Bharat Ek Khoj


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Tipu Sultan
(Episode 40)

There is an opening panaroma of several impressions painting showing, as Nehru observes, the 1st to 4th Mysore Wars towards the closing years of the 18th century fought by Haider Ali and Tipu sultan. They were formidable adversaries, who inflicted severe defeat on the British and came near to breaking the power of the British and came near to breaking the power of the East India Company. In the scene, we see Haider on his deathbed extracting promises from son Tipu to continue resistance to the British and moves to draw inspiration from the American War of Independence. If they could defeat the English, why not us? Upon Haider's demise in 1783. Tipu symbolically forsakes the throne untilthe last rites and concentrates on organizing joint efforts to drive the British out. For this purpose, he sends enjoys to the Peshwa Nana Sahib of the Marathas, the Nizam of Hyderabad and Nawab Shujaud-Daula of oudh. With remarkable prescience, he plans to mobiles foreign powers too against his adversary by sending missions to the Ottoman Sultan of Turkey in Constantinople and to King Louis XVI of France in Versailles.

While, on the home front, he attempts to re-organise the governance of his kingdom on systematic basis, his joint efforts prove futile with Nana Sahib refusing to trust him and the Nizam openly preferring the English to Tipu. His overtures abroad in Turkey come to nothing and Louis XVI, despite professing friendliness, sends only skilled technicians and gardeners but no army. Tipu, outnumbered and outgunned, is faced with a treaty on humiliating terms - an eight - figure indemnity, the surrender of half his territories, and British custody of his two sons, aged only 8 and 10, as surety.

Unexpectedly the terms are all complied with by the 'Tigerof Mysore' and while he is busy restoring his truncated kingdom to an enviable prosperity, there is an extenuating fact that the victorious Napolean has made no secret of his design on the British in India. Governor General Wellesley hails Napolean's correspondence with Tipu as the needed pretext to lay siege on Mysore. Srirangapatnam is stormed and sacked with devilish ardour. Tipu fights bravely to the end, is betrayed and goes down with a rare show of bravery along with some 9000 Mysore troupes.

Nehru notes that Tipu's final defeat in 1799 by the British left the field clear for the final contest between the Marathas and the British East India company. Every other ruler acknowledged the influence of one or the other. While the Nizam bought permanent peace by ceding territory, the Marathas after some notable initial victories over the British, were finally crushed by 1818 and accepted the overlordship of the East India company. The British then become the unchallenged sovereign of a great part of India, governing the country directly or through puppet princes.