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Background and outcome of battle of plassey – Essay

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The succession of Siraj-ud-Daulah was opposed by his aunt Ghasiti Begum and his cousin Shaukat Jang who was the governor of Purnea.

There was a dominant group in the Nawab’s court comprising Jagat Seth, Umichand, Raj Ballabh, Mir Jafar and other who were also opposed to Siraj.

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Besides internal dissension within the Nawab’s court, another serious threat to Nawab’s position was the growing commercial activities of the English Company.

The conflict between the Nawab and the English Company over trade privileges was nothing new.

But during Siraj-ud-Daulah’s reign certain other factors further strained the relations between the two.

This included fortification around Calcutta by the English Company without the permission of the Nawab, the misuse of the Company’s trade privilege by its officials for their private trade.

The English Company at Calcutta had given shelter to Krishna Das son of Raj Ballabh who had fled with immense treasures, against the Nawab’s will.

The Company officials suspected that the Nawab would cut down the privilege of the Company in alliance with the French in Bengal.

The issue of fortification of the Fort William at Calcutta without the Nawab’s permission worsened the relationship between ihe Nawab and the Company. The Nawab saw this as sheer disobedience and moved in person against the English.

On 20th June 1756, Siraj attacked and took over Fort William. He destroyed the fortification and left Calcutta in the hands of his officers.

Many of the English prisoners, who were imprisoned during this attack died in a small room often referred to as the Black Hole tragedy.

Meanwhile the English waited for the reinforcement from Madras.

The troops from Madras led by Robert Clive and Admiral Watson retook Calcutta on 2nd January, 1757. The treaty of Alinagar was signed between the Nawab and the Company.

Clive’s troops captured the French settlement of Chandernagore.

Clive tempted Siraj’s general Mir Jafar to ally with him in exchange for the Nawab’s position.

Outcome :

On 23rd June, 1757, the Company troops marched against Siraj. Betrayed by his own men Siraj was defeated in the Battle of Plassey, which is said to have lasted only a few hours, causing limited causalities on both the sides.

The Nawab of Bengal, Siraj-ud-Daulah was defeated, captured and executed at his capital Murshidabad.

It provided the British with immense political power in India and established the indirect British rule in India.

Victory of the English in the Battle of Plassey was significant not only for the Company but was important for the whole of British Empire.

The conquest of Bengal instilled in them a kind of greed for the unfathomed wealth of Bengal and its subsequent plunder.

Siraj-ud-Daulah was replaced by Mir Jafar as Nawab of Bengal. The new Nawab was a stooge of the Company and had no independent power or existence.

The English also registered territorial and commercial gains in post Plassey period. They got the territory of twenty-four Paraganas in Bengal from the new Nawab. This made the settlement of Calcutta more prosperous.

Their trade also received impetus. The trade and privilege so far enjoyed by them not only increased but also became more secure.

The English Company utilized this opportunity and dispatched their agents to re-establish subordinate trading factories in the interior parts of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.

Moreover, the Battle of Plassey enhanced the overall prestige of the Company. It placed them at a very advantageous position.

They had now at their disposal resources that could be used in struggle against the French both within (in the Carnatic Wars) and without India (in Europe).

They were no more dependent on the supply of resources from Britain which in turn helped the home country in channelizing its resources against the French power in Europe and America.

The Battle of Plassey, therefore, was a turning point in the history not only of Bengal but in the history of the whole of India.

It paved the way for the establishment of the British supremacy in India. It has been rightly remarked that “the Battle of Plassey marked the end of one epoch and the beginning of a new one”. It in fact heralded the modern period of Indian history.

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