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It was composed of territories ruled by the United Kingdom. During those times, its influence and power was widespread. The growth of the empire can be attributed to the competition for market and resources between…
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The British Empire and its construction of Modernity The British Empire was one of the largest empires in history. It was composedof territories ruled by the United Kingdom. During those times, its influence and power was widespread. The growth of the empire can be attributed to the competition for market and resources between England and other European rivals, France, Spain and Netherlands. England established trading companies in Russia, Turkey and East Indies during the reign of Elizabeth I. They also explored the coastal region of North America where they set up colonies. The colonies established in the early seventeenth century were expanded and it is this period that colonization of Ulster in Ireland started.
The main aim of the imperialist policies in the British Empire was to assist in the acquisition of many foreign territories. These territories would therefore provide raw materials and the market for the British manufacturers. They also established trade monopolies that would ensure that their export exceeds imports. They believed this would provide foreign income to expand and maintain the empire. After successful wars with the French, Spanish and the Dutch in the seventeenth century, Britain was successful in acquiring most territories in the Caribbean, St Lawrence basin in Canada, parts of Africa for slavery acquisition and the coast of the North America.
They developed interest in India and the British government took over the East India Company. Britains control extended to neighbors of India, including Burma and Afghanistan. After the end of the Napoleonic wars in1815, Britain became more powerful. At this time, they acquired Dutch South Africa but were challenged in India due to the eastern and southern expansion of the Russian empire. During this period, the traditional rivals of Britain had been diminished in power and size and so Britain remained the leading empire in Europe. However, the old mercantile empire weakened due to certain factors during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Some of the factors were freeing in slaves held in another part of the empire and colonial associations for greater commercial and political independence.
British Empire had several motives in penetration in India. The British investors ventured into certain parts of India in search of opportunities that had significant profits. British intellectuals, including Christian missionaries facilitated the movement that sought to bring western technological innovations and intellectuals to Indians. The Christian missionaries translated the bible into local languages and also taught officials of the company vernacular. The impact of the missionaries was evident in terms of book publishing, building orphanages, hospitals and practical institution. In 1772, a judicial system called Adalat was set up. It established criminal and civil jurisdiction together with rules of operations and evidence. Both muslimqazis and Hindu Pandits were absorbed to help the presiding judges in understanding the customary laws. In certain instances, the British statutory and common laws were applied.
Although, in most instances education was left in for the private agents and the Indians, the British realized their duty to expose the Indians to British literary customs. English as a medium of giving instructions was then introduced in India by William Cavendish Bentick. With time English replaced Persian language in education and public administration. British permanence in India was reinforced with the introduction of telegraph, railroads and postal services. With equal postal rates for newspapers and letters, communication between metropolitan and rural areas became faster and easier. The enhanced ease of access to waterways and highways coupled with communication accelerated the transportation of raw materials and movement of troops from the interior.
In conclusion, despite the wars between the British empire and other empire to in order to gain power, the British empire had a major impact in constructing modernity especially India. Apart from introducing technological innovations and improving communication, they introduced systems of the judiciary and governance as well as improving the infrastructure.
Philippa Levine. (2013). The British Empire: Sunrise to Sunset. Routledge Read More
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