Anarchy, the relentless rise of East India Company is the latest book by William Dalrymple. This is the book which reveals the real truth behind the rise of East India Company in India.
Before I move further into the details of this book, I would like to tell you something about the author.
William Dalrymple is a writer and historian. So as a professional, his words are the result of a passionate research done to present facts. He is also the writer of the book The Last Mughal. Hence, we can say that he is a true historian who recognizes the rich history of India. This will sound even more true to you once you go through the rest part of this review post.
So let’s begin!!
Anarchy, The Relentless Rise of East India Company
The book tells the story of the East India Company like never before. It describes a lots of words in English dictionary and says that how they’ve been taken from Indian languages.
Let me tell you something about the word “loot”. It is actually an Indian word. It means “to plunder”. This is what East India Company did in India and hence, the word became a part of English dictionary. As Dalrymple puts, a visit to the Powis Castle will reveal a lot about the story.
Powis castle in Wales is a magnificent building that has more of mughal treasures than any other castle in India. It was the age of Robert Clive as the viceroy of India. One can find a sequence of rooms filled with gold and jewels in this private house. There’s also the palanquin of Siraj-ud-daulah, the nawab of Bengal. Also, the campaign tent of the tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan can be found here.
As I have mentioned the nawab of Bengal, I must tell you when it all actually started. It was the Battle of Plassey in 1757 which resulted in the rise of company powers somehow. The Battle of Plassey in India, is remembered and taught as a day of loss. But in England, the students are taught the opposite.
The Revealing Pictures
Now let’s collect how the book brings out these revealing pictures of British India. As already said, this age belonged to Robert Clive. He won the Battle of Buxar and thus, the Mughal emperor Shah Alam II had to pay Diwani to him. You would have already read about the Battle of Buxar in your schools. The consequences of this battle were horrible.
The first Multi National Corporation, East India Company got the right of minting, tax collecting and other financial control of the three richest provinces namely Bengal, Bihar and Orissa. So this was first step toward the destruction as put by William Dalrymple.
India Before The Conquest
Now if I put it clearly here, India contributed more than 40% to the world’s GDP in the 18th century. Infact the author says that what Manchester would be in 19th century, Bengal was in 18th century. So as felt by William Dalrymple, the conquest of India is remembered as a national event in both the countries, Britain and India. One remembers it as a victory and other as a series of oppression, resistance and ultimately freedom.
But there is a fact that both the countries have ignored. The British government didn’t seize the Indian subcontinent. No military coup was sent from Britain to India in order to conquer it. But the civilization fell into the hands of East India Company, the word’s oldest Multi National Corporation.
I won’t go into much details of the book. But I would suggest you to go through it once. You will see how revealing the content of the book is. How Anarchy was established in the country. And most importantly, the book will tell you about the unjust rule of a corporate power.
My Personal Opinion about the book “Anarchy”
Honestly, I would like to mention one thing about this book. Though William Dalrymple presents a quite innocent picture of the British government, his opinions seem to be a bit biased. I personally felt a constant effort to prove that whatever happened in India was just due to East India Company is made through out the book.
Further, it felt a bit weird when he writes that East India Company didn’t bring anarchy to India. India was already in a state of anarchy when the company came. This may be called his personal opinion as we already know that they’d already attacked the subcontinent a number of times before the conquest.
And yes, the question remains that if the company was the only guilty, then why did the government didn’t seize its operation. We have read about a number of royal charters passed by the king and Queen of Britain. Infact they shared a very good relationship with the company employs as they were always invited in the ceremonies and parties held there.
So I must say that the company alone was at fault may be a biased statement. But such statement can be expected from a professional historian. All the historians put their personal opinion along with the facts, so Dalrymple did the same.
But the book becomes a must read if you are much into history.
You can buy it from the link given at the end of this post. Will be back soon with a new post. Till then, if you missed reading our previous book review, go and check it out. Share it with others too and subscribe to the blog for the upcoming posts.