Behind the rise of brits in BHARATVARSH

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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*Thread adapted from the works of Shri Anuraag Sanghi.

Facing foreign conquest for the first time in 12th century ad , some people have difficulties in understanding invasion, conquests, territorial expansion and the motive power behind such imperial actions. Equally for the British, the ‘gain’ and ‘loss’ of India happened so quickly, that they cannot accept the loss and they still cannot believe their luck.
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The Oxford history of the British Empire: Historiography By Robin W. Winks, Alaine M. Low).

For instance, with reluctant admiration, Indians ‘acknowledge’ that the British must have had something special. After all, how could Robert Clive with 400 English soldiers, defeat Siraj-ud-Dowla’s armies of 60,000? This left the ordinary, disbelieving Indian with the second assumption. Indians must have been fighting with bows and arrows, while the English had guns and cannons.

Now both these answers are wrong – because in 1857, Indian had equally good ship-building docks (if not better) and gun smiths. The best steel in the world came from India – as did the raw material for gun-powder, saltpetre.

So.

British ascent as the prime military power started with the eclipse of Spain during The Seven Years War (1756-1763).

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Gunpowder, explosives and the state: a technological history By Brenda J. Buchanan.)


Four elements were essential for this rise to happen.
  1. British naval power.
  2. British access to gunpowder.
  3. British access to financial liquidity.
  4. Increase in British industrial production.
This thread we will see into each of this aspect.
 

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A hundred years ago, a perplexed Indian, Taraknath Das, sought to understand the cause of Indian subjugation. He wrote to Tolstoy, the 19th Russian writer. Tolstoy’s very ‘insightful’ answer on Indian independence was

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See - https://web.archive.org/web/2013072...AsianStudents/images/das_reply_to_tolstoy.pdf


Gandhi made 20,000 copies of this waffling and rambling narrative – and distributed it among the Indian population in South Africa. Tolstoy’s ‘explanation’ is today repeated in Indian schools as a defeatist question, ‘How could a few thousand people conquer a nation of crores?’

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An American Looks at Gandhi: Essays in Satyagraha, Civil Rights, and Peace By James D. Hunt

What was behind the rise of English power – especially, in the Indian sub-continent? After 60 years and a few hundred-crores (or a few billions) of tax-payer funds, Indian academia and historians have failed to answer this question – satisfactorily.

The usual answers trotted out are:-
  • Military superiority (better trained and motivated English soldiers)
  • Technological superiority (Indians had bows and arrows versus English guns and cannons)
  • Political unity (united English vs a divided India)

Historical evidence completely contradicts these three constructs during the 1600-1850 period, the phase of English ascent. For real answers we will need to look somewhere else.

But before that let us look at the key events and developments.
 

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Cut to India in 1757

Robert Clive’s ‘genius’ lay in cobbling exactly one such cabal. This cabal consisted of Armenian, Indian and English merchants.

The Armenians were represented by Khojah Petrus Nicholas

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and Indians were represented by the Jagat Seths, Seth Mahtab Chand,and Seth Swarup Chand, and other seths like Raja Janki Ram, Rai Durlabh, Raja Ramnarain and Raja Manik Chand.

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From Plassey to Partition: A History of Modern India By Śekhara Bandyopādhyāẏa

The Armenians, and the ill-fated Omichund, a “notorious Calcutta merchant who was later to engineer the Plassey Revolution” played an important part in the Bengal/Bihar saltpetre trade.


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The Life of Robert, Lord Clive: Collected from the Family Papers ..., Volume 1 By Sir John Malcolm

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The Trading World of Asia and the English East India Company: 1660-1760 By K. N. Chaudhu


They were all significant players in the export of saltpetre (potassium nitrate). Also known as niter, saltpetre was a necessary ingredient for gunpowder.

As a battle, observes Panikkar, “Plassey was ridiculous. Mir Jafar, who vacillated during the engagement, came timidly round with congratulations and he was told he was now Nawab.” Plassey thus, was “a transaction, not a battle.
(See - https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet...85550.The-Making-Of-He-Indian-Nation_djvu.txt)

The ‘importance’ of Plassey is a colonial invention. It is the Battle of Buxar which started off the East India Company. It is conveniently ignored that the East India Company recruited some 18000 sepoys in the next 6 years (1757-1763). It is these 18000 sepoys which clinched the Battle of Buxar for the East India Company.

The coup of Plassey was not a military success, but industrial and economic. Industrially, the English gained global control over saltpetre, an essential component in gunpowder. With Bihar and Bengal being production centres of saltpetre, control over the global gunpowder production system, passed into English hands. Rest of India and the world were cut-off from saltpetre supplies.

Economically, till the grant of Bengal diwani to the East India Company in 1765, after the battle of Buxar (1764) England used to export bullion to make investments in purchase of Indians goods.

