Economic Impact of British Rule in India.

Economic Impact of British Rule in India.

There have been many changes in the socio-economic-political spheres of Indian society since the establishment of British rule in India. 

Economic Impact of British Rule in India.

There have been many changes in the socio-economic-political spheres of Indian society since the establishment of British rule in India. 

1. Upheaval in the Traditional Economy

Indian economy underwent a rapid transformation into a colonial economy whose nature and structure were determined by the needs of the British economy as a result of the British government's economic policies. The British conquest of India was unique from all other foreign conquests in this regard.

The previous conquerors had deposed Indian political authorities but had not fundamentally altered the economic system of the nation; instead, they had gradually assimilated into both the political and economic fabric of Indian life. The traditional way of life had been maintained for the peasant, the artisan, and the trader.

The fundamental economic model—the self-sufficient rural economy—had been upheld. The only thing that had changed with the rulers was the people in charge of taking the surplus from the peasants. However, the conquerors from Great Britain were totally different. They completely upended Indian economy's established framework.

Additionally, they were never integrated into Indian culture. They continued to live as foreigners in the country, taking advantage of its resources and taking its wealth as a form of tribute. This economic subordination of India to British trade and industry had a wide range of unintended consequences.

2. Ruin of Artisans and Craftsmen:

The urban handicrafts sector, which had for centuries made India's name synonymous with quality in the markets of the entire civilized world, collapsed suddenly and quickly. Competition from Britain's cheaper imported machine-made goods was a major factor in this collapse.

Evidence indicates that the British imposed a one-way free trade policy on India after 1813, and that British manufactured goods, particularly cotton textiles, were then invaded. Indian products produced using archaic methods could not compete with goods manufactured on a large scale by potent steam-powered machinery.

Once the railways were constructed, the decline of Indian industries, especially rural artisan industries, accelerated. British manufacturers were able to access the most isolated villages in the nation and displace the local traditional industries. The steel rail pierced the armour of the isolated self-sufficient village, and its life blood ebbed away.

The worst-affected industries were those involved in spinning and weaving cotton. A similar fate befell the industries of iron, pottery, glass, paper, metals, guns, shipping, oil-pressing, tanning, and dyeing. Silk and woolen textiles fared no better.

Other effects of the British conquest, aside from the importation of foreign goods, also played a role in the collapse of Indian industries. Many Bengali craftsmen were forced to leave their traditional occupations due to the oppression that the East India Company and its servants inflicted on them in the second half of the eighteenth century. They were forced to sell their goods below market value and to be paid less than the going rate for their services. Normally, the Company's encouragement of their export would have benefited Indian handicrafts, but this oppression had the opposite effect.

The development of modern manufacturing industries in Britain, coupled with the high import duties and other restrictions placed on the import of Indian goods into Britain and Europe during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, resulted in the virtual closure of European markets to Indian manufacturers after 1820.

Additionally, the British occupation of the villages upset the delicate balance of the local economy. The rural economy's ability to sustain itself was gradually destroyed as rural crafts were gradually lost, severing the link between agriculture and domestic industry.

India in fact evolved into an agricultural colony of industrial Britain, which relied on it for raw materials for its industries. The cotton textile industry was the one place where the change was most obvious. Despite being the world's largest exporter of cotton goods for centuries, India was now both an importer of British cotton goods and an exporter of raw cotton.

Ruin of Old Zamindars and the Rise of New Landlordism: 

During the first few decades of British rule, most of the old zamindars in Bengal and Madras were destroyed. This was especially true when Warren Hastings adopted the policy of auctioning off the rights to collect taxes to the highest bidders. Similar results were initially seen with the Permanent Settlement of 1793.

For the first few years, the heavy land revenue burden—the government claimed ten-elevenths of the rental—and the strict law of collection, which required the ruthless sale of zamindari estates in the event of revenue payment delays, caused havoc. Numerous Bengali zamindars were left completely bankrupt and compelled to sell their zamindari rights.

These new landlords started rack-renting and evicting the tenants because they were completely unscrupulous and lacked empathy for them.

Both the Temporary Zamindari Settlement in Uttar Pradesh and the Permanent Settlement in north Madras were harsh on the neighborhood zamindars. However, the zamindars' situation quickly got dramatically better.

The political influence zamindars and landlords had during India's struggle for independence was a very negative result of their rise and expansion. Many of them joined the princes of protected states in supporting the foreign rulers politically and opposing the burgeoning national movement. They made a concerted effort to uphold and continue British rule after realizing they were dependent on it for their survival.

Stagnation and Deterioration of Agriculture:

Indian agriculture started to stagnate and even degrade, producing incredibly low yields per acre as a result of overcrowding in agriculture, excessive land revenue demand, growth of landlordism, increasing indebtedness, and the growing impoverishment of cultivators. Between 1901 and 1939, the world's agricultural output decreased by 14%.

Due to overpopulation in agriculture and an increase in subinfeudation, the land was divided up into small holdings, the majority of which could not support their cultivators. The overwhelming majority of peasants were so poor that they lacked the means to improve agriculture through the use of better cattle and seeds, more manure and fertilisers, and improved production methods.

They were merely rent-payers with little connection to the land and little personal investment beyond collecting the rent. They believed it to be possible and instead of making profitable investments in their lands, preferred to increase their income by further oppressing their tenants.

Agriculture could have been modernized and improved with assistance from the government. However, the government refused to acknowledge such a duty. Although the peasant bore the majority of the tax burden, the government only spent a very small portion of it on him, which was a feature of the British Indian financial system.

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