Describe major aspects of British colonialism in India and its influence on the Indian population - Essay Example

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India was one of the major British colonies. Britain ruled India for two hundred centuries. This article studies historical background of emergence of India as a British colony. It also explores the aspects…
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Major aspects of British colonialism in India and its influence on Indian population xxxxxxxxxxx British Colonial possessions for centuriesspread around the world. India was one of the major British colonies. Britain ruled India for two hundred centuries. This article studies historical background of emergence of India as a British colony. It also explores the aspects of British colonialism and its influences on Indian people. This study used facts and information from online resources.
Historical Background
Vasco Da Gama, the famous Portuguese explorer, in 1498, opened the sea route (“Vasco Da Gamma”) from Europe to India. This opened the door for European traders to India. New inventions of the 18th century gave rise to a new production process in the Great Britain – called factory production. It was the beginning of Industrial Revolution in Europe. Industrial revolution (“The origins of Industrial Revolution in England”) created a need for new markets for sales of the finished product and search for raw material. British quest for a new market was the primary reason for colonizing India. In 1600, a trading company, by the name East India Company (“South Asian History – Colonial India”) was formed in London with the blessing of Queen Elizabeth I. East India Company’s main activity was trading with India. East India Company made twelve voyages (“South Asian History – Colonial India”) to India in the year of 1601 – 1613. By that time, other traders from Europe, Dutch, French, Portuguese, were also present in India. Until 1614, the Company was struggling to get the right to trade in India along with other European countries. In 1614 (“Indian History”) British envoy secured approval for trading from the Moghul Emperor Jahangir. Unlike traders from other countries, East India Company was able to penetrate (“Indian History”) deep inside the India. East India Company set up factories (“Indian History”) in different cities of India including in Bengal. English settlement rose in Bengal. Later East India Company made Calcutta in Bengal its trading center. During the year 1740 and later, hostility between England and France was on pick. British government heavily backed arming of East India Company. The Company fought several battles with France in those years to establish dominance over Hydrabad and Carnatic regions of India. By mid 18th century, the Company had his own army consisting of British and local people. East India Company fought the first battle in 1757 against the Ruler of Bengal (“Indian History”) and won the battle. This was the beginning of fall of India under the British rule. In 1760, East India Company, won over the French and established control over Carnatic Region of India. East India Company, by 1769 gained full control of European Trade in India. Mughal Empire at that time fully disintegrated, and Rajas and Maharajas were ruling different parts of India. During the period 1757 – 1857, East India Company fought many battles (“Indian History”) with the local Indian rulers to establish political dominance in India. During this period (1757 – 1858), Britain ruled India thru East India Company. In 1858, after first Indian uprising for independence suppressed by the East India Company, Britain took full control of India from East India Company. India officially became a British Colony. Britain exiled (“The Mughal Empire in India”) Bahdur Shah, the last Mogul Emperor to Burma. British Crown ruled India from 1858 – 1947. During this period (1757-1947), Britain used both direct and indirect control over India. British used local Maharajas and Rajas who became their puppets to perform indirect British rules in their localities.
Colonialism should be defined as another form of capitalism that came to the world as a result of Industrial Revolution in Europe. Industrial revolution brought growth of production. Domestic market in Europe could not absorb the production. Motives (“Ninetieth Century Colonialism in India”) of colonialism were to find a new market to sell the finished product and buy cheap raw materials. European traders wanted more profit margin and monopoly over the market. This led to seizure of political power, and subjugation of the local people.
Aspects of British Colonialism in India
British Colonialism in India started with the formation of East India Company in 1600. In the beginning, East India Company entered to India as another trader from Europe. Very soon, the aim of the East India Company from trading turned to achieve the administrative control over India. British colonialism in India may be characterized in three phases (“Economic Effects of British Colonialism”);
1. Mercantile Capitalism (1757 – 1813)
2. Free Trade Capitalism (1813 – 1858)
3. Financial Capitalism (1858 – 1947)
During the first phase, British enjoyed the right to collect revenue from eastern and southern part of India. This phase ended when Company’s monopoly over trade with India came to an end. Agricultural taxation (“The Economic and Social Impact of Colonialism in India”) was the main part of revenue at this time. Britain tried out everything to maximize the revenue. However, this approach brought disaster and ruined agriculture. In 1793, British introduced Zamindar (Sanne,S.) system in the rural areas, creating a class of new landlords. Their duty was to collect taxes from the peasants.
