Carnatic Wars in India

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Title: A Comprehensive Overview of the Carnatic Wars in India for UPSC Aspirants


For UPSC aspirants meticulously preparing for the Indian Civil Services Exam, understanding the course of Indian history holds paramount importance. One significant chain of events that considerably influenced India’s colonial history was the Carnatic Wars. This series of military conflicts, which occurred in the 18th century, shuffled the power dynamics in the Indian subcontinent, involving many major global powers of the era. A consistent focus on these wars will help you in the Preliminary as well as the Main Examination.

The First Carnatic War (1746– 1748)

The First Carnatic War was essentially an offshoot of the War of the Austrian Succession (1740 – 1748) fought in Europe. The primary players in this war were Joseph Francois Dupleix, the French governor of Pondicherry, and the British East India Company.

The war began when the British captured a few French ships and the French, with Nawab Anwar-ud-din’s permission, attacked the British-led Madras (Chennai). The Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of Austrian Succession, also concluded the First Carnatic War. However, it left problems unresolved and discontent simmering, setting the stage for the Second Carnatic War.

The Second Carnatic War (1749– 1754)

Continuing the string of unfinished conflicts, the Second Carnatic War was fought between the English and the French East India Companies. This war was intricately linked with internal conflicts over succession in the states of Hyderabad and Arcot.

Dupleix supported Chanda Sahib and Muzaffar Jung in their power struggle against Nasir Jung and Anwar-ud-din, the incumbent rulers of Arcot and Hyderabad, respectively. Subsequently, the British supported the latter. The war ended with the Treaty of Pondicherry, though it left Dupleix’s political ambitions in shambles and cooled the French aspirations of territorial expansion.

The Third Carnatic War (1756– 1763)

The Third Carnatic War, the final chapter in the Carnatic Wars saga, extended beyond India to be part of a long global conflict known as the Seven Years War (1756 – 1763). This war led to notable changes in the growing geopolitical tensions of the time.

The conflict witnessed the active involvement of the French, the British, and multiple native allies, leading to a diversified war front. The decisive Battle of Wandiwash between the French under Comte de Lally and the British under Sir Eyre Coote led to the British’s victory. The resulting Treaty of Paris led to significant gains for the British, escalating their power and dominion in India.


The Carnatic Wars’ historical importance lies in their impact on the European balance of power in India and their influence over the future trajectory of the Indian sub-continent. For a UPSC aspirant, understanding these wars’ nitty-gritty aspects is essential to get a grasp of Indian history’s colonial period. They lay down the foundations for the European power struggle in India and the eventual establishment of British supremacy, vital themes for the Civil Services Exam.

As you go along your UPSC journey, remember to link historical events and wars to their political, economic, and societal implications. This holistic approach will not only help fortify your grasp of Indian history but also lend you a unique perspective, facilitating your aim of cracking the UPSC examination.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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