Podcasti zgodovine

20 dejstev o vzhodnoindijski družbi

20 dejstev o vzhodnoindijski družbi

East India Company (EIC) je ena najbolj razvpitih korporacij v zgodovini. Iz pisarne na ulici Leadenhall Street v Londonu je podjetje osvojilo podcelino.

Tukaj je 20 dejstev o East India Company.

1. EIC je bil ustanovljen leta 1600

"Guvernerju in podjetju londonskih trgovcev, ki trgujejo z Vzhodno Indijo", kot so ga takrat imenovali, je kraljica Elizabeta I. 31. decembra 1600 podelila kraljevo listino.

Listina je družbi dodelila monopol nad vso trgovino vzhodno od Rta dobrega upanja in zloveščino pravico do »vojskovanja« na ozemljih, na katerih je delovala.

2. Bila je ena prvih delniških družb na svetu

Zamisel, da bi naključni vlagatelji lahko kupili delnice družbe, je bila revolucionarna nova ideja v poznem obdobju Tudorja. To bi spremenilo britansko gospodarstvo.

Prva pooblaščena delniška družba na svetu je bila družba Moscovy Company, ki je od leta 1553 trgovala med Londonom in Moskvo, vendar je EIC sledil tik za njo in deloval v veliko večjem obsegu.

Orlando Figes se z Danom pogovarja o družbenem in tehnološkem razvoju ter njihovem odnosu do kulturnih sprememb v 19. stoletju.

Pazi zdaj

3. Prvo potovanje družbe jim je prineslo 300 -odstotni dobiček ...

Prvo potovanje se je začelo le dva meseca po tem, ko je East East Company prejela svojo listino, ko je Rdeči zmaj - prenovljena piratska ladja s Karibov - je februarja 1601 odplula proti Indoneziji.

Posadka je trgovala s sultanom v Achehu, vdrla na portugalsko ladjo in se vrnila z 900 tonami začimb, vključno s poprom, cimetom in nageljnom. Ta eksotični pridelek je za delničarje podjetja zaslužil bogastvo.

4. ... vendar so izgubili z nizozemsko vzhodnoindijsko družbo

Nizozemsko vzhodnoindijsko podjetje ali VOC je bilo ustanovljeno le dve leti po EIC. Vendar je zbral veliko več denarja kot britanski kolega in prevzel nadzor nad donosnimi začimbnimi otoki Java.

V času 17th Stoletja so Nizozemci ustanovili trgovska mesta v Južni Afriki, Perziji, Šrilanki in Indiji. Do leta 1669 je bil VOC najbogatejše zasebno podjetje na svetu.

Nizozemske ladje se vračajo iz Indonezije, polne bogastva.

Zaradi nizozemske prevlade v trgovini z začimbami se je EIC obrnila v Indijo v iskanju bogastva s tekstilom.

5. EIC je ustanovila Mumbai, Kolkata in Chennai

Medtem ko so bila območja naseljena pred prihodom Britancev, so trgovci EIC ustanovili ta mesta v njihovi sodobni inkarnaciji. To so bila prva tri velika naselja Britancev v Indiji.

Vse tri so bile uporabljene kot okrepljene tovarne za Britance - skladiščenje, predelava in zaščita blaga, s katerim so trgovali z mogolskimi vladarji Indije.

6. EIC je v Indiji močno tekmoval s Francozi

Francozi Compagnie des Indes tekmoval z EIC za komercialno premoč v Indiji.

Oba sta imela svojo zasebno vojsko, obe podjetji pa sta v Indiji v okviru širšega anglo-francoskega spopada v 18.th Stoletja, ki je zajel ves svet.

13. septembra 1759 je na Abrahamovih ravnicah v bližini mesta Quebec večja britanska vojska vodila bitko, ki je spremenila zgodovino sveta: bitko pri Quebecu.

Pazi zdaj

7. Britanski civilisti so umrli v Črni luknji v Kalkuti

Bengaški Nawab (podkralj) Siraj-ud-Daulah je lahko videl, da se vzhodnoindijsko podjetje razvija v kolonialno silo, ki se je od svojega komercialnega izvora razširilo v politično in vojaško silo v Indiji.

EIC-u je rekel, naj Kolkate ne bo utrdil znova, in ko so ignorirali njegovo grožnjo, so se Nawabi premaknili na mesto in zavzeli njihovo utrdbo in tovarno.

Britanski ujetniki so bili zaprti v majhni ječi, znani kot Črna luknja v Kalkuti. Razmere so bile v zaporu tako grozne, da je 43 od 64 zaprtih zapornikov umrlo čez noč.

8. Robert Clive je zmagal v bitki pri Plasseyju

Robert Clive je bil takrat guverner Bengalije in je vodil uspešno odpravo pomoči, ki je ponovno zajela Kolkato.

Konflikt med Siraj-ud-Daula in EIC se je razvil v mangrovih v Plasseyju, kjer sta se vojski srečali leta 1757. Vojsko Roberta Clivea s 3000 vojaki je pomaknila sila Nawaba s 50.000 vojaki in 10 vojnimi sloni.

Vendar je Clive podkupil vrhovnega poveljnika vojske Siraj-ud-Daulah, Mir Jafar, in obljubil, da ga bo, če bodo v bitki zmagali Britanci, naredil Nawab iz Bengala.

Ko se je Mir Jafar umaknil v žaru bitke, je disciplina mogulske vojske propadla. Vojaki EIC so jih ubili.

Robert Clive sreča Mir Jafar po bitki pri Plasseyju.

9. EIC je upravljala Bengal

Allahabadska pogodba avgusta 1765 je EIC podelila pravico upravljati finance Bengala. Robert Clive je bil imenovan za novega guvernerja Bengalije, EIC pa je prevzel pobiranje davkov v regiji.

Družba bi lahko zdaj z davki prebivalcev Bengalije financirala njihovo širitev po preostali Indiji. To je trenutek, ko je EIC prešel iz komercialne v kolonialno silo.

Robert Clive je imenovan za guvernerja Bengalije.

10. To je bil čaj EIC, ki so ga med bostonsko čajanko odvrgli v pristanišče

Maja 1773 se je skupina ameriških patriotov vkrcala na britanske ladje in v pristanišče Boston odvrgla 90.000 kilogramov čaja.

Trik je bil narejen v protest proti davkom, ki jih je ameriškim kolonijam uvedla britanska država. Patriots je slavno zagovarjal

"Brez zastopanja ni obdavčitve."

Bostonska čajanka je bila ključni mejnik na poti do ameriške revolucionarne vojne, ki se je začela le dve leti pozneje.

Susan Schulten predstavlja izbor zemljevidov iz fascinantne zbirke zemljevidov, ki so v njeni knjigi "Zgodovina Amerike na 100 zemljevidih".

Pazi zdaj

11. Zasebna vojaška sila EIC je bila dvakrat večja od britanske vojske

Do takrat, ko je vzhodnoindijsko podjetje leta 1803 zasedlo prestolnico Mogalske Indije, je nadzorovalo zasebno vojsko s približno 200.000 vojaki - kar je dvakrat več, kot bi jih lahko poklicala britanska vojska.

12. zmanjkalo mu je pisarne, široke le pet oken

Čeprav je EIC upravljal okoli 60 milijonov ljudi v Indiji, je deloval iz majhne stavbe na ulici Leadenhall Street, imenovane East India House, široke le pet oken.

Spletna stran je zdaj pod stavbo Lloyda v Londonu.

