India and South Asia 1789 CE

India has entered a new chapter in its history with the expansion of the British empire in the subcontinent.

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What is happening in India and South Asia in 1789CE

The Mughal empire expanded still further after 1648, and by 1700 covered most of the Indian sub-continent. However, its power was to a large extent illusory, and in the first half of the 18th century the Mughal empire fell into decline. Powerful governors broke away to found independent states, and rebellions led to the rise of such new powers as the Maratha Confederacy, in the south and centre of the sub-continent. A powerful invasion from Persia, which sacked the imperial capital of Delhi (1738-9), set the seal on Mughal decline.

In the north-west, the Sikhs, though originally pacifist, had to take up arms in the face of persistent Mughal persecution. As Mughal power declined, Sikh war leaders have established several kingdoms.

Meanwhile, a completely new element has entered Indian history. European merchants had established trading posts around the coast of the sub-continent even before the rise of the Mughals. As the empire gave way to a host of competing successor states, the European trading companies were increasingly drawn into the conflicts which surrounded them, in order to protect and further their commercial interests. The British East India Company and the French East India Company were the most influential of these organizations, and the competition between them became one element within the global struggle between their two home countries for trade and colonies.

The resulting wars for influence between the French and the British companies have gone decisively in Britain’s favour, thanks to the ability of Britain’s navy to control the seas. They have resulted in Britain (i.e. the British East India Company) acquiring large chunks of territory in northern India.

Next map: India and South Asia in 1837

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