- The Doctrine of Lapse was an annexation policy devised by Lord Dalhousie. He was the Governor General of India between 1848 and 1856.
o James Andrew Broun Ramsay, commonly called Lord Dalhousie was the 1st Marquess (a British nobleman ranking above an earl and below a duke) of Dalhousie.
o Although Lord Dalhousie is considered to have formulated the Doctrine of Lapse, this has not been the case.
o The Doctrine of Lapse was formulated by the British East India Company just before the year of Lord Dalhousie’s existence into power i.e., in the year 1847.
- As per the doctrine of lapse, any Indian state created by or under the direct influence (paramount) of the British East India Company, as a vassal state under the British Subsidiary System, would automatically “lapse” or annexed by the British if the ruler was either incompetent or died without a natural male heir.
- Thus, under this doctrine, not only the long-established right of the Indian sovereigns without an heir to choose successor was taken over, but the British also took over the authority of deciding the competence of the Indian rulers.
- With the introduction of this policy of lapse, the Company could establish absolute, imperial administrative control over many regions spread over the subcontinent.
- Princely states of Satara, Jaitpur, Sambalpur, Nagpur and Jhansi have been annexed by the Company using this Doctrine. Often the annexation, such as that of Awadh [Oudh] in 1856, was justified on the grounds that the native prince was of evil disposition, indifferent to the welfare of his subjects
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