The influence of the Great Britain was widely witnessed through colonization of other countries and domination of world affairs. From Africa to Asia, Britain’s supremacy domineered as it battled out with other giant nations to take over the control of the world. Some of these experiences led to bloody encounters as no country wanted to be considered weak among the giants.
Throughout its colonization mission, Britain influenced its colonies in a myriad of ways. Notably, British colonization and industrialization in India had a significant impact in all spheres of life including political, social and economical. This paper discusses the impact of industrialization and colonization on both the Indians and British people during the British Rule.
Colonization of India
India is one of the countries which faced manifold challenges from other countries. Before the British Rule, India had interacted with several nations which had a wide range of interests. Despite these multiple interactions, India remained uninfluenced as its social structures stood on Hindu foundation, which emphasized hierarchy among different social classes for hundreds of years (Behm 5).
Despite its denial and resistance, India could no longer resist, the British influence with historical evidence indicating that several revolutions and transformations which have been witnessed in the country are closely related to the British colonization impact.
By the end of the famous World War II, a lot had already happened and changed in India with Britain having acquired a Labor government. The war immensely affected the economy of Britain, causing it to economically depend on the United States of America.
With the federal and provincial elections being held in 1945 and 1946, most of the seats were won by the Muslim League. This was followed by a series of strikes and labor boycotts as a mutiny in the military sparked military tensions between the two nations. Several incidents between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs could not let Britain to continue ruling as it faced extreme resistance (Behm 5).
As a result, bloody encounters like the Calcutta killing shock the world and is still considered as the bloodiest communal violence that occurred during the British Rule. This killing left 15,000 people dead, 15, seriously wounded and hundreds of others homeless, before it spread to other parts of the nation.
It was impossible for Britain to unite India with the famous Mahatma Gandhi emerging as the only successful leader who tried to bring together Indians and fight for their rights (Sanne 1). This tension contributed to Britain’s decision to end its rule, setting June 1948 as its leadership deadline in the subcontinent. A partition plan was drafted and adopted, which defined new boundaries separating Pakistan from Hindu India.
Nevertheless, local individual interests among the groups led to fighting with minority groups being forced to move, leaving all their belongings behind. This, consequently, led to the death of thousands of people and over ten million became refugees. In ending the long battle between Muslims and Hindus, the two gained their deadly independence in August 1947 (Sanne 1). Besides this political rearrangement, British rule also led to other effects as discussed below.
Impact on British people
Colonization of India by the British government had a wide range of effects on both Britons and Indians. Although it may be argued that Indians were the only ones affected, the rule also had significant impact in Britain. Colonization led to the constructions of a 40,000 miles railroad and an additional 70, miles of road. This helped the British to have easy access to India promoted the growth of its economy. They also established irrigation projects to facilitate agriculture.
This led to high supply of agricultural products from India to Britain (Sanne 1). The positive impact of this was having enough food to feed Britons and keep them free from food shortages. Britons also got enough raw materials from India to advance their industries. After the raw materials were processed in Britain, they were sent back to India since there was a ready market for finished goods.
Since Britain was colonizing India, it had to establish a government with officers to implement its agenda. This was a burden to its people as they had to cater for the salaries of the new government through taxes. Britons also had to pay for the establishment of bigger militaries that would protect the country from other forces.
This was necessary to protect its colony against penetration by other competing nations. Mutiny also affected Britons in many ways. Due to revolts from Indian quest for power, Britain had to make compromises and give in India’s demands for the rule to flourish. Most of the expenses resulting from mutiny were covered by Britons. Although British people were affected by Industrialization and colonization, the impact felt was more positive than the negative effects of the rule on Indians (Sanne 1).
Impact on Indian people
Education and Language
The rule significantly contributed to lowering of illiteracy among India. Missionaries established the first school in 1820 with the number of Indian high school graduates rising to half a million by the year 1880. Additionally, several colleges in India offered English, Western philosophy, natural science and Mathematics. This education was considered as a prerequisite for joining the Indian civil service with some students sitting for their exams in Britain like Mahatma Gandhi (Behm 7).
