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Myopia or strategic behavior? Indian regimes and the East India Company in late eighteenth century India

Mandar Oak () and Anand Swamy

Explorations in Economic History, 2012, vol. 49, issue 3, 352-366

Abstract: The East India Company's conquest of India was facilitated by the behavior of its Indian rivals who not only did not ally against it, but often supported it militarily. Historians have typically attributed this to myopia, the failure to understand the long-term threat represented by the Company. We examine the negotiations leading up to a key conflict, the Third Mysore War, and find that the Company's allies were not myopic. The British parliament had, in 1784, passed Pitt's India Act, which limited the scope for unprovoked military aggression by the Company in India. This had changed the behavior of the Company, making its promises more credible. This enhanced credibility made it possible for the Company to secure as allies Indian regimes that were acting strategically in their self-interest. This is a new explanation for an old puzzle.

Keywords: War; Colonialism; India (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: N40 N45 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2012
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DOI: 10.1016/j.eeh.2012.03.002

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Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:49:y:2012:i:3:p:352-366