Thursday, January 31, 2013

British Governance in 1835 India

The British East India Company (EIC) began as traders, became free-booting mercenaries, and finally conquerors. Their ambition was to suck as much money as possible out of the territory. The company's bad behavior, and in particular it's role in exacerbating the catastrophic famine of 1770 attracted a lot of negative press in Britain. Mostly as a consequence, parliament took some tentative steps to reining in it's reckless rapacity. In particular, it set up a government "Board of Control" to oversee the EIC in India and required that the Company set aside some funds for "improving" the lives of Indians, including 100,000/yr rupees for educational work. These were the funds that were potentially available to the governor and his board, including Macaulay.

It's worth noting that in England at the time, the government funds allocated for education were zero - it was a purely private enterprise.

The powers of the board of control in Indian civil affairs were great, but the EIC and it's board of directors in London still owned the enterprise and its income.

(Mostly from Masani's Macaulay)