After the 1765, diwani, the excess revenue was used to make the purchases – and the English bullion was used to fund expansion, grow armies, et al.
1660478248443.png

The Science of Empire: Scientific Knowledge, Civilization, and Colonial Rule By Zaheer Baber

See-
The Growth of Calcutta: A Profile of Social Dislocations in the Early Colonial Period Atis Dasgupta and Subhas Ranjan Chakraborti



It was the battle of Buxar (1764) which created the roots of the English Empire in India via the East India Company.

(An inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations By Adam Smith).

Such was Clive’s legacy. A troubled Robert Clive committed suicide in 1774.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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The oppressive army of the colonial Raj.

The growth in the Colonial Raj’s army to maintain its authority is the simple reason why the Raj was able to maintain its rule for nearly 200 years.
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(Neighbors & strangers: the fundamentals of foreign affairs By William Roe Polk).

In 1820, Britain ruled less than half of modern India. The population of India at that time has been estimated at 25 crore- and the possible population under the Colonial Raj was less than 12 crore.


To sustain an army of 350,000 on a population of 12 crores is an oppressive burden beyond imagination. In a population of 12 crores, the number of able-bodied men would be around Rs.3.0 crore – and army of 350,000 would have meant 1 in every hundred was a soldier. Another writer on the British Empire confirms

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A proportionate army in India today would be close to 35 lakhs – twice the size the 16 lakhs that India, defence forces (army, air-force and navy) have today. Not only did the East India Company pay better, they also made timely payments.

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The Making and Unmaking of Empires: Britain, India, and America C.1750-1783

By Peter James Marshall, Emeritus Professor of Imperial History King's College London Honorary Fellow P J Marshall


Many Indians soldiering communities joined the armies of the British Raj as the

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Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire By C. A. Bayly, Christopher Alan Bayly

The other reason why the British Raj military size was greater was that instead of police,
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Macmillan's Magazine, Volume 2 edited by David Masson, Sir George Grove, John Morley, Mowbray Walter Morris


The small size of Indian police force was a historical trend, predating the English and continues till date. The small police force was derived from the economic habits of the Indian population which did not depend on crime for a livelihood (unlike say, piracy or slave trade in Europe). The constant warfare against Indian polity in India was essential for imperial English objectives. It was the large size of the Colonial Indian Army, consisting of Indian sepoys that was behind the might of the British Empire.


But during WW2, the situation changed. As Indian armies were sent to various theatres of war, and the Quit India movement exploded – as did various other movements across India, the British hold on India seemed to be hanging by a thread. The British response was.

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Policing and decolonisation: politics, nationalism, and the police, 1917-65 By David Anderson, David Killingray


The day the worm turned, the British Raj ended. On February 18th 1946, the Indian Naval force, then the Royal Indian Navy raised the flag of independence. Colonial history calls it the Naval Ratings Mutiny – on February 18th 1946. Within 1 week, Britain decided to evacuate from India.

On 15th March, 1946, Attlee announced in the British House of Commons that Britain was leaving India. 23rd March, 1946, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, Secretary of State for India, A. V. Alexander, First Lord of the Admiralty, and Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade came to India for consultations on modalities for power transfer. The British acquiesced and 18 months later the British were out.
It took nearly 200 years for the The Indian sepoy to decide that he was no longer willing to be a loyal soldier of the Company Bahadur. And the British Raj crumbled.

In the next post we shall now look at the cause behind the rise of brits power in India.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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@Indx TechStyle @hit&run @ezsasa

The seed capital of British Raj...


In all this, the important thing was funding!

The recruitment and expansion of the standing army, the purchase and stockpiling of gunpowder, needed exceptional financial resources that only the English seemed to have. Where did this ‘liquidity’ come from?And that is where the English secret lies.

Apart from the Indian loot, it was the loot from the rest of the world that enabled the English to fund the acquisition of these power sources. The surge in English financial capital can be explained by a succession of English ‘adventures’ which created the seed capital for Indian subjugation.

Of which, the most celebrated is the piracy.

That is well documented in the other post.


So we move onto see next factor that were Indian shipping.

50 years before Independence, a 100 years ago, BHARAT was one of the largest ship building countries in the world. The “modern era” began with the building of a dry dock at Bombay about 1750; a second was erected in Calcutta about 1780.

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ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age By Andre Gunder Frank


To be continued.
 

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The rise of brits fueled viz BHARTIYA's ship building

The “modern era” began with the building of a dry dock at Bombay about 1750; a second was erected in Calcutta about 1780.

During Shivaji’s reign, as per estimates, more than 300 ships of 300 tons capacity were launched.

