British Policy of Subsidiary Alliance [NCERT Notes: UPSC Modern Indian History]

Subsidiary Alliance was basically a treaty between the British East India Company and the Indian princely states, by virtue of which the Indian kingdoms lost their sovereignty to the English. It also was a major process that led to the building of the British Empire in India. It was framed by Lord Wellesley, the Governor-General of India from 1798 to 1805. It was actually used for the first time by the French Governor-General Marquis Dupleix.

The Nawab of Awadh was the first ruler to enter into the subsidiary alliance with the British after the Battle of Buxar. However, The Nizam of Hyderabad was the first to accept a well-framed subsidiary alliance.

The subsidiary alliance is an important topic for the UPSC civil services exam. These NCERT notes will also be useful for other competitive exams like banking PO, SSC, IAS exams and so on.

British Policy Of Subsidiary Alliance (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

Features of the Subsidiary Alliance Treaty

  • The subsidiary alliance in India was planned by Lord Wellesley but this term was introduced by French Governor Dupleix
  • An Indian ruler entering into Subsidiary Alliance with the British had to dissolve his own armed forces and accept British forces in his territory.
  • He also had to pay for the British army’s maintenance. If he failed to make the payment, a portion of his territory would be taken away and ceded to the British.
  • In return, the British would protect the Indian state against any foreign attack or internal revolt.
  • The British promised non-interference in internal affairs of the Indian state but this was rarely kept.
  • The Indian state could not enter into any alliance with any other foreign power.
  • He could also not employ any other foreign nationals other than Englishmen in his service. And, if he were employing any, on the signing of the alliance, he had to terminate them from his service. The idea was to curb the influence of the French.
  • The Indian state could also not enter into any political connection with another Indian state without British approval.
  • The Indian ruler, thus, lost all powers in respect of foreign affairs and the military.
  • He virtually lost all his independence and became a British ‘protectorate’.
  • A British Resident was also stationed in the Indian Court.

Effects of the Subsidiary Alliance

  • As a result of Indian rulers disbanding their armies, many people were rendered unemployed.
  • Many Indian states lost their independence and slowly, most parts of India were coming under British control.
  • The Nizam of Hyderabad was the first to accept the Subsidiary Alliance in 1798.
  • Lord Clive also introduced the subsidiary system in Oudh and the Treaty of Allahabad was signed where the British promised the Oudh territory from enemies like Marathas.

UPSC 2021

Order in which the Indian States entered into Subsidiary Alliances

  1. Hyderabad (1798)
  2. Mysore (1799 – After Tipu Sultan was defeated in the Fourth Anglo-Mysore War)
  3. Tanjore (1799)
  4. Awadh (1801)
  5. Peshwa (Marathas) (1802)
  6. Scindia (Marathas) (1803)
  7. Gaekwad (Marathas) (1803)

Conclusion – Revision Points about Subsidiary Alliance for UPSC Prelims

  1. Who used Subsidiary Alliance effectively? – Lord Wellesley (4th Governor-General of Bengal).
  2. What was the nature of the Subsidiary Alliance? – It was termed as Non-Intervention Policy.
  3. Who was the pioneer of ‘Subsidiary Alliance’? – French EIC Governor Dupleix
  4. Under the subsidiary alliance, Indian rulers had to pay subsidy for the British Garrison deployed in their territory; seek permission from British EIC to partner with any other European for any service, and also for the negotiations with other Indian rulers.

British Policy Of Subsidiary Alliance (UPSC Notes):- Download PDF Here

Frequently Asked Questions about Subsidiary Alliance

Who pioneered the system of Subsidiary Alliance?

The system of subsidiary alliances was pioneered by the French East India Company governor Joseph François Dupleix, who in the late 1740s established treaties with the Nizam of Hyderabad and other Indian princes in the Carnatic.

What was the main feature of the Subsidiary Alliance?

In a Subsidiary Alliance, princely rulers were forbidden from making any negotiations and treaty with any other Indian ruler without first making inquires to Company officials. They were also forbidden from maintaining any standing armies. They were instead to be protected by the troops of the European companies, paying for their upkeep.

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