Critically examine the annexation policy of lord Dalhousie:
The most important aspect of Dalhousie’s administration is related to “the great drama of annexation”. His aims for expanding the Company’s territories were administrative, imperial, commercial and financial. Although he used different reasons for annexation, his main objective was to end misrule in the annexed states, as in the case of the annexation of Oudh.
He aimed at providing the beneficent administration to the people of the annexed states. At the same time he had in his mind the advantages of annexation -to the British such as imperial defence, commercial and financial benefits. Though Dalhousie did not come to India to follow a policy of annexation, but he was able to consolidate British rule in India by his policy of annexation. His great annexcations include the Punjab, lower Burma, most of the Central Provinces and Oudh.
At the-end of the second Anglo - Sikh war in 1849, Punjab was annexed by Dalhousie. He organized the administration of Punjab very efficiently. The province wars divided in to small district under the control of District officers who were called Deputy Commissioners. These Commissioners with the help of their assistants came into close contact with people. Revenue and judicial departments were combined to secure concentration of power and responsibility. The laws and procedure were simplified in accordance with the custom of the people. The overall administration of Punjab was entrusted to the chief commissioner. In fact, the governor. General was the virtual ruler of Punjab.
The services of Lawrence brothers in the administration of Punjab, were notable within three years perfect order was restored in the province. It was efficiently defended from internal and external enemies. In 1859, Sir John Lawrance became the Lieutenant Governor of Punjab.
In-1852, Commercial disputes in Rangoon prompted new hostilities between the British and the Burmese. After the end of the second Burmese war (1852, Dalhousie annexed lower Burma with its capital Pegu. Major Arthur Phayre was appointed the commissioner of the new province. His administration also proved to be efficient. The annexation of lower Barma proved beneficial to Britain. Rangoon, Britain’s most valuable acquisition from the war became one of the biggest ports in Asia.
The brinish relations with the state of Oudh go back to the Treaty of Allahabad in 1765. Right from Warren Hastings, many governor generals advised the Nawab of oudh to improve the administration. But, misrule continued there and the Nawab was under the assumption that the British would not annex Oudh because of his loyalty to them. In 1851, William Sleeman, resident at Lucknow, reported on the “spectacle of human misery and careless misrule”… But Sleeman was against the policy of annexing Oudh. After surveying the situation in Oudh, Dalhousie annexed it in 1856. Nawab Wajid Ali was granted a pension of 12 lakhs of rupees per year. The annexed territory came under the control of a chief commissioner.