IMPERIALISM – THE BRITISH and INDIA
1)The British East India Company began trading in India in the early 1600s.
2)British power rose as Mughal (“Mongol” Muslims from central Asia) rule declined. Indians were unable to unite against either group of foreign “outsiders”.
3)This “private” East India Company business was so successful, it eventually was able to take control of India, which became ‘the “Jewel in the Crown” of the British Empire
4)The British conquered India by exploiting its diversity, encouraging competition and division between Indians. historically fragmented by language, religion, culture and geography.
5)When either diplomacy or “divide and conquer” did not work, the British used their superior weaponry.
6)The main interest of the East India Company was profit in prosperous India.
Britain saw India as both a source of raw materials for their industry and a market to sell their factory made goods.
7)The company also worked to improve communicatons, preserve order and reduce crime. A road and railroad system helped unify geographically large and diverse India.
Ironically, the British helped create a unified “India”.
8)The improved “modern” transportation system moved goods more easily moved and
After the Suez Canal in Egypt opened in 1869, British-Indian trade soared as part of an increasingly “global” economy.
9)The British also transformed Indian agriculture. Food output increased as previously nomadic farmers worked on more efficient larger farms, introducing “modern” farming techniques..
10)Some Indians land owners grew rich from growing “cash” crops such as cotton, jute and opium. Indian cotton helped feed the textile factories of England. India’s traditional clothing industry was destroyed as a result of cheaper, machine made clothing.
11)More food and better medical care caused the Indian population to rise significantly.
12)The larger population and growth of cash crops would occasionally put a burden on the food supply. Indian experienced periodic famines during the late 1800s.
13)British officials worked to end slavery and the Indian caste system, This system divided all society into four groups, based on your birth.
14)The British also tried to ban the Indian practice of sati, the ritual burning of widowed women. The Indian practice of purdah called for strict isolation and separation of women from men.
15)The British introduced western education and changed the legal system to promote “equal” justice, regardless of caste or class.
16)British rule was not without negative reactions from the Indians. For high caste sepoys (Indian soldiers), forced over-seas travel was a religious affront .
The East India Company passed a law that allowed Hindu widows to re-marry.
Hindus believed both moves were a conspiracy to undermine their
17)The British introduced technologically superior rifles that required the elite Indian “Sepoy” soldiers to bite off bullet cartridges greased with animal fat.
Cow grease offended Hindus, who considered cows sacred. Pig grease offended Muslim Sepoys.
This situation led to an armed rebellion by the Sepoys.
18)The Sepoy Rebellion of 1857 spread across northern and central India. Although rebellion became widespread, there was little unity among the rebels.
19)There were calls for “jihad” sy some Muslims leaders. Sunni Muslims did not want Shiite rule, so they often refused to join a perceived Shia Rebellion.
supported the British, who “protected” them from the Hindu majority.
20)When the British counter attacked, the Sepoys were handicapped by their lack of a centralized command. Sepoys marched to Delhi, the old capital, and called the last Mughal ruler as their leader.
21)Britons were brutally massacred. The British took revenge by torching villages and slaughtering thousands of Indians.
22)The Britiah slowly rallied and crushed the revolt.
23)The end of the war was followed by the execution of a vast majority of Indian combatants.
Large numbers of civilians perceived as being sympathetic to the rebel
cause were also executed.
24)The punishments were considered appropriate and justified in a Britain shocked by reports about atrocities carried out on Europeans
25)The Sepoy Rebellion left a bitter legacy of fear, hate and distrust on both sides.
It was the largest “rebellion” in world history.
26)Control of India was taken from the East India Company. A British “Viceroy” then governed in the name of the Queen.
27)The British used “indirect” rule to control India. British officials held the top positions in the military and government. Indians filled most other jobs.
28)The children of the Indian upper classes were sent to British schools, which trained them for jobs in government and the military. British rule reinforced the “hierarchal” nature of Indian society.
Britain & India – CONCLUSIONS
29)The British felt the modernizing of India was mutually beneficial for both British and Indians. Of course, the British benefited more from this arrangement.
30)Indian Ram Mohun Roy symbolized the “mixed” reaction by most Indians to the British.
31)Roy felt that India could learn and benefit from the west. Roy founded an
English-style school for Indians.
32)Roy saw the merits of western civilization, seeking to reform traditional Indian culture.
Roy condemned India’s social caste system, child marriage, sati, and purdah.
33)Roy also helped revive pride in Indian culture. He is often called the founder of Indian nationalism.
34)The elite class of British educated Indians, schooled in western ideals such as democracy and equality, would eventually lead India to independence in 1947.
35)Today, India is the world’s largest democracy. Its “national” sport is cricket.