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The Battle of Buxar was fought in October 1764 between the forces under the command of the British East India Company, and the combined armies of Mir Kasim, the Nawab of Bengal; Shuja-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Awadh; and Shah Alam II, the Mughal Emperor. The battle fought at Buxarmarker (currently in Biharmarker state, Indiamarker), a town located on the bank of the Ganges rivermarker, was a decisive battle won by the forces of the British East India Company.

The battle and booty

British troops engaged in the fighting numbered 7,072 comprising 857 Europeans, 5,297 sepoys and 918 Indian cavalry. Estimates of the native forces vary from 40,000 to 60,000. Lack of co-ordination among the three disparate allies, each with a different axe to grind, was responsible for their decisive debacle.

British losses are said to have been 847 killed and wounded, while the three Indian allies accounted for 2,000 dead; many more were wounded. The victors captured 133 pieces of artillery and over 1 million rupees of cash.

Treaty of Allahabad

Suja-ud-Daula, the prime victim, signed the Treaty of Allahabad that secured Diwani Rights for the Company to administer the collection and management of the revenues of almost of real estate which currently form parts of the Indian states of West Bengalmarker, Orissa, Bihar, Jharkhandmarker, Uttar Pradeshmarker , as well as of Bangladeshmarker. He was also forced to pay a war indemnity of 5 million rupees. However, all his pre-war possessions were returned except for the districts of Karra and Allahabadmarker.

Shah Alam II became a pensioner with a monthly stipend of 450,000 rupees towards upkeep of horses, sepoys, peons, burcandazes and household expenses. Mir Kasim, who was not a general, was quietly replaced. He also received a small share of the total land revenue, initially fixed at 2 million rupees.

The Battle of Buxar heralded the establishment of the rule of the East India Company in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. While the Battle of Plassey secured a foothold for the British East India Company in the rich province of Bengal, the Battle of Buxar is really the battle that made them the dominant force in India.

Shuja was restored to Awadh, with a subsidiary force and guarantee of defence, the emperor Shah Alam solaced with Allahabadmarker and a tribute and the frontier drawn at the boundary of Bihar. In Bengal itself he took a decisive step.

In return for restoring Shah Alam to Allahabad he gave the imperial grant of the diwani or revenue authority in Bengal and Bihar to the Company. This had hitherto been enjoyed by the nawab, so that now there was a double government, the nawab retaining judicial and police functions, the Company exercising the revenue power. The Company was acclimatized, as it were, into the Indian scene by becoming the Mughal revenue agent for Bengal and Bihar. There was as yet no thought of direct administration, and the revenue was collected by a Company-appointed deputy-nawab, Muhammad Reza Khan.

But this arrangement made the Company the virtual ruler of Bengal since it already possessed decisive military power. All that was left to the nawab was the control of the judicial administration. But he was later persuaded to hand this over to the Company's deputy-nawab, so that its control was virtually complete.

In spite of all this the East India Company was again in the verge of bankruptcy which stirred them to a fresh effort at reform. On the one hand Warren Hastings was appointed with a mandate for reform, on the other an appeal was made to the State for a loan. The result was the beginnings of state control of the Company and the thirteen-year governorship of Warren Hastings.

Hastings's first important work was that of an organizer. In the two and a half years before the Regulating Act came into force he put in order the whole Bengal administration. The Indian deputies who had collected the revenue on behalf of the Company were deposed and their places taken by a Board of Revenue in Calcutta and English collectors in the districts. This was the real beginning of British administration in India.

References

  1. A Dictionary of Modern History (1707 - 1947), Parshotam Mehra, SBN 19-561552-2, 1985 ed., Oxford University Press



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