The company first established a toehold in India in 1612, when the Mughal emperor Jahangir granted them the right to establish a trading post (called a factory by the company) in Surat. Later in the century, the British East India Company opened permanent trading stations at Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta, each under the protection of native rulers. A settlement at Calcutta was established in 1690, again with the permission of the Mughal Empire. The company vied with the Portuguese and rival Dutch, French, and Danish companies. The French set up base along with the British in the 17th century. They occupied large parts of southern India. The British Empire in India - A multiplicity of motives underlay the British penetration into India: commerce, security, and a purported moral uplift of the people. The "expansive force" of private and company trade eventually led to the conquest or annexation of territories in which spices, cotton, and opium were produced.
The Independence Movement
The feeling of nationalism had started growing in the minds of Indians as early as the middle of the nineteenth century but it grew more with the formation of the Indian national Congress in 1885. Though the Congress started on a moderate platform but with the passage of time and apathetic attitude of the British government, the national movement began to shape well. The first of a series of national movements was the Non-cooperation movement (1920-1922AD). It was followed by the civil disobedience movement, after a lull. The struggle for independence continued in the 1930s but the real momentum came with the Second World War. The Congress, under the leadership of Gandhi began to prepare for the "Quit India Movement" in 1942. With the pace of developments all over the world (after the Second World War), the British came to realize that it was not possible to rule India any more and they decided to quit.
In the March of 1947 Lord Mountbatten came to India and recommended a partition of Punjab and Bengal in the face of civil war. Gandhi was very opposed to the idea of partition and urged Mountbatten to offer Jinnah leadership of a united India instead of the creation of a separate Muslim state. But this arrangement was not acceptable to many nationalist leaders, including Nehru. In July Britain's Parliament passed the Indian Independence Act. According to it August 14 and 15 were set for partition of India. Thus came into existence two independent entities- Indian and Pakistan.