First Governor General of Bengal: Warren Hastings

In the last post we have studied that Robert Clive was the mastermind behind the British Imperialism in India. Robert Clive laid the foundation of the British Raj in the Indian Subcontinent. But after the Robert Clive the next coming Governor was Warren Hastings. Warren Hastings gave strength to the foundation. Now, we will discuss policies of Warren Hastings.

Warren Hastings (1772-1785 CE)

First Governor General of India: Warren Hastings
First Governor General of India: Warren Hastings

Calcutta presidency had a big political achievement as it turned into a political power from 1765. This led to the increase in the responsibility of Calcutta presidency. So, the Governor of Bengal became the Governor General of Bengal. So, as Calcutta Presidency became the guardian of Madras and Bombay presidency.

Translation of Many Indian Scriptures

In the medieval ages or India, Firoz Shah Tughlaq started the translation of Hindu scriptures in Persian or Turkish. Later in the Mughal period, Akbar established translation department. Because both Turks and Mughals were foreigners and rulers. So, their first priority was to understand the political, societal, economic and cultural structure of the conquered society.

Similarly, Britishers were also foreigners but rulers. So, their priority was to understand the philosophy of Indian society, economy and culture. So, with this objective, Warren Hastings established Asiatic Society of Bengal and Calcutta Madarsa (for learning of Persian Language).

In 1791, Sir Jonathan Duncan laid the foundation of Benaras Sanskrit College for learning of Sanskrit. Its objective was to translate Sanskrit and Persian literature in English. Important translations were Bhagwat Geeta, Manusmriti (Code of Hindoo Laws) and Fatwa-i-Alamgiri (Royal orders of Aurangzeb).

Warren Hastings: Revenue Reforms

In 1770, EIC was in great need of money to carry out their trade and commerce. So, in this background in 1772, Warren Hastings removed Shitab Roy as Deputy Diwan and established Board of Revenue in 1772. He started experimentation in revenue policy in which his immediate step was auctioning of Land revenue to the highest bidder.

The EIC failed to collect the estimated amount of 20 crores. It created financial bankruptcy for the company. So, in this situation Company asked the loan of 10 Lakhs pounds from the Bank of England. So, this gave the opportunity to British crown to keep the hand on the achievements of Company in India. Finally, this led to the coming of the Regulating Act of 1773.

In this financial crisis, the company opened two fronts with Marathas and Mysore in 1780. So, it increased bankruptcy of the company. In result, once again company asked for 10 Lakhs pound loan from the Bank of England. So, this led to the coming of Pitts India Act in 1784. The established a Board of Control on the court of Directors of Company.

So, therefore revenue reforms of Warren Hastings failed to achieve the desired target. So, it led to the subjugation of company to British Parliament.

Judicial Reforms

Judicial Reforms of Warren Hastings
Judicial Reforms of Warren Hastings

From 1757 to 1772 there was no state in Bengal. So, it was the victim of complete anarchy. A state can not function without executive and judiciary. The executive was already formed with Governor General and his council. But Judiciary was also established by Warren Hastings. In rural areas old structure was allowed to function. In urban areas, he established Diwani Adalats for civil cases and Faujdari Adalats for criminal cases.

The next important events of the Warren Hastings time was Treaty of Salbai and Treaty of Purandhara. We will discuss these two in the next coming post.

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