Imperialism And India Essay Research Paper Imperialism

Imperialism And India Essay, Research Paper

Imperialism and India

Throughout history, many nations have implemented imperialism to enforce

their will over others for money, protection and civilization. India was no

exception. Since its discovery, Europeans were trying get a piece of India’s

action. In many cases England was the imperial, or mother country. Since India

was put under imperialism, a great deal of things changed, some for the good,

mostly though for the bad. Between 1640 and 1949, India was ruled by two

periods of imperialism, both of which effected India in a very profound and

permanent manner.

The first period of European control was between 1740 and 1858. During

this period the British East India Company controlled the Indian sub-continent

under the guise of economic imperialism, when in fact the manipulation of Indian

affairs was much more political than let on. When it was founded in 1600 by

Queen Elizabeth I, the East India Company’s main purpose was “to break into the

Indonesian spice trade which was dominated by the Dutch.” But after colonizing a

post a Madras in 1640, the company was re-chartered to include such rights as

coining money and act as government to British subjects at the East India

Company’s posts. As well, the British government also gave the company the

right to make was or peaceful arrangements with powers who were non-Christian.

This control expanded with the founding of a port at Bombay in 1668, and the

founding of Calcutta in 1690. Then in 1756, a young employee named Robert Clive,

who had been named lieutenant-governor in 1755, was sent to take back Calcutta

from the Bengal nawab. He accomplished this in January of 1757. Then later

that year, Clive lead a group of 950 European and 2,000 Indian soldiers(sepoys)

against a group of 50,000 Indians lead by a degenerate nawab at Plassey. The

victory of the English forces over the local resistance brought Bengal under the

effective political control of the East India Company. Although a “puppet

nawab” was left in control of the area, Clive was granted the right to extract

land revenue from most of eastern India. Through out this whole period, the

company slowly found it’s privledges being revoked, until in 1858, the Sepoy

Rebellion, or the Indian Revolution, finally brought an end to the rule of the

East India Company in India when it was revealed the cause of the rebellion was

the use of beef and pork fat to grease rifle cartridges, which are taboo to the

Muslims and Hindus. This Revolution brought the rule of the East India Company

to an end.

The second period of English imperialism started in August of 1858 when

the British monarchy assumed direct control of India from the East India

Company. This established a full colonial government, where British officials

run the countries affairs, in India. This is known as colonial imperialism.

This period was one of major change in Indian life and culture. While the East

India Company tried respect local customs and learn local languages, the

colonial government “tried to impose British culture on India. . . encouraged

the Indian people to abandon their traditions and learn to speak, dress and live

like Europeans.” This came to a head in 1877, when Queen Victoria was recognized

as the Empress of India. The colonial government felt it was their duty to

civilize the people of India, feeling “I am a little bit better than you,

therefore my presence is necessary.” This all began to end in 1885 with the

formation of the Indian National Congress, made up of middle-class Indians who

were known as the congress. This congress campaigned for free education for

both sexes, more Indian representation in government, and other reforms. But

then in the early 1900’s, nationalists began to reject British rule and petition

for it’s end in India by boycotting British goods and publishing books which

“restored peoples pride in India’s ancient heritage.” The nationalist leader,

Mohandas Gandhi, is perhaps best known for his method of passive resistance to

help the struggle of India. Then finally in 1949, the partitioning of the

British controlled lands into the independent countries of Pakistan and India

brought an end to English rule in the Indian subcontinent.

Throughout the rule of the British in India, the effect of the colonial

and economic imperialism impacted the sub-continent in the form of many economic

and social changes. On the economic side, many Indian goods were sold overseas

by the East India Company, but the government of England saw India as a large

base for British goods, as well as a source of raw materials. This lead to

British officials discouraging Indian industry, as well as encouraging the

production of export crops rather than food crops. In this way cotton was

produced in India, processed in England, and thin sold back to the Indians.

This change in food supplies killed millions of Indians from famine in the

1800’s. Then when the British government took direct control, the construction

of railways, canals, and roads, especially the opening of the Suez canal in 1869

opened the interior of India for trade throughout Europe and Asia. With the

construction of the telegraph lines in India, exports from India jumped

tremendously. However, all of the profit went to the colonialists, plunging

most Indians into poverty. The social changes included the introduction of

health care and hospitals, which, while curing diseases and improving the

general health of Indians, created such a tremendous population explosion that

famine resulted in some regions. As well, the creation of British educated

professionals and business people created a new upper-class in India changing

the rule of class in India forever. All of these changes, while under the guise

of helping the natives, only served to help the colonists and leave the Indians

feeling inferior, as though Indians are only “hewers of wood, and drawers of


All of these changes in Indian culture and economy forever changed the

destiny of the Land of India. While many changes may have been good in

retrospect, they were only meant to help the colonizing British. Overall, the

colonization of India had nothing but a negative effect on its people and

culture. Perhaps one day people will realize that imposing one culture on

another is not only wrong, but it is destructive to the natural course of a

countries history.


“India” Groiler Electronic Encyclopedia, 1994

“India” article found on Internet, 1996

“India, a history of,” Groiler New Book of Knowledge, 1979

In class speech by Mr. Seqera, 1996


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