Giles Milton, John Keay, Jon Wilson, Linda Colley and Shashi Tharoor in conversation with William Dalrymple

 

We still talk about the British conquering India but that phrase disguises a more sinister reality. It was not the British government that seized India at the end of the 18th century but a dangerously unregulated private company run in India by an unstable sociopath and headquartered in London out of a small office occupying less than 200 yards of City street frontage. In the 18th century, the East India Company moved from being a relatively conventional corporation, trading in silks and spices, to something much odder. By the end of the 18th century, 250 East India Company clerks, backed by the military force of 20,000 locally recruited Indian soldiers, had become the effective rulers of Bengal. Soon the Company morphed from an international trading corporation into an aggressive colonial power. Using its rapidly growing security force, it swiftly succeeded in subduing and seizing an entire subcontinent. How did this happen? Giles Milton, John Keay, Jon Wilson, Linda Colley and Shashi Tharoor discuss the rise of the Dishonourable Company and its legacy with William Dalrymple.