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PITT’S INDIA ACT OF 1784

PITT’S INDIA ACT OF 1784 and ROHILLA WAR OF 1774

PITT’S INDIA ACT OF 1784

This Act was intended to address the shortcomings of Regulating Act of 1773 by making the East India Company accountable to the British Parliament. As per the Act —

  • A governing Board was constituted with six members, two of whom were members of the British Cabinet and the remaining from the Privy Council. The Board also had a president, who soon effectively became the minister for the affairs of the East India Company.
  • The Act stated that the Board would henceforth “superintend, direct and control” the government of the Company’s possessions, in effect controlling the acts and operations relating to the civil and military matters and the revenues of the Company.
  • The governing Council of the Company was reduced to three members, and the Governor-General, a Crown appointee, was authorised to veto the majority decisions.
  • The Governors of Bombay and Madras were also deprived of their independence. The Governor-General was given greater powers in matters of war, revenue and diplomacy.
  • By a supplementary Act passed in 1786 Lord Cornwallis was appointed as the second Governor-General of Bengal, and he then became the effective ruler of British India under the authority of the Board of Control and the Court of Directors.
  • The constitution set up by Pitt’s India Act did not undergo any major changes until the end of the company’s rule in India in 1858.

ROHILLA WAR OF 1774

  • The First Rohilla War of 1773-1774 was a punitive campaign by Shuja-ud-Daula, Nawab of Awadh, against the Rohillas, Afghan highlanders settled in Rohilkhand, northern India.
  • The Nawab was supported by troops of the British East India Company, in a successful campaign brought about by the Rohillas reneging on a debt to the Nawab.
  • Having been driven into the mountains by the Marathas, a few years earlier, the Rohillas had appealed for aid to Shuja-ud-Daula, at that time an ally of the British.
  • He promised to assist them in return for a sum of money; but when the Marathas were driven off the Rohilla chiefs refused to pay.
  • The Nawab then decided to annex their country, and appealed to Warren Hastings for assistance, which was given in return for a sum of forty lakhs of rupees. Hastings justified his action on the ground that the Rohillas were a danger to the British as uncovering the flank of Awadh.
  • The war became a matter of Westminster politics during the Impeachment of Warren Hastings. Charges of destroying a nation were brought against Hastings by Edmund Burke and later Thomas Macaulay.                                                                  PITT’S INDIA ACT OF 1784 and ROHILLA WAR OF 1774

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