East India House - pisarna East India Company na ulici Leadenhall Street.

13. East India Company je zgradila velik del londonskega Docklanda

Leta 1803 so bili vzhodnoindijski doki zgrajeni v Blackwallu v vzhodnem Londonu. V vsakem trenutku bi lahko privezali do 250 ladij, kar je povečalo komercialni potencial Londona.

14. Letni izdatki EIC so znašali četrtino celotne porabe britanske vlade

EIC je letno porabil 8,5 milijona funtov v Veliki Britaniji, čeprav so njihovi prihodki skupaj znašali izrednih 13 milijonov funtov na leto. Slednji je v današnjem denarju enak 225,3 milijona funtov.

15. EIC je Kitajski zasegel Hongkong

Družba je v Indiji bogatila z rastjo opija, ki ga je pošiljala na Kitajsko in tam prodajala.

Dinastija Qing se je borila proti prvi opijevski vojni, da bi prepovedala trgovino z opijem, ko pa so Britanci zmagali v vojni, so v mirovni pogodbi, ki je sledila, pridobili otok Hong Kong.

Prizor iz druge bitke pri Chuenpiju med prvo opijsko vojno.

16. V parlamentu so podkupili številne poslance

Preiskava parlamenta leta 1693 je odkrila, da EIC letno porablja 1200 funtov za lobiranje ministrov in poslancev. Korupcija je šla v obe smeri, saj je skoraj četrtina vseh poslancev imela delnice v East India Company.

17. Družba je bila odgovorna za bengalsko lakoto

Leta 1770 je Bengal doživel katastrofalno lakoto, v kateri je umrlo približno 1,2 milijona ljudi; petina prebivalstva.

Medtem ko lakota na indijski podcelini ni redka, je bila politika EIC tista, ki je povzročila trpljenje v tem neverjetnem obsegu.

Družba je ohranila enake davčne stopnje in jih v nekaterih primerih celo dvignila za 10%. Nobenih celovitih programov za pomoč lakoti, kot so jih prej izvajali mogolski vladarji, niso uvedli. Riž so založili samo za vojake čete.

Konec koncev je bila EIC korporacija, katere prva odgovornost je bila povečati svoj dobiček. To so storili z izjemno človeško ceno za indijsko ljudstvo.

18. Leta 1857 se je vstala lastna vojska EIC

Potem ko so sepoji v mestu Meerut ubili proti svojim britanskim častnikom, je po vsej državi izbruhnil obsežen upor.

Upor sepojev v Meerutu - iz London Illustrated News, 1857.

V spopadu, ki je sledil, je umrlo 800.000 Indijancev in okoli 6.000 Britancev. Družba je divje zatirala upor, kar je bila ena najbolj brutalnih epizod kolonialne zgodovine.

19. Krona je razpustila EIC in ustvarila britanski Raj

Britanska vlada se je odzvala tako, da je v bistvu nacionalizirala East East Company. Družba je bila likvidirana, njeni vojaki so bili vključeni v britansko vojsko, krona pa bo odslej vodila administrativni stroj Indije.

Od leta 1858 je indijska podcelina vladala kraljica Viktorija.

20. Leta 2005 je EIC kupil indijski poslovnež

Ime East India Company je živelo po letu 1858 kot majhno podjetje s čajem - senca cesarskega velikana, kot je bilo prej.

V zadnjem času pa je Sanjiv Mehta podjetje preoblikoval v luksuzno blagovno znamko, ki prodaja čaj, čokolado in celo kopije iz čistega zlata kovancev East India Company, ki stanejo več kot 600 funtov.

V močnem nasprotju s svojim predhodnikom je novo vzhodnoindijsko podjetje član Partnerstva za etični čaj.


VZHODNO INDIJSKO PODJETJE

Vzhodnoindijsko podjetje se je začelo kot delniško podjetje, ustanovljeno s kraljevo listino, ki je vzpostavilo trgovinski monopol z Vzhodno Azijo, jugovzhodno Azijo in Indijo ter se postopoma vključilo v notranjo in mednarodno politiko. Igrala je ključno vlogo pri zagotavljanju britanske hegemonije nad pomorskim ladijskim prometom in je bila ključna pri ustanovitvi Britanskega cesarstva v Indiji. Z naselji v indijskih obalnih mestih Bombay, Surat, Calcutta in Madras je družba izvažala izdelke iz bombaža in svile, indigo, sol in začimbe v zameno za poljke, sčasoma pa je svojo trgovino razširila v Perzijski zaliv, dele jugovzhodne Azije in Vzhodni Aziji, vključno s Kitajsko, v devetnajstem stoletju. Družbo so leta 1708 združili s svojim glavnim konkurentom, da bi oblikovali izključni monopol. Družbo je vodilo štiriindvajset direktorjev, ki jih letno izvoli lastniško sodišče, ki je imelo močan vpliv tudi v britanskem parlamentu.

V Indiji je družba pridobila Mogalsko listino o brezcarinski trgovini (1717) in veliko vlagala v lokalno proizvodnjo, zlasti tekstil, ki je delovala iz Fort Williama v Kalkuti in Fort Saint George v Madrasu na vzhodni obali. Uslužbenci podjetja so se zaradi lastnih zasebnih naložb vključili v donosno notranjo in obalno trgovino, kar je povzročilo trenja z lokalnimi oblastmi. V Bengalu je zasebna trgovina s soljo, betelovimi orehi, tobakom in solitvijo utrdila Kalkuto in povezala z avtohtonimi trgovci, ki so bili slabo razporejeni proti Nawabu (Sirajud-Dawlah, ok. 1729–1757), kar je povzročilo konflikt, Roberto Clive (1725– 1774) zmaga v bitki pri Plasseyju (1757) in postavitev "lutkovnih" vladarjev. Eden izmed njih, Mir Kasim, (r. 1760–1763), je protestiral nad očitno zlorabo trgovskih privilegijev s strani uslužbencev podjetja, kar je pripeljalo do odločilne bitke pri Baksarju (1764), v kateri sta Kasim, Nawab iz Awadha in mogulski cesar Shah Alam II (r. 1759–1806) je združil moči, nato pa jih je ubila nadrejena bengaška domorodna armada podjetja. Cesar Mughal je v zameno za letni davek naredil podjetje za zbiranje (Diwan) prihodkov iz Bengala, Biharja in Orisse, letnega dobička v višini približno 6 milijonov funtov, kar je rešilo njegove naložbene in valutne težave. Vendar se je izvajanje prihodkov izkazalo za težko, administrativna malomarnost skupaj s sušo pa je povzročila izpad pridelka in lakoto leta 1770, v kateri je umrlo na milijone ljudi.

V južni Indiji je bila vzhodnoindijska družba vključena v dolgotrajno vojaško in diplomatsko tekmovanje z Marathami, Nizamovo oblastjo Hyderabad, kraljevino Mysore, ki jo je vodil Hyder Ali (1722–1782), in Francozi. Družba je uspela ustaviti Francoze, ki jih je vodil François Dupleix (1697–1763), vendar se je spor med sedemletno vojno (1756–1763) stopnjeval, kar je sčasoma končalo francoski izziv pri Wandiwash (1760) . Kmalu zatem sta tako Arcot kot Tanjore prišla pod posredno britansko oblast. Mysore je zagotavljal trden odpor do poraza Tippu Sultana (1749–1799) leta 1799. Marathe, razdeljene na različne vladarske hiše, so njihove sile izčrpane zaradi spopada z Afganistanci (1761), po letu 1803 končno podlegle Britancem. Pandžaba so bili ponižani v štiridesetih letih prejšnjega stoletja, druge knežje države pa so sprejele suzerenitet družbe, ki je nastala kot najmočnejša fiskalno-vojaška država na podcelini.

