Conquest of India
BRITISH ADMINISTRATION
Early Resistance to British Rule
Nationalism in India
Indian Freedom Struggle Under Gandhiji
Social Reforms in British India
Partition of India
Other Important Topics

Lecture 5 : The Battle of Buxar 1764

The Battle of Buxar was fought on 22 October 1764 between the forces under the command of the British East India Company, led by Hector Munro, and the combined armies of Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal, Nawab of Oudh and Shah Alam II, Mughal Emperor. This battle was an outcome of unreasonable use of the Farman and Dastak, and also the trade colonialist aspirations of the Company.

Background into induction of Mir Qasim as the Nawab

After Mir Jafar had been assigned the new Nawab, post Battle of Plassey, the British used him as their puppet and soon Mir Jafar got involved with Dutch.  Mir Qasim (son-in-law of Mir Jafar) was then supported by the British to become the new Nawab and under the pressure of the Company, Mir Jafar decided to resign in favour of Mir Qasim.

Events that gave rise to the Battle of Buxar

  • Misuse of Farman and Dastak by the British challenged Mir Qasim’s authority and sovereignty.
  • Abolition of all duties on internal trade of British.
  • Misbehaviour of the Company’s servants compelled the Indian artisans, peasants and merchants to sell their goods at cheap prices, while also starting the tradition of bribes and gifts.
  • The plundering attitude of the British led to the abuse of trade ethics and challenged the Indian authority.

Causes of Battle of Buxar

  • Mir Qasim now wanted to be independent and shifted his capital to Munger Fort from Calcutta.
  • He also hired foreign experts to train his army.
  • He treated Indian merchants and English as same.
  • The result of misuse of Dastak, Farman and expansion of trade by English did not sink in well with Mir Qasim.
  • These factors fuelled the English and they decided to overthrow him. This ultimately led to an outbreak of war broke between Mir Qasim and the Company in 1763.

Course of Buxar war

  • Mir Qasim fled to Oudh.
  • He planned a confederacy with Shuja-ud-daula, the Nawab of Oudh and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II in a final bid to overthrow the English from Bengal.
  • Mir Qasim’s soldiers met the English army troops directed by Major Munro in 1764.
  • Joined armies of Mir Qasim were defeated by the British.
  • Mir Qasim absconded from the battle and the other two surrendered to the English army.
  • The battle of Buxar ended with the signing of the Treaty of Allahabad in 1765.

Result of Battle of Buxar

  • Mir Qasim, Shuja-Ud-Daula and Shah Alam-II lost the battle on October 22, 1764.
  • Major Hector Munro won a decisive battle and Robert Clive had a major role in that.
  • English became a great power in northern India.
  • Mir Jafar (Nawab of Bengal) handed over districts of Midnapore, Burdwan and Chittagong to the English for the maintenance of their army.
  • The English were also permitted duty-free trade in Bengal, except for a duty of two per cent on salt.
  • After the death of Mir Jafar, his minor son, Najimud-Daula, was appointed the nawab, but the real power of administration lay in the hands of the naib-subahdar, who could be appointed or dismissed by the English.
  • Clive made political settlements with Emperor Shah Alam II and Shuja-Ud-Daula of Awadh through the Treaty of Allahabad.
  • After the Battle of Buxar (1764), the Company appointed Residents in Indian states and INTERFERED IN ITS INTERNAL AFFAIRS.

Other facts about the Buxar Battle

  • After the Battle of Buxar, English did not annex Awadh even after Shuja-Ud-Daulah was defeated because it would have placed the Company under an obligation to protect an extensive land frontier from the Afghan and the Maratha invasions.
  • Shuja-Ud-Daulah became a firm friend of British and Awadh was made a buffer state, suffering by English and foreign invasions.
  • The treaty of Allahabad with Mughal Emperor Shah Alam-II reduced the emperor to a mere ‘rubber stamp’ of the British.

Conclusion

  • The battle of Buxar can be noted as a turning point in the history of India. The Battle enhanced the power of the East India Company. It managed to extend its jurisdiction beyond the boundary of Bengal. It got an opportunity to enter successfully into the politics of India. It helped the British to carve out their empire in India. By 1765, the British had become the virtual rulers of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha.
  • The Battle of Buxar had far-reaching implications in the consolidation of the British Empire in India. It influenced the politico-economic conditions of Bengal in particular and of India in general.

Symbolic Victory

Unlike the Battle of Plassey which was more of a British conspiracy, the battle of Buxar was a full-fledged war that established the British prowess in warfare. The defeat of the Great Mughal House was very significant and it stamped the British troops as one of the potent forces of the Indian subcontinent.

Practice Questions

  1. The battle of Buxar was one of the most decisive battles of Indian history for it demonstrated the superiority of English and now Bengal emerged as their power centre. Elucidate.
  2. ‘The verdict at Plassey was confirmed by the English victory at Buxar.’ Comment. (UPSC CSE 2002 & 1996).