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The Cambridge Economic History of India: Volume 1, C.1200-c.1750


The Wadias alone built more than 350 ships – during 1735-1863 170 war vessels for the East India Company, 34 man-of-war defence vessels for the British Navy, 87 merchant vessels for private firms, and three vessels for the Queen of Muscat at Bombay docks.


In 1872, Jamshedji Wadia, from a Parsi ship-building family, constructed the “Cornwallis”, a frigate with 50 guns, bought by the East India Company. This led to several orders from the English Navy.

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European Cities & Technology: Industrial to Post-industrial City David C. Goodman Colin Chant

To be continued.
 

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Bengal was the other major port where ship building was for global markets. Chittagong was the center for shipbuilding (now in Bangladesh). The Turkish Navy (a major world power till WWI) was a major customer.


Ma Huan, the famous chronicler and interpreter of Zheng He (also called Cheng Ho) voyages, during the Ming dynasty, studied boat building in Bengal during the early 15th century (1400-1410).

The third major center for ship building was Narsapurpeta (near Masulipatnam) port – which was a major center of exports of steel, diamonds, saltpetre (potassium nitrate, for gunpowder, to kill Indians, Negroes, Aborigines and Red Indians with) from the Deccan plateau.
Cambridge Economic History Of India Vol-1

These buyers preferred Indian ships, because of better jointing technology and elimination of metal sheeting. Indian shipbuilders had a special system where wood was seasoned in partial vacuum, with oils for timber improvement.

Click and zoom the attachment.
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Science, Technology and Medicine in Colonial India By David Arnold

British shipbuilders, colonialists ensured through tariff and other barriers, that Indian shipbuilding “was prevented from continuing to develop, even though it had a proven ability to adapt to changing technological needs” – and thus finally killing it. English naval superiority rested on Indian ships – and paid for by exploitation of Indian resources.

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Science, Technology and Medicine in Colonial India By David Arnold

In 1498, Vasco da Gama’s ocean-going ship, the Sao Gabriel came to India. The Portuguese caravel are well-known. But what do the Portuguese call their ocean-going ships?

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Nau. Yes, nau as in Hindi, for boat.

Few of these Indian built ships have been recovered in various parts of the world.

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Indian shipbuilding expertise ruled the world – but colonialism had reduced its efficiency.

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From: The ... report from the Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Affairs of the East India Company (Google eBook) | Published in Great Britain | Author: Select Committee on the Affairs of the East India Company, East India Company (London) | Publisher: Cambray | Year: 1810

History repeats itself

On June 6th, two posts appeared in the Indian newspapers. These two posts were remarkable, as these mirrored events and behaviour some 200-400 years ago.


One report dealt with the American War in Afghanistan. To smoothen logistics in Afghanistan, the us ‘recruited’ an Afghan warlord, Matiullah Khan. Much like the English recruited many Indian kings, chieftains to fight their wars.

His main effort — and his biggest money maker — is securing the chaotic highway linking Kandahar to Tirin Kot for nato convoys. One day each week, Matiullah declares the 100-mile highway open and deploys his gunmen up and down it. The highway cuts through an area thick with Taliban insurgents.
Matiullah keep the highway safe, and he is paid well to do it. His company charges each nato cargo truck $1,200 for safe passage, or $800 for smaller ones, his aides say. His income, according to one of his aides, is $2.5 million a month, an astronomical sum in a country as impoverished as this one. (via With us. Aid, Warlord Builds Afghan Empire).
Matiullah Khan, yet another report reveals, is one of the
… eight trucking contractors who share the US military’s $2.16bn (€1.68bn, £1.45bn) two-year host nation trucking contract. The companies include ncl Holdings, run by Hamed Wardak, the US-educated son of Afghanistan’s defence minister, and others founded by investors in the US and the Gulf.
The system relies on an opaque network of sub-contractors who pay Afghan security companies to escort their trucks. Investigators suspect these companies in turn pay tolls to militia leaders with groups of hundreds of gunmen.
Prominent militia commanders in southern Afghanistan include Matiullah Khan and Ruhullah. Although some hold ranks in the Afghan security forces, such commanders exercise considerable autonomy and often field better forces than the army or police. Industry insiders say militias run what amount to protection rackets on convoys passing through their territory.
(http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/06/world/asia/06warlords.html?pagewanted=all
)

Two aspects of this stand out. One is the figure $2.16 billion over two years – i.e. $1.08 billion per annum. Now that is a lot of money for the 1500 Matiullah Khan’s militia – and the other 10,000-15,000 members of the other militias.

Are these private militias a problem for the local Afghans? Yes, say the local people. But, like this reports says, “But as long as the Americans are behind him, there is nothing I can do. They are the ones with the money.”

And that pretty much was what happened in India from 1757 to 1947.


