Causes for the British Conquest of Odisha

The causes responsible for the British occupation of Odisha were as follows:

Weakness of the Maratha rulers

The internal conflict among the Bhonsles of Nagpur after the death of Januji created weakness among the Marathas which had an impact on the Maratha rulers of Odisha. As the decline had started among the Marathas, their powers gradually declined away and for which they could not get sufficient help from Nagpur. Even for suppressing the unruly land lords, they had to look for the British help.

Oppression of the land lords

Taking the mileage of the weak administration of the Marathas in Odisha, the regional land lords became irresponsible and oppressive. They involved themselves in various lawless activities and their oppression over the subjects knew no bound. The political condition of
Odisha was full of chaos and confusion. The zamindars exploited the poor common man of Odisha according to their whims and fancies. Their miserable plights aggravated and they dranktea cup of misery. So, the people were in need of ousting those oppressive Marathas as well as the zamindars.

Establishment of British factories

The British in order to establish a strong economic and military base in Odisha, established factories in different parts of Odisha. With the grant of Dewan, of Bengal, Bihar and Odisha to the East India Company in 1765, the British realised the importance of Odisha from the economic point of view. When the British built up their factories at Hariharpur, Pipli and Balasore, they felt the necessity of this province from the commercial point of view. The Britishers also obtained permission from the Marathas to have their monopoly over the manufacturing of salt in Odisha. The trade-routes, which passed from Cuttack to Bengal, Madras and Nagpur, facilitated their business to a greater extent.

Military importance of Odisha

The British authorities felt the importance of Odisha from the military point of view. As stated earlier, Warren Hastings had to give Chauth and loan in advance to the Maratha governors for the passage of British army from Calcutta to Madras through Odisha. With the coming of Lord Wellesley as the Governor-General of India in 1768, the cold touch of the British imperialism was greatly felt by the Indian powers. He took no time to annex Odisha and included it in the British Empire.