Zadeve podjetij, zlasti slabo upravljanje v Bengalu, so privedle do parlamentarne preiskave indijskih zadev. Z regulativnim zakonom (1773) in Pittovim indijskim zakonom (1784) je bil ustanovljen nadzorni odbor, odgovoren Parlamentu, ki je odpravil neupravičen vpliv delničarjev na indijsko politiko. Warren Hastings (1732–1818), prvi generalni guverner Indije (1772–1785), je poskušal prestrukturirati davčne in vojaške zadeve družbe, vendar ga je parlament obtožil korupcije (vodil ga je Edmund Burke [1729–1797] ), obtožen (1788) in precej pozneje oproščen. V britanski Indiji so se do začetka devetnajstega stoletja zgodile pomembne spremembe: sistem prihodkov je bil prestrukturiran z novimi lastninskimi pravicami, ki so bile dodeljene na trgih zemljišč, po meri in policiji, ki so bile prenovljene. uvedene so bile stroge omejitve za vse stike med Britanci in Indijanci. Angleško izobraževanje se je postopoma spodbujalo in selektivno uvajale sodobne tehnologije, vključno z železnicami, parnimi ladjami in telegrafom.

Po izgubi ameriških kolonij se je Indija pod oblastjo družbe pojavila kot temelj imperialne Britanije, čeprav kot odvisnost in ne kolonija naseljencev, kar je verjetno omejilo neposreden vpliv indijskega cesarskega podviga na britansko politika. Pod družbo Raj so indijski proizvajalci v devetnajstem stoletju upadli, s čimer so ustvarili prostor za velik, v veliki meri odvisen trg britanske industrijske proizvodnje. Leta 1813 je podjetje izgubilo svoj komercialni monopol, čeprav je ostalo kot upravni agent v Indiji do umora Sepoy in ljudske vstaje leta 1857: kratek debakl za britansko vladavino v Indiji, ki je postavil temelje za neposredno kronsko vladavino.


DRUŽBE VZHODNE INDIJE

Nizozemska in angleška vzhodnoindijska podjetja sta sledila stopinjam portugalskih trgovcev v Aziji in se učila iz svojih izkušenj. S sprejetjem modela, ki so ga Portugalci uspešno uvedli, je HOS ustvaril vrsto "tovarn", utrjenih trgovskih mest, ki so jih branile garnizone, od Jave do Japonske in od Perzije do Siam. Te objave so bile povezane z redno izmenjavo informacij in blaga. EIC je ustanovil lastne tovarne na bolj omejenem območju.

EIC in VOC nista bili prvi podjetji, ki sta uživali nacionalne monopole, vendar sta kot zakupljeni družbi pokazali nekaj novih lastnosti. Naložbe v trgovino na dolge razdalje niso bile več omejene na tuje trgovce, kot je to veljalo za regulirane družbe, kot je Turčija, vendar so listine dovoljevale sodelovanje tudi domačim trgovcem. Še več, pooblaščene družbe so se razvile v delniške družbe. To je pomenilo, da so bile delnice prosto odtujljive in trgovci niso več zbirali kapitala za eno plovbo, ampak so ustvarili stalen kapital, namenjen podjetju. Dolgoročna razmišljanja so tako določila tržne politike. Delovni kapital podjetij tudi ni bil omejen na njihov osnovni kapital, saj sta se oba za financiranje svojega poslovanja zatekla k kapitalskemu trgu.

Dobra komercialna politika je podlaga za izjemno uspešnost HOS. Z zmanjšanjem odvisnosti od trgov, ki jih ni obvladovala, in s tem, ko je postala največji kupec in prodajalec, je podjetje drastično zmanjšalo tveganje. Uspeh ni prišel čez noč, ampak so trajala desetletja. Družba je imela koristi od splošne gospodarske krize, ki je sredi sedemnajstega stoletja pretresla jugovzhodno Azijo, tako kot so Nizozemci svojo trgovsko hegemonijo v Evropi delno dolgovali prevladujoči regionalni politični in gospodarski krizi. Vendar HOS ni bila splošno uspešna. Njegovi veliki režijski stroški so se izkazali za škodljive, ko so tekmovali z indijskimi trgovci, ki so poslovali po nizki ceni in so lahko sprejeli nižjo stopnjo dobička.

Vojaški izdatki so bili eden od dejavnikov, ki so zvišali režijske stroške. HOS je že od vsega začetka uporabil silo za dosego svojih ciljev v primerjavi z domorodci Molukance, indijskimi trgovci ter portugalskimi in angleškimi tekmeci, da bi si zagotovil opore, pobegnil iz tujine in dosegel monopol nad začimbami. Vrhunska vojaška moč je Nizozemcem omogočila osvojitev otokov začimb, zavzemanje portugalskih utrdb in izločitev EIC iz indonezijskega arhipelaga okoli leta 1623, leto, v katerem je nizozemski guverner mučil in usmrtil deset angleških državljanov. Ta "pokol v Amboini" je bil v prihodnjih letih priljubljeno orodje angleške propagande proti Nizozemcem. Druga negospodarska sredstva so pomagala HOS-u, da je do poznih 1660-ih dosegel skoraj popoln nadzor nad proizvodnjo in trženjem muškatnega oreščka, topuza in nageljnovih žbic. Proizvodnja nageljnovih žbic je bila na primer omejena na otok Amboina, drevesa in presežne zaloge so bile uničene. Monopsonija začimb, ki je HOS -u omogočila določanje cen, je družbi pustila velike dobičke. Nasprotno pa je poper ostal nedosegljiv, saj so ga gojili na velikem območju. Poleg tega lokalni knezi niso vedno spoštovali svojih dogovorov.

Zaradi pomanjkanja zadostnih finančnih sredstev je EIC večino sedemnajstega stoletja deloval v senci nizozemskega kolega. Njegovi direktorji pa so najbolje izkoristili odstranitev EIC -a z začimbnih otokov s koncentracijo operacij na Indijo, kjer je bila prisotnost HOS majhna. Medtem ko je HOS dosegel nekatere svoje prvotne cilje, se je EIC izkazal za mojstrskega pri ponovnem ustvarjanju. V osemnajstem stoletju je odkril tržnost indijske tkanine in kitajskega čaja v Evropi. V vojaških zadevah je EIC doživel podobno metamorfozo. Njegove flote, ki niso bile ustanovljene kot vojno orodje kot njen nizozemski tekmec, so bile razmeroma slabo opremljene in napadalna dejanja proti Azijcem ali Evropejcem skoraj nemogoča. Nova listina družbe iz leta 1661 pa je določala, da lahko sklene vojno ali mir z nekrščanskimi knezi ali ljudmi, zelo postopoma pa je bila sprejeta odločnejša linija, zlasti na indijski podcelini. Do leta 1760 lahko rečemo, da je EIC prevzel vlogo nacionalne države v Indiji. Vprašljivo je, ali je ta širitev temeljila na glavnem načrtu ali pa je bilo podjetje vpeto v lokalno politiko oblasti. Teorija nejevoljnega imperializma je bila uporabljena tudi za HOS, ki ni mogla doseči svojih ciljev na Javi, ne da bi se vključila v zapleten avtohtoni boj za oblast.

