THE DRAIN THEORY Of all the national movements in colonial countries, the Indian national movement was the most deeply and firmly rooted in understanding the nature and the character of colonial domination and economic exploitation. This exploitation in the country started with the entry of the Company in 1757. Better late than never, this exploitation was realised by 1860. The period 1875-1905 became a period of intellectual unrest and spreading national consciousness. The main reason for India’s poverty was identified as the drain of wealth to England. The nationalists undertook a vigorous agitation to get rid of this evil. They used all forms of public communication such as speeches, letters to the British newspapers, articles in journals, correspondence with officials, evidence before official commissions and committees, private correspondence etc; to communicate this message to a wider spectrum of people. It is no doubt due to the efforts of that men that we realised “the financial, political and intellectual drain” we were subjected to. They felt that what British can do is to lend India back it’s wealth to develop it’s resources.They say that drain is not only loss of wealth but also loss of capital. Drain not only cut current national savings but even diminished the existing stock of inherited national capital. They felt that drain also hindered industrial development, india’s way to economic salvation.
The nationalists laid emphasis on the question ‘What was this drain due to?’ and found out the following sources of drain. * Inordinate employment of europeans in indian administration, army and railways * Home charges/expenses of the Indian government in Britain: These constitute the payment of interest on indian public debt, guaranteed railways, the cost of military and other stores supplied to india, and the civil and military charges paid in England on account of India, including the cost of secretary of states establishment at the indian office and the payments of pensions and allowances to european officials of Indian government. * Foreign capital invested in trade or industry in india
* Negative balance of trade (excess of exports over imports) Then, ‘How was this drain to be reduced?’ The nationalists also suggested the following remedies to curb this drain. * Indianisation of services
* Curtailment of home charges
1. Burden of public debt can be reduced by raising it in india rather than in england 2. Burden of railway debt can be reduced by cutting down the speed of railway construction 3. By purchasing government stores in india itself
4. Fair apportionment of charges between india and england
* Reducing the import of foreign capital
* Promoting indian industry, so no dependence on imports
The Britishers argued that the view, excessive employment of english-men as a source of drain, was very narrow and proved the shallowness of drain theory. They felt that our nationalists were ignorant in economic matters as they forgot the fact that without the home charges, there would be no British rule in India.They commented on no evidence of ‘ surplus revenue transfer ’ from India to Britain. They told that the rapid growth of foreign trade and the rapid construction of railways are indication of India’s economic development. They tried to highlight the benefits of British rule in India such as: * Invisible imports:
1. Shipping services
2. Insurance charges on imports and exports
3. Expenditure incurred by indian students and travellers abroad 4. Heavy imports of gold and silver
* Advantages of foreign capital:
1. Railways are constructed; Irrigation was developed
2. Establishment and development of plantation and other industrial enterprises * India’s political connection with England enabled it to borrow from the world’s cheapest...
References: * The Rise and Growth of Economic Nationalism in India, Bipan Chandra; People’s Publishing House, New Delhi, 1966.
* The Economic History of India in the Victorian Age, Vol-2 : From the Accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the Commencement of the Twentieth Century, Romesh Chandra Dutt; Published in Great Britain by Kegan Paul, Trench and Trubner, 1904.
* India’s Struggle for Independence (1857-1947), Bipan Chandra; Penguin Books
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