The world’s first MNC

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By Shafaat  Khan, Copy Edited By Adam Rizvi, TIO: British East India Company, the first MULTI NATIONAL COMPANY had only 35 people on its roster in their London office, and no more than 2000 Britishers in India at any given time.  But they were able to employ 200000 Indian mercenaries (twice the size of Britain army at that time) to CONQUER India, and that too, through FINANCE by Indian bankers primarily from UP and Bihar.

You’d wonder how in the world could that happen?  The reason is very simple, and it is the same reason why some businesses succeed more than others even today.  The British East India Company was reliable, it honored its contracts, it paid its debt on time.  In fact, way back in 1780 they introduced 5 year Bonds that provided good returns, so the Indian private bankers preferred the
British East India Company over the Mughals, Marathas and Nawabs, with whom an investment was always at a risk of complete forfeiture or partial loss.  By investing with British East India Company, the Indians became a part of the British East India Company system as well.

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The Company also paid their soldiers twice the salary that the Nawabs, Marathas and Mughals paid, thereby gaining an edge and better soldiers.

The British East India Company initially wanted spice trade from Indonesia but the Dutch overwhelmed them with their greater naval prowess, and the BEIC turned to Textiles as their go-to product.

Due to the Mughals, the TEXTILE INDUSTRY of India was one of the finest in the world, and in modern day West Bengal and Dhaka (Bangla Desh) there were more than 1 MILLION WEAVERS, producing best quality textiles, which made the Calcutta port very famous the world over, supplying mughal-influenced textiles to the west.  This venture was so successful that 33% of Britain’s taxes came from the BEIC. The BEIC broke up Mughal zamindaris and AUCTIONED off the plots to Indians, which created a huge middle class in Bengal. Later the BEIC also sold opium from Bihar, Ghazipur and Bengal to Hong Kong and bought tea from China, which was sold to India and to the west, including to Boston, USA, which later resulted in the Boston Tea Party incident.

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It was not until 1774 that the BEIC came under the umbrella of the British Government and GOVERNMENTAL regulations. So the first MNC by then spread from West Bengal to Awadh already.  And after 1857, India came under the British Raj, after the mutiny where 139000 Indian troops marched to New Delhi (around 100000 of these were Hindus) who tried to put Bahadur Shah Zafar on the THRONE again.  More than 300000 Indians perished in the mutiny, which was also referred to as the first war of independence.  Earlier, the Mughals under Shah Alam (1772-1782) tried to make a resurgence but Shah Alam could never win a war.  However, under Najaf Khan the Mughals defeated the Jats of Doab, Sikhs of Punjab and Afghans of Rohilkhand, and the Mughals continued to have some power until the British Raj finally took over in 1858 and continued to rule in India for 90 years.  And all of this history was created by a small company located in London, which pioneered the globalism we see in the world today, where economic interests still take precedence.  When the people’s fortunes are joined together, common bonds are formed out of self-preservation, and trade and commerce pretty much rules over all else!!

Curated By Humra Kidwai


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