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HIS282Y1 Lecture Notes - Company Rule In India, Mughal Empire, Hindu Law

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Ritu Birla

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November 14th
How the east India company begins to develop an ideology of governing, how does
a private, joint stock company begin to legitimize itself as a state?
The revenue taken from the land that finances the trade is how they enter the state
and then the establishment of the law of property which starts an interest in
profitable agriculture and textiles and then late 18th c and early 19th the triangular
tea trade and later the company’s monopoly on indigo and as in 1813 the monopoly
is abolished, the east India company is already a government. The resistance to it is
also a major part, existing consistently throughout the 19th c. even as it is being
established. Why haven’t historians studied how peasants dealt with the colonial
state and its because there has been a template on what politics is, writing petitions
etc. so the acts haven’t been recognized as political but rather as disturbances and
unlawful acts.
The aim of moral improvement that begins early 19th c. as the colonial state takes
on a role as a civilizing power, not just as a profit power. Instead it begins to assume
the throne, through the liberal process. What are British ideologies of reform? Then
what are the indigenous movements?
The English Utalitarians in India text, important for understanding how the Brits
begin to articulate a range of reforms. The biggest tension is between improvement,
as a liberal project (eg. Case of punishment and prisons, which up to then was
always corporal, introduces the idea of rehabilitation and improvement, which is
very much modern). The idea is that you can go to far away places and improve
savages, part of colonial power is the missionary interest of improvement. The
liberals are also interested in improving criminals and working classes at home. On
the other hand are the conservatives, people like Edmond Burke, who emphasize
the long history and tradition, not losing the past, if improvement is implemented
then the past shouldn’t be erased and forgotten. So how the british tension map out
in the Indian context?
Three strands of ideology begin to legitimize the company:
The doctrine of free trade- pull india out of social and economic stagnation
Utalitarianism- Bentham and Mill, efficiency of government
Evangelicalism- a religious project about direct intervention in indigenous
religion but also a project of improvement through God.
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