Kjer koli so zakupljena podjetja opravljala dobičkonosno trgovino, so skušali državljani izkoristiti vlogo posrednikov. Z menjavo blaga iz enega dela Azije v drugem so si dejavniki EIC in zasebniki sami zasegli nišo. Čeprav je EIC sprva prepovedal takšno trgovino, saj je vpletene upošteval kot tekmece lastne trgovine znotraj Azije, so zaradi stroškov, ki so jih povzročili, družba odstopila od trgovine, njen odnos do loparjev pa se je ustrezno spremenil. "Brezplačni" trgovci so se lahko začeli naseljevati v pristaniških mestih pod angleško oblastjo, potem ko je EIC izdal vrsto odpustkov, začenši leta 1667. Kasnejšega angleškega komercialnega uspeha v Aziji ni mogoče razumeti brez upoštevanja zasebne "trgovine z državami". HOS ni pokazala takšne popustljivosti, kljub izjavi sekretarja svojega največjega regionalnega organa, Amsterdamske zbornice, v 1650-ih letih, da je bolje, da se znotraj azijske trgovine prepustijo zasebnim trgovcem, katerih režijski stroški so bili v primerjavi s podjetjem skromni težko oborožene ladje. Šele leta 1742 je HOS dopuščala kršitve svojega monopola. Po drugi strani pa so se zaposleni v podjetju obogatili z zasebno trgovino vzporedno z uradno trgovino podjetij. V nizozemskih tovarnah je bilo hudo goljufanja in korupcije.

V intraazijski trgovini so pot pokazali Portugalci. Njihova državna trgovina je bila pomembnejša od trgovine z Evropo. Tako kot portugalski in angleški zasebni trgovci se je HOS aktiviral v tej trgovini. Med letoma 1640 in 1688 je nizozemsko podjetje nabavilo precejšnje količine japonskega srebra in tajvanskega zlata za nakup indijskega tekstila, ki so ga nato zamenjali za indonezijski poper in druge začimbe, čeprav so bile nekatere poslane v Evropo. Večino popra in drugih začimb so prodali tudi v Evropi, vendar je bil določen odstotek vložen v Perzijo, Indijo, Tajvan in na Japonsko. Dobiček iz azijske trgovine je bil plačan za azijske izdelke, katerih prodaja v Evropi je prinesla več kot dividenda, ki jo je HOS v tem obdobju izplačal svojim delničarjem. Vloga podjetja v intra-azijski trgovini se je zmanjšala v zadnji četrtini 17. stoletja, ko so se indijski trgovci pojavili kot resni tekmeci v trgovini z Javo, Sumatro in Malajskim polotokom. Poleg tega so japonske oblasti zajezile nizozemsko trgovino, s čimer so dejansko prekinile vlogo HOS kot glavnega dobavitelja plemenitih kovin na različnih azijskih trgih. Kljub temu, da so Angleži postali glavni vpleteni narod, je HOS zlahka ostal vodilno evropsko podjetje, ki je sodelovalo v azijski trgovini.

Kakšen je bil odnos med zasebnimi trgovskimi podjetji in domačimi vladami? Lokalni sodniki so bili tesno povezani z zadevami HOS v Združenih provincah. Med glavnimi vlagatelji so izvolili direktorje območnih zbornic. Splošne države pa niso samo podelile suverenih pooblastil na HOS ob ustanovitvi družbe, ampak so jo pozneje finančno podprle v času potrebe. Ta pomoč se je v prvih letih VOC-a izkazala za ključno, saj je lahko težavno podjetje dolgoročno vlagalo v infrastrukturo ter v vojaške, pomorske in komercialne zadeve, kar se je sčasoma obrestovalo. Britanska vlada pa je večkrat samovoljno izkoristila finančna sredstva EIC. Hkrati je postajal vse bolj zaskrbljen zaradi načina, kako se je EIC obnašal v Indiji. S sklenitvijo zavezništev in pogodb z domačimi knezi ter vodenjem ozemeljske širitve je bilo podjetje bolj podobno suvereni državi kot trgovski družbi. Mislilo se je, da bo vojskovanje zmanjšalo tudi dobiček iz azijske trgovine, ki naj bi bila glavna dejavnost podjetja. Nizozemci so razpravljali tudi o prednostih ozemeljske širitve, vendar je tu osrednji odbor HOS-a, ne generalne države, izpodbijal modrost zaposlenih v podjetju na Javi.

Obe podjetji sta prispevali k nacionalni blaginji z zaposlovanjem tisočev, spodbujanjem domače ladjedelniške in tekstilne industrije ter ponujanjem naložbenih mest. Britanski finančni voditelji so se vključili v EIC, moški iz podjetja pa so britanski vladi svetovali o finančnih zadevah. V Nizozemski republiki ni prišlo do takšnih sistematičnih prehodov, niti takrat, ko se je HOS v drugi polovici osemnajstega stoletja soočila z resnimi finančnimi težavami. Četrta anglo-nizozemska vojna (1780 – 1784) je imela zlasti katastrofalne finančne posledice. Zavesa se je končno spustila pred HOS po francoski invaziji na Nizozemsko republiko (1795). 1. marca 1796 je direktor vzhodnoindijske trgovine in posesti zamenjal direktorje podjetij. EIC se ni pojavil kot velik upravičenec do smrti svojega tekmeca. Ne samo, da sta se francoska in danska vzhodnoindijska podjetja pojavila kot konkurenca, domača fronta je postajala vse bolj kritična do moralnih in gospodarskih dosežkov družbe. Leta 1813 je britanska vlada EIC odvzela vse monopole, razen trgovine s čajem s Cantonom, leta 1833 pa je vsa trgovina s podjetji prenehala. Po velikem uporu v Indiji (1857 – 1858) je britanska država prevzela zadeve podjetja.


Britanski vpliv se je v 1700 -ih razširil po Indiji

V zgodnjih 1700 -ih se je Mogulski imperij propadel, v Indijo pa so vstopili različni napadalci, vključno s Perzijci in Afganistanci. Toda velika grožnja britanskim interesom je prišla od Francozov, ki so začeli zasegati britanska trgovska mesta.

V bitki pri Plasseyju leta 1757 so sile Vzhodnoindijske družbe, čeprav so bile v večjem številu, premagale indijske sile, ki so jih podpirali Francozi. Britanci, ki jih vodi Robert Clive, so uspešno preverili vdor Francije. In podjetje je prevzelo Bengal, pomembno regijo severovzhodne Indije, kar je močno povečalo imetje družbe.

V poznih 1700 -ih so uradniki podjetja postali znani po vrnitvi v Anglijo in razkazovanju ogromnega bogastva, ki so ga nabrali v Indiji. Imenovali so jih "nabobs", kar je bilo angleško izgovarjanje nawab, beseda za mogolskega vodjo.

Zaskrbljena zaradi poročil o ogromni korupciji v Indiji je britanska vlada začela nekoliko prevzeti nadzor nad zadevami podjetij. Vlada je začela imenovati najvišjega uradnika družbe, generalnega guvernerja.

Prvi mož, ki je zasedel mesto generalnega guvernerja, Warren Hastings, je bil nazadnje obtožen, ko so se poslanci zgražali nad gospodarskimi presežki nabobov.


