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India Under British Rule

Essay by   •  December 9, 2012  •  Case Study  •  976 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,718 Views

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As the Mughal Dynasty declined in the 18th century, foreign spheres of influence began to permeate Indian society. At first only a trading presence along the south and eastern coasts and ports, the British took advantage of civil war and political unrest and began to wage war inland. The British gradually assumed control of Indian trade routes and major ports. By the end of the century British rule had been consolidated and was being extended up the Ganges valley to Delhi and over most of the peninsula of southern India. By then the British had established a military dominance that would enable them in the next fifty years to subdue all the remaining Indian states of any consequence, either conquering them or forcing their rulers to become subordinate allies.

Even though the British took over India by force, their presence was not without its benefits. Britain ended practices that were seen as cruel to their western sensibilities such as the abolishment of sati or the cremation of a widow on her husband's funeral pyre and allowed them to remarry. The British were also intolerant of organized crime and fought to end the "thuggee" brigandage in rural areas that had plagued travellers in India for centuries. Britain also incorporated western ideas and technologies to modernize and "westernize" India. Education standards were remade and modeled after the British system. Along with the installment of a postal service, railroad and telegraph lines were built connecting major cities and trade routes which enhanced and modernized trade and communication. British rule also allowed Indians to trade with foreign markets around the world.

These new advances in technology led to a prosperous increase of commerce and manufacturing of Indian goods; however like other newly industrial societies, India saw a massive influx of population to cities causing sanitation and housing problems. In 1856 when the first textile mills opened in Bombay, the mass production of textiles destroyed local economies and villages in rural areas that had produced the same Bengali fabric for centuries.They also incorporated a dysfunctional tax collection scheme called the "Zamindar System" with hopes to create a conservative foundation of a landed elite who cling to imperial rule. This system called for the landowners to collect taxes from rural villages and turn the revenue over to the British. This failed when the landowners exploited peasants by seizing their lands and charging unreasonably high taxes. Also the British began to undermine Indian culture with their disregard for local customs which displaced the status of high-caste Indians who were used to being the elite.

Seeking a voice, educated English-speaking urban intellectuals formed the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1885. Initially not opposed to British rule, after a few years the INC became more radical in response to constant opposition from the British-ruled government.



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