Civils Daily HISTORY,INDIA Doctrine of lapse [Annexations of Peace]

Doctrine of lapse [Annexations of Peace]

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Doctrine of Lapse is also called Annexations of Peace. According to the Doctrine of Lapse, Lord Dalhousie merged some important princely states of colonial India with the British Empire.

What did Dalhousie think about the princely states?

Dalhousie believed that the old system of administration by false princely and artificial intermediary powers increases the troubles of the subjects and keeping in mind that this system of princely system is wrong, he applied the Doctrine of Lapse.

In fact, his clear and straightforward Scottish attitude was to break the cloak of the Mughal Empire’s almighty power and to annihilate the Indian states which claimed to be the heirs of the Mughals.

Oil Painting of Lord Dalhousie Source: britannica

After the decline of the Mughal Empire and the defeat of the Maratha confederacy, the East India Company had become India’s best. Dalhousie was of the view that it is the duty of the Company, in accordance with sound administration and wise policy, not to let go of any opportunity of obtaining more revenue and territories, which it may get from time to time. Whether that opportunity arises by the death of the natural heir or by non-availability of an heir for any other reason, where Hindu law requires the acceptance of the adoption by the government.

In those cases, the right of adoption was replaced by the right of lapse by the superior powers, because the power that bestows the right can also.

There were three types of princely states in front of the company:

According to him there were three types of princely states in India.

  • Those princely states which were never under a higher power and never paid taxes.
  • Those Indian princely states which were under the Mughal emperor or Peshwa and used to pay taxes to them but now came under the British.
  • Those princely states which were established or revived by the British through contracts.

Revisiting his policy in 1854, Dalhousie said that –

“We have no right to interfere in the adoption matters of first class princely states. Our permission is very necessary for the princely states to adopt the second category and in this we can also refuse but often we will give permission. But in the third class princely states, I believe that the adoption should not be allowed in succession.”


Was the theory of lapse created by Lord Dalhousie ?

Dalhousie did not make this new theory. Even in 1834, the Court of Directors had held that the right to take an adopted son in the absence of a son is a grace on our part to the princely states and special compassion and acceptance which should be given as an exception. The Home Government had written in the year 1840 itself that the same policy should be adopted for all and ordered the Governor General that –

“Any direct and clear opportunity for the acquisition of new taxes or territories should not be lost, and in addition all other permanent rights, we must abide by.”

Following these orders, Mandvi kingdom was abolished in 1839, Colaba and Jalore kingdom in 1840 and Nawabi of Surat in 1842.

Dalhousie’s more inclined towards Lapse theory ?

Dalhousie was of the view that this command should be followed literally and the Company should not lose any opportunity to acquire territories. But before that his former officers did not merge as much as possible and it was Dalhousie’s policy that any opportunity of merger should not be lost as far as possible.

But we can say that the overly zealous Governor General also considered some of the princely states, which were Protected Allies, as dependent principalities or subordinate states and hence the Rajput kingdom of Karauli. The decision of Dalhousie in the matter was also rejected by the Board of Directors.

Which states were merged by the Lapse Doctrine ?

The states which were merged according to the principle of lapse were:

  • Satara (1848)
  • Jaitpur and Sambalpur (1849)
  • Baghat (1850)
  • Udepur (1852)
  • Jhansi (1853)
  • Nagpur (1854)

How was Satara merged?

The first state to be merged according to the lapsed principle was Satara. Before the annexation of Satara, Lord Hastings ended the Maratha power in 1818 and gave the kingdom of Satara to Pratap Singh, a descendant of Shivaji, to him and his son and successor. In 1839 AD, King Pratap Singh was deposed from the throne and the kingdom was given to his brother Appasaheb. Raja Appasaheb had no son, he had adopted a son a few days before his death without the permission of the company.

Sir George Clarke, the principal city of the Bombay Council, had advised against this merger, but Dalhousie merged it by declaring it a dependent state. Later the Board of Directors also supported this and said that we fully agree that according to Indian common law there is no right to take an adopted son without a company, Joseph Hume in the House of Commons compared it to “whose stick, His buffalo” but the assembly had allowed it.

How was Sambalpur merged?

Raja Narayan Singh of the state did not have a son and he could not even have an adopted son, so the state was merged in 1849.

How did Jhansi merge ?

The king of Jhansi was under the Peshwa. After the defeat of Bajirao II, Lord Hastings made a treaty with Rao Ramchand, according to which this kingdom was given to him, his son and his successors on the terms of subordinate cooperation.

The king died in 1835, but the company accepted the king’s Grand Uncle as his successor. The old king died a few years later and the company accepted the king’s descendant Gangadhar Rao as his successor. In November 1853, this king also passed away without a son. The state of Jhansi was merged by the Company and the right of adopted son was not accepted.

How was Nagpur merged ?

The area of ​​this Maratha state was 80000 square miles. In 1817, Lord Hastings accepted an infant from the Bhonsle family, Raghavji III, as heir. Sir Richard Jenkins served as his patron until 1830 and handed over the rule to him when he became an adult.

In 1853, the king died without adopting the adopted son, but the queen was asked to adopt the son. When the queen offered to adopt a son, the company did not accept it and the kingdom was annexed. The most important thing was that the private property of the king was also acquired by the Company by saying that it was obtained from the income of the state.

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