Short Essay on the Subsidiary Alliance and Doctrine of Lapse

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After the Battle of Buxar of 1764 the English followed an aggressive policy of occupation and expansion in India. Clive was followed by distinguished Governors Generals like Warren Hastings and Cornwallis who took up and strengthened the thread of British administration in India.

They successfully participated in the politics of various native states of India. In spite of many wars they fought, they could add little territory to the British Empire in India. The large-scale expansion of British rule in India took place during the Governor-Generalship of Richard Colley Wellesley, better known as Marquess Wellesley, who came to India in 1798 at a time when the British were locked in a life and death struggle with France all over the world.

An imperialist to the tips of his fingers and possessed of experience of Indian affairs as Commissioner of Board of control; Wellesley came to guide the destiny of the company in India at a time when the political situation in this country was extremely critical.

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Tipu Sultan, the brave warrior-ruler of Mysore, had greatly improved his resources and his spirit of hostility against the company remained unabated. Nizam of Hyderabad, though reduced in real strength, had welcomed French support and the power of Daulat Rao Sindhia had arrived at a most alarming eminence.

To save the company’s position in this menacing situation and to safeguard and further the interests of the British Empire as a whole became the clear vision of his mission. He wanted to make the company the supreme power in India, to add to its territories and to reduce all the Indian states to a position of dependence on the company. Wellesley gave up the policy of peace and non-intervention and decided that the time was ripe for bringing as many Indian states as possible under British control.

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