The Mughal imperial elite slowly lost dominance to the petty kings, the
In such conditions, the British were sucked into the Indian economy by the
dynamic of its political economy as much as by their own relentless drive for
profit. The Company succeeded considerably in harnessing the efforts of the
developing Indian commercial classes and in transforming the hereditary
service elite into a Western-oriented professionalised administrative class in
the service of the Company.
The economic and social changes in India ensuing from the activities of the
English and other European East India Companies facilitated the British
conquest and annexation of the Indian states. The Mughal Empire that had
earlier benefited from burgeoning Indian commercial energies lost control
over them. European trade also weakened the rulers of Bengal, forcing them
to search fruitlessly for other sources of revenue.
European commercial forces even distorted and incapacitated Indian society
on the West coast. Similarly, those local states (Mysore and the Marathas in
particular) which rose up against the British at first provoked the Company to
strengthen its military but these states soon withered as they exhausted the
resources of their territories in India and were prevented by British naval
strength from reaching commercial routes outside the subcontinent. Britain
thus made India dependent on its international economic system, dislocating
the indigenous society and weakening rulers throughout India.
Colonial Officials and Historians The moral valuation in writing about
the British annexations has changed a lot over time. While Robert Clive, John
Malcolm and other British officials executing the annexations generally
agreed that they and their colleagues were motivated by personal ambition,
they took pride in this as an indication of British superiority over Indians.
But, during the post-Independence period, this assumption of British moral
superiority is no longer acceptable. Nevertheless, some sections of popular
British history still regard the British soldiers and administrators who carried
out the annexation of the fabled Orient in a positive, even romantic light.
Post-Colonial Historians More scholarly writing, however, (in a time
when blatant imperialism is almost an international taboo) tends to take one