xxxxxRobert Clive, one of the founders of British India, arrived in Madras in 1744, a clerk in the East India Company. He joined the company's army a few years later, and first proved his ability as a military commander at the Siege of Arcot in 1751. At that time there were two Indian candidates for the governorship of the state of Carnatic. Whilst the French candidate, Chanda Sahib, was away, attacking Muhammad 'Ali (the British candidate), Clive -
ROBERT CLIVE 1725 -
Clive: detail, by the English painter Thomas Gainsborough (1727-
xxxxxThe Englishman Robert Clive, later Baron Clive of Plassey, was one of the founders of British power in the sub-
xxxxxIt was Clive's successful defence at the Siege of Arcot which first marked him out as a daring and resourceful soldier. This opportunity to show his prowess as a military leader occurred in August 1751. At that particular time there were two rivals for the governorship of Carnatic, a state on the south-
xxxxxThis episode brought Clive fame and fortune. He returned to England as a hero in 1753 but, after failing to get into Parliament, returned three years later, this time as governor of Fort St. David near Madras with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Soon after arriving in India in June 1756 he was once again involved in military action, this time against the new ruler of Bengal, Siraj-
xxxxxAs governor of Bengal he showed remarkable skill as an administrator, particularly during his second term of office, starting in 1764. Over the next three years he completely overhauled the civil service, produced a code of practice to stamp out corruption, restored discipline in the armed forces and, by obtaining the right to collect revenues throughout the province, made the East India Company the dominant power in India and the precursor of British rule.
xxxxxBut whilst his military exploits had won him fame -