March 4, 2022


Ques- Subsidiary alliance was an innovation of Lord Wellesley to counter the French threat. Examine the statement. 

Answer: Lord Wellesley deployed the subsidiary alliance system most aggressively but it wasn’t invented by him.

  • Lord Wellesley was sent to India at a time when a Napoleonic invasion of India was considered imminent. So, he used the subsidiary alliance system to tighten his stranglehold on Indian states so that they could not conspire with the French. However, Wellesley did not invent the Subsidiary System.
  • It evolved over a very long period. Dupleix was perhaps the first to lent European troops to Indian princes. The English also adopted this system.
  • Ever since Robert Clive, the system had been applied by almost every Governor-General of India. Wellesley's contribution was that he elaborated the system and applied it to almost every Indian state.
  • In its treaty with the Nawab of Oudh in 1765, the company had promised to defend the frontiers of Oudh, provided the Nawab defrayed the expenses. A British Resident was also stationed at Lucknow.
  • First time, Lord Cornwallis had insisted in the treaty with Nawab of Carnatic that the subsidiary state should have no foreign relations.
  • Later, Sir John Shore insisted that the Nawab of Oudh (1798) as not hold communications with or admit into his service other European nationals.
  • The demand for the surrender of territory instead of cash payment was the next logical step. Usually, the monetary demands of the Company were so heavy that the Indian states usually fell in arrears. Wellesley, therefore, made it a norm to ask for the surrender of full sovereignty of a piece of territory for the upkeep of the subsidiary force.

               Thus, we see that Wellesley merely added another feature to the evolving system of subsidiary alliances and used it in a rather aggressive manner to keep out the French from the service of Indian states.