The British in India
The British in India
Initially, when the British attempted to
assume control over India, they were met with the outrage of a people wronged.
The citizens of India saw the British for what they were, white men with
a superiority complex. Every attempt the British made to expand territorial
control was met with enthusiastic rebellion. The British succeeded in taking
over the Indian government, but the people of India made sure they didn’t
have an easy time doing it.
When Vasco da Gamma landed in Calicut in
1498 it was with the sole intention to establish trading within India.
In 1600, Queen Elizabeth 1 chartered the East India Company for the purpose
of trading with India and east Asia. By the 1700’s the company had expanded
its trade and political power throughout India. In addition, it began collection
taxes in some areas; Indian rulers were not complacent, so the company
used force on them. The political takeover that swept through India began
in Bengal with the Battle of the Plassey. Within the next hundred years,
the gradual inundation of the subcontinent was completed.
As power was established by the British,
so did the resentment. Until the British interfered with their lives, the
people of India were almost entirely self-sufficient. People who were once
independent were forced into bondage. Britain exploited the citizens of
India by means of cotton. The Indians raised the cotton and shipped it
to Britain. In Britain, the aforementioned cotton was turned into textiles
and shipped back to India to be sold at an inflated price. The previously
self-sufficient people were forced to buy expensive clothes because they
no longer had the time to make their own. In addition to this injustice,
upon arriving in India the British saw the need for indigo farms. When
they hired locals they forced them to sign exclusive contracts. They
were not allowed to quit, and they paid rent with the indigo sold. As the
British monopoly on cotton continued, the majority of the people bought
their clothing from Britain; this prevented the indigo farmers from having
any kind of product market. There was no demand, but they were forced to
continue supplying. People were starving, and it was all Britain's fault.
The largest obstruction of Indian culture
made by the British was the abolishment of the caste system. By discontinuing
their social structure, the (the British) were able to view all citizens
as equal (slaves).
When observing the British takeover of
India analytically, the method executed was strategically brilliant. India
as a colony was incredibly successful for Britain, they made money, while
the resources that were drained never affected them. However, looked at
with the American assumption of fairness and morals, the seize of
India was fairly barbaric. With that in mind, the 246 years in which India
was under the political stronghold of Britain may be interpreted in a variety
of ways, many of which are endorsements of Britain’s ability to dominate
and control while a minority. The other opinion, the ethical opinion, exposes
Britain as a country so hungry for power, they were willing to compromise
the freedom of choice for 350 million people in exchange for money that
they really didn’t need.