Causes for the British Conquest of Odisha

The following factors contributed to the British occupation of Odisha:

The Maratha rulers’ weakness

After Januji’s death, the internal conflict among the Bhonsles of Nagpur weakened the Marathas, which had an effect on the Maratha rulers of Odisha. As the decline began among the Marathas, their powers gradually dwindled, for which they received insufficient assistance from Nagpur. Even for the purpose of subduing the unruly land lords, they needed British assistance.

Land lords’ oppression

Taking advantage of the Marathas’ incompetence in Odisha, regional land lords became irresponsible and oppressive. They engaged in a variety of illegal activities, and their oppression of the subjects knew no bounds. Odisha’s political situation was chaotic and perplexing. The zamindars exploited Odisha’s poor common man according to their whims and fancies. Their miserable circumstances grew worse, and they drank a cup of misery. Thus, the people required the removal of both the oppressive Marathas and the zamindars.

Establishment of British factories

To establish a strong economic and military base in Odisha, the British established factories in various parts of the state. The British recognised the economic importance of Odisha with the grant of Dewan, of Bengal, Bihar, and Odisha to the East India Company in 1765. When the British established factories in Hariharpur, Pipli, and Balasore, they recognised the province’s commercial importance. Additionally, the British obtained permission from the Marathas to maintain their monopoly on salt manufacturing in Odisha. The trade routes connecting Cuttack to Bengal, Madras, and Nagpur significantly facilitated their business.

Odisha’s military significance

The British authorities recognised Odisha’s military significance. As previously stated, Warren Hastings was required to give Chauth and advance loans to the Maratha governors to facilitate the passage of the British army from Calcutta to Madras via Odisha. With the appointment of Lord Wellesley as Governor-General of India in 1768, the Indian powers felt the cold hand of British imperialism acutely. He wasted no time annexing Odisha and incorporating it into the British Empire.

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