Lapse Doctrine or Lord Dalhousie's State Grab Policy or Adoption Policy
Lapse Doctrine or Lord Dalhousie's State Adoption Policy or Adoption Policy: Lapse Doctrine, also known as Lord Dalhousie's State Grab Policy or Adoption Policy. By misusing this policy, the British subjugated the Indian and princely states.
In the year 1848, Lord Dalhousie came as the Governor-General of India. Dalhousie was the next important Governor-General after Lord Wellesley. It is remembered for its imperialist policies. As soon as he became the Governor-General, he started expanding the boundaries of the British Empire. For this, he mainly made three policies –
- The policy of War - Expanding your borders by doing war.
- The maladministration policy- By accusing them of maladministration on their allied states, take them over.
- The doctrine of Lapse - To take over the state if there is no heir.
Dalhousie tried to bring all the territories of India under British authority. The most important of the three policies of Lord Dalhousie was the " principle of lapse " or " Dalhousie's policy of state usurpation " or " the policy of prohibition of adoption ". His tenure is also remembered more because of this policy.
Features of the Doctrine of Lapse or Lord Dalhousie's State Grab Policy or Prohibition of Adoption Policy
- The most prominent feature of this policy was that the rulers who did not have an heir could not adopt a son.
- Dalhousie divided all the Indian states/princely states into three categories to implement this policy. The first category (subordinate states) - in this category were those states which came into existence directly or indirectly with the help of the British Government, and these states were utterly dependent on the Company. The rulers of these states did not have the right to adopt their successors if they were childless. After the ruler's death, the state would be directly under the British.
- For example- Jhansi, Jaitpur, and Sambalpur.
- Second Class (Dependent States) - In this category, those states came into existence directly or indirectly with the help of the British Government but were not under the Company and were only dependent on the Company for external security. Apart from the first category, they were allowed to adopt the successor, but first permission had to be taken from the British Government.
- For example, Awadh, Gwalior, Nagpur.
- Third Class (Independent State)- This state category had complete freedom to adopt its successor.
- For Example- Jaipur, Udaipur, and Satara.
Central states were acquired by the doctrine of lapse or by Lord Dalhousie's state usurpation policy or by the policy of prohibition of adoption.
Dalhousie followed the principle of his lapse strictly and in no time took many territories and princely states under his control.
Satara (Maharashtra) - 1848,
Jaitpur / Sambalpur / Bundelkhand / Orissa - 1849,
Baghat - 1850,
Udaipur - 1852,
Jhansi - 1853,
Nagpur - 1854,
Awadh - 1856
Out of all these, Satara (Maharashtra), Jhansi, Awadh, and Nagpur are important –
- Satara - Satara became the first state of being affected by this policy. The ruler here did not have any son, so he requested the British Government to recognize his adopted son through a letter, but Dalhousie refused it. After the death of the last ruler of Satara in 1848, it was merged under British rule.
- Jhansi- The real name of the queen of Jhansi was " Manu Bai ", and her husband's name was " Gangadhar Rao ". Their child had died, so they adopted a son. Whose name was Damodhar Rao After the death of Gangadhar Rao in 1853, the British attacked and started trying to bring Jhansi under their control. Rani Lakshmi Bai faced this with great bravery but eventually, the British won, and in the year 1853, Jhansi was acquired.
- Awadh - In 1856, the Nawab of Awadh was Wajid Ali Shah. His son was deported by the British and then later annexed Awadh, accusing him of maladministration.
- Nagpur- The ruler of this place, Ragho Ji, also requested the British Government to recognise his adopted son through a letter, but till his death, the Company did not take any decision on this matter. After his death, Dalhousie refused to recognize his adopted son and took the state under his suzerainty.
Criticism of Lapse Doctrine or Lord Dalhousie's policy of state usurpation or policy of prohibition of adoption
- Childless kings already used adoption for succession in India. This practice already had social and political acceptance. Therefore, it was entirely wrong to abrogate this practice by the British.
- In 1825, the Company accepted that it would recognize all Hindu beliefs. However, the Company suddenly went back on its words and implemented this repressive policy.
- When this policy was implemented, the supreme power of India was the Mughal rulers. Therefore, he also had the right to implement any such nationwide policy and not any foreign company.
- The acquisition of the state of Satara was also wrong according to the rules given in this policy. The state of Satara was neither under the British Government nor did the Company have any cooperation in its construction. So it was in the category of an independent state.
This policy of Lord Dalhousie reflects the imperialist thinking of the Company. This policy was full of selfishness and immorality. Due to this, the Company benefited a lot financially and politically, but this policy also sowed the seeds of rebellion against the Company among Indians. Which later came to the fore in the revolt of 1857.