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Suffering in British India

In what ways did India as a whole “prosper” and “suffer” under the British colonial system As miriniae has mentioned, India underwent great change under the British administration, with the development of new services & technology in transport, agriculture, and education, just to name a few. Although the country flourished under colonial rule, the self interests of the British prompted new problems and suffering for Indian people. The chief motive of the British in India was to establish political control through the exploitation of economic and commercial conditions in the country.

The British were focused on expanding their Empire through India’s wealth, resources and power, often compromising the welfare of the Indian people. Indians were denied the pledge that they would be of equal social and political status of their English rulers. The impact of 200 years of British rule can be questioned as after Independence, the country had the scenario of a nation prevailing with hunger, poverty and low national incomes. The British were able to recklessly exploit India’s natural resources and drain the wealth of it’s citizens through the imposition of excessive taxes, one of which was the salt tax.

Nearly one third of an Indians wage was directed to tax which funded all the new enterprises of the British. Indian revenues paid all the bills yet workers were poorly paid and exploited in the British labor force. They suffered under this system unable challenge the political authority of the British through much of their debilitating reign. In government, the British occupied the majority of high positions in India’s government and lack of experience in politics and administration left Indians without knowledge or practice of governing their own country.

The British outlawed certain social and religious practices such as ‘sati’ and imposed oppressive administrative laws. The main aim of the government was to collect taxes thus, the British were able to maintain both political and economic control of the nation and its people. Another concern for Indians was the lack of food supplies in a growing population. Although there were huge investments in agriculture and irrigation, these had little impact on the poverty and frequent malnutrition of nearly half the population.

Although agriculture was booming, this was primarily due to the increase in non-food crops such as tea, opium, cotton, indigo and jute, thus agriculture in India was inadequate to the needs of an immense population. Poverty was so severe that it kept the majority of the population of the verge of starvation even in the years of greatest plenty. Under the British, Indians had to bear the burdens, pay the taxes and support the costly government even in times of severe starvation. Indian farmers were encouraged and pressured to grow crops for export and often cruelly exploited due to the big export profits made by the British.

The global economy destroyed India’s native industry, and while a minority became richer the lower class were impoverished with little benefit. Imperialism had begun to effect every part of Indian life and there was growing tension between the Indians and the British. In 1857 there was an uprising with the mutiny of the native troops known as ‘sepoys’. The British East India company & British government recruited native citizens and trained indians to fight with British weaponry and methods.

There had been minor outbreaks before 1857, but these had all been quickly and brutally suppressed. The “spark” that begun the period of revolts was the introduction of the new breech-loading Enfield rifle. The loading of these rifles entailed the biting of a greased cartridge, which the sepoys feared was made with either cow or pig fat – “the first, from an animal sacred to the Hindus, and the second from an animal held unclean by the Muslims. This caused the uprising and rebellion of the Sepoys and this was the first stage of the struggle for independence from colonialism.

British rule was both constructive and detrimental in its political, social, and material effects on India. Although impoverishment and supression held long-term consequences, British rule ultimately profited the country, especially in terms of modernization, industrialization, and education. In saying this it is quite clear that the sole mission of the British in India was economic exploitation. The british rulers created new economic structures that solely belonged to the colonial institutions and this caused

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