For How Many Years did the British Rule India


There is a myth of 200 years of British rule in India, but it is 190 years because we got rid of them in 1947 and they came in 1757 (Robert Clive won the battle of Plassey in 1757 over Bengal – a major province/kingdom in India). In fact, the accurate years of British Rule in India is nearly 100 years because they completely started ruling the country from 1857 and it was East India Company before that which was a great power in Indian sub-continent but not a ruler. To know more, continue reading the fact in detail below:

Birth of East India Company

Britain trading companies and merchants had started their trade in India in the beginning of 15th century. The East India Company was founded in the year 1599 by a group of merchants who met and stated their intention to go on a voyage to the East direction. This is a company that later proved to be most powerful and was to be have complete control over the markets.

For a lot of time they enjoyed being the sole encashers of the trade. This newly formed East India Company received a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth-I on 31 December, 1600. This made them the oldest among several similarly formed European East India Companies.

Expanding Their Span and Flying High

So much so that they even became independent of the governmental power and rules. They started their own army and judiciary. They seldom sent back any profits back home to the British government, filling their own coffers exorbitantly. But by bringing the Pitt’s India Act of 1784 the British Government got an effective control on the activities of the East India Company not just in India but other countries too, where their atrocities had gone past the limits of being tolerable.

From Traders to Trolls

Time has seen the greed take over pure monetary intensions of the traders. However next 250 years found the British businessmen in the role of conquerors and governors than being just traders. In India the Company’s rule lasted until 1858. After the rebellion of 1857 by the Indian soldiers, termed as the first war of independence; the hold that the East India Company had over India was loosened.

Who came in after East India Company was called back by the Queen? Was it the independence that India was fighting for or was the slavery period still to be continued? Was this the beginning of the Real British Raj or was it much earlier. To find more read on, dwelling deeper, what happened when the East India Company set its foot in India, to the details of all the happenings till after the first war of independence was over…….

Special Treatment by the Mughal and an Easy Way In

The company established trading posts in Surat (1619), Madras (1639), Bombay (1668), and Calcutta (1690). By 1647, the company had 23 factories. The major factories became the walled forts of Fort William in Bengal. In 1634, by the extreme favouritism extended by the Mughal emperor Nuruddin Salim Jahangir towards the English traders in the region of Bengal, they were able to establish a strong foothold in the regions near all the major ports. This facilitated their trade in and around India, China, Australia, Burma and Japan. In 1717 Mughal Emperor completely waived the customs duties for their trade in India.


Competing With Other European Powers

The East India Company was competing with various other countries who were trying to establish trade with India and had trade relations with a lot of regions in India. Their major competitors were France, who in a long tough fight in India, were able to regain the five establishments captured by the British East India Company. These territories were Pondichéry, Mahe, Karikal, Yanam and Chandernagar.

But British were still strong and they prevented the French from building fortified walls and keeping troops in Bengal. Elsewhere in India, the French remained a military threat, particularly during the War of American Independence. They were successful in capturing Pondicherry in 1793 which was to remain in their possession for the next two hundred years.

Power-Hungry Profit-Chasing Trader Turned Rulers

Gradually as the powers of East India Company increased to the extent that not only did they aspired to be traders, they also wanted to rule their territories with unlimited control over men and material. They started the illegal opium trade into China that begun in 1773 and continued till 1799, which resulted in Opium wars. Opium produced in Bengal was smuggled to China and the money earned was used to buy tea from China. It was a profitable business for the Company as they had a complete monopoly in this.

Role of the British Government to Curb the Company’s Power

Finally when the British government could not hold the waters, they stepped in. They imposed a series of acts namely the Regulating Act of 1773 (later known as the East India Company Act 1773), that led to the changes in the administration and economic affairs of the company. This helped in establishing sovereignty and ultimate control of the Parliament. The Act clearly stated that whatever control that the Company had established over the territories acquired by it, was on behalf of the Crown and not in the Company’s right.

Answering the Humanitarian Calls

New policies were designed for an elite civil service officers working for the government to minimalise the temptations for corruption. Severe punishments were assigned to the defaulters then came the Pitt’s India Act 1784. It had two aspects. One, it curtailed the political powers of East India Company by appointing a Board of Control to overlook its political as well as commercial activities. Secondly, the Act laid down the foundation for a centralized and bureaucratic control of the Company.


The government knew that on the pretext of expansion of business in the various countries in the world, the East India Company was acquiring various regions in the world and that too under the name of the British Crown. And that was not what the Queen had in her mind – a cruel picture of hers; for, the British rulers were neither ruthless killers nor did they ever want to be looked upon to be the ones. Having realized this, they felt obliged to respond to humanitarian calls by the Indians and other countries occupied by the East India Company. The British Government reacted fast to provide better treatment of local people in “British-occupied territories”.

Assigning Greater Accountability by British Officers

Then came the Act of 1786, according to this Act the company functioned under the patronage of the Crown. The difference this time was that they were accountable for their actions with complete responsibility. Any further wrong doings on the part of the Company would mean termination of their contract with the British Crown.

This time the company was more careful and they continued to expand their influence and control in the territories closer to India and by the middle of the 19th century, the company extended its rule across most of India, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, and British Hong Kong, and one-fifth of the world’s population came under the trade relation that was to be converted into rule later or sooner by them. But the Company knew that their actions were under the vigilance and there were officers to whom they were answerable.

Awakening To the Reality, Claiming Hold

Further from here the British Government passed a series of acts, namely – East India Company Act 1793, East India Company Act 1813, Government of India Act 1833, English Education Act 1835 and Government of India Act 1853. All these acts tell us the latent presence of the British Government and the indirect act to put an end to the mishappenings the East India Company was undertaking in the name of the British Crown.

The Acts of English Education and the Government of India Act of 1853 especially make us think, whether the British Rule really began in 1784 with the Pitt’s India Act or after the Indian Rebellion of 1857 (also known as the Indian Mutiny) that resulted in widespread devastation in India, when the British government realized that what the East India Company was indulging in was not trade but power mongering, a fear spreading reckless and merciless set of people.

The East India Company was condemned for permitting the events that brought in mass ruin to occur. In the rebellion’s outcome, under the provisions of the Government of India Act 1858, the British Government nationalized the company. After the rebellion of 1857 the British Crown took over the possessions of East India Company in India and thus started the new era of British Rule in India.

What the British Went Away With

Not only did the British have an unfading effect on Indian history, but they themselves got affected by the Indian culture too. The British took away our gold deposits, gems, riches and something that they cannot part away with. This is the influence we had on their simple lifestyle words such as bungalow, verandah, punch, dungarees, and pajamas, such customs as smoking cigars, playing polo as well as more influences in the realms of religion and philosophy.


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