by Madhukar and Savita Jhingan

Inspired by the visit of the famous British physicist Stephen Hawkins to New Delhi recently we wrote two articles ? ?A Brief Postal History Of India? and ?A Brief Postal History Of India?. These are of a new type of writing. The articles are not quite finished and taking the advantage of new technologies we will keep on revising and updating it. We invite all our readers to participate in writing and revising these.

The discovery of India by Europeans is just 500 hundred years old. The Indians calculate their history in million of years while the western scientists and archaeologists have credited the oldest civilization in India to 5000 years. It is the problem of the west that they cannot go beyond 5000 years and does in no way portray the true picture of the history of the world or India.

The general history of the area helps in understanding the history of postal communications. Thus we trace briefly the history of India with the arrival of the Europeans.

101 subscribers formed the East India Company on September 22, 1599 in England. On December 31, 1600, the Queen Elizabeth I gave the charter of exclusive privilege for trade beyond Straits of Magellan and Cape of Good Hope for 15 years to the Company. The first ship of the company sailed in 1601. The third voyage of the Company was the first to India and arrived at the port of Surat, the chief town of Gujarat, where the first Presidency was established in 1629 that was shifted to Bombay in 1687. Meanwhile the Presidency of Madras was established in 1651. Later Bengal Presidency was established in 1700. The activities of the Company were limited to trade only till 1764 when the province of Bengal came under the rule of the Company from the Mogul Governor.

Being bankrupt the Company sought financial aid from British government that by an act of 1773 provided for a Governor General at Calcutta with supervisory powers over Bombay and Madras. Later by enacting Pitt?s India Act, the British Government virtually took over the governing through a Board of Control in 1784. And in 1793 the Company?s monopoly of trade with India was relinquished and by 1813 the trade with India was completely open.

Up to 1818 the Company?s expansion took place within India. Thereafter it penetrated Afghanistan, across Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal, and Burma. In 1824 all Dutch possessions in India were passed to British by Treaty of London.

In 1845 all Danish possessions in India were

An Austrian company also operated in India for a short time.

After losing the monopoly over China trade in 1834 at the time of renewing the charter, the Company ceased trading altogether. The charter stipulated the Company to sell all its properties and possessions and the interest of the shareholders was safeguarded by guaranteed interest of 10 guineas on ? 1000 for 40 years. The last charter expired on June 1, 1874.

Till 1833 the three presidencies were virtually three separate states with separate laws for everything .In that year the first steps towards unification of all British possessions in India were taken. The Governor General of Bengal was renamed the Governor General of India and the Presidency of North West Provinces was created, with the Agra as its headquarters, by dividing the Bengal Presidency.

Following the rebellion in 1857, British Government directly assumed the rule over India as the Crown Colony in 1858. The Governor General of India became the Viceroy of India, and the President of the Board of Control in London became the Secretary of State for India.

1935 Aden and Burma were separated from India.

Before leaving the British created the Dominions of India and Pakistan in 1947 by dividing India. Several hundred princely States acceded to India and it became a Republic in 1950. India took over the French Settlements in India in 1954 and the Portuguese possessions in 1961. In 1972 the East Pakistan became Bangladesh.  

To be continued.....

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