The British East India Company

This Exhibit demonstrates the negative impact of the British East India Company on India through personal experience, art, and events.


Time and Images: The Beginning

It all started in 1765 when the Mughal emperor Shah Alam was forced to surrender to the British East India Company. With this brought many hardships including high taxation, famine, and even the torture of Indians for their valuables. What began as a company soon turned into a major colonial power.

Here is a painting of Mughal emperor Shah Alam surrendering in August 1765:

1765 Surrender

The Battle of Assaye in 1803 was one of the main wars that allowed the British East India Company to take control of India’s land.

Battle of Assaye

These two sources show us some of the events that affected the Indian negatively, right from the very beginning.

Dalrymple, William. “The East India Company: The original corporate raiders.” The Guardian. March 04, 2015. Accessed May 08, 2017.

“Battle of Assaye.” The Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum Appeal. Accessed May 08, 2017.


Numbers and Social Media: Famine

Bengal Famine


In 1770 the Bengal Famine occurred, killing 10 million Bengalis. This was related to the lack of currency. At first, India had no problems with lack of currency. They were constantly trading with other countries for precious metals that could be converted into money. When the East India Company took control, however, the amount of precious metal traded with India quickly decreased. When the tea trade with China started getting big, a lot of Bengal’s silver was sent out. In 1757-1766, the lack precious metal was somewhere around £8 million. All of this, on top of the company collecting land taxes, led to a lot of problems and hard times. A shortage of money meant a shortage of food and brought many diseases.

These sources support my thesis because they highlight one of the biggest negative impacts the East India Company made on India. One source shows what this looked like and the other shows why it happened and how it affected the people living in Bengal.

Abdullah, Jakaria. “Old Bengal.” Pinterest. March 02, 2014. Accessed May 08, 2017.

Sivramkrishna, Sashi. “The Role That Currency Played in the Great Bengal Famine of 1770.” The Wire. December 12, 2016. Accessed May 08, 2017.


Words and Maps:

The Diary of Ananda Ranga Pillai was written from 1709-1761. In this diary, we can see a lot of how Indians viewed the foreigners that coming to their country. With the use of Voyant, I was able to sort through all the years of Pillai’s diary. One of the most common keywords I found was English. Looking at the context for the word English I found Pillai mentioned, “If only the English had known the panic that arose when they fired on us, and if they had sent out but 50 men with swords, every man would have been
cut off”. This gives us an idea of some of the terrible things that happened. Analyzing some of the other things Pillai wrote, you can definitely tell that people were upset and not okay with what was going on.

GIS Map- East India Company – From Trade to Territory

This map linked above I found to be very interesting and well put together. It talks about the East India Company first arriving in India, and about the first factories.  It then goes on about how after the Battle of Buxar the East India Company started to interfere with Indian state affairs.

Both of these sources support my thesis by showing events through personal experience and a map. The British East India Company benefited from these events, but the events brought India through a lot of hardships.

Pillai, Ananda Ranga, and Henry Dodwell. The Diary of Ananda Ranga Pillai. Madras: Government Press, 1917.

“East India Company – From Trade to Territory.” Accessed May 08, 2017.




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