What are the causes for the expansion of British Empire in India?


Essays on the expansion of British Empire took place in the following stages (1) 1765, (2) after the annexation of Wellesley, (3) after the annexation of Dalhousie.

In 1765:

Expansion of the British dominion in India took place in different phases. In 1765 the English East India Company received the grant of Diwani from the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II.


By the right of Diwani the British obtained the power to collect the land- revenue of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. This was a financial power.

Yet this power helped the British to annex territories of many native rulers. It may be said that the grant of Diwani created the infrastructure for the expansion of British dominion in India.

Further, by an arrangement in 1765 Oudh became completely dependent on the English Company.

After Wellesley:


Lord Wellesley followed a ‘forward policy’ in respect of the indigenous powers in India. The essence of the forward policy was the extension of British territories in India to the furthest limit.

Lord Wellesley sought to reach the goal by two methods, namely Subsidiary Alliance system and Annexation by war. Lord Wellesley invited all the native powers to accept the Subsidiary Alliance.

The Nizam of Hyderabad accepted the Alliance first. Tipu Sultan and the Marathas, however, preferred to give battle rather than to accept the Subsidiary Alliance.

Death of Tipu Sultan while at war with the British the Treaty of Seringapattam (1799) came as a great relief to the British.


The Maratha Peshwa signed the Treaty of Bassein (1802) to accept the Subsidiary Alliance with the English.

Lord Wellesley on different pleas annexed Tanjore in 1799, Surat and Carnatic besides half of the kingdom of Oudh was also annexed by him.

After Dalhousie:

Dalhousie, the greatest expansionist, followed three principles for the extension of the British dominion in India, namely,


a.War of annexation, b.The Doctrine of Lapse and c. Occupation on the ground of misgovernment.

By annexation Lord Dalhousie occupied Punjab and Bihar, which was a part of Nizam’s territories: By the application of the principle of the Doctrine of Lapse Dalhousie annexed Satara, Jaitpur, Sambalpur, etc.

Further, the whole of Oudh was annexed by Dalhousie on the ground of misgovernment in 1856. Thus under Lord Dalhousie the British Empire in India was extended to its maximum limits.

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