

    The British East India company, following the trend set by many other colonial empires of the time, set forth to India in order to trade spices and other valuable commodities. Though they started off as a trading company, they did cross the line occasionally by trying to capture Mughal fortifications in Calcutta. The then emperor, Aurangazeb, wiped out the British forces in the area and also went the extra mile and captured the port in Bombay. This crippled the British forces as they lost two of their most important ports, Calcutta and Bombay, essential for the functioning of the East India Company. On pleading to the Emperor, the British succeeded in getting Bombay back but had to pay an indemnity of 600,000 17th century pounds. In addition, they also promised to not exceed their brief as a trading company.

    However, Aurangazeb's death saw the downfall of the great Mughal empire that had held control over most of India. This period saw the many Nawabs of the different provinces scrambling to acquire power. Following their 'Divide and Rule' policy, the British made the individual Nawabs of India vie against each other even more. The competition between the French and the British East India companies further intensified.

    In return for their aid in a battle, the then ruler of Bengal, Aliwardy Khan, granted the British permission to trade in Bengal. Aliwardy Khan was later suceeded by his short tempered and impulsive nineteen year old grandson, Siraj ud-Daulah. On noticing that the British had started setting up defences around their trading centre in Calcutta, he warned them to stop. The British showed no signs of stopping and Siraj-ud-Daulah did not waste a second in attacking Calcutta. It was a piece of cake for Siraj ud-daulah to defeat the small British army. However, being the immature nineteen year old that he was, he took over five dozen British prisoners, including civilians, and forced them into a cell (Black Hole of Calcutta) designed to hold maybe six. In a stroke of further misfortune, they forgot about the prisoners, letting many of them starve and enter a state of shock. By the time the doors were opened, there were only a few survivors.

    This left the British fuming. Robert Clive led an army of 3000 soldiers and captured Calcutta. And while, they were at it, the British also captured the nearby French settlement in Chandernagar. The French were allies with Siraj ud-Daulah and this news added fuel to Siraj ud-Daulah's growing hatred of the British. To combat the 3000 men British army and their 8 cannons, Siraj ud-Daulah set out with 35,000 infantry, 7000 cavalry and 53 cannons.


    In the 17th and early 18th centuries the only British (and for that matter, all European countries') presence in India was limited to a bunch of trading forts on the coast; the principal purpose for them existing was to facilitate the trade and flow of spices to Europe.

    It took a century for the first European wars to spill over into India; in the mid-18th century proxy wars were fought between Indian rulers with the support/funding of the British, French or someone else; these conflicts usually reflected the wider European war, such as the Indian front of the Seven Years War (1756–1763), and the Carnatic Wars. The coordination these wars had with the Europeans' differences was that Britain was able to consolidate it's holdings in India after their rivals (particularly France) were kicked out of India by the end of the 18th century.


    I agree in general with what others have written, but I would sum up Britain's conquest of India in one word, Clive.

    Clive was a thug and a bully, and supposedly fearless. Today we might have called him a sociopath or psychopath. But the critical key to understanding his success lies in his childhood. As a teenager he devised and ran a protection racket. He would approach shopkeepers, offering them protection from teenage gangs in return for regular payments. Any shopkeeper who demurred or fell behind in his payments would have his shop ransacked by a teenage gang.

    This is precisely the strategy Clive applied in India. He saw that the country was riven by divisions, and that ambition often outshone loyalty. Whereas he could draw on intensely loyal company staff and soldiers. I don't need to spell this out to most readers, but i will just to show how blindingly simple his strategy was.

    Rajah A and Rajah B are in fierce competition over control of some valuable real estate - a river, a bridge, a town, a block of fertile fields. Rajah A has the slight upper hand. Clive approaches Rajah A, saying that he wants an exclusive trade deal with him. In return Clive will sell him the latest British cannons with a better range than his current cannons, and far better than Rajah B's old guns. The conditions of the trade deal are stringent, almost punitive. If Rajah A agrees, all is well and Clive looks for his next target. If Rajah A objects, Clive secretly signs a pact with Rajah B, and a joint attack on Rajah A is made by a joint British and Rajah B army with superior equipment. His estates are divided between Britain (well actually the British East India Company) and Rajah B. In gratitude he signs a trade agreement favourable to The Company. The same trick was played when several family members were plotting to overthrow a Rajah. The Company would secretly approach all of them in turn, saying they were their preferred candidate. Lastly, if a state was small enough, but still refused to play ball, The Company would simply invade them directly.

    The Company maintained a highly trained and paid network of spies and informants, and was probably not above carrying out the occasional strategic assassination. This network also "turned" key figures within the Rajah's court or administration. In complete contrast, with all their wealth there were few cases where an Indian prince turned a Company man.

    A protection racket works best using fear. Enforcement is risky and costly, but when necessary must be carried out with a ruthlessness designed to strike fear into the neighbours. Also, Rajah's who were under British protection were relatively safe. Safe from invasion, and strict succession rules enforced by the British protected them from palace coup's. This also ensured that the sitting Rajah was not the most competent or determined.

    Certainly this does not explain why France did not end up the dominant power in South Asia, but the evidence is that the web of policies and strategies put in place by Clive were a major, if not the major, factor.


    The term is used for Britishers   is master mind , when was most of the countries limits to their own country land , they came across and expend their land globally , after conquering small , small nations and lands all over the world , they found Indian sub continent is much more richer than any other countries in 1700 century , As Indian sub continent having huge land expend from Kabul to Burma in east to west  and from north to cost line in south  with in itself a huge land ruled by different different rulers with their territory , they are maharajas, nawabs and bad-shahs, Britishers   found that they cant conquer India very easily , so they came to India for trade to understand the surroundings to understand the culture and strength of Indian rulers  , their soldiers strengths etc , they found that huge poverty in lower cast people , so they focus to acquire them as slave and use for  shake of their benefits , so in that way they introduced MNC type of thing in firstly in  India paying good money to work with them . When they get huge revenue , cheap labors they start to outsource them to their  other colonial lands like south Africa etc . In span of  20 -30  years as a trader they found them selves in good state to expend and to convert them selves in powerful Administration , As they had Army full of Indian soldiers and good British Army officers with  technically high quality Armors compare with traditional armors, First  they start Interrupting  in homely issues of Indian Maharajas like rivalry with neighbor state etc and they help some of them from where they get benefits ,in  that way they were getting powerful , after that British Administration got full involvement over all the issues with India they battles with Indian kings ,    they defeat some of maharajas in battle , like wise  they acquire huge lands all over , some of maharajas surrendered , some gave support , some sign some treaty of to become under rule  governed by Britishers . India soon became part of British colonial ,Britishers  faced some conflicts like 1st war of independence , and little bit rebel activities across all over India , then soon they convert India into their flavor , their education system , judicial system , administration system ,they opened some colleges , schools , post offices , introduced  railways , findings of some archeological sites , some new hill stations , new lands floura fauna ,constructing some buildings , so on .........
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