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Battle of Plassey

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  • Last Updated : 20 Apr, 2022

The Battle of Plassey was fought in Palashi (an area of Nadia District, West Bengal), on the banks of the Bhagirathi river near Calcutta on 23rd June 1757. It holds historical significance in Indian history as the British were able to establish their rule in India after this war. The East India Company, led by Robert Clive, defeated the Nawab of Bengal (Siraj-Ud-Daulah) and his French Troop in this battle. It took place at the end of the Mughal Empire’s tenure whose charge was with emperor Alamgir-II. The success of Plassey and the conquest of Bengal succeeded in later attempts by the British to conquer North India. This battle greatly increased the power and resources of the British. As a result, the Company did not face any difficulty in defeating Shuja-Ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Awadh, and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II in the Battle of Buxar. If the result of Plassey was against the British, then their establishment of power in North India would have been questionable.

Reasons Behind the Conflict:

  • Misuse of Facilities
    The Britishers used to do trade & business without giving money to the Nawab, as well as get their work done by giving bribes. Alivardi Khan in the east and Siraj-ud-Daulah later tried to stop this corruption and when the British did not pay attention, it became the reason for the struggle.
  • British and French Enmity
    The fight between the British and the French was very old. This rivalry led to wars in the South and in Bengal also they were ready to fight against each other. That’s why the British wanted to remove Siraj-ud-Daulah as he supported the French troops.
  • Effect of Seven Year’s War
    From 1756 to 1763, a series of wars started between the French and The British over the acquisition of the Carrabine islands called the Seven Years’ War. For protection from the French, the British started building forts without the permission of the Nawab. The Nawab ordered them to be dropped. Violation of this order led to conflict.

Importance of the Battle of Plassey:

A. Political Importance:

  • Consolidation of British Power in India
    1757 is an epoch-making year, as Indian history took a new turn in this year. As a result of the battle, not only did the influence of the British in India become dominant, but the foundation of the British Empire was also laid in our country. That is why Royal Navy Officer, Admiral Watson wrote that “the victory of the British in the Battle of Plassey was of importance not only to the Company but to the British nation in general“.
  • Increase in The Western Influence
    After the war, the old business facilities of the British were again secured and the company’s business started growing the company’s servants also got money and they became rich. Also, the Nawab of Bengal was completely under the influence of the British. The consequences of the battle were far-reaching, Clive called this a revolution.
  • Power Over Nawab
  1. This war made the British merchants the rulers and their power increased so much in Bengal that they became the Nawab makers in Bengal. 
  2. They replaced the brave and patriotic Nawab like Siraj-ud-Daulah with Mir Jafar the Nawab of the British hand. Mir Jafar was completely under the control of the British. The de facto rulers of Bengal became the British and the Nawabs started acting at their behest.
  3. The political dominance of the British is also evident from the fact that they did not require any bloodshed or war to remove Mir Jafar from the throne later.
  • Exposed The Contradictions of The Pre-Colonial Indian Political System:
  1. With the Battle of Plassey, the British came to know about the weaknesses of the Indians and they believed that they could establish their empire in India by conspiracy or vicious circle. The British came to know about the hollowness of the Indian political system and the weakness of the Indian military organization. 
  2. Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah had brought a huge army to the plain of Plassey, but even the encounter could not take place properly because there was a stampede in his army. This made clear the flaws of the Indian military organization.
  3. This war also made it clear that the political life of Bengal was in dire straits and there was a lot of dissatisfaction among the Hindus against the rule of the Muslims. It did not take long for the British to understand that dissatisfied Hindus in Bengal could help any person in their destruction and at that time the situation in Bengal was very important.
  • Possession of Bengal and a Path to Conquer North India:
  1. Control of Bengal:
    Due to the power of the Nizams and Marathas in the south, the task of establishing an empire was very difficult. Bengal was far from the other emerging powers of India. Therefore, EIC could remain free from their attacks. Also, Bengal was very close to the dilapidated Mughal Empire on which the British could successfully strike and increase their dominance. 
  2. Maritime advantage:
    Bengal is also situated on the sea coast which gives it a maritime advantage. The British could therefore bring their armies by sea and take full advantage of their maritime power. Through rivers, the British could reach Delhi and knock on the doors of the Mughal court. Thus establishing their dominion power in Bengal opened the way for the British to conquer North India.
  3. Deep Impact on the Mughal empire:
    The effects of the Battle of Plassey also left an impact on the Mughal Empire. The province of Bengal completely passed out from the hands of the declining Mughal Empire. A merchant company deposed the Nawab of Bengal and the Mughal emperor remained a silent watcher. This act exposed India’s political weakness in front of foreigners, which was later taken advantage of by the British.

B. Economic Importance:

  • From the economic point of view, Bengal was of great importance. The British got a lot of money as a result of the victory in the war. Mir Jafar gave many jagirs to the company and Clive in the joy of getting the Nawabi. In a very less span of time, this organization of merchants was transformed into the ruler of India. 
  • With the possession of a rich province like Bengal, the resources of the British increased significantly and helped them in destroying their rivals. The company always kept its eyes on the treasury of the Nawab and used to recover money from him. The Company gradually transformed from Zamindar to Jagirdar and from Jagirdar to Diwan of Bengal. Thus the foundation of the British Empire was laid in India by the Battle of Plassey.

C. Moral Importance:

  • Increase in Unethical Practices:
    The moral consequences of the Battle of Plassey were extremely disastrous. The greed of the British for the money obtained from loot increased greatly and they repeatedly did many inhuman works to get the money. There was a tremendous moral decline among the British. They started getting money by all means, moral or immoral.
  • Increase in Corruption:
    Due to this the outbreak of corruption increased significantly. Its effect on the people was inevitable. Both the Nawab and the Company started plundering the subjects, due to which Bengal had to face severe objections.

Conclusion:

Even so, the importance of the Battle of Plassey cannot be overstated. With this war, the influence of the British became dominant in India, but the path of establishment of the empire was full of crises. However, after a few days, the battle of Buxar took place, as a result of which the establishment of the British state in India was determined.

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