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The First Firangis | Chap 1| Warren Hastings And His Time as Gov General of India


Hello readers,

The aim of introducing history lessons in a mix of comic + bullet point sequences is not to reinvent the wheel. We know that most of you would anyway go through the regular history books but here’s an attempt to reinforce the essentials and make things interesting.


 


A lot had happened before Warren Hastings arrived at the scene in India (or shall we say, Fort William in Bengal). He was not the first governor under the company’s rule (that was Robert Clive) but he was one of the most imposing figures in our entire pre-independence history after East India Company started expanding in size.

Quick trivia: EIC used to have agents till before. Think of EIC as a private company in Britain along with many many other companies. These guys would show up in a Mughal court and with all the diplomatic wisdom intact and ask for tiny-miny concessions, financial discounts etc etc. all in the good faith of trade and commerce! One such guy, Job Charnock in 1690, purchased the city of Kalikatta which then became Calcutta (english swag!) and he fortified it with Fort William.

Okay, so what did Warren Hastings walk into?

  1. Well, the Battle of Plassey (1757) & Buxar (1764) had already sealed the fate of Indians – gone into the hands of the East India Company’s rule till about 1858 when British Crown said, “It’s time to hand this country over to us guys! You have botched it up enough.”
  2. But there was another mess up which had happened somewhere around 1773, when because of Company’s inept revenue management (Robert clive is to be blamed for that) & the infamous Bengal famine, they went into losses and was on a brink of bankruptcy!
  3. And this is where the first major constitutional change came in the company’s history and Warren Hastings was made the first governor general of Fort William after this major act was introduced.

The Regulating Act of 1773

  1. The British parliament bailed the fledgling company out of debt but instituted a *regulation of sorts* so that such inept revenue, justice and administrative mismanagement is not repeated again!
  2. The Gov of Bengal was made Gov General of Bengal. He was assisted by 4 people.
    this 4+1 becomes the executive council (later called the govt of India).
  3. Now, this executive council in later acts will be supported by a legislative council. And these will grow big in course of time and form present days Parliament and Council of Ministers. After all we inherited a lot of stuff from these firangis only, right!

Was Warren Hastings any good?

  1. He was a badass in the sense that he fought many wars & had very elevated imperialistic tendencies. He looked like a guy in full sway of the white man’s burden. You know that term right?
  2. But he did a lot of good in terms of administrative policies and was a stickler for justice.
    • He removed nawabs and zamindars from the corrupt & prejudiced judicial decision making.
    • Every district now had a civil court under the Collector and a criminal court under an Indian judge. He also instituted higher courts and a Supreme court was set up in Calcutta (via the Regulating Act 1773).
  3. He also abolished the system of dastaks, or free passes and regulated the internal trade. He enforced uniform tariffs and instituted a uniform system of pre-postage stamps.

You know, you will be able to appreciate some of these systems which evolved since the time and are carried in the present day India. Of course there were more additions and subtractions over time and we who has what part to play in later stages!

In comes the Pitt’s Act of 1784 and here’s where things change a bit

We see the British Govt further tightening their grip on company matters.
They establish the Board Of Control (BOC). The BOC had 6 members including the Secretary Of State (Morley of Morley Minto, etc).

We don’t want to sweep you with the technicalities but what essentially happens now is that British government adds one more layer between the company’s director and itself.

In the next chapter of this series, we will read more about this Pitt’s Act and see what happens next.


 

PS: Feel free to ask questions or add important information down in the comments which can make this initiative more engaging.

Questions, suggestions and comments


  1. SK

    Thanks a lot CD

  2. Ashok kumar

    Excellent..Mind blowing…Sir kindly keep this section alive.

  3. शुभम पान्डे

    Fantastic yaar. . . . .very easy to grasp. .
    Thnx for this series . . .:)

  4. devita shah

    amazing job..

  5. Munna kumar

    Thanks civildaily ..

  6. McLovin

    PS is postscript. It is an additional remark after the main body of an article/ letter.

  7. Kavi Gautam

    Can anyone plz tell me the meaning of PS written above??
    Thnku in advance.☺

  8. Zahoor Ahmed Khawaja

    Plz arrange it into pdf for everyone future course of action. ……..ooooooo

  9. Zahoor Ahmed Khawaja

    Nice job CD

  10. Dhriti Ahluwalia

    The initiative is already amazing beyond imagination. But can we have it in PDF format too ?