All this still does not explain how the English could become ascendant in Indian – without Indian collaboration.

Reluctant admirers.

Thus, at historical crossroads, in the 18th century, Indian industrial technology (shipping and gunpowder), wealth (Indian gold reserves) and Indian manpower (Indian sepoys and indentured labour) powered the rise of Britain.

The Indian military market was completely dominated by the private sector. Elements of the Indian military mix – soldiers, elephants, horse traders and trainers, saltpetre production, shipping, wootz steel production, was supplied to the various kingdoms. Operating on a commercial basis, across borders, these production and recruitment systems were technology leaders with high production capacity.

Using their ill-gotten gains, from slavery, piracy, crime, loot, the English outbid Indian rulers. For military elements like saltpetre, elephants, sepoys, horses, armies et al. The first time in Indian history, defence production became public sector monopoly, under Nehru’s ‘commanding heights’ and ‘temples of modern India’ socialistic policy.

To be continued.
 
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asaffronladoftherisingsun

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So it must be noted that the british naval power was based on numerical superiority and less on technical. Ability to commission, pay for and take delivery of warships needed high levels of financial liquidity. British liquidity was built on: –

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Naval Warfare, 1815-1914 By Lawrence Sondhaus


One – Piracy – with Spanish ships being a prime target.


Two – Later, to piracy, add a huge trans-Atlantic slave trade, where Britain was again the world-leader in slave trading.


Three – Britain’s sugar colonies, based on slave labour in the West Indies, though smaller than French and later Spanish sugar colonies, were always the second-largest in the world. Sugar production was a passport to liquidity and profits in the 18th and 19th century.


Britain’s establishment of an industrial base was itself subject to vast financial investments and easy availability to raw materials – where again India played a major role.

What stopped the others.

Since 17th-18th century Britain was not the industrial or technology leader that it later became, this begs a logical question. Why could other countries not compete with Britain?


An answer can be found in a recent new reports. Celebrating British naval power, was the refurbishing of a 200-year old British warship – a small news item that appeared in some Indian newspapers.


Some 400 ships were made in the Mumbai boat-yards alone. It is this huge industrial ship-building capacity in India gave the British Navy a significant edge. Contemporary writers wrote how

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Warships of the World to 1900 By Lincoln P. Paine


Warships of the World to 1900 By Lincoln P. Paine

Many ships were built at the ‘British naval dockyard in Bombay, India, which produced a steady flow of ships for the Royal Navy’. Why India? The answer was Indian teak.
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Consuming Space: Placing Consumption in Perspective edited by Michael K. Goodman, David Goodman,

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Consuming Space: Placing Consumption in Perspective edited by Michael K. Goodman, David Goodman,



By the time of the First World War, BHARTIYA teak was well established as one of the most valuable timbers that the world has ever known.

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An Inquiry Into the Means which Have Been Taken to Preserve the British Navy By John Knowles


Made in India, with Indian technology, with Indian teak, this British warship is now some 200 years old. On the other side modern steel-warships, multi-billion dollars worth, have a life of less than 50 years. British ships made of oak wood had an even worse life span.

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British access to India’s huge ship-building capacity, raw-material sources, technicians, shipwright, gave them a decisive edge – considering that Britain controlled Chittagaon (colonial Chittagong), Surat and Mumbai (colonial Bombay), Chennai (colonial Madras), Northern Sircars (modern Andhra Coast) – all famous Indian ship-building centres. Based on this experience, British further expanded teak sources to include Burma by the middle of 19th century. Just before steel started to take over from teak.

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Report on the Teak Forests of the Tenasserim Provinces By Hugh Falconer

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Report on the Teak Forests of the Tenasserim Provinces By Hugh Falconer

To be continued.
 

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BHARAT shipbuilding powerhouse since ancient times.

Ancient Meluha (Saraswati-Indus complex) traded using sea-routes with Egypt, Tyre, Dilmun (modern Bahrain-Oman), Mesopotamia et al. Remember Greek accounts of how Alexander commissioned in India, an entire flotilla to carry his retreating armies. Zheng He, the great Chinese admiral in his 14th century voyages, had his ships repaired at Chittagaon and Kerala’s shipyards as we saw in the post above.

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Travels in Asia and Africa: Including a Journey from Scanderoon to Aleppo By Abraham Parsons

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The Cambridge History of India By Mortimer Wheeler

British access to financial liquidity was a result initially of organized piracy on high seas – targeting Spanish merchant shipping. British ‘celebration’ of Drake’s fugitive flight from Spanish ships has been credited by no less than Keynes himself as the turning point in British fortunes. Drake apart, there were other similar ‘celebrated’ British pirates.


Using slave labour, Britain gained from sugar Caribbean colonies – especially after the fall of Haiti.
 

