The East India Company

East India company was an English joint-stock company. The company was formed to trade with countries near the Indian ocean and later with Qing China. The company seized large part of the Indian subcontinent, colonised parts of southeast Asia and Hong Kong. The company was known by various other names such as East India trading company, British East India company, United Company of merchants of England Trading to the East Indies etc.

The company acted as agent of the British imperialism in India from early 18th century to mid-19th century. The company at point accounted for half of the world trade in commodities such as indigo, opium, silk, cotton, salt, spices and tea, and in doing so they exploited the countries which provided them with these raw materials. The company in 1620s began to use slave labours and transported these people to southeast Asia and India to work for them. Some of these enslaved were from West Africa and Indonesia but the majority came from regions of East Africa. The company’s monopoly started to decline in 1813 and from 1834 it became a managing agency for the British government of India, and after the Indian mutiny in 1857 it was deprived of that role as well and its working came to a complete end in 1873.

Now, years later there is a company known as the East India Company owned by an Indian entrepreneur, Sanjiv Mehta. After the rebellion of 1857, the company has ceased its working but in 2003, group of shareholders who owned the East India company were trying to rebuild the company and rebrand it as a business selling tea and coffee. Mehta obtained the company name in 2005 and turned it into a company selling luxury food, tea, and coffee. What an ironic turn of events!