Commercialization of Indian agriculture (“The Economic and Social Impact of Colonialism in India”) took place in the second phase of British Colonialism. Demand of Indian agricultural product in overseas regulated the nature of farming in India. The agricultural sector was a cash crop production, and not food. Cash crop products were indigo, opium, silk, cotton and raw jute. The sector worked for a distant market with wildly fluctuating prices. Colonial government gave no protection to the farmers. Large amount of proceeds from export of agricultural products went back to Britain. Agricultural capital was not invested to develop industrialization of the country.
In 1857, The British army and weaponry ruthlessly suppressed Indian uprising for freedom (“Indian History”). India became a colony under the direct control from East India Company to the British Crown. During this period, Britain created a capital base in India to protect the economic interest of the colonial rule. Britain invested capital in India thru British Banks and Export-Import firms.
Impact of Colonial rule in India
Law and Order
Starting from 1712 wasteful warlord aristocracy (“The Economic and Social Impact of Colonialism in India”) dominated Indian society after the disintegration of Moghul Empire. British colonial rule replaced it by an efficient bureaucracy and army, which was efficient in maintaining law and order. British control produced relatively an honest government for the benefit of the average Indian.
Education and School
Missionary established first British school (Sanne, S.) somewhere around 1820. In 1880, there were 500,000 people with secondary education. East India Company financed British Education. Education among young girls expanded with the purpose of making them better wives and mothers. The admission of first Indian woman to a Madras Medical college occurred in Madras 1875.
British rule brought to an end of an inhuman aspect of Hindu religion. This tradition was called Sati (burning of wife with her dead husband). The practice of Sati (Sanne, S.) was outlawed in 1829. Christianity though came to India before British arrived, but Protestant Missionary spread it during British rule.
Indian capitalists, who made their money from trading with the British, established first textile mills (“The Economic and Social Impact of Colonialism in India”) in 1850. Cotton textiles mills were built in Bombay with managerial and financial help from British trading companies. Modern jute manufacturing mills (“The Economic and Social Impact of Colonialism in India”) started at about the same time. The first jute mill was built in 1854 in the vicinity of Calcutta. Coal mining in Bengal was another significant industry. In 1911 Tata company built first steel mill (“The Economic and Social Impact of Colonialism in India”) in Bihar.
Exports of raw material and import of goods needed infrastructures. Railroad, highways, telegraph and postal service were introduced in India shortly after they were established in Britain (“Indian History”). In 1853 first Railway opened from Bombay to Thane and first Telegraph line started from Calcutta to Agra.
British justified colonialism thru the theory called Social Darwinism and the concept called “White People’s burden”. Indian people paid a high price for the reforms and progress that took place during two centuries of the British rule in India. Revenue from agriculture and cash crop were two main sources that British used once they gained political and military power in Bengal. This approach brought misery to millions of Indians both in rural areas and cities. Agriculture and manufacturing of agricultural commodities were made to come apart. Introduction of British textiles destroyed Indian handloom. This put thousands of Bengali women out of work. Irrespective of some development of textile and jute industry, British import prevented the emergence of critical manufacturing and commercial activity. British arrogances and racial discrimination (“Colonialism in India”) had a significant social impact on the Indian society. There is no straightforward answer of the question whether colonialism benefited India or not. Moderate Indian will talk about progress though not happy about British colonialism; hardliner Indians will denounce British colonialism and white supremacy. This question will remain unanswered. Even the history and time will not be able to distinguish right from wrong. Aspects of British Colonialism and its impact on Indian people will remain as a historical reality of human civilization.
Colonialism in India. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Economic Effects of British Colonialism. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Indian History. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Nineteenth Century Colonialism in India. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Sanne, S. (n.d.). British Colonialism in India and its Influence ob Indian Society. Retrieved from
South Asian History – Colonial India. (n.d.). Retrieved from
The Economic and Social Impact of Colonialism in India. (n.d.). Retrieved from
The Mughal Empire in India. (n.d.).
The origins of Industrial Revolution in England. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Vasco Da Gama: Timeline. (n.d.). Retrieved from Read More
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