India was largely ruled by the Mughal Empire before the British annexation started in the year 1757. Marathas and Sikhs also dominated some parts of India with the French acquiring some of the coastal regions of the country.
British came to India initially to pursue trade through the East India Company and engaged in negotiation with Mughal Emperor Jahangir in the year 1640. After getting permission from the king they had set up factories in Ahmedabad, Agra, and Bharuch. Later with the passes of time, their ambitions changed from trade activities to acquiring power.
Gradually their presence rose and they set up factories in Bengal, Orissa, Hugli, and Calcutta as well. Simultaneously, French, Portuguese and Dutch traders were also moved in different parts of the country. And finally, on July 27, 1757, the army of East India Company under Robert Clive defeated Nawab of Bengal, “Siraj-Ud-Daula” and his French allies in the battle of Plassey, a place located between Murshidabad and Calcutta. After this victory, the East India Company gained control over the whole of Bengal.
While Robert Clive laid the foundation of British rule in India, later in the year 1763 during the rule of Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II, the British Army led by Warren Hastings defeated the army of the then Nawab of Bengal Mir Kasim. In the year 1774, Warren Hastings was formally appointed the first Governor-General of Bengal.
In the meanwhile, Marathas and Sikhs also battled against each other and the Mughals to gain supremacy in the country which further weakened the power of Mughals. Parallelly, the French expedition had also started in India. The French had settled their colonies in coastal regions of India at Pondicherry, Karikal, and Yanam by the year 1673. There were tussles looming between British East India Company and the French to gain maximum power and finally, in the year 1744, the war between the armies of East India Company and French started. However, the British East India Company army supported by the local rulers turned out to be more powerful and the French forces were defeated completely in the battle of Wandiwash.
After this battle, the British East India Company gained a superior controlling position in the country. However, in the year 1760, Mysore became a major challenge for the East India Company when Hyder Ali, annexed to the throne of Mysore after the death of its King. Hyder Ali started extending the territories of his kingdom by conquering south Indian states.
The British then made a treaty with Nizam Ali of Hyderabad according to which East India Company committed to helping Nizam with their army in his war against Hyder Ali. Not only this, but the Nizam also joined hands with Marathas and made an alliance to defeat Hyder Ali. However, they remain unsuccessful in their attempts and British forces suffered huge losses in this war.
Officially, the Company rule in India commenced in 1765, when the East India Company was granted the right to collect revenue in Bihar and Bengal. In the year 1773, East India Company established a capital in Calcutta and after appointing Warren Hasting, the first Governor-General, it started governing the entire country directly.
The East India Company was ruling over the country with its own army and judiciary initially and at that time the British government had very little control over it. Later in the year 1857, a major arms rebellion in the army of the East India Company started in Meerut. Known as Sepoy Mutiny, it soon erupted in several mutinies and rebellion all throughout the country. The rebels finally reached Delhi and declared Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar as the Emperor of the entire country. However, this mutiny was short-lived and quashed by the East India Company army completely.
After the Sepoy Mutiny, the Company’s rule lasted until 1858, when, the last Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar was exiled to Burma. After this, the Government of India Act 1858 came in force in India and the British government assumed direct administration of India. It paved the way for complete British Raj which was the rule by the British Crown in Indian Subcontinent. Under the British Raj, all the administrative powers were transferred to Queen Victoria, who was called the Empress of India.
Power struggle across the country just before the British Crown Rule was established in India
British annexation in India was the outcome of trading rivalries among the European powers leading them towards establishing their colonies and trading posts across the world. It was in the 17th century, the Mughal Empire which was the central ruling power in India started showing signs of the weakening. Such a situation offered all these foreign powers an opportune time to enter India with their trading ambitions initially.
Moreover, as the Mughal Empire disintegrated in the early 18th century and the Maratha powers also weakened after the third battle of Panipat, India got divided into several smaller and unstable states. Relatively weak, all these empires were increasingly manipulated by the British East India Company through the established bigger rulers. However, soon all these empires started fighting and competing against each other. All of them were manipulated by the British East India Company and soon they were eliminated and their dynasties were acquired by the Company.
In the later 18th century, the British East India Company and France struggled for dominance across the country, sometimes through proxy Indian rulers and sometimes through direct military intervention. The rapid expansion of British power was witnessed in the greater part of India in the 19th century when they had almost gained direct control or control through proxy rulers over almost the entire country. After the failed Sepoy Mutiny, finally, the power of East India Company was transferred to British Crown rule and hence India came directly under British control.
All the remaining rulers held powerless by the British and they had no choice than to accept the offer of becoming princely states under the umbrella of British rule. Over 600 princely states were recognized in India after the British crown rule was formally established in India and the country acquired the name of British India.
Who was in India before the British?
Ans: It was the Mughal Empire before the British annexation started in the year 1757.
How the British came to India?
Ans: British came to India through the East India Company to pursue the trade.
How did the British start ruling in India?
Ans: Later with the passes of time they changed their ambition from trade activities to acquiring power. They made a start on July 27, 1757, when the army of East India Company under Robert Clive defeated Nawab of Bengal in the battle of Plassey and gained control over the whole of Bengal.
When did the British start governing the entire country directly?
Ans: Officially, its rule in India commenced in 1765 when East India Company was granted the right to collect revenue in Bihar and Bengal. East India Company established a capital in Calcutta in 1773 and appointed Warren Hasting (the first Governor-General). In this way, it started governing the entire country directly.
What was the sepoy mutiny?
Ans: Indian Mutiny, also called Sepoy Mutiny, was a widespread but unsuccessful rebellion against British rule in India in 1857–58. It was started in Meerut by Indian troops (also called sepoys) in the service of British East India Company and then spread to Delhi, Agra, Kanpur, and Lucknow.
Who was Empress of India?
Ans: Queen Victoria was called the Empress of India.
When did the British government assume the direct administration of India?
Ans: The Government of India Act 1858 came in force in India and the British government assumed direct administration of India. It was the start of complete British Raj by the British Crown in the Indian Subcontinent.
To whom administrative powers were transferred under the British Raj?
Ans: Under the British Raj, all the administrative powers were transferred to Queen Victoria.
How India acquired the name of British India?
Ans: When British crown rule was formally established in India, the country acquired the name of British India.