Read this article to learn about the policy of non-intervention made by the British Governor General’s.
Lord Cornwallis (1895):
The forward policy of Wellesley created much apprehension in the minds of the Directors who appointed Lord Cornwallis for a second time as Governor-General with clear instruction to pursue a policy of peace and non-Intervention.
Cornwallis immediately on his arrival in India sought to allay the fears of scindia Holkar etc. and towards that end agreed to return an places on the west bank of the Jumna except Agra, Gwallior and Gohad to Scindia.
He was even, willing to hand over Delhi to Scindia. He also sought to buy the good will of Holkar by similar method. Cornwallis ordered General Lake to take steps according to his above policy, but Lake vehemently objected to Cornwallis’ policy of weakness in the name of peace and non-intervention. But before the controversy was over Cornwallis died. It was only three months that he was in India after his arrival as Governor-General for the second time.
Sir John Barlow (1805-1807):
On the sudden death of Lord Cornwallis Sir John Barlow, a member of the Calcutta Council, was appointed Governor-General as a stop-gap. He followed the policy of non-intervention and in 1805 signed a new treaty with Scindia by which some modifications were made of the treaty of Surji-Arjangaon. The river Chambal was made the dividing line between the territories of Scindia and the Company.
In the meantime Lake had succeeded in defeating Holkar and putting him to flight to the Punjab. But in 1806 Barlow restored Holkar 10 his kingdom and made peace with him. Barlow was a follower of the policy of non-intervention yet he did not hesitate to prevent the Nizam from transgressing the provisions of the subsidiary alliance by which he had bound himself with the English, nor did he agree to alter the treaty of Bassein despite Court of Directors’ advice. For, he believed that it was by intervening in the mutual quarrel among the native Princes that the English could make their power unassailable in India.
During short span of two years Barlow had succeeded in turning the Company’s deficit into surplus. But it was during his administration there was a rising of the Indian troops at Vellore (1806). It was over the order of the Commandant of the Vellore army in concurrence with Bentinck, Governor of Madras, that the soldiers had to wear a new kind of turban and were prevented from wearing any religious sign on the forehead. They were also ordered to shave off their beard.
The Sepoys took all these as preliminaries to their conversion into Christianity by the English. At that point of time some members of Tipu’s family were at Vellore and were suspected of having incited the rebellion. The native troops, that is the Sepoys, rose in rebellion on 10th July, 1806 and killed 113 English soldiers and two English officers. The English suppressed the rebellion by ruthless repression with the help of troops from Arcot. Governor of Madras, William Bentinck, and Commandant Sir John Cradock were recalled for their part in precipitating the rebellion.
Lord Minto (1807-1813):
Lord Minto had a clear idea of the Company’s internal affairs as he had served as a member of the Board of Control before his assumption of Governor-Generalship. As a member of the British
Parliament and particularly as the Manager of the House of Commons in the impeachment of Warren Hastings and Sir Elijah Impey he had acquired extensive knowledge of the nature of the Company’s Government in India.
Lord Minto followed the policy of non-intervention but soon realized that the position the Company had been placed by the force of circumstances would not make it possible to follow the policy of non-intervention in right earnest.
Minto’s Governor-Generalship synchronised with Napoleonic Wars against the British. Napoleon sent his emissary to the Court of Persia in order to do away with the British influence there. Lord Minto sent Malcolm to Persia in 1809. The British government in England had also sent Sir Harford Jones to Persia on a similar mission. He succeeded in signing an agreement with the Persian emperor. The agreement provided for the expulsion of the emissary from the Persian court and prevention of any movement of the French troops towards India through Persia.
Minto also sent Elphinstone as the British Indian Government emissary to the court of Amir Shah Shuja of Afghanistan but as Shah’ Shuja was at that time dethroned and driven out of Kabul, Elphinstone did not complete his journey to Kabul. Lord Minto entered into friendly relations with the Amirs of Sind thereby ensured against the French influence spreading on them.
In 1809 Charles Metcalfe was despatched by Lord Minto as his emissary to the court of Ranjit Singh of the Punjab and he signed an agreement with Ranjit Singh, known as the treaty of Amrtsar by which the river Sutlej (Satadru) was regarded as the line of demarcation between the territories of the Company and those of Ranjit Singh. By the arrangement Ranjit Singh’s supremacy was confined to the right side of the Sutlej and the Company’s territories extended up-to that river.
When Napoleon had succeeded in compelling the Russian Czar to sign the Treaty of Tilsit (1807) there was a great apprehension among the English lest Napoleon should invade India jointly with Russia. But in 1810 when Russia and France fell apart, the fear was allayed.
Minto turned his policy to the Continental situation and when Napoleon occupied Portugal, Minto lost no time in taking possession of Goa from the Portuguese. Likewise when Holland was occupied by Napoleon Minto occupied Zava in 1811. In this way Minto established English authority liquidating the French influence, however, temporarily in the Indian Ocean. The main plank of Minto’s foreign policy was to free Asia of French possessions and influence.
During the tenure of Lord Minto’s Governor-Generalship there was a rebellion in Travancore. It was due to the unnecessary interference of the British Resident at Travancore court The Dewan of Travancore gave leadership to the rebellion and called upon the people of the kingdom of Tranvancore to drive away the British and save the people and their religion. The residence of the British Resident was attacked and some of the British soldiers and officers were killed. The rebellion was, however, suppressed with ruthless ferocity by the English. The rebellious Dewan Velu Tampi committed suicide to escape torture at the hands of the English.
There was also a mutiny among the Madras Sepoys as some of their financial benefits were curtailed. But before this mutiny could spread or be strongly organised it was suppressed.