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Battle of Plassey 1757, Background, Causes and Impact on Indian Polity and Economy

Battle of Plassey- Relevance for UPSC Exam

  • GS Paper 1: Indian History- Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

Jallikattu- T.N. govt. allows Jallikattu_70.1

Battle of Plassey

  • Battle of Plassey was fought on 23rd June 1757 in the Plassey region, West Bengal, on the east of Bhagirathi River.
  • Battle of Plassey took place during the reign of Mughal Emperor Alamgir-II and is often termed as the ‘decisive event’ which became the source of ultimate rule of the British in India.

Regulating Act of 1773


Battle of Plassey- Background

  • Siraj-Ud-Daulah (Nawab of Bengal) succeeded his grandfather Alivardi Khan to become the Nawab of Bengal.
  • Siraj-Ud-Daulah was worried about the rampant misuse of trading rights by Britishers. Britishers misused these trading rights to exclude native traders and also evaded taxes to the Nawab of Bengal.
    • This rampant misuse of the trading rights adversely affected the nawab’s finances.
  • Siraj-Ud-Daulah (Nawab of Bengal) was also alarmed rising might of the Britishers, especially after the Victory of Britishers in the Carnatic wars.
    • Siraj-Ud-Daulah (Nawab of Bengal) had ordered the English to stop the extension of their fortification due to the above apprehensions.

Pitts India Act 1784


Battle of Plassey- Causes

  • Declining Finances of the Nawab: The treasury purse of Nawab was getting drained due to the following reasons-
    • Rampant Misuse of trading rights given to Britishers by Mughal Emperor. They often sell their trading rights to locals in exchange for a handsome levy. This affected the tax collection of Nawab.
    • Non-payment of tax and duty by the workers of the British East India Company was also one of the causes for building up to the battle of Plassey.
  • Violation of Nawab’s Directive: Nawab directed Britishers not to fortify their places. Violating this, Britishers started the fortification of Calcutta (Fort William).
    • This angered Nawab and was one of the important causes for the Battle of Plassey.
  • Asylum to Nawab’s Enemy: Britishers provided asylum to Nawab’s enemy Krishna Das, angering the Nawab of Bengal.
  • Black Hole Tragedy: Due to the above issues, Nawab of Bengal attacked and seized the fort of Calcutta. He imprisoned many British Officials in June 1756 and kept them in a dungeon at Fort William.
    • Only a handful of the prisoners survived the captivity as most of them died due to suffocation. This event is also termed as the Black Hole Tragedy.

The Charter Act of 1833 or The Saint Helena Act 1833



Battle of Plassey– Key Events

  • Angered by the Black Hole incident, the East India company planned an attack on the Nawab of Bengal.
  • Robert Clive, the commander-in-chief of the army of the British East India Company bribed Mir Jafar, the commander-in-chief of the Nawab’s army to support Britishers in their fight against Nawab.
    • Robert Clive also promised Mir Jafar to make him Nawab of Bengal after their victory over Siraj-Ud-Daulah.
  • The Battle of Plassey was fought in the Palashi region of Bengal, on the banks of Bhagirathi River near Calcutta on June 23, 1757.
  • The army of Nawab of Bengal supported by French troops had 50000 soldiers on their side, severely outnumbering the British army of around 3000 soldiers.
  • However, the Nawab faced the betrayal of his key officials like Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh and others who became the reason for the defeat of Nawab of Bengal in the Battle of Plassey.
  • Following officials of the Nawab of Bengal were involved in the conspiracy of Robert Clive against the Siraj-Ud-Daulah (Nawab of Bengal)-
    • Mir Jafar was the Mir-Bakshi or the military head of an army of Nawab of Bengal. Due to his treachery, one-third of the Bengali army did not join the Battle of Plassey, contributing to Nawab’s defeat.
    • Rai Durlabh was also one of the commanders of Siraj-ud-daula’s army.
    • Jagat Seth was the biggest banker of Bengal at the time.
  • Under compelling circumstances, the Siraj-Ud-Daulah (Nawab of Bengal) tried to escape with his army but was killed by Miran, the son of Mir Jafar.

The Charter Act of 1833 or The Saint Helena Act 1833


Battle of Plassey- Political Impact

  • Established EIC major power in India: Victory in the Battle of Plassey established Britishers the key military power in the Bengal Region.
    • After the Battle of Buxar in 1764, Britishers became the dominant force in the Indian Subcontinent.
  • Ended French Aspirations: Victory in the Battle of Plassey followed by victory in seven years war led to the establishment of Britishers as the only European power in India.
  • Political Turbulence in Bengal: After victory in the Battle of Plassey, Mir Jafar was crowned as the Nawab of Bengal by the EIC.
    • Soon, Mir Jafar was disillusioned by Britishers and instigated the Dutch to attack the British in order to consolidate his foundation.
    • After, Victory over the Dutch in the Battle of Chinsura in 1759, the British installed Mir Qasim as the Nawab of Bengal.
    • Political Turbulence continued till the coming up of the Regulation Act of 1773.

Thar Desert- Rajasthan

Battle of Plassey- Economic Impact

  • Britishers plundered the Bengal economy by imposing severe and favorable tax rules and regulations.
  • The problem was further aggravated after the Battle of Buxar. The Company officials accepted gifts from local traders in favour of allowing them to use trade rights.
    • This made company officials very rich even though EIC was faced Bankruptcy.
  • The demise of the institution of Nawab added by Economic exploitation led to the crumbling of local traders, handicrafts, and urban economy.

Raja Ram Mohan Roy- Indian Social Reformer

Raja Ram Mohan Roy- Indian Social Reformer

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