Robert Clive

Robert Clive
Robert Clive

It is said that very foundations of the British empire in India was laid by Robert Clive. Robert Clive nick named "Clive of India" was born on the 29th of September 1725 and had died on 22nd November 1774.

It is to him that the credit goes for establishing the infamous East India Company's forces and money making source and power in South India and Bengal. Clive was born in a place called "Shropshire" in the West Midlands region of England, to a famous and prominent English family. He came to India at the age of 18 to Madras as a clerk and book keeper appointed by the East India Company.

The political, military and commercial rivalry between the French and the British was rife in the South of India that generated an interest in the young Clive. He asked for military service and even participated in a few battles against the French. In 1748 at Pondicherry, he established himself victorious before the Treaty of "Aix-la-Chapelle" and resolved the conflicts between the British and the French. Madras was then given back to Britain. The company rejoiced and appointed Clive to the rank of captain to the commissary for supply the provisions of the troops.

Clive led a mission to Trichinopoly (Tiruchirappalli) in 1751 to fight for the British contender for the "nawab" or ruler, Mohammad Ali. The contender had been besieged by Chanda Sahib backed by the French. Surprisingly, Clive had limited supplies of ammunitions, approximately 200 British and 300 Indian soldiers. But nevertheless, he seized "Arcot", the capital of Chanda Sahib making Chanda Sahib to divert his army from Trichinopoly. Chanda Sahib sent much of his army to conquer the capital. This diverted the army away from Trichinopoly hence weakening Chanda Sahib and allowing Clive to regain Trichinopoly. A bitter battle was fought. With limited supplies and men, Clive was able to hold back the French until the reinforcements arrived. A treaty was signed in 1754 making Mohammed Ali as the new ruler.

Robert Clive returned to England and ran for Parliament but failed. He then came back to India as a lieutenant colonel and the governor of Fort St. David of the East India Company in 1755.

Robert Clive then again took Calcutta, capital of the province of Bengal and the most important commerce center in India in those days. Clive had led an army from Madras and in 1758 defeated Sirajudaula at the "Battle of Plassey" and became the governor Bengal under the banner of the East India Company. From there he was able to launch successful military campaigns against the French and stop the expansion of the Dutch. He was able to strengthen a vast opium empire in India.

Robert Clive in Battle
Robert Clive in Battle

In 1760, Robert Clive returned to England where he attained a Knighthood and a peerage and even became a member of the Parliament. He later had to return to Calcutta as governor to crush the chaos and economic anarchy in Bengal.

He succeeded and left India in 1767, although the corruption within the East India Company remained high. The company asked the British Government to intervene and save it from bankruptcy. Clive's opponents in the year 1772 accused him for the situation and the corruption of the company that made him so sad that he committed suicide on the 22 November 1774.

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