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Modern History / British Conquest of India

Annexation of Sindh and Punjab and Doctrine of Lapse


    Annexation of Sindh and Punjab was done through wars after which the British never fought a war. British started acquiring the states through the scheme of Doctrine of Lapse.

    Annexation of Sindh

    • The annexation of Sind was purely imperialistic and unjustifiable.

    • In 1839, the Amir of Sindh signed the Subsidiary Alliance. Mir Sher Muhammad Talpur was the Amir at the time of signing the Subsidiary Alliance.

    • In 1843, the Resident at Hyderabad (capital of Sindh), Charles Napier received an order from Governor General Ellenborough and Napier defeated Sher Muhammad.

    • Napier says, "We have no right to capture Sindh but we need to do so because we are useful rascals". Napier says to Governor General, "I have Sin(ne)d".

    Annexation of Punjab

    • There was rise of a dozen Misls (small Sikh states) in Punjab area. The king was called Misldar.

    • Sukerchakia (now in Pakistan) Misldar Maharaja Ranjit Singh (1792-1839) annexed all the Misls. Lahore remained his capital. Due to chickenpox, he lost his one eye from the childhood.

    • In 19th century, he had second best army after the British. He maintained cordial relations with the British. All Governor Generals were very close to him.

    • After the decease of Ranjit Singh, his minor son Dalip Singh was put on the throne. His mother Rani Jindan was the real authority. During this period, two Anglo Sikh wars were fought.
      • First Anglo Sikh War (1845-1846)

        The British Governor General at this time was Hardinge I. Sikhs were defeated in this war and concluded the Treaty of Lahore.

      • Second Anglo Sikh War (1848-1849)

        It was the last war fought by the British. The Governor General during this war was Lord Dalhousie. Punjab was annexed and the members of the royal family were sent to England and were made as pensioners. Punjab was the last State to be conquered through warfare.

    Doctrine of Lapse

    • Dalhousie introduced a scheme in 1848, known as "Doctrine of Lapse". According to this policy, if any king did not have a natural successor, the kingdom would be taken over by the British. It does not allow adoption of sons. It was one more technique similar to Subsidiary Alliance System used by the British to acquire territory in India.

    • States which were annexed on the basis of "Doctrine of Lapse" -
      • Satara (Maharashtra) - 1848
      • Sambalpur (Odisha) and Jaitpur (Bundelkhand) - 1849
      • Baghat - 1850
      • Udaipur (Rajasthan) - 1852
      • Jhansi (Bundelkhand) - 1853
      • Nagpur - 1854

    • Regarding the Nawab of Awadh, Wajid Ali Shah, as "Doctrine of Lapse" could not be enforced, Dalhousie made a pretext of misgovernance by the Nawab. Awadh state was annexed in 1856 by the British by citing misgovernance. Nawab was sent to Calcutta from Lucknow as a pensioner and he died in Calcutta in 1856.