The Plan of territorial expansion was always part of the Company right from the time where they began to trade in India. Only when they expand their territorial might they can exploit the resources of the Indian state, this mindset allowed the British to have some draconian policies to attain the objective.
The Annexation Plan
Dalhousie came to India as a Governor-General in the year 1848, who followed expansionist policies right from the beginning of his tenure. He also vowed to make the native states extinct in a short period.
The Arrival of Lord Dalhousie
He thought that it was easy to bifurcate the native rulers as they were already depleted by losing battles against the British forces.
The doctrine of Lapse – The Brainchild of Dalhousie:
- Dalhousie was keen on increasing the British exports to India, where he believed the European exports are suffering due to the poor administration of the Indian rulers, so he decided to annex land under the policy of “Doctrine of Lapse”.
- This policy stated that “when the ruler of a state is dead due to war or sickness the throne of the king should not be accessed by his adopted heir, only when there is a legal heir the throne can be succeeded”.
The signing of the Doctrine of Lapse
- When there is no legal heir for the king his territory will be placed under the British empire. This provision angered the native rulers.
- Dalhousie also declined to recognise the titles of native rulers. So the titles of Nawab and Raja slowly became extinct. He also declined their pensions which in turn deprived their financial autonomy.
The Policy of Doctrine of Lapse angered the native rulers which were believed by the later historians as the root cause for the Revolt that shook the nation against the British forces which were known as the “Great Revolt of 1857”.