History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2004: Q.1 (a)

Q.1 (a)  “The Treaty of Salbai (1782) was neither honorable to the English nor advantageous to their interests.” Comment.


The First Anglo-Maratha War (1775-1782) had happened when the British interfered in the matters of Marathas backing Ragunath Rao for Peshwaship against  Madhavrao II who was supported by Nana Phadnavis.

The Treaty of Salbai was signed in 1782 between the British and the Maratha after the First Anglo-Maratha War. Both sides had tasted each other’s strength which ensured mutual respect and peace for the next 20 years.

The English restored to the Peshwa all places captured by them during the war except island of Shashti and small islands near Bombay.

The Company retained control of Salsette and Broach. The Marathas also guaranteed that the French would be prohibited from establishing settlements on their territories. In return, the British acknowledged Madhavrao II as peshwa of the Maratha Empire. Marathas agreed to pay Raghunathrav an allowance.

Both side decided not to molest each other’s allies. The British would enjoy trade priviledge as before. Peshwa was not to supprt any other European nation.

The Treaty of Salbai was neither honorable to the English nor advantageous to their interests because:

(1) The British had to denounce support for Ragunath Rao. Thus British failed in their war aim.

(2) The British had to return territories won back to the Marathas and Maratha supremacy was proved. This reduced the British possessions in the north Konkan, Bombay and Gujarat.

(3) The Treaty on the face proved dishonorable to British considering that their prestige in India had increased and they were in the process of becoming a paramount power in the country.

(4) The material gain for British were negligible in comparison to the expenditure on the war.

Counter views

(1) Though Maratha gained almost all the territories lost to the British, they permanently lost the island of Sashti and its dependencies. The loss of Sashti meant loss of the revenue of 6 lakhs, loss of trade to some extent as well as loss of prestige to the Marathas.

(2) For British point of view, there was no loss of territory. Whatever territories were exchanged were Maratha territories which the British had conquered during the war.

(3) The British used the peace treaty with Maratha to defeat Mysore, as British were fighting the Second Anglo-Mysore War at the time of the Treaty of Salbai. The British saved their position from the then powerful Marathas under Nana Fadnavis and received their help in isolating the rulers of Mysore.

(4) The treaty proved much advantageous to the expansionist interest of British as it gave them peace with Marathas for nearly 20 years. They used this time to fight their enemies such as rulers of Mysore (Haider Ali and Tipu) and French and to consolidate their position in Hyderabad and Awadh.

Hence, the Treaty of Salbai was somewhat disadvatageous to the British in the short run and did not result in much immediate gain. But, the English used it in their advantage in the long run towards the British Supremacy in India.

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