Dutch Colonies in India consisted of settlements and trading posts under control of the Dutch East India Company. Dutch India did not have a political authority but rather was a geographical location.
Out of all the European colonial powers that came to India, it was the Dutch who had the shortest presence in comparison to the Portuguese and the English.
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History of Dutch Colonialism in India
Merchants of the Dutch East India Company first established their presence in the Indian subcontinent when they established a reading post in Dutch Coromandel, notably Pulicat. They were mainly trading in textiles and spaces. They also established presence in Surat and Bengal in 1616 and 1627 respectively.
To note, the first factory founded by Dutch in India was at Masulipatnam in 1605.
The Dutch East Indies even conquered Sri Lanka from the Portuguese in 1656. Following this they constructed a series of forts on the Malabar coast to protect against invasion.
Despite their presence in India, the Dutch were more invested in strengthening their presence further east in Indonesia and the Malay Peninsula.
By the end of the 17th century the following were the principal factories of the Dutch East India company in India
- Surat – 1616
- Bimlipatam – 1641
- Karaikal – 1645
- Chinsurah – 1653
- 1658 – Baranagar, Kasimbazar (near Murshidabad), Balasore, Patna, Nagapatam
- Cochin – 1663
From their outposts in the above locations the following items were traded:I
- Indigo manufactured in Yamuna Valley & Central India
- Silk and textiles from Bengal, Gujarat
- Saltpetre from Bihar
- Opium and Rice from Ganga Valley
By the middle of the 18th century the Dutch began to lose their influence in the Indian subcontinent due to the relentless colonial pursuits of their British rivals. The Battle of Colachel in 1741 permanently ended Dutch presence in South India when the Travancore army defeated an army of the Dutch East India company.
From then on Dutch began to lose their holdings to the British the Anglo-Dutch treaty of 1814 further accelerated the decline of Dutch colonialism in India. Following the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 further ratified the further possessions of the Asia Holdings of the Dutch and the English. The treaty was a result of a series of conflicts between the English and the Dutch East India Companies.
The terms of the treaty stipulated that all properties and establishment were to take place on 1 March 1825. By the middle of 1825 the Dutch East India company had lost most of their trading posts in India.
Facts about the Dutch East India Company
- The Dutch East India undertook the world’s first recorded Initial Public Offering in the year 1602 and so established the world’s first Stock Exchange.
- The Dutch East India were more interested in maintaining a monopoly rather than imperialism. Empire came later, in the 18th century, as a safeguard for monopoly.
- The Dutch East India Company was in fact an early-modern corporate model of vertically integrated global supply chain and a proto-conglomerate, diversifying into multiple commercial and industrial activities such as international trade.
- In the early modern period, the Dutch were pioneering capitalists who raised the commercial and industrial potential of underdeveloped or undeveloped lands whose resources they exploited, whether for better or worse.
- In many respects, modern-day corporations are all the ‘direct descendants’ of the Dutch East India Company model. It was its 17th-century institutional innovations and business practices that laid the foundations for the rise of giant global corporations in subsequent centuries
Frequently Asked Questions on Dutch Colonialism (1605-1825)
Q 1. Which was the first factory founded by the Dutch in India?
Q 2. In which Indian cities did the Dutch establish their factories while colonising India?
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