Robert Clive: Administrative Reforms and Political Achievements

Robert Clive: Administrative Reforms and Political Achievements

Robert Clive returned to Bengal in 1765 as the governor of the English Company. He was required to settle many affairs. No settlement had been made so far either with the Mughal emperor or with Nawab of Awadh, who were defeated by the English in the battle of Buxar. Mir Jafar being dead, his son, Najim-Ud-Daulah, now the Nawab of Bengal, was a minor. Therefore, the Company had the responsibility to rule Bengal. How it was to be managed was not yet settled. The Company wielded all power but had not taken upon itself any responsibility. If had simply attempted to enrich itself at the cost of the Nawab and his subjects. The largest beneficiaries were the servants of the Company who is unrestrained in the misuse of their power and privilege, had become thoroughly corrupt. All this needed the attention of Clive.

Political Settlements by Robert Clive

Robert Clive arranged separate settlements with the Mughal emperor, the Nawab of Awadh, and the Nawab of Bengal.

Settlement with the Emperor

The Mughal emperor was at the mercy of the English after the battle of Buxar. Robert Clive had different options before him. He could proceed to Delhi and occupy in the name of the Emperor. But, he did not attempt it because it would have brought the Company into direct conflict with the Marathas for which it was not prepared. The second alternative was that he could free the emperor to proceed to Delhi. But, in that case, the Company could take advantage of his person. The third alternative was suggested to him by Vansittart. It was that Awadh be handed over to the Emperor. But, it could have brought the Marathas to Awadh and that would have endangered the English possessions of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. Therefore, Clive rejected all alternatives. The settlement which he made with the Emperor was as follows:

  1. Kara and Allahabad were taken over from Awadh and handed over to the Emperor where had to reside.
  2. The Emperor granted the Company the diwani of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa.
  3. The Company, in return, agreed to pay rupees twenty six lacs annually to the Emperor.
  4. The Emperor granted the jagir of the “Northern Sarkar” in the south to the Company.

The settlement had all advantages for the Company. The Mughal emperor was permitted to live within the boundary of a friendly state, Awadh, as a pensioner of the British, and his person and name could be utilized to serve the interests of the English.

Settlement with the Nawab of Awadh

Robert Clive had two options regarding Awadh. He could hand over Awadh to the Mughal emperor or could occupy it for the Company. He did not choose any of these alternatives. He made the following settlement with Shuja-Ud-Daulah:

  1. Shuja-Ud-Daulah was handed over Awadh.
  2. The Nawab, in return, paid rupees fifty lakhs to the English Company.
  3. Kara and Allahabad were taken from the Nawab and given to the Mughal emperor.
  4. The Nawab permitted the English to carry on trade without any payment of tax within the boundary of Awadh.

This settlement gave all advantages to the English. The Nawab not only became a friend of the English but, to a great extent, a dependent on them. It also provided safety to the English possessions of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa against the attacks of the

Settlement with the Nawab of Bengal

The English acquired the rights of Diwani in the provinces of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa from the Mughal emperor. But, their rights of Nizamat remained with the Nawab. Therefore, the English agreed to pay to the Nawab a fixed amount annually to meet his expenses. This arrangement has been called the “Dual Government in Bengal”.

The political settlements of Clive were proofs of his farsightedness. The battle of Buxar had suddenly placed the English in a position that immediately could make them the masters of a larger part of northern India. But the Company had neither the financial resources nor the military strength to undertake that responsibility. Clive, therefore took no chances, avoided all possible dangers, and made settlements which drew full advantages to the Company with no risk or additional responsibility.

Administrative Reforms by Robert Clive

Clive introduced certain reforms with a view to improving the administration of the Company. Regarding Civil services-

  1. He asked all servants of the Company to take an oath not to take bribe and presents.
  2. Transferred junior servants in Bengal to Madras and called in senior servants from there.
  3. Gave monopoly of trade in salt, tabacco and betelnut to a Board of trade. The profit of this trade was to be distributed among the servants of the Company. The scheme, however, was dropped in 1768.

The extra allowance of the military officers had become a heavy financial burden on the Company. Clive reduced it. It was decided that –

  1. Officers who remained in cantonments were to be given only 1/2 allowances.
  2. Officers who went out of cantonments but within the boundary of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa were to be paid full allowance.
  3. Officers who went beyond the boundary of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa for service were given double allowance.

The officers who were drawing double allowance so far refused to accept these reforms. But finally, they yielded.

Clive also started a “Clive’s Fund” of rupees five lakhs, the money which was donated to him by Mir Jafar at his deathbed. It was put in trade and the profit was to be distributed among the retiring servants of the Company.

Conclusion of Robert Clive

Thus, Clive tried to settle many affairs of the Company within a short period of less than two years. All his schemes were in experimental form and several of them failed. His political settlements served only a temporary purpose, his Dual Government of Bengal collapsed and his reforms in civil services brought no result.

Therefore, Robert Clive cannot be regarded as a successful administrator. Primarily, he was a man of politics and, from that point of view, served his national interests best in India. As an administrator, he should be pronounced as a failure.

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