Empire: How Britain Made The Modern World
Professor Niall Ferguson travels through India to discover how the country's huge population was governed by fewer than 1,000 civil servants. He explores the relationship between the British and indigenous social elites, and argues that nationalism emanated from a spurned anglicised group of Indians, rather than the oppressed masses. His journey takes him from the dust of Delhi to the snows of the remote hill station in Simla.
During its first century of operation, the English East India Company focused on trade with the Indian subcontinent, as it was not in a position to challenge the powerful Mughal Empire, which had granted it trading rights in 1617. This changed in the 18th century as the Mughals declined in power and the East India Company struggled with its French counterpart, the La Compagnie franÃ§aise des Indes orientales, during the Carnatic Wars in the 1740s and 1750s. The Battle of Plassey in 1757, which saw the British, led by Robert Clive, defeat the French and their Indian allies, left the Company in control of Bengal and as the major military and political power in India. In the following decades it gradually increased the size of the territories under its control, either ruling directly or via local puppet rulers under the threat of force from the British Indian Army, the vast majority of which was composed of native Indian sepoys. The Company's conquest of India was complete by 1857. The Indian Rebellion that year eventually led to the end of the East India Company and India came to be ruled directly by the British Raj.