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Among the pioneers of British colonialism in Mughal Bengal, Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India appointed by the British East India Company (EIC), was a true Janus-faced statesman. Unlike his predecessor Governor Robert Clive (1724–1774) who had paved the way for the Company to become a puissant colonial power by virtue of sheer military conquest, Hastings, a sensitive, cultured, and conscientious as well as an experienced India hand, effected a number of administrative reforms in Bengal. He also undertook some cultural projects to enhance understanding of the mind-set of an alien people with a view to eliminating blatant iniquity of the EIC officials turned illegal traders and exploiters of the natives with impunity. And yet, upon his return to England, he faced partly legitimate but mostly politically motivated charges of corruption and gratuitous cruelty to the subject peoples of the Company Raj.
Warren was born in a respectable rural family of declining fortune of...
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