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British Imperialism

By wax90 Aug 03, 2008 584 Words
British expansion into India had substantial effects on its government, social, and cultural structure. Between the late 1700s to the late 1800s, the government power shifted from Mughal control to British dominance. British effects on Indian society were a mix of positive and negative changes in education, industrialization, economy and psyche. Traditional Indian culture was also radically altered to fit the liking of the British. These three components were key to the transformation of India during British imperialism.

At first, the British rule over India was indirect. The British East India Company hired sepoys, or Indian soldiers, to monitor Britain’s interests in that region. Indian suspicion in the company led to a series of revolts, the Sepoy Mutiny, or Great Rebellion, and the massacre at the House of Ladies. After the British stopped the revolts, the power was given to the British government under Queen Victoria, who was now the Empress of India. British rule was now direct and India was an official colony of Britain. Viceroys, or British officials, now carried out the supervision, which was a drastic change from Mughal rule.

The social changes made by the British were just as substantial as the political ones. The British brought stability to Indian society through their educational and industrial reforms. The British paid attention to education more than before, however their changes still left ninety percent of the population illiterate. A railroad, telegraph, and postal service were introduced, which allowed easier communication throughout India than they had previously had. However, other industrial modifications made by the British were very limited as they tried to keep modernity out except for the profitable textile and jute manufacturing mils. This rigid economy caused the destruction of many native industries. The British mandate on farmers to grow cotton ultimately led to the starvation of thirty million Indians between 1800 and 1900. Racial injustice was also vital in the British expansion into India. The Indians were inherently given an inferior rank to the British, regardless of any of the circumstances. These changes imposed by the British led to the strong Indian nationalist movement against the British.

The nationalist movement was not only caused by social change, but also by great cultural adjustment. The British got rid of the Indian tradition of suttee, the burning of widows as well as attempting to dispense of the thugs, or religious fanatics, who would strangle their victims in a cruelly odd manner. The British raj of India was a time where many nationalist ideas were in circulation. The British tried to bring their culture in by instituting a British college in Calcutta. Indian authors wrote many commentaries on British rule, the most famous, Rabindranath Tagore. Tagore wrote of Indian pride and of Indian ideas concerning their British colonization. The Indian National Congress, a group of Indians trying to voice the opinions of the whole nation, carried out the nationalist movement even more. The British rule of India set off a chain of reactions to affect all aspects of Indian daily life.

The effects of British colonization of India were rather sizeable in the political, social, and cultural aspects. Many cultural and social traditions were lost to the new British manner of running things. The political system was completely restructured under the British. It is indubitable that the British mad changes to Indian life, but whether or not the effects were generally more positive or more negative is up for debate; however, it is evident that there were characteristics of both.

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