The British East India Company opened their first trading center at Surat, Gujarat in 1612. This was as per the deed of right Mughal Emperor Jehangir granted to them. In 1640, they opened their second center in Madras (now Chennai). In 1687, they shifted their main trading center from Surat to Bombay, the city that they leased out from the British King in 1668. They poked their nose in the internal squabbles of the local chieftains and princely states, and enlarged their spheres of influence in India. And this in fact was the beginning of the colonization of India. They established their base in Calcutta (now Kolkatta) in 1690. Their first major interference with the internal politics of India was when they supported Mir Kasim, a minister of Bengal, militarily to sabotage Siraj-ud-Daula, the Nawab. On 23rd June, 1757, the Nawab was defeated by a joint military action of Robert Clive's troops and those of Mir Kasim in a battle at Plassey. And this was the turning point where the British formally entered the political arena of India and began to play a direct role in the administrative supremacy. The British defeated the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam in 1764 at the battle of Baxar in Bihar. The Anglo-Mysore battles (1766 – 99), and Anglo-Maratha battles (1772 – 1818) proved the superiority of the British strategies and these battles helped them to expand the territories under their control. They managed to bring under their administrative control most of the princely states of India either by direct annexation using force or by giving military support. They brought Punjab also under their control in 1849. Kashmir, which was a part of Punjab was handed over to the Dogra royal family in 1850, under a covenant called the Amritsar Agreement. Along with Punjab, the North West Frontier Province, which is now under Pakistan, was also brought under them. And in those states where a legitimate heir apparent to the crown was not available they were brought under the British rule. Sattara (1848), Udaypur (1852), Jhansi (1853), Tanjore (1853), Nagpur (1854), Oudh (1856) were some of the princely states the British annexed using this excuse – that there were no legitimate heir apparent. When Tipu was defeated in 1792, they annexed Malabar too.
The British East India Company's evil designs, cruelties, opportunism and greed had caused a general feeling of widespread dissatisfaction and anger in various parts of India. This resulted in attempts at revolts in many parts of the country. But most of them were sporadic, under-equipped and unorganized. The Sannyasi Revolt (1763-1800), the Zemindar Revolt of Orissa (1804-1817), The Resistance Rebellion (1790-1805) of Tamil Nadu, under the leadership of Kattabbomman and others, the Resistance War waged by Veluthampi Dalawa of Travancore and Paliyathachan of Kochi (1809), the guerilla operations of Pazhassi Raja Kerala Varma (1773-1797), The Kurichay Revolt (1812), the Mysore Rebellion (1800-1831) etc., are part of these. There were a number of rebellions in Maharashtra against the British rule. In Uttar Pradesh, and Haryana, the Jats organized forceful rebellions. These sparks of protests and anger flared up in the form of a great whirlwind of a movement which is called 'the First Struggle for Independence' (1857).