United India in 19th century

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Koprulu Mustafa Pasha, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire

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    Be it under the Mughals or Marathas. How likely is it to become a second Qing China? Is it going to be more developed or inferior to OTL 19th century Qing China?
     
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  2. Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

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    It’s really hard to answer this without knowing who it was that managed to unite India and under what circumstances. Is it the Mughals staying in power, is it a Marathas winning at panipat, is it Hyderabad, Mysore or Bengal? The eighteenth century was one of such upheaval in India that literally any one of the major players could have established suzerainty over the others if they were smarter and otl it happened to be a group of traders based in Bengal. The circumstances in which this united India comes about will determine the character of the state- either the imperial feudal system under the Mughals, they could reform, or the centralised fiscal military state of Mysore or the Marathas.
     
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  3. Beacon The Light in the face of Darkness

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    Mughals would be unlikely to unite India unless they had multiple secular rulers like Akbar who went against muslim clerics and formed his own religion which combined aspects of islam and hindu, sikh and buddhist religions. He also went out of his way to treat his hindu subjects, the same as his muslim subjects.

    But acting like this would probably lead to his muslim retainers betraying the mughal ruler or otherwise trying to depose him.

    Marathas winning the 2nd battle of Panipat would result in them banishing most of the muslim clerics who asked the Afghani sultan for help in getting rid of the marathas. And this would result in more unrest as the Peshwa at the time wanted to put his own son on the throne of Delhi. If he succeeded in that, and kept Delhi as a personal fief under the Maratha Confederacy, it might just be strong enough to push back the colonialist powers. (also they would probably annex most of the territory governed by the Afghani sultan)
     
  4. EmperorBuaya Well-Known Member

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    Out of all the Indian factions in TTL, who is best at reuniting the whole of India?

    Perhaps, the Marathas, Mysore or Bengal. The Mughals is unlikely at this point unless they pulled themselves itself together.
     
  5. Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

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    I think the Marathas would quickly fall prey to western powers as it was at all points a confederacy- nominally headed by the chattrapati and theoretically commanded by the Peshwa, but each lord cared first and foremost for their own personal aggrandisement and so in my opinion would fall victim to western powers offering a leg up on their rivals. My favourite post Mughal contender is Mysore, though it would be interesting to see how they try to administer all that new territory- I have a feeling that if they tried for the level of direct centralisation that they administered Mysore otl it would lead to an extremely hyper centralised state- extremely bureaucratic even for modern standards and with an efficient military but massively unwieldy. This bureaucracy would need to be structured very well to avoid this and maintain Mysore levels of civil compliance and state power while also avoiding westerners.
    And Bengal I’m not so sure about because although Bengal has fantastic potential for industry, by the early 1700s most of that industry was already in the hands of the British, and it would go against the established trend of Post Mughal states whereby the states that derived legitimacy from being old subahs tended to do much much worse in the 18th century than states which gained legitimacy on more populist grounds
     
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  6. Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

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    Quite honestly I think if anyone tried to outright depose the Mughals at any point before 1780 depending on your butterflies, it would probably trigger a war of containment as the type of power politics that everyone was operating under was that all their conquests and personal aggrandisement was done under the command of the Mughal emperor. No one respected the kings of Delhi, but at the same time the thought of any rival outright replacing them and extending their authority+ legitimacy across the subcontinent to all previous Mughal domains would make every other power hostile. The only way to make this happen is to remove all other rivals first and then replace the Mughals.
     
  7. Koprulu Mustafa Pasha Sadrazam of the Roman Empire

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    To be a bit clear, the Pod can be 1700. I consider both the Mughals and Marathas as contenders as rulers of India. Mysore or Hyderabad... not so much... but for the heck of it, the Sikhs may be a third option.
     
