Arrival of Lord Hastings 1813

Lord Hastings or Lord Moira {Earl of Moira} served as Governor General of India from 1813 to 1823, a long ten years term. His tenure is known for policy of intervention and war. Two important wars viz. Gurkha War and Third Anglo Maratha war occurred during his tenure. He simplified the judicial proceedings and abolished the Censorship Act.

Gurkha war 1814-16

Gurkhas were ruling in Nepal. From 1767 onwards, they extended their power over the hills and valleys of Nepal. They were ruling on Feudal basis and soon became powerful. They marched into the Kumaun and Gangetic Plains and raided in the British Territories.

The British had recently acquired the lands of Nawab of Oudh and Gorakhpur, Sikkim were on the front.  The dispute was because of no fixed boundary. The war ended in a defeat of Gurkhas. The British army marched from Patna to Kathmandu and finally dictated the terms of Treaty of Segauli, which defined the English relations with Nepal.

Gurkhas lost Sikkim, the territories of Kumaon and Garhwal, and most of the lands of the Terai; the British East India Company promised to pay 200,000 rupees annually to compensate for the loss of income from the Terai region. This remained the definition of India-Nepal relations for a long time.

Third Anglo Maratha War 1817-19

The Third Anglo Maratha war consisted of skirmishes such as Pindari war, Battle of Sitalbaldi, Battle of Mahidpur and Battle of Khadki.

Pindari War

The Pinadris were many castes and classes who worked like mercenaries under the Maratha Chiefs. When the Maratha chiefs became weak, they started raiding the territories of the British. The companies accused Marathas of giving shelter to Pinadris.

Pinadris, opposed to the Marathas, who were bound by traditions of confederate government, were merely freebooters or plundering bands. They were a mix of Hindus, Muslims, Afghans, Jats and Marathas, better called as a “debris of the Mughal Empire” broken and not incorporated into any of the regimes. The Pinadris were crushed in 1817. But in the same year three great Maratha powers at Poona, Nagpur, and Indore rose separately against the British.

Battle of Khadki

Peshwa Baji Rao was chafed with terms & circumstances imposed by the Treaty of Bassein in 1802. In June 1817, a new Treaty of Poona was signed which freed the Gaekwar from his control and ceded fresh districts to the British for the pay of the subsidiary force.

The Marathas attacked the British at Khadki near Poona, and same plot was enacted at Nagpur at Sitabaldi. The Maratha armies of Indore (Holkar) rose in Mihidpur in the following month. The result was a general defeat of the Marathas. The outcome of this war was as follows:

  • Dominions of the Peshwa Baji Rao were annexed to the Bombay presidency.
  • The Peshwa surrendered, and was permitted to reside at Bithur, near Cawnpore (Now Kanpur), on a pension of 8 Lakh Rupees per year. His adopted son Nana Sahib later led the Mutiny of 1857.
  • The Peshwa’s place was filled as traditional head of the Maratha confederacy and a descendant of Shivaji was brought forth from obscurity, placed upon the throne of Satara.
  • An infant was recognized at heir of Holkar, another child was proclaimed Raja of Nagpur under the Guardianship of British.
  • The Rajas of Rajputana accepted the position of feudatories of the paramount British Power in India. They remained the Princely states till India got independence.

This was the last big battle won by the British. India was now theirs. The Map which was drawn by Lord Hastings remained same till Lord Dalhousie came in 1848 and imposed the infamous “Doctrine of Lapse“. The next few years were of general peace but there was a development on the foreign front.

Third Anglo Maratha War 1817-19 was the last big battle won by the British. India was now theirs. The Map which was drawn by Lord Hastings remained same till Lord Dalhousie came in 1848 and imposed the infamous “Doctrine of Lapse“. The next few years were of general peace but there was a development on the foreign front.

Abolition of Censorship by Lord Hastings

One of the important events during the tenure of Lord Hastings was abolition of Censorship. This was basically because of his dislike towards “unnecessary” imposition of restrictions on Press. But as a precaution, he issued some guidelines prohibiting company’s policies in the newspapers. The result was that many fresh newspapers came up.  India’s first Vernacular newspapers Samachar Darpan was started in 1818. However, some scholars note that “Bengal Gazetti” was published even prior to this Vernacular magazine by Ganga Kishore Bhattacharya. A few years later, Raja Rammohan Roy started national press in India. He published “Sambad Kaumudi” in 1821. This was one of the pre-reformist publications that had actively campaigned for Abolition of Sati.  However, this liberal policy of Lord Hastings could not continue further. The successors of Lord Hastings took harsh actions against the press people.

Retirement of Lord Hastings and succession

The tenure of Lord Hastings ended in 1823 and he was succeeded by John Adams, the senior member of the Governor General’s council,  who served as acting Governor General. In the same year 1823, Lord Amherst came to India as next Governor General. His tenure was from August 1823 to February 1828.

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