Meiji Restoration-like reforms in an Indian kingdom

Is there a chance for any Indian kingdom to actively pursue modernization in the 18th or 19th century like the Japanese did in the late 19th century? Which ones do you think had the best shot at such reforms? Nawab of Bengal due to their proto-industrialization? Kingdom of Mysore under Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan? Nizams of Hyderabad? What would it look like to have the Marathas undergo such a transformation where the confederacy is centralized under a proper ruler? What/Who do you think will be the biggest obstacle to this? I feel that Robert Clive or Wellesley were the biggest hurdles. Clive was instrumental in giving the British a foothold on the sub-continent and Wellesley was very paranoid about French presence in India(from what I read online). This prompted him to quickly get the kingdoms into a subsidiary alliance and effectively stop them from building any military. Is there a way we can avoid Wellesley from successfully following that policy and that might lead a few native kingdoms to actively pursue modernization?
 
Marathas seem to ve the best bet, they were already a formidable force in subcontinent, they were also the ones who actually invested in naval capabilities and had the best army by the time British were in subcontinent, have them win Panipat and British lose Plassey and you have a Maratha Subcontinent that semi industrialized, infact, British could win Plassey in Bengal and Marathas would still be string enough to kick out the British
 
I think the best bet for government sponsored reforms are in the Nizams dominions in Hyderabad or Mysore, as these were the most actively engaging with European rivalries and more focused on government than predatory constant expansion, as the Marathas were. Have Mysore succeed in kicking the British out of Madras and confining them to Bengal and it's guaranteed they, the Nizam and at least the core Maratha kingdom will pursue administrative and military modernisation. They obviously wouldnt mirror Japan in throwing themselves into research in European science and active industrialisation, because the former hasn't established its military usefulness and the latter barely exists, but in terms of tactics, military technology, political relations with Europe and focus on trade (at least for mysore) they're pretty much guaranteed to get there.

Bengal is unfortunately crippled by the fragmented sovereignty being contested between Delhi and Murshidabad.
 
I can see the Mughals doing it. OTL, they had something like a proto-industrialization, and if you butterfly certain events, like Nader Shah invading, the Sayyid Brothers, and putting a Competent Sultan on the Peacock Throne, ETC, then you could have a recipe for a Meiji Mughal
 
Sikh Empire also has a good chance at modernization, they were considered the second strongest asian power after Japan and were modernizing but fell apart due to internal and external factors
 
Sikh Empire also has a good chance at modernization, they were considered the second strongest asian power after Japan and were modernizing but fell apart due to internal and external factors
There is not a single person in the XIX century or prior who would have claimed that the Sikh state in the Punjab was at all more powerful than the Qing Empire. Likewise, it took until 1900 or so for any serious cognizance of Japan exceeding the Qing to be seen in Europe.
 
There is not a single person in the XIX century or prior who would have claimed that the Sikh state in the Punjab was at all more powerful than the Qing Empire. Likewise, it took until 1900 or so for any serious cognizance of Japan exceeding the Qing to be seen in Europe.
Not in overall capacity, I meant in modernization, ofcourse the qing were more powerful due to their massive size and population, but Sikh empire had a more modernized military
 
Likewise, it took until 1900 or so for any serious cognizance of Japan exceeding the Qing to be seen in Europe.
Forget the Qing, Japan themselves could barely believe they had surpassed China until the evidence was inescapably omnipresent.
the Sayyid Brothers, and putting a Competent Sultan on the Peacock Throne
It's the latter that's the clincher isn't it? Integrating the southern nobility is a massive challenge for any ruler, whether or not they're having to also deal restoring the culture of indiscriminating Opportunity amongst the already established nobility and accommodating nascent middle classes. It can be done, but it requires people who are diligent and if not charismatic on their own at least know how to leverage dynastic charisma.
 
Perhaps a Dara Shikoh led India, like @Madhav Deval timeline cpuld fulfill this ?
Well it's no secret I'm going for a very powerful India on the world stage up until at least the mid 19th century, but my POD is in the 1660s and I think that's about a hundred years too early for what OPs looking for.

I will say though, Dara Shikoh has nothing to do with my timeline, I hate the guy and think he would have been the ruin of the Mughal state. An argument could be made that he would've been better for India by incredibly weakening the Mughals and thus allowing the Deccan sultanates to do better economically and politically, setting the stage for more stable interstate rivalry driving innovation as in Europe, but considering the fact that I in fact like the Mughal state that is not an argument I want to make.
 
Well it's no secret I'm going for a very powerful India on the world stage up until at least the mid 19th century, but my POD is in the 1660s and I think that's about a hundred years too early for what OPs looking for.

