1. Question for UPSC Mains: Freedom Struggle
  2. Introduction (Origin of East India Company)
    1. Body#1: Commercial Exigencies (व्यापारिक अनिवार्यताए)
    2. Body#2: Military Exigencies (सैन्य अनिवार्यताए)
    3. Body#3: Military Exigency (राजस्व / महेसुली अनिवार्यताए)
  3. Conclusion
  4. Self-Assessment Benchmarks & Common Mistakes

Question for UPSC Mains: Freedom Struggle

Q. “The process of British imperial expansion in India was driven by the consanguinity / interrelatedness among revenue, commerce and military exigencies /factors.” Discuss. (250 words, 15marks)

प्रश्न: "भारत में ब्रिटिश साम्राज्य विस्तार की प्रक्रिया राजस्व, वाणिज्य और सैन्य अनिवार्यताओ के बीच की सगोत्रता / पारस्परिकता से प्रेरित थी।" चर्चा करें।


Introduction (Origin of East India Company)

British Imperialism Factors

  • The English East India Company (EIC) was founded by a royal charter on 31/12/1600, to combat Dutch competition in Indian trade.
  • Originally, EIC was not given any overt mandate to carry on conquest or colonization. But following factors motivated EIC pursue imperial expansion in India…
  • Or EIC setup with sole purpose of trading with India, but it became an instrument of imperial expansion over the period of time… <BODY>

Body#1: Commercial Exigencies (व्यापारिक अनिवार्यताए)

British Imperialism Factors

The British believed in ‘Mercantile policy’, i.e. import by paying in gold / silver was seen as a ‘loss’ to Britain. Hence, they wanted to import at throw-away prices, without having to pay taxes to any local Nawab or facing any competition from the French, Dutch or any other European power. As a result:

  • 1750s: Robert Clive feared that Siraj ud-Daula's friendship with the French will harm East India company's trading privileges. It escalated into Battle of Plassey, Battle of Buxur and Treaty of Allahabad- which granted Diwani rights of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa to the EIC.
  • 1780s: Tipu Sultan stopped local traders from exporting sandalwood, silk etc. to EIC. He began trading with the French. Military action / annexation became necessary
  • 1810s: Company exported Gujarat cotton and Awadh cotton through Bombay port but Maratha presence in Deccan, created hinderance. So, military action / annexation became necessary.
  • EIC exported Awadh Cotton to China. But Nawab demanded more tax, so Dalhousie- annexed the state for “Mis-governance”

Body#2: Military Exigencies (सैन्य अनिवार्यताए)

  • Company’s military officers always believed in vigorous display of sword to discourage internal and external enemies. They attached Burma and Nepal as ‘preemptive strike’ before those rulers encroached into Company’s Indian holdings.
  • Annexed states provided cheap soldiers in abundance number for empire’s local and international wars such as the First World War.
  • Anglo-French rivalry: The British feared Napoleon sending help to Tipu. 4th Anglo- Mysore war became inevitable.
  • 1840s: The EIC wanted Punjab to serve as buffer state against Afghan-invaders. Bentick signed Indus Navigation Treaty with Ranjit Singh. But after the death of Ranjit Singh, there was political instability in Punjab, so it annexed.
  • 1850s: Britain feared Russian expansion after the Crimean war. So, the British tried to capture Afghanistan to secure North-West frontier.

Body#3: Military Exigency (राजस्व / महेसुली अनिवार्यताए)

  • Company’s commercial profit were insufficient for its military campaigns.
  • The British believed in Mercantilism, so they’d not send “GOLD” from their homeland for military campaigns or to pay for the imports or even for building Railways for transporting commodities. All the financial resources had to be mobilized from within India. Therefore, company had to start collecting land-revenue from peasants.
  • 1765: Treaty of Allahabad granted the Company the diwani (revenue collecting rights) of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
  • To maximize their revenue collection, the Company official came up with three types of revenue settlement systems. The deficiencies & misuse of these systems led to land evictions, tribal displacement, and armed rebellions such as the Santhal Uprising. So, again the Company faced military exigency.


  • EIC officials wanted stable frontiers for smooth trade & commerce. It motivated them for military campaigns. But such campaigns were expensive, therefore company needed to secure revenue rights by annexing Indian states.
  • Thus, EIC – a commercial company became an instrument of imperial expansion. (40 words)

Self-Assessment Benchmarks & Common Mistakes

15 Marks Question: Give yourself no less than 0 marks, and no more than 8 marks. Use the following benchmarks:
Parameter Marks Benchmarks

Introduction and conclusion


  • 0: if started with childish cliched expressions such as “Bharat was known as Sone ki chidiya so Britishers came to loot it….”



  • 0: if finished the conclusion in a single simple line- “…thus India was enslaved by the British”. Since it’s 250 words answer, you’ve to write a good conclusion and mention the keywords from the question in it.


1 to 4 marks

  • Not more than 2 marks if you’ve not mentioned any keywords such as Tipu, Afghan, Maratha, Governors, treaties and wars.

Logical structure

0 to 1

  • 0: if linear narration of events given without separating and linking the three exigencies viz. military, revenue and commerce.
  • 1: if the three exigencies are connected

Concise expression

-1 to 1

  • (-1) if explained the colonization of Africa or the industrialization of England, or the three revenue settlement systems or longwinded emotional outrage over how Britishers enslaved India, embellishing the facts like “they exploited artisans so much that weavers had to chop their own fingers!!!!!”
  • (+1) if diagram


-1 to 0

  • (-1) if appearing in vernacular medium, and yet used English terms such as “रेवन्यू, मिलिट्री, कोमर्स”, instead of writing their proper translations.

Total Marks out of 15

0 to 8

  • Don’t give yourself more than 4 marks: if no efforts made in introduction and conclusion, most of the body space devoted to “Commerce and industrialisation”, answer is devoid of any factual details- just doing emotional outrage over how Britishers enslaved India.
  • Give yourself upto 8 marks: if proper introduction and conclusion, diagram, each exigency written as sub-heading, atleast one factoid given under commerce, revenue and military exigency.

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