Thursday, January 01, 2009
Through the 17th and 18th centuries, the East India Company, founded in 1600 by Queen Elizabeth I, traded mainly cotton, silk, tea, saltpetre (a naturally occurring mineral source of nitrogen which is the oxidizing component of gunpowder), indigo dye (a distinct blue dye derived from a flowering plant), and opium (a narcotic derived from immature poppy seed pods). During this time, the Company came to essentially rule India. Company rule in India lasted until the Government of India Act 1858, also known as the Act for the Better Government of India. The Act replaced Company rule with a system of direct rule by the British Crown. This government was known as the British Raj.
January 1 holds importance to this topic in two ways. First, the East India Company lasted until its official dissolution on January 1, 1874 (also a Thursday). Also, on January 1 in 1876, Queen Victoria became the first Empress of India.The British Raj lasted until independence was granted to India and Pakistan in 1947.