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The Indian Farmers and Opium Production

From England and America let us now move to India.
Let us see what was happening in India in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
First let us take a look at the Indian scenario at this juncture:
The principal crops in India during that time were Jute, wheat, sugarcane and cotton.








It was in the late 18th century that the English East India company was trading in tea and silks from China.

Let us learn a little about the East India company.

East India Company
The Honourable East India Company was referred to as "John Company", and "Company Bahadur" in India It was a joint-stock company initially. It was granted an English Royal Charter by Elizabeth I on December 31, 1600, with the intention of favouring trade privileges in India. The Royal Charter gave the East India Company a 21 year monopoly on all trade in the East Indies. The Company slowly changed from a commercial trading company to one that eventually ruled India. The company was dissolved in 1858 following the Indian Mutiny.

The Company was based in London and presided over the later creation of the British Raj. Jahangir the Mughal Emperor gave the Company trading in 1617. In 1717 it was granted a royal dictate from Emperor Farrukhsiyar exempting the Company from the payment of custom duties in Bengal, giving it a decided commercial advantage in the Indian trade. The victory by Sir Robert Clive at the Battle of Plassey in 1757 established the Company as a military as well as a commercial power. In 1760, the French were driven out of India, with the exception of Pondicherry. In South-East Asia, the company established the first trading posts which led to the eventual establishment of British Malaya, Hong Kong and Singapore as British Crown Colonies.

Let us look into the Battle of Plassey that established the East India Company.

Battle of Plassey

Battle of Plassey

Date  June 23, 1757
Location Palashi, West Bengal, India
Result Decisive victory for British East India Company
Territorial Changes Bengal annexed by British East India Company

The Battle of Plassey took place on June 23, 1757, at Palashi, West Bengal, on the banks of the Bhagirathi River, which was the capital of the Nawab of Bengal. The opponents were Siraj Ud Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, and the British East India Company. The battle took place during the Seven Years' War in Europe, which lasted from 1756–1763.

  • The British had established in India after the Battle of Plassey (1757).
  • During the British rule, the landscape was radically transformed.
  • They knew the major source of income was from land revenue.
  • To increase the revenue, they expanded the cultivation of land.
  • All this created many problems for farmers.
  • During this period Indians produced many new crops.
  • Indigo and opium were two major commercial crops.
  • They were also producing sugarcane, cotton, jute, wheat.
  • All these crops were exported to Europe.

Now let us do a case study of one such crop – Opium.

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