Saga of Fight For Independence!
Chapter 15: Doctrine of Lapse!
Doctrine of lapse was the policy of Dalhousie, the then Governor General, to annexed the independent Indian States in 1848 A.D.
This doctrine was based on the idea that in case a ruler of dependent state died childless, the right of ruling over the State reverted or ‘lapsed’ to the sovereign.
This position, however, was complicated by adoption. Hindus, including Hindu rulers, attached great importance to the performance of their funeral rites by their sons and if they died without a male issue, they resorted to adoption. An adopted son was allowed to inherit private property but the political rights of ruling a State were different.
This involved the welfare of millions of people. Before 1818 A.D., the East India Company was not really sovereign over India and did not interfere in matters of succession of other Indian States.
The Company agreed to adoptions in States dependent upon itself as a matter of course between 1818 to 1834 A.D. In 1834 A.D., however, the Company came to a resolution that adoption was permissible as a matter of grace and not right and that previous permission of the Company was required for this. By 1841 A.D., the Company had resolved that adoption was not to be granted as a rule because all opportunities for the extension of British territory were to be welcomed.
Before 1818 AD, East India Company was act as mere trader not as Sovereign ruler but after it they came with the ambition to control and rule the entire region of Indian State that was started with ‘Subsidiary Alliance’ and now with ‘Doctrine of Lapse’. These policies were adopted to control all the authority of state and make it British dominion state. The main complication was started with those Indian state have no heir and according to the policy, the state have lost their ruling rights because of no heir.
James Broun Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie – the infamous dalhousie most of the Indians are aware of. he was a Scottish Statesman who took over Colonial administration at India. He was a pro-imperialist whose main aim and agenda of life was to impress the Kings and Queens at Britain.
His period of rule in India directly preceded the transforamation of East India Company rule to the Victorian Raj or British Raj. He was denounced by Indians and british alike. For Indians Doctrine of Lapse, a cunning policy through which the British annexed the princely states was his brain child and for British who denounced him even on the eve of his death for failing to notice the sign of brewing Indian Rebellion of 1857.
It was his over ambitious, over bearing self confidence and expansive annexations that resulted in the country wide uprising – The First War Of Indian Independence as termed by the Veer Savarkar.
States that were annexed by Dalhousie by applying ‘Doctrine of Lapse’:
1. The States of Satara (1848 AD)
2. Jaipur (1849 AD)
3. Sambhalpur (1849 AD)
4. Bahat (1850 A.D)
5. Udaipur (1852 AD)
6. Jhansi (1853 AD)
7. Nagpur (1854 AD)
But after sometime, the terms of policy were get great aggression and it was Surendra Sai, the great revolutionary of Orissa who raised voice against the “Doctrine of Lapse” that aggression created the foundation of revolt.
Key points of Doctrine of Lapse
1. Policy to expand British territory in India on basis of pro-imperialistic approach.
2. State must be handed over to British, if they have no heir or ruler.
3. Adoptions of child were not accepted for heir.
4. Policy was not in support to give title and pension to adopted child of rulers.
5. Adopted heir would inherit only the personal property of the ruler
6. Ended the title and pension.
Hence, British came to India for the purpose of trade but their ambition of monopolising the resources drives them to become mighty in India. The Doctrine of lapse was basically expansionist policy of British East India Company to increase the real of British Empire by annexing the other state in India by hook or crook. This was introduced by Dalhousie to enable the British East India Company to monopolise their dominion over India State which increase their revenue. This made the British very unpopular and the rulers of the different states as bitter enemies of the British which become one of the reasons of 1857 revolt.
When Even Strongest Of Polingar Were Surrendering To British, The Ruler Of Nelkattunseval Fought Against Them Like A Tiger! Know The Story Of ‘Puli’ Thevar An Able Administrator And A Great Warrior!
Dr. Sindhu Prashanth