East India Company začne povzročati težave

V listino East India Company je bila zapisana določba, ki ji je omogočala kovanje lastnega denarja (na sliki zgoraj), pridobivanje ozemlja, gradnjo utrdb in gradov, zbiranje vojske in "vodenje vojne", če je bilo to v interesu Velike Britanije in družbe . Seveda je bilo vse to v interesu Velike Britanije in družbe, zato ni tako, da so bili njeni častniki še posebej sramežljivi pri uporabi orodij, ki jim jih je dala krona.

Po navedbah Zgodovina danes, v prvih dneh podjetja so Indiji vladali Mughali, pravljično bogata dinastija, ki je bila odprta za trgovino, vendar je imela vse te nadležne ideje o obdavčitvi, trgovanju z nepodjetniškimi trgovci in veste, da imajo lastno oblast dežele. Tako je leta 1686 podjetje dobilo dovoljenje Jamesa II, da je odplulo 19 ladij iz Londona v Indijo in mughalom pokazalo, kdo je šef. Končali so v štiriletni vojni, ki se je končala s sramotnim porazom. Flota je bila razpršena, oficirji in vojaki so bili ujeti, vojska mogolskih vojakov, ki je bila dovolj velika, "da je pojedla vse vojake čete za zajtrk", pa se je vlila v trdnjavo družbe Bombay. Potem pa so se Moghali, nerazložljivo, odločili, da dovolijo Britancem, da ostanejo v Indiji, ker, veste, so bili zdaj podrejeni in bi lahko nekega dne postali zavezniki. Ha.


Vzhodnoindijska trgovina spodbuja kulturo potrošnikov  

Pred East India Company je bila večina oblačil v Angliji izdelana iz volne in oblikovana za trajnost, ne za modo. Toda to se je začelo spreminjati, ko so britanske trge preplavili poceni, lepo tkani bombažni tekstil iz Indije, kjer je vsaka regija v državi proizvajala tkanine v različnih barvah in vzorcih. Ko je prišel nov vzorec, bi to nenadoma postalo bes na ulicah Londona.

“Ta možnost je, da bi bil ‘ v pravem slogu ’, ki prej ni obstajal, ” pravi Erikson. 𠇊 Mnogi zgodovinarji menijo, da je to začetek potrošniške kulture v Angliji. Ko so pripeljali bombažne izdelke, so to novo nestanovitnost uvedli v priljubljeno. ”


East India Company in njena zapuščina

Vzhodnoindijsko podjetje je obstajalo več kot 250 let – od 1600-1858. To je bila največja korporacija v svetovni zgodovini.

V Veliki Britaniji je bil v veliki meri pozabljen, odgovoren je bil za opijumske vojne s Kitajsko, prispeval je k uničujoči lakoti v Indiji in bil storilec krutih zaposlitvenih praks v Bangladešu in drugih britanskih kolonijah.

Zato ni presenetljivo, da je spomin na vzhodnoindijsko podjetje zelo živ po vsej Indiji in na skrajnem vzhodu, kjer je to ime za izkoriščanje in zatiranje. Njena zgodba vsebuje pomembne lekcije o nevarnostih prevladujoče moči velikih korporacij.

V tem podcastu je Nick Robins, avtor knjige Korporacija, ki je spremenila svet: kako je vzhodnoindijsko podjetje oblikovalo sodobno multinacionalko se pogovarja z Jane Trowell iz Platform, organizacije, ki uporablja umetnost, aktivizem, izobraževanje in raziskave za socialno in ekološko pravičnost. Sodelovali so pri projektih okoli dediščine imperija za Veliko Britanijo v 21. stoletju.

Spoznala sta se v Narodnem pomorskem muzeju v Londonu, kjer se Trgovčeva galerija osredotoča na zgodovino Vzhodnoindijske družbe. Jane je začela z Nickom, naj opiše, kako se je prvič zanimal za vzhodnoindijsko podjetje.

Nick Robins: To je zanimivo potovanje. Delal sem v Indiji in Bangladešu, delal na vprašanjih v zvezi s pravično trgovino in etično trgovino v tekstilni industriji in tam prišel spoznati vpliv Vzhodnoindijske družbe, zlasti na bengalsko tekstilno industrijo.

Kasneje sem prišel na delo v City [London], kjer sem delal na področju družbeno odgovornih naložb. Odšel sem iskat lokacijo sedeža East India Company na Leadenhall Street. Tam je zdaj stavba Lloyd’s, glamurozna zgradba iz jekla in stekla. Pričakoval sem, da bom videl neko obliko plošče z napisom "Tu je bilo mesto East India Company, 1600-1858". Ampak tam ni bilo nič. Po mestu imamo toliko plošč, tak poudarek na dediščini za zelo manjše stvari. Pravzaprav je bila na spletnem mestu tabla za poštno znamko. In prav čudno se mi je zdelo, da obstaja največja korporacija v svetovni zgodovini in je nekako izginila. Zato sem začel nekaj raziskovati o tem, zlasti pogledati, kako je bil takrat viden, in iz tega je nastala knjiga.

Jane Trowell: Zakaj je za tiste, ki ne poznajo toliko o East India Company, tako izjemno pomembno življenjsko dejstvo - tako izjemno pomemben del naše poslovne zgodovine?

NR: Ustanovljeno je bilo leta 1600. To je bilo podjetje z delničarji, ki je imelo listino za vso trgovino med Anglijo in Azijo. Takrat je bila zlasti Anglija v primerjavi z Azijo zelo revna sestrična. Tradicionalno je bogastvo v svetovnem gospodarstvu letelo od zahoda proti vzhodu. Tudi v rimskem cesarstvu so se pritoževali zaradi poplave zlitin za plačilo paprike in tekstila z vzhoda. Britain was in a very, very poor place and the reason the East India Company was set up was to gain access for this very marginal maritime kingdom of England into the luxury markets of Asia, to get access to spices in particular. So it was very much the supplicant. Very, very small, struggling to get into these big markets, particularly the Moghul empire of India.

And then, gradually over the years, particularly over the eighteenth century through the use of its private armies, it started actually taking control of key parts of India, particularly Bengal. It became a power behind the throne and was not just trading but was engaged in real conquest, in battles. It started with dominating the markets in India, got involved in the opium trade, smuggling opium into China in the first half of the nineteenth century.

It became more and more of a ‘public-private partnership’. It was still a private operation, it still had shareholders, was still paying dividends to its shareholders but was increasingly doing the job of the British state who were standing behind it. Eventually it was wound up in 1858 after what was called the ‘Indian Mutiny’ or the ‘Great Rebellion against the East India Company’.

But one of the things that is interesting about the company is that it continued to pay out dividends for another twenty years or so. So, its actual corporate form extended much longer than its operational life. It paid its last dividend, drawing on the taxes in India, in April 1874.

So it had a very, very long existence from 1600 to 1874, and many incarnations along the route. But probably all the way through its primary purpose was to generate profits for its shareholders and executives.

In that picture it seems like – or could come across as – a great English or British success story. But in fact your book ‘The Corporation that Changed the World’ is a brutal dissection of the company, looking at it from an ethical standpoint, looking at it from a human rights standpoint, and looking at how its own private army was used in the absolute suppression of local democratic control.

NR: If you look back at the company’s record, there are some examples of some really outrageous negligence and oppression, particularly once it had gained a real foothold in India, dominating markets and driving prices down for its goods.

For example, when it controlled Bengal, there was a drought and the company did not intervene. In fact its executives intervened to buy the grain that remained on the market, so driving up the prices. Drought led to famine. It was probably one of the biggest corporate disasters in world history, anything up to seven million people died in that famine.

