The doctrine of Lapse and Paramountcy- From Trade to Territory
The early 19th century was a period of aggressive territorial expansion for Britishers.
The new policy of paramountcy was initiated under Lord Warren Hastings, it was based on the British mindset of superiority, they considered themselves above Indians, and thus justified annexation.
The policy of Paramountcy faced challenges in many places and by many rulers. E.g Kitoor (Karnataka), but they failed.
In the fear of Russia entering from north-west, the company in 1830’s fought with Afghanistan and took indirect control, later Punjab (Maharaja Ranjit Singh) was also annexed in 1849, after two prolonged wars with Sikhs.
The final straw in the annexation came under Lord Dalhousie with the newly devised policy of Doctrine of Lapse.
According to the Doctrine of Lapse, if an Indian ruler died without a male heir his kingdom would lapse and will become the territory of the Company.
Kingdom ofSatara (1848), Sambalpur (1850), Udaipur (1852), Nagpur (1853) and Jhansi(1854), Awadh (1856) was annexed under the doctrine.
The annexation of Awadh had been justified by saying that it was important to free people from the misgovernmentof the Nawab, this created agitation in people leading to the revolt of 1857.