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Subjects /Indian History / Modern History / Subsidary Alliance Policy & Doctrine of Lapse

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07 Aug 2021

Sir Lee Warner described the entire relationship between the Indian States and the British power into 5 epochs (phases) in his book- “The Native States of India”. These 5 policies were:

  • Policy of Equality (1740-1765)
  • Policy of Buffer State (1765-1813)
  • Policy of Subordinate Isolation (1813-1857)
  • Policy of Subordinate Union (1858-1935)
  • Policy of Equal Federation (1935-1947)

The British has been successful in establishing themselves as political power in India. Now, they wanted to expand their kingdom to explore new markets for their goods and increase revenue.

The Policy of Equality (1740-1765)

  • The British East India Company was purely commercial body before 1740.
  • The French intension of established empire in India force them to follow the policy of conquest.
  • The 1st political victory was - ‘Capture of Arcot’ in 1761 by Robert Clive.
  • After the Battle of Plassey – British started the control over Bengal, Bihar and Orisha.
  • By the ‘Treaty of Allahabad’ the company became the ruling power.

The Policy OF Buffer State (1765-1813)

  • The Policy of Buffer State Emerged as a result of Maratha invaders.
  • The defensive policy was followed to safeguard their territories and commercial interest in India.
  • With the arrival of ‘Lord Wellesley’ (1798-1805) as Governor General, the aggressive policy came into force which is known as Subsidiary alliance system.
  • By 1797, the two strongest Indian powers, Mysore and Marathas has declined in power. And the British trading and industry class were looking for new market to sell their goods.

Features of Subsidiary Alliance System

  • It was outright conquest and the assumption of the territories of previously sub-ordinated rulers.
  • Any state which enters the Subsidiary alliance had to give money or territory for the maintenance of British Army in the state.
  • They cannot enter into any alliance with any other power.
  • They could not employ non-English European without the approval of the British.
  • Allows British resident in your territory.
  • In case of conflict, they ought to agree to the English decision.
  • Acknowledge company as a paramount power.
  • The state was protected by the company.
  • The system gave the Indian ruler a sense of security against other rulers, but in reality, it meant the signing away of independence.
  • The first Subsidiary Alliance was signed with the Nizam of Hyderabad followed by Nawab of Awadh, Marathas etc.
  • In 1802, Holkar defeated the combined armies of Peshwa and Scindia. So, Baji Rao II entered into a Subsidiary Alliance with British and signed Treaty of Bassein in 1803.
  • After the departure of Wellesley, British halted their expansion and tried to consolidate their power.
  • During George Barlow’s (1805-1807) Governor General-ship, the policy of non-intervention was followed towards Indian state.
  • The rulers of Indian states were also pacified during this period, but no concession was given to captured state.

Policy of Subordinate Isolation (1813-1857)

  • During this period, Lord Hastings followed the policy of paramountcy (i.e., supremacy).
  • The Indian States surrendered its external sovereignty and acknowledged the supremacy of British.
  • The rulers of Indian states often work according to the wishes of British resident and kept them happy by fulfilling their wishes.
  • Lord Dalhousie- Followed the policy of ‘Doctrine of Lapse’ to annexe Indian Territory.

Features of Doctrine of Lapse

  • Under Doctrine of Lapse, if the ruler of a protected state died without a natural heir, his state would not pass on to an adopted heir but would be annexed to the British dominions unless the adoption had been clearly approved by the British authorities.
  • States annexed under this were, Satara in 1848, Nagpur and Jhansi in 1854.
  • The titles of Nawabs were ended by Dalhousie, and he even refused to pay the pension of ex-rulers.
  • In 1856, Nawab of Awadh Wajid Ali Shah was deposed and exiled to Calcutta on the ground of misgovernment.
  • Due to the police of lapse, the social and economical culture of the court was dismantled. As a result a number of people like artisans, painters, poets, dancers and administrative officials lost their livelihood.
  • Summary Settlement of 1856: It was the first British revenue settlement after annexation. Through this, the intermediaries like taulqdars were removed to deal directly with the actual owners of soil to increase the revenue returns to the State.

Policy Of Subordinate Union (1858-1935)

  • By the Government of India Act,1858 the power was transferred from company to crown.
  • Queen Victoria’s proclamation of 1858 announces the abandonment ‘policy of annexure’.
  • All the Indian States were made uniformly dependent on the British Government and they were considered as having become an integral part of Indian political system.

The Policy of Equal Federation (1935-1947)

  • The Indian leaders was invited in Round Table Conferences.
  • Every princely state was to enjoy full autonomy in its internal affairs.