Modern History Of India

Governor Generals and Viceroys in Colonial India


The Governor-General of India was the head of the British administration in India. The office was created in 1773 with the title of Governor-General of the Presidency of Fort William. Complete authority over all of British India was granted in 1833 and the official became known as the Governor-General of India.

Until 1858, the Governor-General was selected by the Court of Directors of the British East India Company to whom he was responsible. Thereafter he was appointed by the Sovereign on the advice of the British government; the secretary of state for India, a member of the Cabinet was responsible for instructing him on the exercise of his powers.

Robert Clive (1757-60, 1765-67)

Fig: Lord Clive in military uniform.


The Battle of Plassey is shown behind him.

-War of the Austrian Succession
-Battle of Madras
-Second Carnatic War
-Siege of Arcot
-Battle of Arnee
-Battle of Chingleput
-Seven Years' War
-Battle of Chandannagar
-Battle of Plassey

Major-General Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive, KB FRS (29 September 1725 – 22 November 1774), also known as Clive of India, Commander-in-Chief of British India, was a British officer and soldier of fortune who established the military and political supremacy of the East India Company in Bengal. He is credited with securing a large swath of South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan) and the wealth that followed, for the British crown. Together with Warren Hastings he was one of the key early figures in the creation of British India, with all his attention focused on one prize, Bengal. He also sat as a Tory Member of Parliament in London.

Clive was one of the most controversial figures in all British military history. His achievements included establishing control over much of India, and laying the foundation of the entire British Raj. For that he was vilified by his contemporaries in England, and put on trial before Parliament. Of special concern was that he amassed a personal fortune in India. Modern historians have criticised him for atrocities, for high taxes, and for the forced cultivation of crops which exacerbated famines.


Robert Clive began his career in Madras on an annual salary of 5 pounds per annum. His presence in the successful siege of Arcot gained him adulation and his involvement in the conquest of Bengal made him a cynosure of the British public. He was made the Governor of Bengal twice from 1757- 1760 and 1765- 1767. During the period of 1757-1760 he made remarkable achievements. He got the monopoly of saltpeter trade in Bihar for British East India Company. In 1757 he fought the battle of Plassey and got the virtual mastery of Bengal. He defeated Dutch in 1759. Thus Clive established and maintained the supremacy of the English in Bengal. He was appointed Governor of Bengal in 1765-1767 for the second time.

In 1765 Robert Clive introduced the Dual System of Government for the Bengal province. By his dual system he made the company a great power but with no responsibility. Under this system the administration was divided between the company and the Nawab but the whole power was actually concentrated in the hands of the company. This complex system remained in practice during the period from 1765 to 1772. Under this system the company undertook the defense and left the civil administration in the hands of Nawab. The Nawab was paid Rs 53 lakhs annually for administration but after two years it was reduced to Rs 32 lakh rupees.

Robert Clive also introduced certain civil and military reforms with a view to purifying the administration of the Company. The private trade was prohibited and the extra allowance for the army in peacetime was abolished.


While loyal to his employers (the British East India Company), actions taken by Robert Clive resulted in the plundering of Indian treasures and famines caused due to policies which were disastrous to local Indian farmers. Historians such as William Dalrymple have called Robert Clive an "unstable sociopath" due to these harmful policies and actions which resulted in famines and atrocities towards local native Indians and peasants. Changes caused by Robert Clive to the revenue system and existing agricultural practices to maximize profits for the company led to the Bengal Famine of 1770.

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