Q.1 (a) “Plassey did not complete the British conquest of India. Had the English been convincingly defeated in any subsequent battle in India, then (the battle of) Plassey would have remained as a minor episode in the history of India.” Critically examine.
The Battle of Plassey was a decisive victory of the British East India Company over the Nawab of Bengal, Sirajudaullah on 23 June 1757.
The next battle was battle of Buxar. Had British defeated in the battle pf Buxar, Plassey would have remained as a minor episode in the history of India because of the following reasons:
- The battle of Plassey was not important from the military view-point. It was a mere skirmish. No military superiority was shown by the English army. The Nawab’s camp was deserted that lead to victory of Lord Clive. Lord Clive’s diplomacy excelled. He won the battle almost without fighting. Battle of Plassey was not won by military might but deceit. According to some historians: it was a transaction in which the bankers of Bengal and Mir Jafar sold out Nawab to the English.”
- The Battle of Buxar was important from military point of view. The Battle of Plassey was won by the British more by heir diplomatic skill than by the strength of their arms. But, the Battle of Buxar was won by them by their sheer strength and skill in arms.
- The seeds of British imperialism sown at Plassey flowered after the Battle of Buxar, a fact that makes the latter battle historically more important. It finally consolidated British rule in Bengal, the Nawab was reduced to a mere figure-head, the Company started an unchecked plundering of the wealth of Bengal, the Nawab of Oudh turned to a submissive ally and the Mughal emperor was reduced to thriving on an allowance from the Company. Battle of Buxar proved the military superiority of the English and exposed the inherent weakness of the native force.
- While the Battle of Plassey secured a foothold for the British East India Company in India, the Battle of Buxar made them the dominant force in India. Buxar war completed the work of Plassey.
- Buxar confirmed the decisions of Plassey. The East India Company, after the battle of Buxar, gained dominance over entire Bengal. The Mughal emperor came fully under the control of British. All duties and revenues from the most prosperous Indian province (Bengal, Bihar and Orissa) went to the company. It also gained administrative power by controlling the army, finances, and revenues.
On the other hand, some historians have attached greater importance to the Battle of Plassey. They have said that it was difficult to remove Sujah-ud-Daulah after the Battle of Plassey than Mir Qasim after the Battle of Buxar.The Battle of Buxar was only an attempt by the native powers to challenge the position acquired by the English in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.The Battle of Plassey made the position of the company de jure in Bengal. Also, the battle of Plassey followed the subsequent plunder of Bengal as Bengal was placed at the disposal of the English vast resources. After Plassey a huge sum was given to the Company.
Before the Battle of Plassey English Company was just one of the European Companies trading in Bengal and huge taxes were imposed by the Nawabs of Bengal. After Plassey the English virtually monopolised Bengal’s trade and commerce. The tax and wealth earned from here helped the British to balance all of their trade liabilities.
It can be concluded that both the battles (Plassey and Buxar) had important effects on the growth of British power in India but it is true that the results of the Battle of Buxar were more important for the British. The battle of Buxar completed the work of Plassey Buxar confirmed the power and position of the English which they achieved by the results of Plassey. Any defeat in the battle of Buxar would have given opposite result, lessening importance of the battle of Plassey.