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Indian Gunpowder – the Force Behind brits rise.

On Chile’s northern border is the remote, arid Atacama desert. Desolate and dry, rain in Atacama happens once in 2-3 years. Some people living in the Atacama have never seen rainfall in all their lives. Yet, there is some sparse wildlife – a tribute to hardiness of living beings.

Strangely, the Atacama is home to a few ghost-towns – once boom towns. For five years, from 1879-1884, Bolivia and Peru fought with Chile over this rainless, arid and desolate terrain.

Behind this curious importance of the Atacama desert was nitrates. It was Atacama’s nitrates interestingly that broke an important British monopoly – based on India’s saltpetre production.

(Andean Tragedy: Fighting the War of the Pacific, 1879-1884)

In 1809-1810, the British had to mount a serious campaign in the Indian Ocean. The French, from their Indian Ocean naval bases at Île de France (Mauritius), Bourbon (Réunion) and Rodrigues, attacked East India Company ships carrying valuable saltpetre (also saltpeter, nitre, niter) – so essential for the Spanish War (1808-1809).

(https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture.../3668466/The-battle-for-the-Indian-Ocean.html)

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Indian saltpetre for could not reach Confederate armies due to Union naval blockade!

The British army, retreating across Spain, in harsh winter conditions, needed saltpetre. Under the onslaught of the French forces, ruthlessly pursued, the final escape of the British army, from Corunna was a miracle. The British General, John Moore’s death, at Corunna, Spain, was turned into a heroic ‘victory’. Charles Wolfe’s poem, The Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna became essential reading for every English schoolboy.

In 1800, a son from a rich family of refugees from the French Revolution in America, after a survey of business opportunities in America, wrote

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Gunpowder, Explosives and the State: A Technological History edited by Brenda J. Buchanan

The son was Eleuthère Irénée du Pont, the family was the Du Pont family – and their firm is now known as EI du Pont de Nemours and Co. EU du Pont’s expertise in manufacturing saltpeter came from his training with the French Agency for Powder and Saltpeter (Regie royale des poudres et Salpetres) – and under the tutelage of Antoine Lavoisier, the French chemist, he boasted.

Behind the Dupont fortune was Indian saltpetre. Behind Lincoln’s success in the American Civil War was saltpetre. Behind Anglo-French confidence against Germany in WW1 was the control of the saltpetre deposits from India. Germans were able to sink many of these British saltpetre shipments. In turn, Germans with the Haber-Bosch process, in basf factories, continued the war – without Indian saltpetre or Chilean nitrate supplies.

See-
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Saltpetre – what’s that?

What was saltpetre? Why was saltpetre important. Why did India play such an important role in saltpetre?

Unusually important, the chemical name of saltpetre is potassium nitrate – an essential ingredient in gunpowder. Indians had perfected the method of preparing potassium nitrate (KNO3). The other two ingredients in gunpowder being charcoal and sulphur – easily and freely available and cheap.

India’s military technology is history’s greatest ‘hidden’ secret. Official (and Western) portrayal of Indian military systems in the face of Islamic invaders, Mughal sultanate and the rise of British imperialism makes out India as a sitting duck with ill-trained and terrified soldiers, armed with bows and arrows, who were hopelessly outclassed by the enemy.

Facts being otherwise, it raises questions about motives for this deliberate wrong portrayal.


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To be continued.
 

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The story from Mongolia

In the last 1000 years, there are sketchy records of gunpowder in India, with Rai Hamir Deva of Ranathambore of the Malwa region, who supposedly used some Mongol deserters (1300 AD) to fight Khilji armies with gun powder. This may be misleading for two reasons.


Modern history credits China with the invention of gunpowder. Firstly, this is largely based on the work of a self-confessed Sinophile – Needham. With a dismissive one sentence, Needham opines, “On Gunpowder history in India, Oppert (1) was duly exploded by Hopkins(2).” And Indian history as the world’s largest producer of gunpowder was swept under the carpet. Needham conveniently ignores evidence like how

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See - https://www.business-standard.com/article/beyond-business/piercing-the-wall-109010601035_1.html

Secondly, Mongol territories extended from Mongolia to the gates of Vienna and Russia – but not India. How is it that a few deserters-soldiers could establish the world’s largest gunpowder production system, so rapidly in non-Mongolian India. But, could not do so in conquered territories of China, Central Asia, Middle East, West Asia, and Europe.

