Major General Robert Clive was one of the most prominent figures in British Army who established the supremacy of East India Company in India and Bengal. Because of his contributions, he is widely regarded as the main character behind the creation of British India. Historically his stay in India can be easily categorized into three distinct time periods. His first stay in India was during 1744-1753, when as a young person, he was sent as a writer or factor in civil services of East India Company. During this period he showed bravery when English troops were surrounded and beaten by French army in Madras India. During this period his role was more or less of a civilian who showed strong military skills even without having formal military training.
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His second journey to India during 1755 given him a position in the King’s Army. During this period he won many important battles for East India Company and consolidated its power in the region thus providing it absolute power in the country by crushing different State governments. It was during this period that he also emerged as one of the leading figures for Britons in India. His third period in India was more of a role of reformist where his role was that of the reformist of the administrative as well as military establishments in India as he attempted to bring more robust changes in the administration.
However, his career in India was not as smooth as one may perceive as he was accused of many misgivings such as bribery, corruption and extortion etc. Besides this, there is also now evidence which suggest that Robert
Clive manipulated many facts and employed techniques which in no way can be considered as ethical by today’s standards.
This essay will attempt to study at least three different accusations made against him during his stay in India and how he responded and defended himself against those accusations.
Clive’s early life suggested that he formed a racket which he formed with some other boys to get money from the shop keepers in Manchester where he was sent by his parents to live with a childless couple. (BBC, 2005). His early period in India also suggested that he experienced depression and were often at odd ends with his superiors for breaking the rules. These facts provide a very clear indication of his later conduct in life where he was accused by the House of Commons on several charges including getting bribery; extortion money was well as making other corruption.
After his final return to England, he was severally criticized and a Parliamentary enquiry was held against him for accepting huge amounts of money from the rulers in India whom he brought into power. Apart from that he was also accused of accepting great amounts as gifts from the Indian rulers as well as others and this fact was also confirmed from the fact that during his second return to India, he lost a chest full of gold coins in South Africa when he ships were stranded there.
He was also considered as an expert in loot and scoot policy as he wishfully accumulated enormous amount of wealth during the communal riots in India by following a policy of divide and rule. (GANGADHAR, 2004). Further evidence has also surfaced which suggested that many of the treasures, belonging to Indina, sold by auction companies in UK, were spirited away from India by Lord Clive himself.
It was also often argued that he refused bigger gifts and rewards and continues to serve his country with all the zeal and vigor and his reputation more or less remained intact as he was elected an MP. There was no direct defense by him of the accusations made against him and he was finally exonerated by the Parliamentary committee probing his corruption charges.
His mysterious death however always remained one of the secrets as many now believe that he committed suicide because of the charges against him whereas some accounts suggest that he killed himself in order to potentially get rid of painful diseases.
The life of Lord Robert Clive can be considered as one of the classical lives because he rose from a very small position to being the top commanded of British Army in India. However, his early life suggested that he had a very spoiled child with a violent history as he was involved in the incidents of extortion. His later period in India, though considered by many as the golden period in the history of British in India, however, was full of controversies as he was accused of many wrong doings. There were serious charges of corruption and bribery leveled against him as he supposedly took huge bribes from the Indian Nawabs whom he consolidated into power with the backing of British army. However, despite a Parliamentary inquiry against him, he was given a clean chit however; he hardly defended himself against such accusations in public and quietly killed himself to end a period of glory and fame in British History.
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