The Opium War we’ve touched on. The company was the monopoly administrator of opium production in India and smuggled that deliberately, against Chinese laws, into China. So, there’s some fairly extreme examples of corporate malpractice.

As I was writing the book I was conscious and wary of implying twenty-first century values – saying, ‘they do look outrageous to us, but maybe they were not seen as as bad at the time, because of different values and so on’. But what really impelled me to write the book was how contemporaries, particularly back here in England, saw the company’s behaviour and actually did react with outrage and in many ways in disgust to some of the company’s behaviour. So in the book, I try and draw on that, in terms of the poems and the plays and the caricatures that were generated by the culture at the time, in reaction to the company’s behaviour. So, while the company was certainly powerful and a part of the establishment, it was also the subject of cultural criticism at the time. This gave me the confidence to look into it. It was not just looking back at this historical object through twenty-first century eyes but actually drawing on the critique at the time – when some people were saying ‘In future times, people will look back in horror at the East India Company’.

JT: There is, in this country, wilful ignorance about the legacy of that particular company. Unlike some of the slave trade companies, which have been held up for scrutiny in much more rigorous manner. But of course in your travels in China and in India and Bangladesh, you came across a very different story. Because in effect, this is a corporation that ended up ruling a large chunk of the Indian sub-continent.

NR: In India, I think you talk to pretty much anyone about the East India Company’s role – coming to trade but eventually conquering – and it is part of standard education. So everybody will know about it. And when I was talking to textile workers in Bangladesh and mentioned the East India Company, people would say ‘Oh yes, yes. These are the people who chopped off our weavers’ thumbs.’ There was immediately a recognition of the company after they had taken over control of Bengal, and that they were so oppressive, that they chopped off the weavers’ thumbs. I could not find evidence of that in my research, but I found evidence of something probably even more horrific – the weavers chopped off their own thumbs, so they would not actually be forced to weave under the company’s orders.

So this is very close to the surface in India. This year, in 2012, India has passed new laws liberalising the retail sector to allow multinational companies to come in and take majority stakes in retail companies. And immediately, the gut reaction in Indian society is that people were opposing at is to say it is the return of the East India Company. So, it is the motif for talking about companies, the wrong companies.

And in China, in the opium museum in modern Guandong you have the East India Company portrayed there, very powerfully. They have these fantastic full-life tableaux of the company, these opium chests, its logo or chop-mark there, and it is seen that is was the institution which was the driving force behind the opium trade which resulted in the humiliation and the loss of power, the secession of Hong Kong, it is seen that that went on for essentially a hundred years until 1949. So again, when I talked to most people in China about the East India Company and immediately there would be some reaction. Whereas I think in Britain it will be somewhat fuzzy. And if at all, it will probably be linked to consumer articles, to some nice set of teas or whatever.

JT: If you go to the very touristy Twining’s shop on the Strand, which is the original Twining’s tea building, with a very, very small frontage, it is only about three meters across, it is not a wide building, with two, in inverted commas, ‘Chinamen’, reclining on the pediment as if in total happiness with the tea trade, with Britain. These representations, like thousands of others, dominate the landscape. Before we even get into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and look at the marvellous painting, that you describe in the book, of Britannia receiving riches… what is the exact title of ‘Britannia receiving the riches of the East’

Britannia receiving the riches of the East

NR: Yes, what a picture. Britannia very much in a position of hierarchy and receiving essentially tribute from Indians and Chinese and so on.

JT: And certainly in the context of England and Britain the amnesia about the company is well observed.

Except…. when we were doing our walks and talks and things in Tower Hamlets in East London, where there is a predominantly Bangladeshi community. Because of course, when we talk about Britain we have to talk about who in Britain is conveniently forgetting. And we had some extremely interesting encounters with young people and older people in Tower Hamlets, whose political understanding of their current situation and the situation in Bangladesh was deeply informed by an understanding of what had happened in Bengal, the bread basket of the world at that time under the East India Company.

So again, it is a question, it is a very interesting question, of who we are talking to about this company. Because I remember one young man, I’m not sure I was with you on that occasion, who was thumping the table with grim delight that anybody was trying to talk about this in a political way that was relevant to now. He was an eighteen or nineteen year old, dealing with racism, dealing with unequal opportunity, dealing with family back in Sylhet. It is an interesting contrast between museological world, the white-dominated world of museums, the heritage world that wants to shut it down and the business world, which may want to shut it down – and on the other hand other communities, for whom it is a vital part of reclaiming their history.

NR: Yes, and I think it is one of the interesting things which has happened over the last five years. The history of the East India Company has not changed, it is in the past, it is there. But I think what has changed, certainly in Britain, is the ways in which different communities have encountered that legacy. So, there is a very interesting community organisation in East London, the Brick Lane Circle, which has been working to get young people of all communities and backgrounds and races to actually think about what this legacy of the East India Company means. And actually, in many ways, how you can through encountering it, through confronting it and challenging it, you can actually maybe develop a sense of a shared culture, that is not exclusive. Its not about people with a Bangladesh background having to be interested or share a certain view. But it is a way of saying that because of this company we have a lot of things in common which we have not quite explored. So that is a very interesting thing, a very live thing. A current project of the Brick Lane circle is about how Bengal dressed Britain through it textiles . o again, very good ways of bringing this history to life and showing how these historical connections formed the way we are today.

JT: It has been very interesting, hasn’t it, over the past twelve years or so that we have been working on this on and off together and sometimes separately, to see how different museums and galleries, let’s say in London, have changed or have struggled with how to interpret these histories of trade in Asia – and we could even talk about slavery, even if it is a different subject it is a related subject because those two things are very interwoven economically. Is there anything new – particular moments, particular exhibitions you have seen or have been involved with – where you have seen a shift in thinking?

NR: Yes, certainly in a cultural sense. There have been three exhibitions over the last decade which I think, do pinpoint three different moments for how British society is trying to come to terms with this.

The first was an exhibition in the British Library back in 2000 for the 400 th anniversary of the Company. It was a very romanticised view and in fact, had totally omitted any reference to the opium trade. So you had community protest from the Chinese community here in Britain, very strong, to introduce a proper explanation of the company’s role in the opium trade.

Secondly, the Encounters Exhibition in the Victoria and Albert Museum. I think that had the beginnings of a recognition of the balance of the story.

And now finally here, in the National Maritime Museum, the new permanent exhibition on the East India Company which, I think, is a very good attempt to explain in a popular way the full account of the East India Company – to explain that it was a company and certain parts of it appear properly, maybe for the first hundred years, to be trading and bringing benefit. That it was bringing the benefit of stimulating demand for goods in India, bringing in tax revenues in Britain and so forth. But there was another big part of the story, which was bringing oppression and domination. And I think that the gallery here has attempted ato bring that richness without being too didactic. Hopefully, it leaves the viewer to make up their own mind. But I think it lays out this was a very complex story and the company had strengths in parts of the earlier period, where it did not have this overweening power, but then began overturning existing cultures and really changing the course of economic history so that wealth would flow from East to West, changing that historical flow from West to East.

So I think those are interesting moments, and within only a decade. They show the assertiveness of once immigrant communities now playing their part in the shaping of the public memory of Britain as a whole, particularly the Bangladeshi and Chinese community. It means we have a much richer, more honest, representation of this peculiar institution.

JT: So, we have talked a bit about different communities’ memories.