  11. Nutan Seth

    nice initiative…..good job CD

  12. Krishna Kunal

    “He was assisted by 4 people.this 4+1 becomes the executive council (later called the govt of India).”
    @ROOT
    Weren’t they also known as “Council of Four”(as suggested in Wikipedia) or “Court of Directors”(Ch 1. Historical Background by Laxmikanth)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regulating_Act_of_1773

    1. Shikhar Sachan

      @Kunal : Council of 4 is this council. Court of Directors is another body that was sitting in Britain. Its not mentioned here in this article.

      1. bathuri tejaswi

        Differentiate between governor and governor general and who is the first governor

        1. Shikhar Sachan

          Like Sumer Said. Governor of Fort William becomes Governor General of Fort William after 1773. Hence the first Governor General of Fort Williams was Warren Hastings.

          In 1833, we have another act where Governor General of Bengal/Fort William becomes Governor General of India. Hence the first Governor General of India was Lord William Bentinck

          1. bathuri tejaswi

            Tq

        2. Sumer Shah

          Clive was the first gov of fort williams.
          Hastings was the first gov general of the same.

          1. bathuri tejaswi

            Tq but give me the diff between governor and governor general

        3. bathuri tejaswi

          Who is the first governor of fort William is it Robert Clive r warren hastings

          1. Sumer Shah

            It just a change of title. Hastings came after the regulating act of 1773 and the gov was being called gov general.

            It is also mentioned in the write up above…

    2. Rohit Pande

      Yup, yup. I think the link you mentioned further gives way to this one – “The Council of Four was established in 1773 to limit the influence of the Governor-General of India, Warren Hastings. It is sometimes referred to as the Calcutta Council.”

      I read in a book – The Men who ruled india about these internal conflicts which these lords and council men used to have among each other. Quite interesting in parts!

      1. Krishna Kunal

        @Rohit my confusion arose after reading from two different sources Laxmikanth & WiKi. While the former states :
        Ch 1 Point#5. It strengthened the control of Britsh Govt. over EIC by requiring Court Of Directors() to report on its revenue, civil & military affairs in India.
        But wiki says : ” … restricted the Court of Directors to four-year terms” AND “The Act named four additional men to serve with the Governor-General ……These councillors were commonly known as the “Council of Four” .

        Why Laxmikant didn’t mention Council of Four?

        1. Jayansh Singh

          There’s really no need to refer any other source here. Stick to Laxmikanth’s book.

        2. Shikhar Sachan

          @Kunal : Lakshimant mentions it in Ch 1 Point#1: It designated the Gov of Bengal as GG of Bengal and created an Executive Council of 4 members to assist him. The first such GG was Warren Hastings.
          It doesn’t explicitly mention the term ‘Council of Four’, but its implied from the above sentence.

          1. Krishna Kunal

            k thanks@Shikhar. i must have missed the point#1. it sure there is.

  13. Jayansh Singh

    Refreshing to read such stuff from a different angle. Thanks.

  14. Avinash Chandra Rana

    awesome….v clear and simple to understand…good job CD..

  15. Yogesh Gupta

    Jaha-pana….tussi great ho !!

  16. KANCHI GUPTA

    hey please do the anglo maratha, anglo sikh and anglo mysore wars too, along with the governer generals part. it wud b a blessing if ual cud wrap this up b4 mains. looking forward to kickass stuff from this amazing site!! thanks a lot!!

    1. Root

      hey, we will see about the internal wars hopefully with a digression but let’s complete this part of history in the flair of lords and generals and viceroys!

      Keep reading 🙂

  17. ashan clent

    History was never my piece of cake.. But now it seems to be too engaging.. Continue the good work CD…..

  18. Khiran Kumar

    Really awesome work and please continue the same … thanks CD!!

  19. Bhupesh Kumar

    very well executed…… waiting for next comics….

  20. Bhargava Tadi

    Good Initiative, it will be useful for polity as well !! Thanks CD

  21. Rami Landho's

    Nice initiative. For me.. I hate history and I think it’s vague. Reading like this makes it interesting. Waiting to see more chapters. I will not forget this chapter as I used to 🙂

  22. himanshu pathak

    Brilliantly described in crisp format. Well Done Guys!!

  23. Kumar Raghavendra

    The best way to read history….I appreciate ur efforts CD Team..

  24. Kumar Mayank

    Never thought of reading history as a comic book…waiting for more…Happy Diwali.

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