Effects of British Colonial Rule in India

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The colonization of India and the immense transfer of wealth that moved from the latter to Britain were vital to the success of the British Empire. In fact, the Viceroy of British India in 1894 called India “the pivot of our Empire …” I examine the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the subcontinent. Besides highlighting the fact that without cheap labor and raw materials from India, the modernization of Britain during this era would have been highly unlikely, I will show how colonial policy led to the privation and death of millions of natives. I conclude that while India undoubtedly benefited from British colonial rule, the negatives for the subject population far outweighed the positives.
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Colonialism, by definition, is exploitative and oppressive, with the rulers enriching themselves at the expense of those they rule. Generally speaking, colonizers dominate a territory’s resources, labor force, and markets; oftentimes, they impose structures -- cultural, religious and/or linguistic -- to maintain control over the indigenous population. The effects of the expansion of European empires, which began in the 15th century, on the colonized can still be felt today. Some historians, for example, argue that colonialism is one of the leading causes in income inequality among countries in present times. They cite patterns of European settlement as determinative forces in the type of institutions developed in colonized countries, considering them major factors in economic backwardness. Economist Luis Angeles has argued that the higher the percentage of Europeans settling in a colony at its peak, the greater the inequality in that country so long as the settlers remained a minority, suggesting that the colonizers drained those lands of essential resources while reaping most, if not all, of the profits. In terms of per capita GDP in 1995, the 20 poorest countries were all former colonies, which would seem to bolster Angeles’ contention.

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Bibliography: Angeles, Luis. “Income Inequality and Colonialism.” European Economic Review, Volume 51, Issue 5 (July 2007). pp 1155-1176 New Series, Vol. 55, No. 3 (Aug., 2002), pp. 466-486 http://www.jstor.org/stable/3091675 Knopf, 2008. Broadberry, Stephen and Bishnupriya Gupta. “Cotton Textiles and the Great Divergence: Lancashire, India and the Shifting Competitive Advantage, 1600-1850.” Centre for Economic Policy Research Discussion Paper, April 12, 2005 New York: Verso, 2002 D’Souza, Dnesh, “Two Cheers for Colonialism.” San Francisco Chronicle, (July 7, 2002). Reconstruction for Nineteenth-Century Britain and India.” The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol. 42, No. 3 (Aug., 1989), pp. 354-374 http://www.jstor.org/stable/2596438 Glumaz, Paul. “Then and Now: British Imperial Policy Means Famine.” Executive Intelligence Review, (April 25, 2008). York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. Harvard Business School Working Paper No. 05-041, (2007). American Comparisons.” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Apr., 1960), pp. 305-328 http://www.jstor.org/stable/177950 Ward, J.R. “The Industrial Revolution and British Imperialism, 1750-1850.” The Economic History Review, New Series, Vol

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