The British East India Company served as one of the key players in the formation of the British Empire. From its origins as a trading company struggling to keep up with its superior Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish competitors ,to its tenure as the ruling authority of the Indian subcontinent, to its eventual hubristic downfall, the East India Company serves as a lens through which to explore the much larger economic and social forces that shaped the formation of a global British Empire. As a private company that became a non-state global power in its own right, the East India Company also serves as a cautionary tale all too relevant to the modern world’s current political and economic situation.
Ultimately, the East India Company’s activity across the Indian subcontinent led to further British involvement there, and the British Raj, a period of British dominance and rule over India that formally began in 1857 and lasted until 1947, remains a highly debated topic among historians, political scientists, the British people, and the people of modern India.
British India: The History and Legacy of the British Raj and the Partition of India and Pakistan into Separate Nations looks at the centuries of British involvement in the region and its aftermath.