The ‘Scandal of Empire’ by Nicholas B. Dirks is not only incidental to British imperialism but also central to an empire as it ultimately served as the “crucible in which both imperial and capitalist expansions were forged”. The British officials and governors employed scandals to strengthen their control over the Indian subcontinent. By the portrayal of events over time including the impeachment of Warren Hastings, the author asserts how scandals were used to convert Britain’s presence in India to a sovereignty that tried to produce conditions for the success of the empire.
The author presents the establishment of the East India Company and brings to light the greed for power and wealth through over ambitious Robert Clive and Warren Hastings. Sarcasm and irony are used to show the giving away of “presents” by the Nawabs thereby increasing the power of the rich through the hands of the innocent public. These scandals might have led to territorial expansions but they eventually led to huge losses and debt for the colony as a whole.
The trial of Warren Hastings by Edmund Burke brought to surface the manipulation of wealth in the name of patriotism. The British government transformed the understanding of the public regarding the Company’s corrupt actions by portraying India as vulnerable and in need of British assistance. His trial led the British Crown to assume power and the “Empire was no longer a scandal”. Through the usage of an aggressive and powerful tone, the author portrays his disapproval of the mechanism used by the colonisers.
The corruption and ‘scandals’ of the East India Company brought India into the hands of the British Crown thereby establishing the prevalent role played by “scandals” throughout the British rule that led to the establishment and destruction of empires. Moreover, the author drives home an idea that no scandal can possibly give rise to a glorious and successful empire.