Now let’s think about business. You know, one of the things about capitalism is it likes to forget (there is some very interesting writing about that in terms of capitalism). But you have deliberately subtitled your book ‘How the East India Company shapes the modern multinational’. Working in the City [of London], you understand the forces at work. How has this book gone down in business communities?

NR: One of the things again I did as I was going into the heart of the matter, was to look at the characters of that time and whose learnings and teachings we still draw on – people like Adam Smith, Edmund Burke, Karl Marx, very different people. Adam Smith was seen as the father of liberal economics, Edmund Burke as the father of political conservatism, Karl Marx leading the communist movement. All, in very different way,s encounter the company in a period from, let’s say, 1770 to 1858/1860. And all are critical, from quite different perspectives.

Adam Smith, was a supporter of free trade but very critical of corporations, particular their monopoly power – both because of the scale issue (he was interested in open markets, so he was obviously against that) but also he was particularly concerned about the shareholder listing point of that, and the tendency towards speculation and abuse. It is interesting going back through Adam Smith’s work and realising that when he wrote his third edition of the Wealth of Nations, he actually went back to his editor and said ‘Look, I want to add another section to the book about the behaviour of corporations because we have this egregious example of the East India Company.’

I suppose when you are talking to a modern business audience, drawing on the reality of Adam Smith and actually placing his views in his time, pointing out that this was one of the big things he was struggling with, then I think you get a more honest response.

Edmund Burk again, a conservative. His reaction to the East India Company, particularly the way it destabilised – threw into turmoil – Bengal society, was similar to his reaction to the French Revolution. He opposed the East India Company because it was revolutionary. It was this revolutionary power, going into India, overturning all the established relations and leading to oppression as a result.

So you have a conservative critique as well as a liberal-economic critique. And then there is Karl Marx. For his purposes the East India Company was an agent or a tool of the British ruling class, which had turned from being the trading class to what he called the ‘moneyocracy’.

So all very different perspectives but all ones that have resonance today. And it helps us to when we are looking at those figures and their ideas, to root them in their realities so they are not abstract.

JT: At the end of the second edition of the book, you itemise, like a manifesto, what could be done or what should be done in light of what we have learned from the East India Company. You give an analysis of what you call a ‘trilogy of design flaws’ – speculative temptations of executives and investors, the drive for monopoly control and absence of automatic calamity for corporate abuse.

You then make a series of recommendations and you talk about some progress one can see in the UK 2006 Companies Act. Can you talk a bit more about how you think those recommendations might play out?

NR: Yes, I think we are looking at the company and what it teaches us about the modern corporation. I looked at four factors.

Firstly, the company as an economic agent. How the financing of the corporation is a powerful factor in determining its behaviour. As we discussed with Adam Smith we need to be very careful about the dynamics of the stock market listing. It is not necessarily intrinsically a bad idea, but we do need to recognise that there are inherent problems about stock market listing and the tendency towards speculation.

Second is the issue of scale – again something brought up by Adam Smith. We have seen recently, in the discussion of too big to fail issues, the problem of the larger the organisation, when things go wrong, the more magnified the problems are.

The third, which we have not really discussed, is technology. How the company deployed its technology – in its case, the technology was particularly its military technology and shipping technology.

And a fourth is regulation. There was a collusion of state power and corporate power in the company’s case. So how can we avoid that, and how can regulation be used to ensure public accountability.

So the recommendations are really around mechanisms through which you can ensure that both shareholders and company management must have the public interest as part of their mandate. So it is not purely the seeking of private good.

You do then have the critical issue of company scale and company size, and a recognition that economic diversity is a value in itself – diversity of size, but also of form. When we look back at the history, Adam Smith was recognising that certain economic forms are useful for certain things. You can have the joint stock company, and there are also partnerships, co-operatives, state companies and so on. And they can all play different roles – so diversity of form and size is important.

And then finally, regulation. We have had a reform in the last few years of the Company Act. In a very British way, the focus of a company is to promote the interest of its members, its shareholders. But, in a reformist measure company directors were asked to consider to take into account the interests of employees and suppliers and communities and the wider environment. To consider but not act. And there, I suppose we have seen it is important that there is more of a recognition that companies need to have that positive requirement to act in the wider interest as well. Those would be three, I suppose, big recommendations around the business side in our times.

So there are many examples, I suppose, where the company was doing the first in so many of these failings of corporate form which for me again, thinking of the history of it, is that the issues that we are facing today are not accidents of circumstances I suppose. That they are things that are more structural and do have patterns through history, which I think means we can address them today with more confidence really.

So moving from the imperial gene to the ethical gene?

That’s right, that’s right. And some people call it the ‘civil corporation’. The company corporation can be a very useful institution, but we really need to think about its design so that it does serve the interest of society.

With thanks to Dianne Prosser at the National Maritime Museum for hosting this discussion.

The podcast was produced by Matthew Flatman and the transcript was prepared by Maarten van Schaik


How did the East India Company change the world?

What comes to mind when you hear the word "corporation?" Maybe a giant, faceless conglomerate? Ruthless captains of industry? Perhaps you think of corporate scandals like Enron and WorldCom. In fact, the unscrupulous plundering done by some modern-day corporations pales in comparison to the activities carried out by one of the world's first corporations: the British East India Company (EIC).

The concept of corporations was first established under ancient Roman law [source: University of Virginia]. But it wasn't until England emerged from the Middle Ages that it created what we recognize as the modern corporate structure. It all began on Dec. 31, 1600, when Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter to the British East India Corporation, naming the corporation "The Governor and Company of Merchants of London, trading with the East Indies." The corporation conducted business in the East Indies (land that we now consider India and the Middle East) at the behest of the queen.

The East India Company established a few major precedents for modern corporations. But it also shaped the world in countless other ways. With both the financial and military support of the Crown, the EIC served as an instrument of imperialism for England. The company had its own private army and raised soldiers in the areas it subjugated. Its expansionism spurred several wars that produced at least two sovereign nations. Among its many claims to fame (and notoriety), the EIC indirectly built Yale University, helped create two nations and was the world's largest drug-dealing operation in the 18th century.

The company was ruthless in its quest for profits. Parliament even called the EIC tyrannical. However, without the EIC, England may have never developed into the nation it is today.

Read on the next page how this giant global corporation was created.

The Creation of the East India Company

When the British East India Company (EIC) was formed in 1600, there were already other East India Companies operating on behalf of France, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal. Thanks to the naval route that explorer Vasco Da Gama discovered, riches from the Orient were pouring into Europe. With other nations importing fortunes in goods and plunder, Queen Elizabeth decided England should get some, too. So she granted the charter for the East India Company.

Queen Elizabeth used more than just royal decree and coffers (treasury funds) to help merchants and explorers establish trade on behalf of England in the East. The charter she issued created the first official joint-stock corporation. A joint-stock corporation is composed of investors who are granted shares in a company. In return for their initial investments, shareholders are given dividends, or percentages, of the company's profits based on the number of shares the investor holds.

Shares and dividends were not new concepts in England. Twenty years prior to the EIC's charter, Queen Elizabeth was already a major stakeholder in Sir Francis Drake's ship, the Golden Hind. Although it's not certain how much she made from Drake's voyages to the New World, the captain himself made a 5,000 percent return on his initial investment [source: Hartmann].

So a joint-stock corporation like the one Queen Elizabeth formed in the East India Company wasn't much of a financial leap. But it was the first of its kind, and following the establishment of the EIC, its Dutch, French and other competitors followed suit. But granting charter to the EIC wasn't the only part of the prototype for modern corporations that Queen Elizabeth devised.

