Sailing the British Empire : The Voyages of The Clarence, 1858-73

The British in India

       To contextualize the arrival of the 18th Hussars in India, it helps to understand the role of the British Raj (the name given to the period of British power in India). The East India Company (EIC) established itself in India in the early 1600s, eventually becoming the dominant power of the subcontinent. The EIC managed India as an independent entity for years before the Regulation Act of 1773 and the India Act of 1784 brought the EIC under the British government’s control. This change was triggered by some public failures on the part of the EIC, such as its mismanagement of its territories in Bengal, which led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of locals. Such actions by the EIC began to foster a stereotype of Europeans as corrupt and greedy. Image was everything to the British, as they relied on a positive representation of themselves in the eyes of the Indians to support their philosophy of racial superiority over them. This idea of image was necessary for the British to be seen as a pucca-sahib, a term meaning "powerful protector". This philosophy of pucca-sahib was supported by such policies as that of restricting the immigration of civilian Europeans into India that might not live up to the British standard. The military in India throughout this time consisted of the private units of the East India Company and units of the British Army. Both employed a policy known as hybridity, with units of either all Indian or all European soldiers, with a higher ratio of Indian units to European units.

1. Fischer-Tiné, Harald. Low and Licentious Europeans: Race, Class, and "White Subalternity" in Colonial India. New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, 2009. Print.

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