British Empire in India

The British rule in India started with the first landing of the Britons in the country at Surat, India. After the initial occupation, Britain managed to slowly capture and take control of the country from 1757 all the way to 1947, when India gained back their independence.

  • Admin
  • Apr 16, 2021
  • British Empire in India

    The British rule in India started with the first landing of the Britons in the country at Surat, India. After the initial occupation, Britain managed to slowly capture and take control of the country from 1757 all the way to 1947, when India gained back their independence. Notably Britain took advantage of their superior military prowess in terms of weapons, and organization, a factor that India lacked. Notably, various factors led to the ease in which Britain was able to take over India. First, the Indians, ranging from the workforce, the leaders, the police and the military were relaxed ad seemed to acknowledge the leadership. Also, the Indians were divided, a factor that made the Britons to take advantage of the divisions and establish their authority over India. The scenario changed after the Indians started a rebellion in 1857 that eased the situation although Britain continued to rule until 1947.
    British Rule in India
    One of the reasons that Britain considered ruling India was trade. The Europeans valued their trade with India but the long distance between them subjected them to face obfuscations from middlemen among other potential obstacles hence trade was unreliable, unsafe and expensive. The rise of the Ottoman Empire and the collapse of the Mongol Empire enabled Indians to block the ancient Silk Road forcing Europeans to seek new routes to bypass the middlemen (Wolpert, 2021). The East Indian Company was given the task by the British thus establishing itself in the country by procuring consent from the government to build premises, own land and conduct trade that is tax free equally benefiting both parties. As a result, the company began to gain power after it cooperated with the rivals that is the European companies in due course a puppet was installed in 1757 after defeating the Nawab of Bengal (Wolpert, 2021). Notably, India was additionally attractive to the British as a result of the huge population in the country. Britain was able to export most of its merchandise to the country, while it also imported an equally large amount of raw materials from India. As such, the country was worth the struggle considering the large market that it offered.
    In the 1770s, the East India Company control over Bengal was taken over when the nawab’s administrative offices were taken to Calcutta present day known as Kolkata by Warren Hastings. Around the same time, through the successive India Acts, the British Parliament started to regulate the East India Company thus enabling the British government to gain indirect control of Bengal (Wolpert, 2021). The eight following decades were a series of treaties, wars and takeovers that made the territory of the establishment across the Indian nation extend, hence the British merchants and governors taking over most of India.
    In a different context, another reason that led to the British ruling India was the divisions in that were imminent in the country. Essentially, it is said that the Indians were so divided that they could not even manage to form a common force against the Britons. In addition, the Britons took advantage of such issues, and worked out for them as a positive tactic. In this light, the Indians who cooperated with the Britons were bestowed such special advantages as joining the British schools, and even joining the armed forced. As for the local rulers, those that collaborated with the Britons were given powers over other Indians, and thus assisted the Britons in ruling the country. Notably, as noted in the national Archives, the differences precipitated class differences amongst the Indians, subjecting the average citizens to being subjected to poor conditions.
    Additionally, while subjecting their rule over the Indians, the British did not consider the ills that were perpetrated against the Indians; instead, they took advantage of the locals, taking their occupation of the land as philanthropic since they enabled the Indians gain more development and civilization. At the same time, The National Archive notes that the British took it as a sacrifice considering that they suffered from some of the diseases that were affecting the Indians and that were not present in their homelands. As such, as for the British, occupying India was not colonialism, per se, but was a way of assisting the Indians benefit.
    Wolpert (2021) notes that a rebellion started in March 1857, when an Indian soldier attacked some British officers in a Briton military location. The man was soon arrested by the British soldiers, charged, convicted and executed. The issue fuelled resistance from the Indians, who joined hands and planned a mutiny against the British. They managed to attack and kill Britons in a move that enabled them to seize control of the northern part of the country. The rebellion went on for two more years before it was brought to an end in 1859 (Wolpert, 2021).
    After the mutiny, there was an overarching British rule all over India; considering the number of British soldiers as compared to their Indian counterparts, there is an insinuation that India had actually got used to and supposedly accepted the British rule. As noted in the National Archives (n.d.), it was almost impossible for Britain to take over India’s rule without the vast number of local administrators such as the princes, and also the humongous number of troops (up to 300,000) accepting and cooperating with Britain. In addition, the country had so many police officers and other government workers, making it necessary for cooperation with Britain to stem from within. As such, a major reason that led to the Britons ruling the country was the cooperation that it received from the Indian leadership, forces, and the people.
    As a result of the rebellion, the British conducted a cleaning in the Indian administration and also abolished the East Indian Company; the abolition led to the enactment of rules that saw the British directly take control of India. Also, there was a financial setback that affected the government after the mutiny, prompting the British government to reorganize the Indian army and the Indian administration’s finances. Also, the rebellion led to an introduction of a policy that enabled consultation with the Indians. In 1853, the Legislative Council only consisted of the Europeans whose behavior was arrogant. Notably, this policy was put up due to the fear that sidelining the Indians n terms of some policies and opinions had contributed to the tenacity of the rebellion. In this light, when a novel council as set in 1861, an Indian was nominated to the government. Despite the changes in the governance system, the traditional Indian society was far outclassed by the British; this contributed to a middle class society that opted for Indian nationalism.
    Conclusion
    Britain was encouraged by the trade aspects, and the economic gains that they would acquire from India to occupy the country. The occupation, which started around 1608, was fuelled by other factors that enabled the British to rule for long. In the first place, despite the large size of the local army compared to the paltry British army, the Indians offered less resistance to the Britons. In effect, they seemed to collaborate under the Britons. Also, the Indians were much divided, a factor that made it easy for the Britons too rule them despite their large population. Moreover, the British played with the psychology of the Indians by indicating that they were in India to assist them develop in such issues as the putting up of road and railway systems. By taking advantage of their poverty, the local had less options but paly along with the Britons.



    References

    India Today Web Desk (2019, August 24). When and why did the British choose to invade India? India Today, https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/gk-current- affairs/story/when-and-why-british-first-came-to-india-1591166-2019-08-24 
    The National Archives (n.d.). Case Study 4 background: Living in the British Empire-India. The National Archives, https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/empire/g2/cs4/background.htm

    Wolpert, S. (2019). British Raj. Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/event/British-raj

     

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