I will say though, Dara Shikoh has nothing to do with my timeline, I hate the guy and think he would have been the ruin of the Mughal state. An argument could be made that he would've been better for India by incredibly weakening the Mughals and thus allowing the Deccan sultanates to do better economically and politically, setting the stage for more stable interstate rivalry driving innovation as in Europe, but considering the fact that I in fact like the Mughal state that is not an argument I want to make.
I think the opposite of Dara, I feel that he could have been to India Muslims what Ferdowsi was to Persian Muslims in terms of culture and literature along with most importantly, An Independent Muslim Identity, but with the added bonus that he was actually a poltical figure allows him to make reforms as well, with a new Indian Islamic Identity dominanting the subcontinent, he might have not conquered a lot of territory, but he could have laid the groundwork for for future emperors to expand India's position as a power

Though I do think Mughals were screwed by the time they got to Aurangzeb, he single handedly destroyed any trust among the Muslim elite and fractured the empire by expanding too much, not to mention his zealotry and brutal executions of Guru Tegh Bahadur and Sambhaji, both of which were disastrous for the long run for the Mughals

I do think Marathas, Sikhs, Nepal, Mysore and Deccan had the highest potential for industrialization and meji style reforms, specifically in the order that I mentioned
 
Honestly I think Mysore might be a prime candidate for an Indian Meiji. They were already modernizing militarily by the time of the First Anglo Mysore War and I can see a better performance there cascading into further success elsewhere. Whether this modernization could continue successfully is a bit beyond me.

Linda Colley discussed Mysore heavily in Captives Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850, but that's really my only real exposure to discussion on the topic.
 
I think the opposite of Dara, I feel that he could have been to India Muslims what Ferdowsi was to Persian Muslims in terms of culture and literature along with most importantly, An Independent Muslim Identity, but with the added bonus that he was actually a poltical figure allows him to make reforms as well, with a new Indian Islamic Identity dominanting the subcontinent, he might have not conquered a lot of territory, but he could have laid the groundwork for for future emperors to expand India's position as a power

Though I do think Mughals were screwed by the time they got to Aurangzeb, he single handedly destroyed any trust among the Muslim elite and fractured the empire by expanding too much, not to mention his zealotry and brutal executions of Guru Tegh Bahadur and Sambhaji, both of which were disastrous for the long run for the Mughals

I do think Marathas, Sikhs, Nepal, Mysore and Deccan had the highest potential for industrialization and meji style reforms, specifically in the order that I mentioned
I think for the Marathas to succeed in such reforms would heavily depend on when those reforms begin and whether they prevent the infighting that characterized the latter part of the Maratha Confederacy.
 
They obviously wouldnt mirror Japan in throwing themselves into research in European science and active industrialisation, because the former hasn't established its military usefulness
Sidenote that might actually be relevant: Japan began throwing itself into research in European science well before Perry or Meiji, seemingly
without concern for military usefulness. (Who cares about flintlocks when you can use microscopes to study insects?)
 
Honestly I think Mysore might be a prime candidate for an Indian Meiji. They were already modernizing militarily by the time of the First Anglo Mysore War and I can see a better performance there cascading into further success elsewhere. Whether this modernization could continue successfully is a bit beyond me.

Linda Colley discussed Mysore heavily in Captives Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850, but that's really my only real exposure to discussion on the topic.
Mysore is a good candidate too, but again, will Mysore conquer other areas of subcontinent to establish their hold, like Vijayanagara 2.0, because if they dont, they are asking for trouble once other regional powers do arise and there is envitable conflict

I think for the Marathas to succeed in such reforms would heavily depend on when those reforms begin and whether they prevent the infighting that characterized the latter part of the Maratha Confederacy.
Honestly the reaso why I chose Marathas to be the first to industrialize is because they had already took out the biggest problem of subcontinent, which is regional rivalries, by having all the regions under one empire or confederacy, even though there were disputes between Maratha families, it was still much preferable to wars between different India regions, If Marathas did win Panipat and focus on Bengal next, it is very likely they semi modernize their armies to fight British
 
A Kingdom of Mysore that conquers Travancore more easily than it did OTL (where they got a very bloody nose) and kicks the British out of Madras and the Carnatic?
 
conquer other areas of subcontinent to establish their hold
The only other area of the subcontinent they need to control is the super thin stretch separating their eastern border from the bay of Bengal- they don't need to eliminate all regional rivals, all they need is a stable geopolitical position that limits the extent of conflict. This makes them a better candidate than the Marathas because their goals were essentially parasitising the entirety of Mughal imperium in the north and the Deccan, an object far beyond their means and which anyway requires constant military occupation and doesnt allow for extended periods of peace.

Kingdom of Mysore that conquers Travancore more easily
I don't even think they need to conquer travancore- Kerala is separated by mountains from the rest of the subcontinent and even Vijayanagara never really controlled them, so they've had an incredibly long tradition of independence from southern empires and as long as that independence isn't directly threatened they've always been happy to stick to trade rather than messing things up for the southern empire. Mysore ideally needs to avoid trying to conquer Travancore like the plague and focus on more achievable and strategically useful places.
 
Top