must pay attention to the situations and actions of Indians as well as
Englishmen. The Indian states, and classes and individuals within Indian
society, had decisive parts in shaping the form that British rule would take in
India.
On the whole, the established Indian rulers themselves proved unable or
unwilling to either recognise or face the challenges to their positions posed
by the Company during the 1757-1857 period.
Indian rulers normally pursued political and military policies, which
eventually left their control over their territories weaker. The rulers and the
economic systems developed by them suffered financially as control over
trade passed into the hands of Europeans or their Indian partners.
Several Indian families with traditions of administrative and martial service
to the Mughal Empire or the regional states, came to consider employment
with the Company as potentially more attractive and lucrative than continued
service to their former masters. In fact, substantial cooperation from Indians
proved vital to the British annexations in India.
Moreover, many other elements within Indian society thrived under the new
conditions which developed during the eighteenth and early nineteenth
centuries.
Methods and Techniques Then, how and by what means did the Company
carry out the annexations in India. Company officials utilised different
methods to establish control over Indian states before annexing territory from
them. Further, the Company did not simply march its armies in a pure
military conquest followed by annexation.
Instead, the Company’s relationships with each Indian state were
painstakingly developed politically and economically, prior to any military
confrontation. The Company posted commercial or political agents (generally
called ‘Residents’) in each of the major Indian states with which it dealt. As
the Company power grew during the 1757-1857 period, it used a variety of
methods to reduce the autonomy of each state it encountered.
The Company’s rights of intervention in each state were occasionally
specified in treaties with that state. But frequently, the Company’s agents
simply exercised them without, or even in violation of, any formal treaty
provision. The Company squeezed vast amounts of capital from each state,