Left Menu
Development News Edition

EIC's conquest of India remains supreme act of corporate violence in world history: Dalrymple

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 12-09-2019 15:47 IST | Created: 12-09-2019 15:47 IST
EIC's conquest of India remains supreme act of corporate violence in world history: Dalrymple

William Dalrymple is well-known for his penchant for the Mughal Empire and has written reams about its grand aura and cultural richness, but the celebrated historian's new book is an eye-popping account on how an unregulated private company led to the downfall of one the world's most magnificent and wealthiest empires. Titled 'The Anarchy - The East India Company, Corporate Violence, And The Pillage Of An Empire', the 405-page book is Dalrymple's most ambitious work till date.

It chronicles the conquest of India by the infamous London-based East India Company (EIC) which, as one of its directors described, was "an empire within an empire". The book, published by Bloomsbury, is an attempt by the 54-year-old Scottish historian to highlight the nexus between commercial and imperial power, and demonstrates how commerce and colonization have so often walked in lock-step.

Dalrymple writes that people in India and Britain still talk about the British conquering India, but informs that this phrase disguises a much more "ominous and complex reality". "Because it was not the British government that seized India in the middle of the eighteenth century, but a private company. India's transition to colonialism took place through the mechanism of a for-profit corporation, which existed entirely for the purpose of enriching its investors," he asserts.

Dalrymple gives a detailed account of how the EIC defeated its principal rivals - the nawabs of Bengal and Avadh, Tipu Sultan's Mysore Sultanate and Maratha Confederacy – and rose from a humble trading company to a full-fledged Imperial power. He informs that the Company – the first multinational corporation, and the first to run amok – was the ultimate prototype for many of today's joint stock corporations, and probably invented corporate lobbying.

"The Company's conquest of India almost certainly remains the supreme act of corporate violence in world history. For all the power wielded today by the world's largest corporations - whether ExxonMobil, Walmart or Google – they are tame beasts compared with the ravaging territorial appetites of the militarized East India Company," he writes. "When historians debate the legacy of British colonialism in India, they usually mention democracy, the rule of law, railways, tea and cricket, yet the idea of the joint stock company is arguably one of Britain's most important exports to India, and one that has for better or worse changed South Asia as much as any other European idea. Its influence certainly outweighs that of communism and Protestant Christianity, and possibly even that of democracy," he notes.

Dalrymple backs what may appear, in the first place, as lofty assertions with more than 400 pages of evidence to buttress his arguments. The bestselling writer states that if history shows anything, it is that in the intimate dance between the power of the state and that of the corporation, while the latter can be regulated, the corporation will use all the resources in its power to resist.

The award-winning author says that the 300-year-old question of how to cope with the power and perils of large multinational corporations remains today without an answer. "It is not obviously apparent how a nation state can adequately protect itself and its citizens from corporate excess," Dalrymple says.

"The East India company remains today history's most ominous warning about the potential for the abuse of corporate power – and the insidious means by which the interests of shareholders can seemingly become those of the state," he notes. To elucidate on this, Dalrymple points out to the American adventures in Iraq, asserting that the war has shown that the world is far from post-imperial, and quite probably never will be.

"Four hundred and twenty years after its founding, the story of the East India Company has never been more current," Dalrymple writes as he ends the book which took him six years to complete.



Post-COVID-19 Nigeria needs a robust Health Management Information System to handle high disease burden

Nigeria is among a few countries that conceptualised a health management information system HMIS in the early 90s but implementation has been a challenge till date. Besides COVID-19, the country has a huge burden of communicable and non-com...

Morocco COVID-19 response: A fragile health system and the deteriorating situation

Learning from its European neighbors, Morocco imposed drastic measures from the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak to try to contain its spread. The strategy worked for a few months but the cases have surged after mid-June. In this sit...

COVID-19: Argentina’s health system inefficiencies exaggerate flaws of health information system

You can recover from a drop in the GDP, but you cant recover from death, was the straightforward mindset of Argentinas President Alberto Fernndez and defined the countrys response to COVID-19. The South American nation imposed a strict...

Rwanda’s COVID-19 response commendable but health information system needs improvement

Rwanda is consistently working to improve its health information system from many years. However, it is primarily dependent on the collection and reporting of health data on a monthly basis. Besides, evaluation studies on Rwandas HIS publis...


Latest News

Rajnath Singh to inaugurate construction of two tunnels at IMA Dehradun on Sept 28

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will virtually inaugurate the construction of two tunnels on the Indian Military Academy IMA premises in Dehradun on September 28, said the Uttarakhand Chief Ministers Office CMO. According to Uttarakhand CMO,...

Paddy procurement to commence in Haryana from Sunday

The procurement of PR-126 variety of paddy will start from September 27 in Haryana, a senior official said here on Saturday. Additional Chief Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department, P K Das, said that the PR-126 var...

Ex-DGP of Bihar meets Nitish; speculations of joining politics intensify

Former Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey met Chief Minister Nitish Kumar here on Saturday, lending credence to speculations that the IPS officers sudden move of taking VRS was propelled by the intention to join politics. Pandey, who stepped down ...

Police not serious in finding out drug kingpins: Calcutta HC

Observing that the menace of drug trade is fast growing in West Bengal, the Calcutta High Court has said that it cannot be tackled unless the investigating agency is diligent and is serious in taking appropriate steps against the bigger pla...

Give Feedback