History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 1983: Q.1 (a)
Q.1 (a) “The Treaty of Bassein, 1802 was‚ a step which changed the footing on which we the English stood in western India. It trebled the English responsibilities in an instant.” Comment.
The Treaty of Bassein was concluded in 1802 between the British East India Company and the Peshwa Baji Rao II, when Peshva Baji Rao II fled to British protection after having been defeated by Holkar.
The treaty of Bassein, in the words of historian Dean Hutton “a step which changed the footing in which we (the English) stood in Western India. It trebled the English responsibilities in an instant”.
The treaty changed the footings of English in western India and increased responsibilities because:
(1) The treaty was an important landmark in the history of British paramountcy in India. It put an end to the Maratha independence and gave the Company unquestionable supremacy over Maratha state and western India.
(2) As per the treaty, Peshwa had to surrender territories yielding 26 lakhs of rupees apart from surrendering Surat. Extra territoty and its administration increased English responsibilities and influence.
(3) By camping the company’s subsidiary troops at Poona the Company got a very advantageous position in case of war with the Marathas or any other rivals. This increased British Army offensive capability and increased the strength of British in western Indian.
The camping of subsidiary troops gave British responsibility to protect territory of Peshwa.
(4) The Peshwa had to accept the company’s arbitration in all differences between him and the other states. This increased English responsibilities.
By providing for company’s mediation in all cases of disputes between the Peshwa and the Nizam, the state of Hyderabad almost completely passed under the company’s protection as Nizam was already under the subsidery alliance with the British.
(5) Lord Castlereagh, the President of the Board of Control had criticized the treaty by saying that it would unnecessarily increase the responsibilities of British as the treaty provided for the Peshwa’s acceptance of the British arbitrations in his disputes with other powers was fraught with the danger of involving the English in the endless and complicated Maratha turbulent.