Previous one in the series – The First Firangis: Hey Pitt, What’s Your Act?
This British soldier and statesman was probably best known for his defeat at Yorktown, Virginia, in the last important campaign (September 28–October 19, 1781) of the American Revolution.
Yea well, perks of coming from an influential & aristocratic family! He was a close friend of Prime Minister Pitt and of Dundas, the most influential member of the Board of Control. Remember these two guys from the earlier comic?
Anyhow, so Cornwallis stays in India as Gov General from 1786-1793 and his stint was quite remarkable.
A blue-blooded aristocrat, he discharged his duties fearlessly, and naturally was a stickler of justice and doing things right.
His greatest work was the purification of the civil service by the employment of capable and honest public servants.
He persuaded the Directors of the Company to pay handsome salaries to the Company servants in order that they might free themselves from commercial and corrupting activities.
Quite cool, right? For someone to have such foresight, am sure you guys would have wanted his ghost to preside over the 7th pay commission!
Cornwallis came from a family of landlords in England. In those days, the British landlords were regarded as the permanent masters of their lands. They looked to the interests of the peasants and their lands, and collected revenue from them.
… and this is where he committed the mistake of comparing apples to oranges!
He thought of creating a class of hereditary landlords in India who should become permanent masters of their lands. He did not realise that Indian Zamindars had no love of land, or the love for people but anyway, in 1793 (his last year of governorship), he instituted Permanent Settlement in Bihar, Bengal & Orissa.
Ques: In the interest of time & space, we would require readers to tell us the merits and demerits of Permanent Settlement. Quick bullet points would do.
Do you guys remember the Pitt’s Act of 1784? That act was amended in 1786 so as enable him to overrule the decision of the majority of his council, if necessary.
In the words of Marshman, ‘the daroga enjoyed almost unlimited power of extortion and became the scourge of the country”.