How Dutch established their factories in India. Why did they leave India?

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Title: Dutch Establishments in India: An Overview for UPSC Aspirants

The Dutch colonial history in India is a significant part of the Indian history syllabus for the UPSC exam. This article aims to provide an in-depth understanding of how the Dutch established their factories in India and why they eventually left India.

I. The Dutch Arrival in India

The Dutch engagement in India began in the early 17th century with the formation of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), established in March 1602. Backed by the Dutch government, the VOC was a private mercantile corporation whose primary aim was to access the lucrative spice trade in the East Indies, including the Indian subcontinent.

II. Establishment of Dutch Factories in India

The Dutch established their first Indian factory in Masulipatnam in 1605. Over time, they successfully established factories along the Coromandel Coast, Gujarat, Malabar, and even in Bengal.

1. Coromandel Coast: The Dutch established factory at Pulicat in 1609 which later acted as the capital of Dutch Coromandel from 1616 to 1690.
2. Gujarat: The Dutch set up factories in Surat (1616) and Bharuch (1617). Their main trading interest was in indigo, cotton, and silk, amongst other things.
3. Malabar: The Dutch established a factory in Cochin (1663) after defeating the Portuguese. Their interest was in pepper and other spices.
4. Bengal: Dutch factories in Bengal, particularly at Hugli (1655), focused on saltpeter, indigo, and silk.

III. Stronghold and Prosperity

The Dutch prospered well, successfully securing monopoly rights in several regions. Unlike the English and Portuguese, they concentrated on trade rather than territorial acquisition. This non-intrusive policy helped them maintain a peaceful relationship with local powers. They even managed to control the spice market in Europe, thanks to their strategic locations and monopoly power.

IV. Decline and Departure

Despite their initial success, the VOC went bankrupt in the late 18th century. A combination of factors, including internal corruption, inept governance, and fierce competition from the British and French East India Companies, precipitated their downfall. Faced with military and financial pressure, they progressively lost their Indian factories.

1. Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824: The British superiority was fully formalized with the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824. It officially recognized British control over Singapore, and in return, the Dutch was given the control over the Indonesian Archipelago.

2. Final Departure: The Netherlands formally recognized the British sovereignty over Dutch possessions in India in 1854, marking the end of the Dutch colonial era in the subcontinent.

In conclusion, the Dutch arrival, establishment, and eventual departure from India offers a rich perspective on colonial interactions in India. This historical period informs our understanding of how geopolitics, trade, and regional powers shaped India’s colonial history and is a vital area of study for UPSC aspirants.

Prince Luthra (UPSC CSE AIR 577)

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