Under the auspices of her royal authority, Elizabeth also limited the liability of the EIC's investors -- including hers. This made the company the world's first limited liability corporation (abbreviated as LLC in the United States and Ltd. in the United Kingdom). Under an LLC, the investors in a corporation are granted protection from losing any more money than their initial investments in the venture. If the company goes under, the investors only lose the amount of money they put into the LLC. The company's outstanding debts aren't divvied up among its investors [source: IRS].

Queen Elizabeth covered any losses or debts owed by the East India Company with the royal coffers modern LLCs are subject to bankruptcy procedures, where creditors may be forced to take pennies on the dollar or nothing at all if a corporation goes under.

Although it took several decades for the East India Company to become truly profitable, once it did, the company rose to global domination -- both in business and in government. In a symbiotic way, as the company grew in power, so, too, did England. So it's no surprise that during its existence, the company was directly involved in major geopolitical changes: The EIC literally changed the course of history. Two nations, India and the United States, revolted against East India Company rule, which led to the establishment of their current political structures.

Read how the company inadvertently created the United States on the next page.


Dutch East India Company

What was the Dutch East India Company? What was this network that wove its way throughout history, had a hand in almost all 18th century wars, and passed seemingly unnoticed by all?

Izvor

The Dutch East India Company was a charter trading company established in 1602. It is considered to be the first ever multinational company. It was a huge organization, with a foothold in almost every country, employing more than 200 ships and several thousand men. The Company was notorious for their power plays and harsh dealings.

In 1602 the Portuguese had the largest trade in the seas and, due to a political conflict, they cut off all trade with the Dutch. Soon after, the Portuguese began to have trouble supplying as much product as was needed, causing prices to skyrocket. During this time, Portugal became a good target for the Spanish government to attack. As the Portuguese fell into war, their trade fell, and the Dutch saw enormous opportunity to move in and take over their trade routes.

Dutch East India Company merchant ship
Public domain image

In the 1600’s, trading “companies” were nonexistent. Trading was an individual event at the time of each voyage. The goods brought home would be liquidated on the ship’s return.

These trips were risky to invest in because so many things could go wrong: piracy, shipwreck, disease, or any number of other things. When the Dutch took over, however, they founded an actual shipping company on a much larger scale than anything ever seen before. They purchased ships, signed contracts for long term captains and commodores, and searched for merchants to do their bidding.

The East Indies were more than happy to do business with them because it meant a good deal of money for their government. This Dutch East India Company was the beginning of something massive.

The British East India Company

Soon after, the British saw what the Dutch were doing and immediately recognized the profit to be made. Queen Elizabeth sent a letter to the Dutch government asking to get in on this deal. Another branch, the British East India Company, was created.

Monopoly

Two sides of a duit, a coin minted in 1735 by the VOC. Public domain image.

After joining with the British, the fledgling company decided that they didn’t want any competition and set out to destroy other trading groups. Since they had rapidly grown to be the largest trade on the sea, this was not hard to do.

They went to various governments with the proposition of handling their trade, and threatened them against doing business with anyone else, at the risk of the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (or VOC, Dutch for Dutch East India Company] no longer working with them.

It didn’t take much to get a complete monopoly over sea trade. At this point, the VOC completely controlled all supplies in and out of every continent.

Rogue Nation

This much power needed protection, so they began to create their own private army. Living most of their lives on the sea, they realized they did not have to adhere to the laws of any land.

They built their army in all different parts of the world, so they were highly trained in many different fighting styles. They had only the finest war ships built and had their military accompany all their trading voyages to fight off pirates and anything else that might slow them down.

Next they built their own government. They appointed members of the company as their own committee of advisors to make decisions for the company.

Taking Over The World

The shipyard of the Dutch East India Company in Amsterdam, circa 1750. Public domain image.

As time went on their lust for power and money grew. Under the guise of a simple trading company, their empire on the sea went virtually unnoticed as a threat, so no one ever tried to stop them. They got involved in more than one battle, helped shape governments, had a hand in building Cambridge University, and helped create more than one nation, including America, while supposedly working for the British.

How’s that for double dealing?

During their trading, they employed many private tradesmen as well. If any of them double-crossed them, or was even suspected of stealing, the Dutch East India Company was notorious for inflicting unspeakable tortures. They did not quit until they had everything back they had lost, then killed them.

If any country thought about stopping business with them, supplies to that country would cease. Likewise, if anyone tried to open a private trade, the VOC would either prevent everyone from doing business with them via blackmail and threats, or (they were only suspected of doing this) would act as pirates and vandalize their ships and destroy the goods.

As they travelled around the world getting richer and more powerful, they had private spies that were employed to collect damaging information about various countries’ leaders. The VOC would then simply sit on it if they needed leverage later.

They laced themselves throughout all the major wars of their time, masquerading as an innocent trading company, passing unnoticed by all as they spun their web of information, power, and money.

Decline

The VOC was in business from 1602 to some point in the early 1800s. In 1796, they began to collect debt and the Dutch government, who had been backing them before, could not pay it off. They finally went bankrupt in 1800, and the Dutch government collected all of the excess debt they left behind.

There has never been a trade empire like the Dutch East India Company since. Some countries, such as South Africa, are still struggling to rid themselves of the violent, cruel legacy they left behind.


East India Company

At the Express Adda in Delhi last week, writer William Dalrymple spoke about the rise of the right wing across the world, how India has benefited from immigration, the importance of teaching history and his latest book on the East India Company.

When the East India Company commissioned art from Indian artists

A new show at The Wallace Collection in London celebrates the works of gifted Indian artists who painted for the East India Company officials.

China has grabbed more land than East India Company had ever done: Ex-Maldives Prez

September 04, 2019 10:36 pm

Nasheed said that the Maldives would like more foreign investment and Chinese investment, but impinged on transparency in the tendering process, particularly in the case of China.

A radioactive doll, two blasts, East India Company, and Abdul Kalam: the story of a con

How three friends from Pune got taken in by a “Rs 7,000-crore”, “biggest deal of India”, convinced about it “for the sake of India”, and what has followed — seven FIRs, for cases ranging from Jaipur, Indore and Bhopal to Kolkata and Hyderabad 24 arrests and freezing of over a 100 bank accounts

The tale of the other East India Companies

When we say East India Company, we don't think of the French East India Company or the Portuguese East India Company, or the Dutch East India Company. We certainly don't think of Nordic people like the Danes and Swedes having trading outposts in India.

Rare photos, lesser known facts about India's first war of Independence on its 161st anniversary

The revolt of 1857 was not a sudden occurrence but was fed by the collective resentment against the British rule. Another important cause of the rebellion was a general dissatisfaction with the policies and administration of the East india Company.

Reading the tea leaves

Off and on, there have been suggestions that tea should be declared India’s national drink. Though that hasn’t happened, since 2011, tea has been Assam’s State Drink. Tea, in the form we know it now, is not quite an indigenous Indian drink, though some form of Camellis sinensis was indeed drunk locally.

‘Antique’ copper cylinder sends cops in a tizzy

Object with ‘danger’ mark tests negative for radiactivity police to take ASI help to date it

Of Kings and the Countrymen

The black hole

When a well in Ajnala, a town in Punjab, was dug up, it brought alive a long-known legend — that this is where 282 Indian soldiers who rebelled against the British during the 1857 uprising were buried.