In 1757, politically conscious Indians still
India Company would outrun even its European rivals, let alone the well-
entrenched Indian states. As a matter of fact, it was the French East India
Company that first evolved the strategy of European intervention in the
internal affairs of the Indian states.
Internal Divisions and Differences among Englishmen We must not
regard either the Company or the British as a whole to have been unified or
acting in perfect harmony. Throughout this period the London-based
Government and Company policies often changed from time to time and
differed significantly from the actions taken by the Company’s officials in
India, who were themselves not often in perfect accord.
The internal British debates over social and economic policies, and the
shifting base of political power within Britain itself, contributed to these
changes. The Company’s inconsistent official policies toward the Indian
states nevertheless provide an important set of factors impacting the pattern
There were several levels of policy-making within the Company itself. The
Board of Control (established by Pitt’s India Act of 1784 to supervise the
Company), the Court of Directors (elected by the various ‘interests’ among
the proprietors of East India Company stock), the Governor-General-in-
Council in Calcutta (given general authority over the Governors of Madras
and Bombay by the Regulating Act of 1773), the Governors of Madras and
Bombay Presidencies, and officials of the Company in the Presidency towns
and elsewhere in India all affected in varying degrees how the Company
behaved toward the Indian states.
There were not only internal divisions of the Company but also differences
between these and the British Government. Further, specific Company
dealings provoked heated discussions within the British public.
Situation of Indian States On the Indian side, the situation was even
worse. Even at the level of the Indian states, there were diverse polities,
whose rulers held varying degrees of authority.
Over the course of the eighteenth century, the Mughal Empire gradually
disintegrated into its constituent regions, although the Emperor himself
remained the nominal sovereign of virtually all India until 1858. Various