The Battle of Buxar was fought between the British East India Company and the combined forces of Bengal’s Nawab Mir Qasim, Awadh’s Nawab Shuja-ud-Daula and Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II on 22nd October 1764, in Buxar of present-day Bihar. The Battle of Buxar was triggered due to Mir Qasim’s discontent over the British East India Company’s continuous expansion in Bengal and other parts, as well as its misuse of Farmans and Dastaks, legal instruments of the Nawab. The battle took place at the banks of the Ganges, and the British East India Company, led by Major Hector Munro, won a decisive victory in the battle. This article will provide detail about the causes of the Battle of Buxar for UPSC students.
Background of the Battle of Buxar
Before the Battle of Buxar, the British East India Company had won the Battle of Plassey in 1757, where Robert Clive defeated the last independent Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah. Clive won the Battle of Plassey and deposed Siraj ud-Daulah, who was killed after the battle. Siraj ud-Daulah’s commander Mir Jafar had defected to the British and was installed as a puppet Nawab of Bengal by Clive soon after the Battle of Plassey.
Despite being a puppet Nawab, Mir Jafar tried to alter the power equations and was in touch with the Dutch East India Company, which was also willing to expand itself in Bengal. This irked the British, who purged Mir Jafar and installed his son-in-law, Mir Qasim, as the new Nawab of Bengal. Upon becoming the Nawab, Mir Qasim shifted his headquarters from Murshidabad in present-day West Bengal to Munger in present-day Bihar. He exerted independence and opposed the British East India Company officials showing insubordination to his government and their abuse of legal instruments like Dastak and Farman.
Moreover, Mir Qasim allied with the Mughal Emperor and Nawab of Awadh, who were unhappy with the British East India Company’s expansionist quest. He limited the trade benefits enjoyed by the British and appointed foreign experts to train his army, which also irked the British East India Company.
Causes of the Battle of Buxar
- Mir Qasim wanted to function as an independent monarch of Bengal Subah and streamline his administration’s functioning. He opposed the misuse of Dastak and Farman instruments by the British East India Company. His economic reforms reduced expenditure on palaces and administration, which angered the British colonialists.
- Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II and Awadh’s Nawab Shuja-ud-Daulah were also unhappy with the British East India Company’s expansion in Bengal and beyond and the Company’s unfair trade practices that were hurting their economic interests. This led to a united front between Mir Qasim, Shah Alam II and Shuja-ud-Daulah.
- Though the British East India Company officials demanded preferential treatment from Nawab Mir Qasim to have trade advantages vis-a-vis their competitors, the Nawab refused to budge. Due to a lack of preferential treatment, the East India Company started incurring huge revenue losses in Bengal. This made it imperative for them to conquer Bengal formally.
- In addition to hiring foreign experts to train his army, Nawab Mir Qasim reportedly hired some experts who were actually in direct conflict with the British.
Significance of Battle of Buxar
- The British East India Company’s victory in the Battle of Buxar helped it formally conquer Nawab of Bengal’s entire territories, including parts of present-day Bihar and Odisha. British commander Munro defeated the troops of Mughal emperor Shah Alam II and Awadh’s Nawab Shuja-ud-Daulah. Mir Qasim could not make any difference and fled the battlefield, abandoning his troops. He later died in obscurity due to extreme poverty, even though he fled with a huge cache of wealth.
- Though the British East India Company had ended the independence of Bengal’s Nawab after the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the Battle of Buxar provided the Company with political influence and absolute control over Awadh Mughal empire, following the Treaty of Allahabad in 1765.
- Therefore, after the Battle of Buxar, the British East India managed a strong foothold in India and laid the foundation of its colonial rule, which would last till 1947.
This article briefly described the causes of the Battle of Buxar to UPSC aspirants.
The Battle of Buxar was a military conflict between the British East India Empire and the joint army of the Nawab of Bengal and the Nawab of Oudh. The battle took place in the present-day Buxar, Bihar, India, on 22nd October 1764. The British forces were led by Hector Munro, the commander of the Bengal Army. The Indian troops were led by Mir Qasim, the Nawab of Bengal, Shuja-ud-Daulah, the Nawab of Awadh and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II.
The Battle of Buxar was a major turning point in Indian history. In a single day, British cannons had decisively defeated the largest army, which resulted in the Treaty of Allahabad, in which the Mughal Emperor gave sovereignty of Bengal to the British East India Company. Robert Clive, who had earlier won the Battle of Plassey, became the first Governor of Bengal. The rule of the commercial-military establishment named British East India Company formally started in India with the Battle of Buxar. It continued until 1857 when the British Crown took over the reins of India following the Sepoy Mutiny.