The British Raj c. 1930


Map Code: Ax02466

The British Raj came into being as an aftermath of the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Britain’s Indian possessions grew out of the trading arrangements of the English East India Company founded in 1600, which became the British East India Company after 1707. The company, with its network of trading stations along the Indian coastline, prospered becoming an influential power among the many independent Indian states, which became the victim of a ruthless corporate empire builder. In 1857 the British East India Company possessions erupted in The Great Rebellion, mostly in the Ganges plain, also known as The First War of Indian Independence. The Company’s high handed attitude, which overruled many traditional practices, high taxation and other reforms had set the rebellion ablaze; it lasted from May 1857 to November 1858. After the rebellion was defeated and many scores settled, the British government ended Company rule on behalf on the British Crown. The Government of India Act initiated a period of direct rule, and the new Raj was created around a greater respect for Indian tradition and increased involvement of Indians in local and regional administration, while the upper layers of government remained in British hands. From 1931 a new capital, founded at New Delhi, took over from Calcutta. It was here that much of the politics of the last decades of the Raj were played out. The rising tide for Indian independence within the Indian National Congress, led by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, would eventually lead to full independence in 1947, ending the Raj.

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