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Essay: British Imperial Rule in India: Positive or Negative Effects?

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  • Published: 1 February 2018*
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“To What Extent Wad British Imperial Power Positive and Effective in India”;

While the British were in India, they had some positive and some negative affects. For example they introduced the English language, extinguishing certain local languages but also helped to eradicate thieves and other criminals throughout India. They also also took a lot away from India and were also extremely cruel to a lot of the Indians. Not only did they damage Indian culture but they also removed a lot of India’s wealth and significantly harmed her economy.

  As the British were in India mostly to trade, they needed a way of transporting their goods around India to increase and expand their business. They did so through the introduction of the railway in two privatised firms. Today this service means that India has the largest railway network in the world which aids the country greatly. However, Britain only did this for their own needs and during its rule the railway was only used by the East India company and not at all out of compassion for the poor Indians but merely to maximise the amount of resources Britain could extract from India.

  The British improved transport with the railway but also improved the communication in India through postal and telegraph services. Of these, postal service existed before the British rule but were extremely limited and only serviced few people. The post offices were open to the everyone and the service was expanded throughout British rule until it finally became an official government-run service in 1837. Although this was technically open for use by everyone, a lot of people could neither wirte nor read and could therefore not send letters so this system was then only used by government officials to communicate with others and by the military.

  Lord William Bentinck, the Govener General of India from 1828-1835, decided to educate the Indian people in English due to the difficulties faced with the British ruling over a country with mixed languages. He wanted to enforce laws, and admister the economy in one language. He chose to use English as he consididered it far superior to the Persian, Sanskrit and Arabic languages already employed in India. This however, not surprisingly, caused a decline in the languages used in India. A lot of the regional languages started to die out and today, languages such as Gujarati are nearly dead and Sanskrit has already died out. The English were a minority in India and it was selfish of them to force the country to adopt a language that they did not want over learning an Indian language themselves.

  The British also helped India by imposing new rules and regulations. An example of one of theses was the the abolition of sati, the act of a woman getting burnt alive along with her husband when she becomes a widow. This prevented the loss of life through an “act described by the British as “illogical” and Sati was made illegal in 1929. This was however, also inconsiderate to the millions of Indians whose practices were disrupted by foreigners who had simply taken over their country. Many Indians were upset by this but their opposition did not change the minds of the British, and like many other such acts it was simply imposed upon the Indian natives. Many similar acts, all changing Indian culture to make it conform to Western ideals, were imposed. Another example of this is the Sharda act which prevented child marriages, common practise in India before the British rule.

    Under British rule, the British took it upon themselves to reduce the number of  thieves and murderers in India. These were feared greatly by the Indian people and over they course of six years over two thousand of such criminals were put on trial and either gave up information to catch others or were killed or imprisoned for life. This was one of the better things that the British did in India. Although motivated by the robbings of the British people in India, it did help the Indian people as well.

  The British also created a legal system where punishments were not judged by caste but by the crime you committed and each person was judged fairly. However, all the laws and punishments were again decided by the British. The law making involved no Indians and although the system was meant to be fair, the Europeans got much better treatment and shorter sentences.

  The worst thing that the British rule did to India, was that during its stay it ruined its economy. Britain took a lot of resources and money from India. Such can be shown by the fact that Indias global share of the GDP decreased by 20%, from 22% to 2%, from the beginning of British rule to the end of it. This was caused by a number of factors including the large taxes imposed on all Indians and the facts that the cost of the entire British army was given to the Indians to pay, a massive nineteen million pounds every year. Even today the large amount of money and resources that Britain stole from India is symbolised by the Kohinoor diamond, the largest in the world, that now rests in the queen’s crown and originated in India.

  Not only did the British take away India’s money but they also took away the dignity of the Indian people. The British treated them as inferior, commonly refered to them as dogs and used them as slaves. The British soldiers raped the woman and beat the men and none of the officials seemed to care. The British had no respect for the Indians killing over forty million Indians over the course of their rule. The British also dragged the innocent people into wars they had nothing to do with killing them unnecessarily,  with over one and a half million Indians being killed in the second world war.

  Overall British Imperial power was a very negative influence on India and only helped the country very little. The small acts it did to help the people such as help to enforce the law and remove thugs, are far outweighed by the negative impacts British Imperial power brought upon India. Its people were looked on as slaves, its resources basically stolen and a lot of its money unfairly taken with nothing given in returning. The infrastructure that the British built was only for their own personal gains and overall they left India in a worse condition than they found it in.

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