Economic impact of the Crown's regime

The economic impact of the Crown’s regime over�India was devastating so far as country’s interests were�concerned. The British authorities made our economy�subordinate to their economy, reducing India as a source�of raw-materials necessary for England’s industries. They�crushed India’s traditional industries and impoverished�our agriculture. India’s economy, during 1880-1920, grew�at about�1%�and population too, at�1%�which, practically�meant, no long-term change in per capita income levels.�Agriculture was ignored and on the whole remained�dormant with most peasants either starving or living at�the subsistence level. Irrigation systems were extensively�built but only to promote cash crops such as jute, cotton,�sugarcane, coffee and tea. India’s global share of GDP fell�drastically to less than�5%�during the colonial period.�The British, in fact, de-industrialized India, forcing us�to export raw-materials and import the finished goods.�The net result was making India poorer in resources.

The�worst impact of the British colonial rule was the drain�of wealth: Dadabhai Naoroji (Poverty and Un-British Rule�in India, 1867) and R.C. Dutta, (Economic History of India,�1901) G. Subramania lyer (Economic Aspect of the British�rule in India) have shown as to how the British drained�wealth through sources such as (i) profits earned by the�British traders from business in India, (ii) payments�of salaries and other financial benefits received by the�British employees working in India, (iii) home charges�spent on the India office and the Secretary of State for�India and the India Council; (iv) hefty interest paid to�British investors; (v) expenditure made on military for�waging wars with countries neighbouring India and�elsewhere. Lord Salisbury said India “was an English�barrack in the oriental seas from which we may draw�any number of troops without paying for them.” In�one word, the economic impact of the British rule�over India was, indeed, damaging to the extent beyond�any repair : the common peasant, on an average, was�born in debt, lived in debt and left his children in debt.�Poverty, backwardness, indebtedness, misery were�his lot. The colonial masters did not do anything to�promote industries which could favour the Indians and�encouraged only industries such as plantations and�machine which helped fulfill the British imperialistic�designs.

(vi) In fields such as education, health and other public�services, the British rulers paid no intention at all.�Literacy, in 1911, was only�6%�and when India became�free, in 1947 , it was only�8%. There were only four�persons in�10.000�who were enrolled in the universities�and higher educational institutions in 1935. Life�expectancy was 25 years in 1921, and which fell to�23 years in 1931; in 1934, there was one hospital bed�for 3800 persons in British India. There were several�pandemics of cholera and the bubonic plague killing�over 50 million in India alone while about�4.7�million�died due to small pox between 1868 and 1907. There�were over 120,000 people suffering from leprosy in 1881.

(vii) The contribution of the Britishers to our constitutional,�political, administrative, economic, social and cultural�aspects can not be denied. They sought to introduce�the British institutions and ideas replacing the native�political ones : the oriental despotism with the�legitimate royal power, as it existed in India for ages,�was transformed, slowly and gradually of course, to�Western liberal ethos which included the concepts such�as private property, equality before law, the rule of law,�Western culture and education, (especially the English�language), and the liberty of the individual. Besides, the�Britishers introduced in India administrative structures�such as the omnipotent executive head, legislative�councils (mostly dormant), the judicial system based�on the British pattern, the parliamentary democracy�(though implied), the civil services, the army and the�police system �_ all these worked up to administer and�attain imperialistic designs. The policy of ‘divide and rule’�helped the British to keep India and the Indians divided�among themselves on social, religious and cultural lines.�Though the English made use of their language to impose�the Western culture on the Indians, the English language�itself, brought the diversely scattered and segregated�people of India together to launch their freedom struggle�successfully. In one word, we may say that the British�were able to transform our political culture.

The British colonial state was both authoritarian and�autocratic. The laws were few but were largely harsh and�mostly secretive; the administration was rules-oriented�but the governance was repressive and oppressive; the�civil servants and the police were a disciplined lot but�had enjoyed a large measure of absolute powers; the�concepts of equality of all before law and the rule of law�were introduced but the courts and the administration�favoured only the Europeans, especially the Britishers;�civil liberties were assured but were denied to the�Indians in the name of law and order; the railways, the�postal services, roads were, indeed, built but all were�to serve the ruling elite. And when they left India, they�left behind, as Rabindranath Tagore had said, “a waste�of mud and filth” – – a poorer India inhabited by the�poor Indians.

Written by princy

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