Reforms of Lord Hastings – Modern Indian History Notes Part 4

Lord Hastings became Governor-general in 1813. He adopted a vigorous forward policy and waged wars extensively. Conditions in India when he assumed power posed a serious threat to the British administration

There was anarchy in central India. The Pindaris plundered the whole region and the Marathas could not control them, the Peshwa was secretly plotting against the British

The war against the Ghurkhas (1814-16)

  • Nepal emerged as a powerful Ghurkha state in 1768.

  • In 1801, the British acquired the districts of Gorakhpur and Basti from the Nawab of Oudh.

  • This move brought the boundary of Nepal to touch the British frontier.

  • The aggression of the Ghurkhas into the British territories culminated in a war.

  • Amar Singh Thapa, the able General of Nepal Army was forced to surrender

  • In March 1816, the Treaty of Sagauliwas concluded.

  • The Ghurkhas gave up their claim over the Tarai region and ceded the areas of Kumaon and Garhwal to the British.

  • The British now secured the area around Shimla and their north-western borders touched the Himalayas.

  • The Ghurkhas had to withdraw from Sikkim and they also agreed to keep a British Resident at Katmandu.

  • It was also agreed that the kingdom of Nepal would not employ any other foreigner in its services other than the English.

  • The British had also obtained the sites of hill stations like Shimla, Mussoorie, Nainital, Ranikhet and developed them as tourist and health resorts

  • . After this victory in the Ghurkha War Hastings was honoured with English peerage and he became Marquis of Hastings

Suppression of the Pindaris

  • The first reference about them is during the Mughal invasion of Maharashtra.

  • They did not belong to any particular caste or creed.

  • During the time of Baji Rao I, there was irregular horsemen attached to the Maratha army.

  • They were most active in the areas of Rajputana and the Central Provinces and subsisted on plunder.

  • Their leaders belonged to both the Hindu as well as the Muslim communities

  • Chief amongst them were Wasil Muhammad, Chitu and Karim Khan.

  • In 1812, the Pindaris plundered the districts of Mirzapur and Shahabad and in 1815 they raided the Nizam’s dominions. In 1816,

  • By 1818, the Pindaris were completely suppressed and all their bands disintegrated

  • Karim Khan was given a small estate in the Gorakhpur district of the United Provinces.

  • By 1824, the menace of the Pindaris came to an end

The downfall of the Maratha Confederacy

  • In reality, the Maratha power had weakened considerably after the Third Battle of Panipat (1761)

  • The Maratha chiefs fought amongst themselves and their successors were invariably weak and incapable

  • Peshwa Baji Rao II wanted to become the head of the Maratha Confederacy

  • Wanted freedom from the British control

  • His Chief Minister Tirimbakji encouraged him.

  • On the advice of the Company, the Gaekwar sent his Prime Minister Gangadhar Shastri to negotiate with the Peshwa.

  • Gangadhar Shastri was murdered at Nasik in July 1815, at the instance of Triambakji.

  • This caused a lot of anger not only among the Marathas but also among the British

  • The latter asked the Peshwa to handover Triambakji to them.

  • Peshwa handed over his Minister to the British, who lodged him in Thana jail from where he escaped

  • Consequently, on 13 June 1817, the British Resident Elphinstone forced the Peshwa to sign the Treaty of Poona

  • Baji Rao gave up his desire to become the supreme head of the Marathas

Third Maratha War (1817-1819)

  • But soon the Peshwa undid this treaty with the British and on 5 November 1817 attacked the British Residency

  • The Bhonsle chief, Appa Sahib also refused to abide by the Treaty of Nagpur, which he had signed with the British on 17 May 1816.

  • He fought with the British in the Battle of Sitabaldiin November 1817, but was defeated

  • The Peshwa now turned to Holkar for help, but Holkar too was defeated by the British on 21 December 1817 at Baroda.

  • The Peshwa now turned to Holkar for help, but Holkar too was defeated by the British on 21 December 1817 at Baroda.

Causes of the Defeat of the Marathas

The main reasons were

  • Lack of capable leadership

  • Military weakness of the Marathas.

  • The major drawback of the Maratha power was mutual bitterness and lack of cooperation amongst themselves

  • The Marathas hardly left any positive impact on the conquered territories.

  • The Marathas did not have cordial relations with other princes and Nawabs of India.

  • The Marathas failed to estimate correctly the political and diplomatic strength of the British

Reforms of Hastings

  • He approved the Ryotwari system of land revenue

  • Madras Presidency by Sir Thomas Munroe.

  • In the sphere of the judiciary, the Cornwallis Code was improved.

  • The Police system of Bengal was extended to other regions.

  • The importance of Indian Munsiffs had increased during his administration.

  • The separation of judicial and revenue departments was not rigidly followed. Instead, the District Collector acted as Magistrate.

  • Hastings had also encouraged the foundation of vernacular schools by missionaries and others

  • In 1817, the Hindu College was established at Calcutta by the public for the teaching of English and western science.

  • Hastings was the Patron of this college. He encouraged the freedom of the Press and abolished the censorship introduced in 1799.

  • The Bengali Weekly, Samachar Darpanwas started in 1818 by Marshman, a Serampore missionary.


  • Lord Hastings was an able soldier and a brilliant administrator.

  • His liberal views on education and Press are commendable

  • He suppressed the Pindaris, defeated the Marathas and curbed the power of the Ghurkhas.

  • He was considered the maker of the Bombay Presidency.

  • The completed and consolidated the work of Wellesley.

  • Lord Hastings was succeeded by Lord Amherst (1823-28) who fought the First Anglo-Mysore War (1824-26)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.