A 100 years before Needham, India’s pioneering status in saltpetre was common knowledge. English publications, for instance in 1852 and another in 1860 gave weightage to the opinion of

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A Cyclopedia of Commerce and Commercial Navigation By Isaac Smith Homans

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A Dictionary, Practical, Theoretical, and Historical, of Commerce Volume 2 By John Ramsay McCulloch

Unlike China, with an odd textual reference or a drawing or a singular artefact, was the entire industry in India – which remained unrivalled in the history of the world. Compared to China’s paltry production of gunpowder, India’s widespread and organized gunpowder production system points towards indigenous development. There are reports, that in “664 an Indian visitor to China reportedly demonstrated the peculiar flamability of saltpeter and provided instructions on how to locate it (Pacey 1990, 16).”

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Firearms: The Life Story of a Technology By Roger A. Pauly, Roger Pauly

The deserter Mongol soldier source seems rather far-fetched considering that Mongol armies studiously avoided attacking India. India, the richest economy of the world at that time, known and famous for its wealth, was spared by Genghis Khan! Just why would history’s foremost looter, invader, pillager spare India?

When Genghis Khan’s Mongol armies were running rampant, islameic refugees found shelter in India, during the reign of Iltutmish. In 1221, Khwarezm-Shah and other Persian refugees, sought refuge in India, across the Sindhu into the Punjab, India, from Genghis Khan’s Mongol armies.

To be continued.
 

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BHARAT – the largest gunpowder source in the world

Now, combine saltpetre production with the fact that the heart of the Indian saltpetre production was in Bihar, which was also the home of the Nalanda seminary /university.

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Researches Concerning the Laws, Theology, Learning, Commerce, Etc ..., Volume 1 By Quintin Craufurd

What about the europe.

Saltpetre based gunpowder was in constant short-supply in Europe. Gold from the Americas, flowing into European trade channels, fuelled demand for gunpowder. Gunpowder became an essential ingredient for subjugation of natives, extraction of gold, capture of territories and slaves, piracy on the high seas – all the real reasons for ascent for European power.

The European gunpowder situation was grim. This can be gauged from “a letter of 1605 from the King of Spain to the Viceroy of Goa (the Portuguese trading settlement on the south-west coast of India) for example ordering the annual dispatch of 10 or 12 caskets of saltpetre.” Remember in 1605, Spain was the prime power European power. Compare that to the Indian situation.

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Gunpowder, Explosives and the State: A Technological History edited by Brenda J. Buchanan

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The outcome of Waterloo can be gauged from a forgotten statistic – “In the year before the battle of Waterloo (1815) the East India Company exported 146000 cwt. of saltpetre to England.” 146,000 cwt is 7300 tons of saltpetre. British Ordnance Board powder mills in 1809,

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The Economic History of India Under Early British Rule: From the Rise of the ... By Romesh Chunder Dutt

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Statistics of the Colonies of the British Empire ...: From the Official ... By Robert Montgomery Martin

British Ordnance Board powder mills in 1809,
Collision of Empires: Britain in Three World Wars, 1793-1945 by A.d harvey.

Spain and Sweden also received munitions for fighting on the British side against Napoleon. British victory at Waterloo, was in no small measure “thanks to the use of Indian saltpetre, British gunpowder was widely recognised to be far superior to the charcoal-like French product.” British creditworthiness received a boost just before Waterloo. British debt, trading at 25% discount in 1813, was boosted by Indian gold, in 1813, procured by Britain.

Western historians now reluctantly admit, that without the “accumulated credits from Indian transfers since 1757, Britain’s financing of land warfare during the French wars could have been compromised.” Napoleon and France could not “march their combined armies to India, and strangle the supplies of British gold that had been financing successive coalitions against France.”

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Without the advantage of Indian saltpetre, with a threatening Britain


in 1792 France was able to face danger on all sides, it was because Lavoisier, Fourcroy, Guyton de Morveau, Chaptal, Berthollet, etc., discovered new means of extracting saltpetre and manufacturing gunpowder.
1660566801859.png

The Life of Pasteur by rene vallery radot.

To be continued.

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asaffronladoftherisingsun

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Some 6000 factories manned by ‘salpetriers‘ worked in France to overcome the naval blockade.

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Science and Polity in France: The End of the Old Regime By Charles Coulston Gillispie

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A History of Greek Fire and Gunpowder By J. R. Partington

Meanwhile in BHARATVARSH

Malwa’s rulers recruited Purbias from Bengal and Bihar for their expertise in gunpowder. The British initially valued and later (after 1857) feared the Purbias for the same reason. The other reason was an established saltpetre production in the Malwa region till the 19th century. In Punjab, the main centres were Lahore, Hissar, Multan and Amritsar.

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The Tribes and Castes of the Central Provinces of India, Volume 1 by robert vane russell.

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Hand-book of the Economic Products of the Punjab: With a ..., Part 14, Volume 1 By Baden Henry Baden-Powell

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Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire By C. A. Bayly, Christopher Alan Bayly

To be continued.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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BHARAT's gunpowder production system

India was the largest gunpowder production system – in the history of the world, till the 20th century. Specifically Bengal and Bihar regions. Operated by a caste of peoples called the nuniah, saltpetre beds supplied the most vital element in gunpowder – saltpetre. And India produced virtually all of it.