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  8. Freedom2018 Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm...pod at 1700 is too late , in 1750s Indian subcontinent was suffering from a prolonged effect of El nino and other climate related events , from 1750 1820s was going to a rough ride no matter who takes over the rule or remain in power in case of Mughal , the climate catastrophe was too much for any power to handle and will disintegrate for sure . The only reason why the British were successful was because they did not rule most of India till the 1780s , they didn't rule during the worst of famines and because of many other relevant reasons were successful and the people were indifferent because they already have been devastated because of the famines .
    Not to sound too pessimistic but India's fate to be ruled by some foreign powers was sealed during the reign of jahangir , lack of investment in infrastructure, too many wars , too much expenditure on royal durbar , lack of administrative reforms to name a few got worse or broke down under shah Jahan , aurengzeb tried to improve but failed primarily because of the Deccan wars prompted by loss of eastern Afghanistan which inturn cutoff the supply to horses . Portuguese officials in India noted that a well trained European army can conquor the country but to hold it together is impossible.
    So unification movement must begin before 18th century.
    One way to have India unified by 19th century may be a Mongol conquest of India from 1225 to 1240 and establish a Delhi khannate which goes on to unify India , yes there will be destruction of many cities and slaughter of many elites both Hindu and Muslim but the ruling elites of this time period was mostly Muslim so they will be killed , Mongols establish their rule convert to some branch of Hinduism or Buddhism since the elites who remain are mostly buddhist or Hindu and conquer the whole of India and rule into the 16 th century this will cause the formation of a political idea of India assuming that Mongols impose a uniform system of administration and impose a single religion and culture among the elites thus preventing the rivalry among elites so post Delhi khannate you will have native dynasty trying to re unify India so that by later 17 or early 18th century you have a unified India , that's one way for India to be unified
     
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  9. longsword14 Communism: This time, we will get it right!

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    I haven't read much commentary on foreign impressions of Indian military capabilities. Do you remember where you read this ?
     
  10. Freedom2018 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah but it was from my history text book back my university days which may be true given the fact that Mughal rule was called khagaz Raj meaning paper Raj "everything on paper nothing in reality " , don't remember who told it ,may be the Portuguese viceroy , but considering it coming from a Portuguese it's funny because they lost wars to Mughals themselves, may be this observation was made in the late 17 th century when Mughal power was in serious decline and corruption became rampant and infighting a matter of policy
     
  11. longsword14 Communism: This time, we will get it right!

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    They might be thinking of the Portuguese troops back from Europe rather than the dribs they had.
    Bernier said something similar : “these immense armies frequently perform great feats, but when thrown into confusion it is impossible to restore them to discipline… I could never see these soldiers, destitute of order and marching with the irregularity of a herd of animals, without reflecting upon the ease with which five and twenty thousand of our veterans from the Army of Flanders, commanded by Prince Conde or Marshall Turenne would overcome these armies, however numerous.” and Manucci : “I saw in this action, as in so many others where I was afterwards present, that the only soldiers who fought were those well to the front. Of those more to the rear, although holding their bared swords in their hands, the Moguls (Central Asians) did nothing but shout ‘Ba-kush, ba-kush!,’ and the Indians ‘Mar, mar!,’ that is to say, ‘Kill, kill!.’ If those in the front advanced, those behind followed the example, and if the former retired the others fled, a custom of Hindustan quite contrary to that of Europe.
     
  12. Freedom2018 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah but the defect that you pointed out here was not present in tipu sultan's army , his army was on par with any European army , well drilled and we'll disciplined underpinned by a sophisticated military administrative apparatus but the main problem was the size , a modern European army required a modern day taxation system and a credit system both of which India had but it wasn't efficient enough and Mysore state was small compared to the British empire in India
     
  13. longsword14 Communism: This time, we will get it right!

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    I don't know. They still got drummed by the Company.
     
  14. Freedom2018 Well-Known Member

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    Well the EIC was a powerhouse and tipu sultan's kingdom was small in comparison and it took four wars to finish him off and mind you EIC HAD ALLIES
     
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  15. Freedom2018 Well-Known Member

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    Anyway for comparison tipu sultan's army was as strong as the army of kingdom of Bavaria and definitely not equal to the likes of France , Spain , Prussia , Russia and Britain
     
  16. Madhav Deval Well-Known Member

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    Oh yeah that’s definitely why they almost captured the Madras presidency. Tipu Sultans state was able to field an army of 80,000 or so more than total EIC troops in around 1780 so the argument that Indian state fiscal capacity didn’t allow for large armies is a bit flawed imo. In Europe the French Revolution is partly remarkable due to the unprecedented size of the Grande Armée, and yet as a percentage of total state population, Tipu Sultans army was three times bigger. It also seems deterministic to say that while Indian armies were larger they used more primitive weaponry as while this was the case in 1750, the next few decades saw a rapid arms race to adopt the latest of technologies and in the case of Mysore, to improve them such that Europeans were desperate to capture one to send it back to England to be reverse engineered , after which it was used in Napoleonic campaigns and the war of 1812 in America. Also, Indian states definitely had the bureaucracies required for these armies as seen in the fact that Mysores tax revenue as a proportion of gdp was 40% in 1780, roughly the same as modern Germany.

