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Bengal, acquisition of

Bengal, acquisition of. On 12 August 1765 the Mughal emperor Shah Alam proclaimed the English East India Company his diwan (administrator) for the revenues of the provinces of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa. This confirmed the company's transformation from a trading to a political power in India and made Bengal the ‘bridgehead’ of its new empire. The transformation had begun in south India in 1746 when the company and its French rival had backed different candidates for the nawabi of Arcot. It continued in Bengal between 1757 and 1764 when, first, Robert Clive had defeated the army of Siraj-ud-Daula, the nawab of Bengal, at Panipat; and then Sir Hector Munro had overcome the forces of the Mughal emperor at Buxar. The process was brought to completion in 1773 by Warren Hastings, who removed the last residual powers of the nawab of Bengal and took not only revenue but all aspects of the administration of the region into company hands.

David Anthony Washbrook

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