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Mughal Warfare, Indian Frontiers and Highroads to Empire 1500–1700 By J.J.L. Gommans

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The Chemical News and Journal of Physical Science, Volume 3


Especially, Bihar, Bengal, Agra and Tamil Nadu, Andhra and Karanataka regions (Anantapur, Coimbatore, Guntur, Kurnool). The Guntur Sircar also manufactured saltpetre on a commercial scale.

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Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire By C. A. Bayly, Christopher Alan Bayly


A mid 17th century Royal Society paper documented how saltpetre was made in India.

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Most of the miniscule amounts of saltpetre produced in the rest of the world was calcium nitrate, a hygroscopic salt, which spoilt easily by absorbing moisture from air.
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The Armenians, the ill-fated Omichund, a “notorious Calcutta merchant who was later to engineer the Plassey Revolution” played an important part in the Bengal/Bihar saltpetre trade.

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The Trading World of Asia and the English East India Company: 1660-1760 By K. N. Chaudhuri

They were all significant players in the export of saltpetre (potassium nitrate). Also known as niter, saltpetre was a necessary ingredient for gunpowder.

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Manual of Mineralogy: Including Observations on Mines, Rocks, Reduction of ... By James Dwight Dana

To be continued.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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After the annexation of Bengal, Gunpowder became brits monopoly.

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The Asiatic Journal and Monthly Register for British India ..., Part 6, Volume 7

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See.

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After obtaining this vital monopoly so that britain protected this.

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Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire By C. A. Bayly, Christopher Alan Bayly

Saltpetre exports were banned.

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Science in the Service of Empire: Joseph Banks, the British State and the ... By John Ph. D. Gascoigne, John Gascoigne


Thus an ancient Indian technology was harnessed by the English to subjugate the Asia.

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To be continued.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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From gold came saltpetre, which made getting gold easier

Greater access of saltpetre to the British and with the shutting out of other European powers, saltpetre became essential for other European powers, because English had it. It became rare, as the English monopolised the trade.

In 1775, the French scientific publication, Observations sur la physique a proposal by Academie Royale des Sciences for increased saltpetre production within France.
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Finally, a prize was announced in 1783. Nicolas Leblanc set up a factory at St.Denis, during 1791-194, near Paris for manufacture of saltpetre in France.

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The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon By Gunther E. Rothenberg

The whole of France was mobilized for this saltpetre collection and gunpowder production.

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From Crossbow to H-bomb By Bernard Brodie, Fawn McKay Brodie


At the start of the American Civil War, against the Southern Confederates, The North started with the benefit of a stockpile of some 3 million pounds of niter – i.e. saltpetre.

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Lincoln and the Tools of War By Robert V. Bruce

The Confederates sent James Mason and John Slidell to obtain saltpetre from Britain – and not empty diplomatic recognition from European powers. Mason and Slidell were captured by Unionist forces. Britain demanded release of Mason Slidell. Lincoln refused.

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Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era By James M. McPherson

Queen Victoria issued a proclamation forbidding the export from all ports of the United Kingdom, of gunpowder, nitre, nitrate of soda, brimstone, lead, and fire-arms.

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The Rebellion Record: Sept. '61-Jany. '62 edited by Frank Moore

Britain imposed a ban on exports of saltpetre. Known in history as the Trent Affair, as Union saltpetre stocks went down, Lincoln backed down and agreed to release Mason and Slidell.

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Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History edited by Will Kaufman, Heidi Slettedahl

Prices of saltpetre skyrocketed from some $0.20 to $3.0 within one year after the war began.

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Never for Want of Powder: The Confederate Powder Works in Augusta, Georgia By C. L. Bragg


The Confederates established a Niter Corps to manage this shortage. British godowns overflowing with Indian and Egyptian cotton, did not really depend on Southern cotton, declared neutrality – and supplied both sides with Indian saltpetre.

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Well understood by the american Government, C.h.davis, of the Bureau Of Ordnance, Navy Department, on November 22, 1862 reported to the us Congress,

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House Documents, Otherwise Publ. as Executive Documents: 13th ..., Volume 3 By United States. Congress. House.

To be continued.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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End of the saltpetre era.

With the arrival of Chile’s nitrate (sodium nitrate – NaNO3) deposits in Atacama desert, the world was weaned away from Indian saltpetre.

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Borates: Handbook of Deposits, Processing, Properties, and Use By Donald E. Garrett

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The History of Chile By John Lawrence Rector

Chilean nitrates were used to derive nitric acid, a key intermediate for explosives manufacture.

