In studying the history of India under colonial rule, how it came about and what were its short-term and long-term consequences, we are confronted with a number of seemingly intractable paradoxes. First, how did a commercial company become a territorial empire? Constant injunctions to avoid wars of conquest were ignored. Officially, the East India Company, who represented Britain in India until it was dissolved in 1858, pronounced that it was opposed to conquests, for conquests were viewed as being inimical to trade. But it never attempted to roll back its frontiers. The British government also initially took the view that the Company was there to trade and not to fight. However, from 1750 onwards they proved quite willing to dispatch troops and ships to India to bolster the Company’s activities. Secondly, how did the British become the paramount power given the limited resources at their disposal? What were the means by which the British were able to establish and maintain their authority in India, especially when the Mughal Empire was one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, empires in the world at the beginning of the eighteenth century? And by means, we are referring not only to naked instruments of coercion like armies, courts and the police, but also the administrative systems, ideologies and economic policies, as well as the knowledge which was collected about India, for raw force alone cannot account for the speed with which the British achieved such commanding influence in India. A third question is how did a regime which increasingly identified itself at home and abroad with liberal principles end up pursuing such illiberal policies? In other words, why were British policies, or at least their consequences, so obviously at odds with the often noble objectives that they claimed to be pursuing? Such contradictions were not lost on contemporaries [Doc. 2]. These paradoxes will provide an overarching framework within which some of the fundamental questions of modern Indian history can be approached, particularly the hows and whys of colonial conquest, as well as the ways in which colonial conquest shaped the lives of those who were subject to it.