From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Doctrine of Lapse
Mains level : Not Much
A 19th-century painting of Raja Serfoji and his son Sivaji, which was stolen from Saraswathi Mahal, Thanjavur, a few years ago has been traced to the Peabody Essex Museum, Massachusetts, in the US.
Who was Raja Serfoji?
- For long, the rulers of Thanjavur had been devoid of absolute power.
- Serfoji, placed by the British on the throne over his stepbrother Amar Singh, died in 1832.
- His only son Sivaji ruled until 1855.
- However, he had no male successor.
- Thanjavur became a casualty of Lord Dalhousie’s infamous ‘Doctrine of Lapse’, and it got absorbed into British-ruled Indian provinces.
- The painting, which has Raja Serfoji and his young son, according to some historians, was probably painted between 1822 and 1827 and kept in the Saraswathi Mahal.
Back2Basics: Doctrine of Lapse
- Between 1848 and 1856, Lord Dalhousie, the Governor-General of India, devised the Doctrine of Lapse as an annexation policy.
- It was an idea to annex those states which have no heir.
- They lose the right of ruling, and it will not be reverted by the adoption of a child.
- It was one of the key components that added to the 1857 revolt.
Features of the doctrine
- Any princely state or any territory under the direct influence of the British, as a vassal state under the British Subsidiary System, would inevitably be annexed if the ruler was either “manifestly incompetent or died without a direct heir”.
- It ousted the age-old right of an Indian ruler without an heir to select a successor.
- Additionally, the British decided whether potential rulers were competent enough or not.
Annexations made under this policy