Explain the system of “subsidiary alliance”.

  • Residents were appointed in Indian states by the British after the Battle of Buxar in 1764.
  • The mandate of the residents was to serve the interests of the East India Company and act as commercial or political agents.
  • There was interference in the internal affairs of the Indian states by the East India Company through Residents.
  • The Company decided who was to be appointed in the administrative posts and who should be the successor to the throne.
  • The East India Company compelled the Indian states to get into a subsidiary alliance.
  • As per the Subsidiary Alliance the rulers of Indian states were not permitted to maintain an independent armed forces.
  • The Indian rulers would be protected by the Company using Subsidiary Forces, but the rulers had to pay the Company for maintenance of Subsidiary Forces. 
  • If the Indian rulers failed to pay the money to maintain Subsidiary Forces, then part of the territory of Indian rulers would be taken away by the Company as a penalty.
  • For example, in 1801, the Nawab of Awadh was compelled to give half of his territory to the Company as he had failed to pay for the Subsidiary Forces. This happened during the tenure of Wellesley who was the Governor General from 1798 to 1805.
  • Due to the failure to pay the Subsidiary Forces, even the ruler of Hyderabad had to lose his territory to the Company.
  • After Tipu Sultan was defeated by the British, the Kingdom was put under the rule of the Wodeyar dynasty and the Subsidiary Alliance was imposed on the state.

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