chapter  7
8 Pages

The first century of British rule, 1757 to 1857

State and economy
WithSugata Bose, Ayesha Jalal

The essence of the company state as it developed in the late eighteenth century was military despotism. The century of company raj in India has been a subject of lively historical debate. A system of British paramountcy was gradually elaborated from the second decade of the nineteenth century that brought nominally independent Indian rulers under tighter control. Yet the broader economic context of the company state's operations changed about half way through the first century of colonial rule. The early nineteenth century was a blue phase in dressing for European war and fashion. The sales of British cotton twist and yarn in India increased tenfold during the two decades following 1813, but the increase was not all that dramatic compared to the giant strides taken by British textiles in other markets. It was to mask their essentially amoral political behaviour that the British retained some of the ceremonial trappings of pre-colonial state ideology.