    @Freedom2018 no one is saying that the climate change of otl wouldn’t happen but large well administered states can survive a few famines and years of drought. And you do sound a bit deterministic when you say that the most likely way to have unified India in 1800 is with a mongol pod, when India was pretty much unified in 1680 otl. You’re right that by the reign of Jahangir the problems in the Mughal administration began to grow but that by no means seals the fate of the decline of Mughal imperium because governments can in fact change and adapt to the needs of the age and to fix their problems, as was the general trend in peninsular Indian states in the 1700s where they saw massive quantitative and qualitative increases in state capacity. There is the argument of course that this trend was created by the increased warfare in the collapse of Mughal imperium which forced states to compete more effectively, which by necessity precludes the Mughals centralising in the same manner before they decline, although a Mughal state that declines as otl up until a rapid reversal of fortunes under some powerful wazir that rises up in the same way that Haider Ali rose up in Mysore, sometime around 1750, could result in resurgent Mughal authority this time with very high state capacity managing to reconquer what was lost, so even the Mughals can’t be discounted.
     
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  17. VictorVanBakker Flying Dutchman Extraordinaire!

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    United India in 19th century
    Wasn't this OTL?
     
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  18. Indicus Raganus Indicum

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    Calling the Maratha Empire a confederacy is an oversimplification of its structure. Really, it was a fairly centralized empire, and what changed was the lords in the inner circle. Granted you had spheres of influence owned by each lord, but such lords could be deposed such as what happened to the Dadabhade governors of Gujarat (replaced by the Gaekwads) and the lords uniformly followed the Peshwa's orders - even the Nagpur Bhonsales, despite claiming independence from Pune, gave troops to the Maratha Empire on request. Granted, it might be a good idea to cut down in this number, and I think deposing either the Sindhias or the Holkars would be an excellent idea, with the surviving clan serving as the real power behind the Maratha Empire. Furthermore, the policy of establishing new lords had come to an end by the late eighteenth century. Where things tended to break down were the succession wars, as different lords attempted to place their man as Peshwa, and this is where cutting down on the number of lords would help since the man supported by the Sindhia/Holkar would be Peshwa. To preserve the Maratha Empire, the succession wars must come to an end.

    However, while the Marathas could unify North India, I think it's very likely that South India would fall under British or French rule in this scenario.

    Ah yes, and I don't think Qing China is the right analogue, and India's experience is likely to be more similar to Persia or the Ottoman Empire, which both had potentials to reform, certainly.
     
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  19. longsword14 Communism: This time, we will get it right!

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    Oh yeah, nobody was talking about the troops they raised but how they lost their battles.
    How did you get to that number ?
    Mysore rockets were a gimmick. They had no value as military armaments.
    :)
    It is.
     
  20. Freedom2018 Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't say a bunch of 11 provinces and three presidency that acted more or less independently from one another except in certain policy matters as United India , to elaborate my point further under the Indian high court act of 1861 the appeals from high court established at provinces went directly to the privy council in Britain there was no court of appeals at the all India level , same can be said about the administrative apparatus, at the all India level there was none , my point is there wasn't a United India in administrative aspects until the late 19th century, legally that is say in area of legislations until the passage of government of India act 1857 each of the three presidency acted independently but under the supervision of the governor general of india who also happens to be the governor general of presidency of Bengal , there are plenty of instances that the governor general of other two presidency disobeying the governor general of India, you could say the pre 1857 british rule in India was more of a confederation, further there was more complications as certain cities were ruled directly by the crown even before 1857 . Post 1857 when viceroyal rule was established the power to make laws passed over to the British parliament and viceroy's council with the power to administer the laws in hands of the provinces and as I said the provinces had plenty of freedom in this regard , again it was more of a loose federation although it was no longer a confederation and it's only in 1935 that you had United India legally and administratively. And don't get me started on on the 675 princely states 175 of whom had the power to makes laws and was subordinate only to the viceroy and in that 175 states 8 of them were practically independent for all intents and purposes except in matters of foreign policy .

    So if anyone tells maratha confederation is not United entity but a mere confederation the same logic should apply to the british Raj cause it was never United