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Nitrate, Agriculture, and the Environment By T. M. Addiscott

Chilean nitrate was sodium nitrate, which could be used to derive nitric acid.
Notes on Military Explosives
Front Cover

Weaver Erasmus Morgan

The Reference Library of the Bennett College - Chemistry
Front Cover

A. V. Unsworth



Nitric acid was used for manufacture of explosives. Hapag, the Hamburg based shipping line, became the biggest in the world, carrying Chilean nitrates to Germany.

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The Regions of Germany: A Reference Guide to History and Culture By Dieter K. Buse


The end of Boer War (1899-1902) saw the emergence of Germany as a major producer of munitions – especially the smokeless gunpowder. Even Britain started buying from Germany.


For a brief while, guano, a natural fertiliser composed of bird droppings, was also a source of nitrates for explosives. But, with the Haber-Bosch process, Germany could manufacture explosives – without the Chilean nitrate.

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Caveman Chemistry: 28 Projects, from the Creation of Fire to the Production By Kevin M. Dunn


With the discovery of nitroglycerine and Tnt and its widespread commercialization by Alfred Nobel (of Nobel Prize fame) from the 1860s onwards, this British saltpetre monopoly end. As the British monopoly over gunpowder started weakening, the British policy changed.


The decline of Indian saltpetre.

To cover the cost of the Anglo-Indian War of 1857, the British Raj increased taxes on saltpetre.

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Macmillan's Magazine, Volume 2 edited by David Masson, Sir George Grove, John Morley, Mowbray Walter Morris

British traders from India started clamoring for a reduction in export duty from 1860 onwards. From more 20,000 tons of saltpetre exports in 62-62, it fell to around 11000 tons by 1865, and continued declining there after.

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The Financial Foundations of the British Raj: Ideas and Interests in the ... By Sabyasachi Bhattacharya


By which time, Britain was already the preeminent power in the world. On the back of Indian gunpowder factories.

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The Financial Foundations of the British Raj: Ideas and Interests in the ... By Sabyasachi Bhattacharya
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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Pirate country to super-power.

Till 1856, sea piracy was legal.

The British crown gave permits for pirates to operate on high seas – through, what were known as, letters of marque.
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Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns: State-Building and Extraterritorial By Janice E. Thomson


With the sanction of the English State, high seas piracy became a national pastime in Britain.

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The Ebk Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in The americas by Kris e lane.

Pirates like Sir John Hawkins made money on slave trade and piracy – targeting Spanish ships.

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European Christianity and the Atlantic Slave Trade: a Black Hermeneutical Study By Rev. Dr. Robinson A. Milwood

Queen Elizabeth, apart from knighting him, also participated in these criminal enterprises.

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The Everything Pirates Book a Swashbuckling History of Adventure on the High Seas by Spaite, ArjeanKarg, Barb

The Spanish Armada was assembled by Spain to end British piracy. Further on, British propaganda made these pirates and privateers into heroes – and the Spanish Armada into an instrument of Catholic repression.
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The Vampire of the Continent By E. Graf Reventlow

Piracy was outlawed by The Declaration of Paris, in 1856, ratified by various powers. Initially by Austria, France, Britain, Prussia, Russia, Sardinia and Turkey – but not by Spain, Portugal and the america. Soon after, Britain became a buyer of explosives, munitions. Challenges to British power started soon after this.

To be continued.
 

asaffronladoftherisingsun

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Piracy - Root of british capital.

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Let there be piracy …


During the centuries of Britain’s rise (1600-1800), a significant source of wealth was piracy – loot of merchant shipping, on high seas.


A particular target of English pirates were Spanish ships, crossing the Atlantic, carrying gold from the Americas to Spain. English pirates attacked and looted these ships. Any ship was a target – and many a time, the ship itself, and not the cargo, was the target of the pirates.

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Reference - A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Arranged in systematic order a complete history of the navigation discovery and commerce by sea and land from early ages to modern times edited by Robert kerr.


British access to financial liquidity, initially, was a result, of organized piracy – targeting Spanish merchant shipping. Modern British history glosses over this ‘contribution’ made by piracy.

We know that till 1856 ad sea piracy was legal and not just legal it was promoted by europeans.

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Reference - Mercenaries, Pirates, and Sovereigns by Janice Thompson.

We know brits raj gave permits to pirates for looting on high seas – through, what were known as, letters of marque. With following conditions

  • That the brits ships would not be attacked.
  • That the state would get full part of the loot.
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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Arranged ..., Volume 10 By Robert Kerr

Hence all of brits access to financial liquidity, initially, was a result, of organized piracy – targeting spanish merchant shipping. Today ofcourse modern british history glosses over this ‘contribution’ made by piracy.

To be continued.
 

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