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British Rule

- Taken Over By Force

In 1858, British Crown rule was established in India. It was the end of a century old rule of East India Company. The life and death resistance that preceded this formalisation of British control lasted nearly two years. It was referred to as the “Great Rebellion,” or the “First War of Independence”. Without doubt, the costs of this bloody rupture marked the nature of political, social and economic rule that the British recognized in its wake. The Raj never encompassed the total land mass of the sub continent and two-fifth of the sub-continent continued to be separately governed by 560 big and small principalities. A few rulers fought against British during the Great Rebellion but later they signed mutual cooperation treaties with British. Monetary and Military support during the two World Wars were lend to British. The Great Rebellion succeeded in creating a racial chasm between ordinary Indians and British.

It was an agreement that Indian policies would be above party politics but in reality it mixed up with the vicissitudes of Westminster. Without experiences of Indian conditions consecutive viceroys in India and secretaries of state in London were appointed on party basis. A policy of co-operation and pacification of different stratum of Indian conditions was combined with a policy of compulsion and force by the Government of India. All the British Empire wanted was economic gain. Practically, to govern successfully and remuneratively, 1200 Indian civil servants were not able to rule 350 million Indians without the help of the natives. On the other hand, to justify and explain their rule they chose to elaborate sophisticated and intellectual point of view.

There were two unquestionable economic benefits provided by India. They served defence needs by maintaining a large standing army without any cost to British taxpayer and capture market for British goods and services. On the other hand a controversial topic question came up whether British developed or retarded the Indian economy. However a large scale capital investment in infrastructure, in railways, canals and irrigational works, shipping and mining, education system proved beneficial towards the addition of India into the world economy. On the contrary , British are criticised for leaving Indians poorer and prone to devastating famines; collecting high taxes from poor people, draining Indian revenue and paying it for expensive bureaucracy; servicing a huge sterling debt and never making any effort tore invest the capital investment to develop Indian economy and rather than reimbursing it to London.

The Indian National Congress was founded in 1885 as an all India political party that helped formalising opposition to Raj. It grew from its elite middle class limitations and a sensible, loyalist programme to mass organisation. This organisation was remarkable in achieving broad consensus over the decades. It was not a homogenous organisation and was often subjugated by factionalism and opposing political strategies. The actual timing of independence happened during the World War II when a lot of demands and pressure was put on British government and its people. In 1945 the Labour Party won the elections that supported Indian claims for self rule.

Muslim separated in the late 19 century and there was a rise in communal violence from 1920s to 1946-1947. In the late 1930s it became inevitable that independence could only be achieved if accompanied by a partition that would create two sovereign nations of India and Pakistan. The Muslim league was formed in 1906 to represent the Muslim community to represent their interests. The Muslim community comprise only 20% of the population and they represented great variety in economic, social, and political terms. Though Islam and Hinduism have different faiths but continued to coexist peaceably. During the Khilafat and Non Cooperation movements in 1920-1922, the congress and the league worked together effectively. Ali Jinnah was a congress member till 1920.

The whole idea of partition was a very controversial arrangement and a lot of tension on the subcontinent still prevails. British viceroy Louis Mountbatten was blamed of rushing the process through and influencing the Radcliffe Awards in India’s favour since everyone knew that India was a better choice for most of the people. The commission took a long time to decide the final borderline that the two nations were granted independence even before boundary was finally defined between them. The members of the commission were very frustrated by their work that they even refused to take commission for their time. Thus after the partition the British finally left India and that was the end of British rule.

1 Comment

  1. smelly curry says:

    i think your argument is both shallow and pedantic. First of all us indians didnt starve, we had to eat our own poo spiced with curry so your wrong about no famines. i suggest you learn abit about the topic yourn writingn on

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