Part 4 – Lord Hastings (1813-1823)

  • Lord Hastings became Governor-general in 1813.

  • He adopted a vigorous forward policy and waged wars extensively

  • Conditions in India when he assumed power posed a serious threat to the British administration

  • There was anarchy in central India.

  • The Pindaris plundered the whole region and the Marathas could not control them

  • The Peshwa was secretly plotting against the British

War against the Ghurkhas (1814-16)

  • Nepal emerged as a powerful Ghurkha state in 1768.

  • In 1801, the British acquired the districts of Gorakhpur and Basti from the Nawab of Oudh.

  • This move brought the boundary of Nepal to touch the British frontier.

  • The aggressions of the Ghurkhas into the British territories culminated in a war.

  • Amar Singh Thapa, the able General of Nepal Army was forced to surrender

  • In March 1816, the Treaty of Sagauliwas concluded.

  • The Ghurkhas gave up their claim over the Tarai region and ceded the areas of Kumaon and Garhwal to the British.

  • The British now secured the area around Shimla and their north-western borders touched the Himalayas.

  • The Ghurkhas had to withdraw from Sikkim and they also agreed to keep a British Resident at Katmandu.

  • It was also agreed that the kingdom of Nepal would not employ any other foreigner in its services other than the English.

  • The British had also obtained the sites of hill stations like Shimla, Mussoori, Nainital, Ranikhet and developed them as tourist and health resorts

  • . After this victory in the Ghurkha War Hastings was honoured with English peerage and he became Marquis of Hastings

Suppression of the Pindaris

  • The first reference about them is during the Mughal invasion of Maharashtra.

  • They did not belong to any particular caste or creed.

  • During the time of Baji Rao I, they were irregular horsemen attached to the Maratha army.

  • They were mostly active in the areas of Rajputana and the Central Provinces and subsisted on plunder.

  • Their leaders belonged to both the Hindu as well as the Muslim communities

  • Chief amongst them were Wasil Muhammad, Chitu and Karim Khan.

  • In 1812, the Pindaris plundered the districts of Mirzapur and Shahabad and in 1815 they raided the Nizam’s dominions. In 1816,

  • By 1818, the Pindaris were completely suppressed and all their bands disintegrated

  • Karim Khan was given a small estate in the Gorakhpur district of the United Provinces.

  • By 1824, the menace of the Pindaris came to an end

Downfall of the Maratha Confederacy

  • In reality, the Maratha power had weakened considerably after the Third Battle of Panipat (1761)

  • The Maratha chiefs fought amongst themselves and their successors were invariably weak and incapable

  • Peshwa Baji Rao II wanted to become the head of the Maratha Confederacy

  • Wanted freedom from the British control

  • His Chief Minister Tirimbakji encouraged him.

  • On the advice of the Company, the Gaekwar sent his Prime Minister Gangadhar Shastri to negotiate with the Peshwa.

  • Gangadhar Shastri, was murdered at Nasik in July 1815, at the instance of Triambakji.

  • This caused a lot of anger not only among the Marathas but also among the British

  • The latter asked the Peshwa to handover Triambakji to them.

  • Peshwa handed over his Minister to the British, who lodged him in Thana jail from where he escaped

  • Consequently, on 13 June 1817, the British Resident Elphinstone forced the Peshwa to sign the Treaty of Poona

  • Baji Rao gave up his desire to become the supreme head of the Marathas

Third Maratha War (1817-1819)

  • But soon the Peshwa undid this treaty with the British and on 5 November 1817 attacked the British Residency

  • The Bhonsle chief, Appa Sahib also refused to abide by the Treaty of Nagpur, which he had signed with the British on 17 May 1816.

  • He fought with the British in the Battle of Sitabaldiin November 1817, but was defeated

  • The Peshwa now turned to Holkar for help, but Holkar too was defeated by the British on 21 December 1817 at Baroda.

  • The Peshwa now turned to Holkar for help, but Holkar too was defeated by the British on 21 December 1817 at Baroda.

Causes of the Defeat of the Marathas

  • The main reasons were

  • Lack of capable leadership

  • Military weakness of the Marathas.

  • The major drawback of the Maratha power was mutual bitterness and lack of cooperation amongst themselves

  • The Marathas hardly left any positive impact on the conquered territories.

  • The Marathas did not have cordial relations with other princes and Nawabs of India.

  • The Marathas failed to estimate correctly the political and diplomatic strength of the British

Reforms of Hastings

  • He approved the Ryotwari system of land revenue

  • Madras Presidency by Sir Thomas Munroe.

  • In the sphere of judiciary, the Cornwallis Code was improved.

  • The Police system of Bengal was extended to other regions.

  • The importance of Indian Munsiffs had increased during his administration.

  • The separation of judicial and revenue departments was not rigidly followed. Instead, the District Collector acted as Magistrate.

  • Hastings had also encouraged the foundation of vernacular schools by missionaries and others

  • In 1817, the Hindu College was established at Calcutta by the public for the teaching of English and western science.

  • Hastings was the Patron of this college. He encouraged the freedom of the Press and abolished the censorship introduced in 1799.

  • The Bengali Weekly, Samachar Darpanwas started in 1818 by Marshman, a Serampore missionary.

Estimate

  • Lord Hastings was an able soldier and a brilliant administrator.

  • His liberal views on education and Press are commendable

  • He suppressed the Pindaris, defeated the Marathas and curbed the power of the Ghurkhas.

  • He was considered the maker of the Bombay Presidency.

  • The completed and consolidated the work of Wellesley.

  • Lord Hastings was succeeded by Lord Amherst (1823-28) who fought the First Anglo-Mysore War (1824-26)

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