DAXSLY – Small things in History -Siraj Ud-Daula forgets to bring a tarpaulin sheet to the battle of Plassey. Gives British the gateway to establish their empire.

2. Siraj Ud-Daula forgets to bring a tarpaulin sheet to the battle of Plassey. Gives British the gateway to establish their empire.

The 1700’s was an interesting time for India, for that was the time Europeans started realizing the riches that our country had to offer. So, Europeans from all countries, rich or poor, started settlements in the Indian sub-continent to make a quick buck. The Dutch, The French and even the friggin Danes found their way to India. And then the English arrived.

The East India Company, set up shop in India in 1612 claiming to be a trading company, trying to make a bit of cash. They did try to exceed their brief in 1682, when Job Charnock (Better known as the guy who established Kolkata) tried to capture Mughal fortifications on the Hooghlee river.

Mughals, specifically their Emperor, Aurangazeb, did not like it.

In retaliation, Aurganzeb gave them such a pounding that within a month, all of Job Charnock’s forces were wiped out (Child’s war). And for some more fun, Mughals captured the port of Bombay. Scared s***less by the aggressive Mughals, British ambassadors begged pleaded and even prostrated in front of Aurangazeb to get Bombay back. They finally had to pay an indemnity of 600,000 17th century pounds for Aurangazeb’s benevolence. Also, they promised to keep their tails firmly between their red backsides.

So when Aurangazeb died in 1706, what did the British do? They broke their promise.

Playing one Indian Nawab against another, the British started expanding. Aiding them in this endaevour was the outbreak of the seven years war in Europe. The European Franco-English contest soon spread to India, in the form of the Carnatic Wars. Indian Nawabs now had to take sides. Inevitably the war spread to one of India’s largest states at that time, Bengal.

Bengal was then ruled by a guy called Aliwardy Khan. British got the first toehold in Bengal, when the Khan solicited their help to keep out the rampaging Marathas. In return, Brits got the permission to trade in Bengal. Aliwardy however, was shrewd enough to keep the British at an arms length, lest they involve him in their war against the French.

That common sense disappeared when Aliwardy Khan died in 1756. He was succeeded by his stupid, short tempered nineteen year old grandson, Siraj Ud Daulah. The succession happened around the time British started fortifying their trading center in Calcutta. Siraj did not like it and asked the them to stop immediately. And when the Brits showed no signs of listening, he did what any nineteen year old with a real army and cannons would do.

He attacked Calcutta.

Defeating the small British Army stationed there he took 146 British prisoners, including civilians. Siraj was happy, I mean how many nineteen year old’s in history, can boast of capturing Calcutta and defeating the British in a real war?

Then, in one of the biggest dick moves in Indian history, Siraj Ud Daula stuffed the 146 Englishmen, into a dungeon meant to house six people. When the dungeon was opened, Siraj came face to face with 127 dead and nineteen delirious Englishmen in what is known as the black hole of Calcutta.

Understandably, the Brits were pissed.

To teach the nineteen year old a lesson, 500 whites, 2500 native sepoys and Robert Clive marched into Bengal from Madras. First they recaptured Calcutta, and then for some action, sacked the nearby French settlement of Chadranagar. As the French were now Siraj’s allies, He, once again, attacked the British. On the 23rd of June, 1757, the two armies came face to face at the village of Palashi, 140 kms north of Kolkata.

Siraj came to Palashi with 35,000 infantry, 7000 cavalry and 53 cannons, 8 of them Made in France. Facing up to his mass, were 750 Europeans, 2100 native Indians, 8 cannons and one Robert Clive. If this was a wrestling bout, it would have looked something like this.

The British though had one ace up their sleeve. Those who paid attention in History class, at this point will say, Mir Jafar. In reality though, the ace was not even a human being. It was far more mundane. It was a

A canvas tarpaulin sheet

British, being meticulous and all, had bought along tarpaulin sheets from Madras, to cover themselves. Siraj, in his hurry, forgot to bring one. And the night before the battle, it rained.

British covered their Gunpowder with their tarpaulin sheet. Siraj just abused the Gods, because

Basic science suggests that when water mixes with gunpowder, the result is the equivalent of

Siraj now had plenty of it. Which ensured, the only way his cannons could do same damage, was by physically falling on the British.

While the British, gunpowder covered with aforementioned tarpaulin sheet, had cannons that were

When, Siraj charged at the British with his numerically, for the want of a better word, superior army, British uncovered their cannons. When, Siraj tried to retaliate, all he had was a gooey mess that was his gunpowder, which could not fire a miniature pistol, let alone a friggin cannon. Siraj’s main army was torn to shreds and his most important general of the day, Mir Madan Khan was killed. Center lost, Siraj turned to his flanks, where his other General, Mir Jafar was waiting with 10,000 men.

At this point, Jafar showed the 1757 equivalent of the middle finger to Siraj and walked over to the British.

Siraj lost the day and was chased away from Bengal. Mir Jafar was made the Nawab, who gratefully gave the British the right to collect taxes in the province of Calcutta. Using this windfall, in 1764, they engaged and defeated the then Mughal Emperor, Shah Alam, in the battle of Buxar. As spoils of war, they gained the administrative and economic control of Bengal, Bihar and Orrisa. Now a recognized power with a lot of cash, they turned on other Indian kings and the rest is history.

What if Siraj had covered his gunpowder?

We would today be participating in the Jeux de la Francophonie. In other words, we would have been ruled by the freaking French. And so would have been the whole of Europe. The French would have been kings.

A french man

If you did not realize, the French supported Siraj. That is why those 8 Made-in-France cannons. If Siraj had won, it would have been the French who would have got the control of Calcutta and all its riches. The now rich French’s first priority would have been to eliminate their main adversary on the sub-continent, The British. And British would not have had a chance, as their army would have been annihilated at Plassey. Driven out of India, French would have had a free hand. So in everything that happened in India after Plassey, just replace the British with the French.

Also, why do you think the British became the Kings of the world? Because they could wage war with impunity. And why were they able to that? Because the constant inflow of the booty from India gave them the economic power to do it. Transfer all that wealth to the France, and imagine a new Europe. In this Europe, French would have been emperors.

If only Siraj remembered to bring a tarpaulin sheet.

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