Although this was a good idea, it was aimed at benefiting Britain as the education was principally sponsored by the EIC before the government taking over without supporting any single Indian Education center. As such, Indians were converted to have English mind in their native land. Most of these were used as interpreters between the leadership and the subjects (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 170).
By the year 1901, there were around 140 colleges which were either owned privately or by the state. Surprisingly, only 17,000 students attended these institutions although more than half a million high school students graduated every year. Madras, Bombay and Calcutta are some of the universities which offered degree programs. The system, therefore, nurtured high-elites together with a huge number of semi-skilled English-speaking laborers (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 170).
There was also unbalanced British Education among Hindus and Muslims as the latter remained suspicious about the intentions of Britain and vowed to revive their traditional systems. This gave Hindus an upper hand in prosperity and politics as education played a major role. Consequently, Britain used education to create social classes as those who lacked the opportunity to study made no progress.
With a total of 179 languages, it is believed that British education played a pivotal role in uniting Indians as it made them to have a sense of belonging and have a different view over the meaning of “Indian”. They also understood the meaning and implication of freedom and democracy together with certain values and ideas from the Western world (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 171). English was recognized as a national language, a move that promoted seclusion of Muslims as they denounced English-related ideas.
During colonization period, Protestant British dominated India’s religious plane with Christianity being established long before colonial rulers including Portugal. Britain considered it as a destiny to Christianize all Indians and the only way towards freedom which India was looking for. As a result, many missionaries in colonial India became powerful and recognized. Notably, early missionaries were much concerned with caste rules and the Hindu religion.
Some people, however, argued that the caste system helped in holding Indians together even though the system was highly criticized by Christian missionaries in the country (Behm 6). The system created a gap between Indian Christians and was a major obstacle in the propagation of European culture.
In order to achieve their target, Christians pushed for the destruction of the caste system, a demand that was turned down. Additionally, the idea of imposing Christianity on Indians was strongly discarded. This led to a late understanding by the missionaries that caste system was a religious institution and a social distinction, which the government needed to delink itself from (Hansen and Curtis 69).
Although the origin of this system is unknown and described as complex, it is also viewed as a result of British Rule in India. This caused Indian to get organized into social structure, which was made up of four major varnas that had broader classification in the society and existed in hierarchal order.
The four varnas were made up of people of different classes and they included Brahmins, Ksatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras (Sanne 1). These classes established boundaries that limited association with other members being considered as untouchable while others as pure. The concept of purity and pollution created hierarchy and allowed the exchange of services among members with an exclusion of social interactions.
The main difference that existed between Indian and British view of the social structure was opposition towards group behavior and individualism and of equality and hierarchy. Importantly, these structures were augmented by material wealth and variation in education level (Hansen and Curtis 81).
The British Rule interfered with India’s view of the group as the core unit of any organization. Britons preached individualism, which emphasized being on the top of the group. The Hindu structure was mainly made-up of groups together with their subgroups, which were smaller in size.
During colonization, the individual was not important as the group played an imperative role (Sanne 1). On the other hand, the British highly valued the individual who was almost placed at the top of the entire group. In today’s history, individualistic culture dominating India is highly attributed to the British Rule influence.
From the above analysis, it is clear that the British Rule had significance impact on the history and overall Indian course. The political organization and hierarchy of the subcontinent got transformed, leading to the separation of India and Pakistan, and formation of social structures with different hierarchal groups.
Religion and education were also influenced, with Christian missionaries having taken the lead in Christianization of Indians. British funding of the education system promoted British education in India as a way of promoting the Western philosophy. However, this led to seclusion of Muslims as they denounced Western ideologies. In general, British colonization and industrialization in India affected both Indians and Britons even though Britons were much favored by the impact of the rule.
Behm, Juliane. E.M. Forster’s ‘A Passage to India’: The British Raj in India and Its Impact on the Friendship Between Aziz and Fielding. Munich: GRIN Verlag, 2009. Print.
Hansen, Valerie, and Curtis Kenneth. Voyages in World History, Volume 2. Wadsworth, Boston, 2010. Print.
Krishnaswamy, N, and Krishnaswamy Lalitha. The story of English in India. New York City: Foundation Books, 2006. Print.
Sanne, Sebastian. British Colonialism in India and its influence on Indian Society. Square Space, 2011. Web. 30 November 2011.