Book Review-‘Naval Resistance to Britain’s Growing Power in India 1660–1800: The saffron banner and the Tiger of Mysore’ by P. MacDougal

By Sohinee Basak, published October 2020


This book outlines the naval activities of some of the Indian states, specially those under the saffron banner of the Marathas and the leadership of Tipu Sultan, the ‘Tiger of Mysore’. Deviating from the common belief that the Indian states lacked naval awareness, the author shows the rise of Indian indigenous navies and tries to find out the reasons for their subsequent failure. He gives a detailed and extensive insight to one of the crucial time periods of Indian naval history as, in the words of noted Indian historian K. S. Mathew, ‘this is the phase when the indigenous technology of ship building and navigation encountered the Europeans’. The book is divided into three time periods. The initial chapters deal with the maritime activities of Calicut and Surat with the arrival of the Portuguese naval strategies. The second part of the book deals with the rise of irregular warfare strategies under the Marathas especially against the English East India Company (EEIC). The author argues that the continental mindset of the Marathas had prevented them from developing overseas trade which further ensured that a blue water navy was not created. The continental mindset of the Indians underwent a change under the able leadership of Tipu Sultan, who realized that the naval strategy was the best way of ousting the English. In the third chapter of the book the author discusses the rise of Mysore navy with the help of the French, in the background of international events…

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Filed under: Indian Ocean | East India Company
Subjects include: Strategy & Diplomacy

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