British Colonialism in India
Provide background information on the British Colonialism in India and solution given along with an explanation as to how it was derived. Find the ethical issue, gather as much information as possible about the historical and cultural situation. Evaluate the ethical issue giving no judgment.
British Colonialism in India
The increase in demand for raw materials and market for Britain to sell their finished merchandises created an opportunity for the British infiltrate India by the establishment of the British East India Company in Bombay, Madras and Calcutta. Moreover, the declining power of the Mughal Empire and mistrust among Indian leaders earned the British strong support from the Indians felt that their leadership was the solution to the issues affecting the country hence giving them the best opportunity to establish their rule. This was achieved through wars, forced treaties and alliances formed with local Indian leaders.
Britain’s push for monopoly of trade and commerce as a way of defeating their competitors who had shown interest in India was achieved when they won the battle of Plassey and obtained power over Diwani by signing the treaty of Allahabad of 1765. In addition, the commercialization various cash crops and export of various raw materials for their factories in Britain imposed heavy duties on Indian farmers, artisans and small traders (Majeed 276).
Furthermore, the founding of an education system, monitored by the British and their different ideologies gained the interest of many Indians. With the British influence on the school system, educated elite in the Indian population emerged who backed the colonial rule.
However, the British rule impacted the Indian society in many ways. Certain social practices that were against human rights such as sati, an act of burning alive the widow of a Hindu man, the killing of a female fetus through selective abortion, newborn female infants which were highly oppressive to the women were predominant. They were discriminated against and disadvantaged at all stages of their life. In addition, they did not have rights to education, or access to any opportunities to improve their status in society.
The British rule however gave rise to new philosophies such as equality for women and human rights for many oppressed locals. The philosophies appealed to many visionaries such as Pandita Ramabai, Aruna Asaf and Raja Mohan who lead movements for social unity amongst Indians. Many laws were enacted improving the status women. For example, the practice of sati was abolished in 1829 and widow remarriage law passed in 1856. The Sharda Act preventing child marriage passed in 1929 and stated that it was illegal to marry a girl below fourteen years. The efforts made by this numerous individuals to reform women rights had a great impact. Women started getting better education opportunities and sort self or public employment. Some of them like Captain Laxmi and many others joined the Indian National Army and their impact was extremely important in the struggle for freedom for India. (Chandra)
However, the changes in the economy, government, education, and idealism, brought about by the British rule, revolutionized social and led to them rebelling. At a time when the intelligent, urban elite class was reaping the benefits of the British rule, it was the farmers, ruined artisans and demobilized soldiers who rebelled.
The new legal system further oppressed the Indians as it empowered the rich to oppress the poor. Whipping, torture and jailing of the laborers for debts on rent, land revenue or interest were quite common. The poor were also highly affected by the frequency of corruption at the lower levels of the police, judiciary and general administration. They enriched themselves freely at the cost of the poor. The police ransacked, oppressed and tortured them at will. Increased demands for land revenues imposed on the farmers and laborers pushing them into debts or to selling their lands to make payments consequently prolonging their suffering pushed them to rebel and side with the traditional elite who had lost control over their assets and had personal scores to settle with the new rulers.
The protest against the British had been periodic and mostly localized. Since 1885, the Indian Indian’s had been fighting for self-rule from the British Empire but had not being successful. This however changed with the return of Mahatma Gandhi to India in 1915. His ideas inspired many Indians of all ethnic and religious background thus uniting the country against the British. He initiated many nonviolent protests such the protest against monopoly of salt that saw thousands of Indians march with him. The British cruel treatment against the protestors was highly criticized by the world forcing them to hand over power to the Indians in 1945.
Majeed, Javed. “BRITISH COLONIALISM IN INDIA AS A PEDAGOGICAL ENTERPRISE”. History and Theory 48.3 (2009): 276-282.
Chandra, Shefali. “The Emergence Of Feminism In India, 1850-1920 (Review)”.
Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History 9.1 (2008)