WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8290

Date uploaded in London – – – 5 July 2020   

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                                         R. Nanjappa

Company mischief and misdeeds in Tanjore

What happened to the kingdom of Tanjore is typical of the British brutality, deception and dastardly double game of rank rascals. In 1769, when the British concluded the treaty with Haider Ali, the Raja of Tanjore was recognised as a British ally. Tanjore was a phenomenally rich region. But Mohammad Ali, the Nawab of Arcot had an eye on the fabulous wealth of Tanjore. He proposed to the English that the Raja of Tanjore should also be made to pay for his expenses, and thus repay the debt to the company. The company too had coveted the wealth of Tanjore- it was indeed so fabulous. So, the company’s court of Directors in London wrote to Fort.St.George on 17 March 1769:

 It appears most unreasonable to us that the Raja of Tanjore should hold possession of the most fruitful part of the country, which can alone supply an army with subsistence ….We therefore enjoin you  to give the Nawab such support in his pretensions as may be effectual…..Whatever sums may be obtained from the Raja of Tanjore, we expect shall be applied to the discharge of the Nawab’s debt to the Company.

The faithfuls in Madras followed the order. The Nawab besieged Tanjore in 1771, and it could save itself only by paying 400,000 sterling. But this only whetted the English appetite, and Tanjore was invaded once again and captured on 16 September, 1773. The Raja and his family were imprisoned in the fort, and his dominions were transferred to the Nawab! The Nawab regarded the Hindu kingdom as hostile and conquered, and exacted so much money that Tanjore was  completely ruined within a few years.

Later, giving evidence before the Committee of Secrecy in 1782, an Englishman, Mr.Petrie said:

“Before I speak of the present stage of Tanjore country, it will be necessary to inform the Committee that not many years ago that province was considered as one of the most flourishing, best cultivated, populous districts of Hindustan. I first saw this country in 1768, when it presented a very different picture from its present situation.

Tanjore was formerly a place of great foreign and inland trade; it imported cotton from Bombay and Surat, raw and worked silks from Bengal, sugar, spices,etc. from Sumatra, Malacca, and the eastern islands; gold, horses, elephants and timber from Pegu, and various articles of trade from China. It was by means of Tanjore that a great part of Haider Ali’s dominions and the north-western parts of Mahratta empire were supplied with many European commodities, and with a species of silk manufacture from Bengal , which is almost universally worn as a part of dress by the natives of Hindustan. The exports of Tanjore were muslins, chintz, handkerchiefs, ginghams, various sorts of long-cloths, and a coarse printed cloth, which last constitutes a material article in the investments of the Dutch and the Danes, being in great demand for the African, West Indian, and South American markets.

Few countries have more natural advantages than Tanjore: it possesses a rich and fertile soil, singularly well supplied with water from the two great rivers Cavery and Coleroon, which, by means of reservoirs, sluices, and canals, are made to disperse their waters through almost every field in the country; to this latter cause we may chiefly attribute the uncommon fertility of Tanjore. The face of the country is beautifully diversified, and in its appearance approaches nearer to England than any other part of India that I have seen.

Such was Tanjore not many years ago but its decline has been so rapid, that in many districts it would be difficult to trace the remains of its former opulence…Since the year 1771,…the country having been twice the seat of war, and having undergone revolutions in the government, trade, manufactures, and agriculture were neglected, and many thousands of inhabitants went in quest of a more secure abode.”

I will ask my Indian friends, even those who hail from Tamil Nad or Tanjore itself, whether they have read all this in their so called “history” books in school or college?

                                                          To be continued

tags — Economic Downfall-2, Thanjavur,

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