In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish in his richest provinces a new administration run by English merchants who collected taxes through means of a private army.
The East India Company's founding charter had always authorised it to 'wage war'. But this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional international trading corporation dealing in silks and spices, and became something much more unusual: colonial power in the guise of a multinational business. In less than four decades, it had trained up a security force of around 200,000 men, twice the size of the British army, and had subdued an entire subcontinent. It conquered first Bengal and finally, in 1803, the Mughal capital of Delhi itself. The Company's reach stretched until almost all of India was effectively ruled from a boardroom in London.
William Hamilton-Dalrymple was born in Scotland and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. He has lived in India since 1989. He wrote his first bestselling book, entitled In Xanadu, detailing the journey from Jerusalem to Mongolia, when he was only 22. His first four publications were travel books on his journeys through India, Central Asia and the Middle East. In 1999, he began writing on history instead of travel, publishing several critically acclaimed works, such as his 2009 publication Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, which won the Asia House Literary Award.
He has written and presented several multi-part television series on India’s colonial past with Channel 4 and the BBC. His work has earned him a great number of prizes, including the Royal Scottish Geographical Society’s Mungo Park Medal for his outstanding contribution to travel literature, the Royal Society for Asian Affairs’ Skyes Award and the President’s Medal of the British Academy. He holds three honorary doctorates.
Members of the RGS, their guests and others are most welcome to attend this event, which is HK$300 for RGS Members and HK$350 for guests and others including a complimentary drinks reception at the Jardine Penthouse.
The Royal Geographical Society - Hong Kong also thanks
the Mandarin Oriental Hotel for its generous support to this talk.