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British Foreign Policy During Independence Movement

British Foreign Policy During Independence Movement


  • The Government of British India was a colonial state and, therefore, determinants of its foreign policy were very different from those of a sovereign state. Its foreign policy was designed to serve Britain’s imperial interests.
  • To ensure the defence of India, it maintained states in the immediate neighbourhood of India as ‘buffer states’.
  • The British valued their Empire greatly and took far-reaching measures for its defence and of the routes to India.
  • They perceived threat to their Indian Empire from the expansion of the Russia Empire which is often described as Russophobia.
  • The British Government retained responsibility for relations with the states in the Indian Ocean rim (except the Aden Settlement until 1937). But substantial expenditure was met out of the Indian Treasury.
  • The legacy of the Raj has left an indelible impact on the foreign policy of the Indian Republic.

Anglo-Nepalese War (1814–1816)

  • The Anglo-Nepalese War (1 November 1814 – 4 March 1816), also known as the Gurkha War, was fought between the Kingdom of Gorkha (present-day Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal) and the East India Company (EIC, present-day India).
  • Both sides had ambitious expansion plans for the mountainous north of the Indian subcontinent.
  • The war was led by the EIC (a private company that was closely tied to the British Empire) with the support from native states; Garhwal Kingdom, Patiala State and Kingdom of Sikkim against Kingdom of Gorkha.  (British Foreign Policy During Independence Movement)
  • The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Sugauli in 1816, which ceded some Nepalese controlled territory to the EIC.
  • The war on the side of Kingdom of Gorkha was led mostly by the members of the larger Thapa caucus.

Treaty of Sagauli

  • Treaty of Sagauli, (March 4, 1816), agreement between the Gurkha chiefs of Nepal and the British Indian government that ended the Anglo-Nepalese (Gurkha) War (1814–16).
  • By the treaty, Nepal renounced all claim to the disputed Tarai, or lowland country, and ceded its conquests west of the Kali River and extending to the Sutlej River.
  • Nepal remained independent, but it received a British resident with the status of an ambassador to an independent country rather than of the controlling agent of the supreme government in an Indian state.

Anglo-Burmese Wars  | British Foreign Policy During Independence Movement

There have been three Burmese Wars or Anglo-Burmese Wars:

First Anglo-Burmese War

  • The First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826) ended in a British East India Company victory, and by the Treaty of Yandabo, Burma lost territory previously conquered in Assam, Manipur, and Arakan.
  • The British also took possession of Tenasserim with the intention to use it as a bargaining chip in future negotiations with either Burma or Siam.
  • As the century wore on, the British East India Company began to covet the resources and main part of Burma during an era of great territorial expansion.

Second Anglo-Burmese War

  • In 1852, Commodore Lambert was dispatched to Burma by Lord Dalhousie over a number of minor issues related to the previous treaty.
  • The Burmese immediately made concessions including the removal of a governor whom the British had made their casus belli.
  • Lambert eventually provoked a naval confrontation in extremely questionable circumstances and thus started the Second Anglo-Burmese War in 1852, which ended in the British annexation of Pegu province, renamed Lower Burma.   (British Foreign Policy During Independence Movement)
  • The war resulted in a palace revolution in Burma, with King Pagan Min (1846–1853) being replaced by his half brother, Mindon Min (1853–1878).

Third Anglo-Burmese War

  • King Mindon tried to modernise the Burmese state and economy to resist British encroachments, and he established a new capital at Mandalay, which he proceeded to fortify.
  • This was not enough to stop the British, however, who claimed that Mindon’s son Thibaw Min (ruled 1878–1885) was a tyrant intending to side with the French, that he had lost control of the country, thus allowing for disorder at the frontiers, and that he was reneging on a treaty signed by his father.
  • The British declared war once again in 1885, conquering the remainder of the country in the Third Anglo-Burmese War resulting in total annexation of Burma.

Anglo-Afghan Wars

Anglo-Afghan Wars, also called Afghan Wars, three conflicts (1839–42; 1878–80; 1919) in which Great Britain, from its base in India, sought to extend its control over neighbouring Afghanistan and to oppose Russian influence there.

First Anglo Afghan War (1838-42)

  • The first occurred (1838–42) when Britain, concerned about Russian influence in Afghanistan, sent an army to replace Dost Muhammad with a pro‐British king, Shah Shuja al‐Mulk.
  • Resistance to Shuja’s rule culminated in an uprising (1841), which led to the destruction of the British Indian forces in Kabul during their withdrawal to Jalalabad (1842).
  • Kabul was reoccupied the same year, but British forces were withdrawn from Afghanistan.

Second Anglo Afghan War (1878-80)

  • The second (1878–80) was also fought to exclude Russian influence.
  • By the Treaty of Gandamak (1879) Britain acquired territory and the right to maintain a Resident in Kabul, but in September of the same year the Resident, Sir Louis Cavagnari, was killed in Kabul and further campaigns were fought before the British withdrawal.

Third Anglo Afghan War (1919)

  • The third war was fought in 1919, when the new amir of Afghanistan, Amanullah, attacked British India and, although repulsed, secured the independence of Afghanistan through the Treaty of Rawalpindi (1919).


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