Lord Wellesley was the Governor-General of Bengal from 1798 – 1805. He adopted several policies to turn the English East India Company from a trading corporation into a supreme power in India. He adopted three methods to expand the British empire. They were :
1. Subsidiary Alliance System,
2. Wars and conquests and
3. annexation of territories.
Let us know the Subsidiary Alliance System. The Indian rulers were persuaded by Wellesley to sign a Lord Cornwallis friendly treaty with the English. The States in
turn had to follow certain conditions. They were :
1. The States had to accept the English as their Supreme Power,
2. A British Resident and British subsidiary forces were to be stationed inside the State,
3. They had to cede territories to the company for the maintenance of subsidiary force,
4. They should not entertain any other Europeans, other than the English,
5. The States were not allowed to negotiate with any other kingdom without the permission of the Governor-General and
6. In return, the English promised them protection against any external attacks and non-interference in their internal matters.
States which entered into the Subsidiary Alliance :
1. The Nizam of Hyderabad was the first to accept the subsidiary alliance system. He
handed over the territories of Cuddappah, Bellary, Anantapur and Carnool,
2. After the death of Tippu Sultan, his kingdom was handed over to Krishna Raja Wadiar who accepted the scheme,
3. The Nawab of Oudh accepted this scheme and surrendered Rohilkhant and Southern districts of Doab region.
4. Peshwa Baji Rao II and many Rajput rulers also entered into this alliance.
1. By this system the English became the supreme power in India,
2. The resources and influence of the company increased greatly,
3. The alliance helped the English to maintain control over the Indian rulers,
4. It enabled the company to maintain a large standing army at the expense of Indian Princes and
5. The extent of British Empire in India increased greatly as several rulers had ceded parts of their kingdoms.
Defects : 1. The native rulers lost their prestige and dignity,
2. The subsidy demanded from the Indian rulers was beyond their means and they could not afford it. So they taxed their people very heavily,
3. The Indian rulers were compelled to disband their own armies. The disbanded soldiers, in course of time, joined robber gangs such as Thugs and Pindaris and troubled the public,
4. The local rulers lived a life of irresponsibility and degradation because they considered
that their security was the British concern and
5. Though the Indian rulers were not allowed to wage war with each other directly, they were slowly preparing themselves for wars and they were plotting against one another.
Lord Wellesley’s annexation improved the political power of the English to a great extent and hence some historians call him “The Akbar of the English East India Company”.