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Indian History Under the British

Indian History Under the British

India has a rich history dating back thousands of years, but today we look at how it became a British colony and its struggle to gain independence.

East India Company enters the picture

The British influence began to set up a trading post in 1612 in Surat (Gujarat), by Queen Elizabeth I was made possible by a trade association and ensured a monopoly on trade between India and England. So, the East India Company, which expanded as a result of this contract, became the determining element. Further trading posts followed in Madras, Bombay and in 1690 in Calcutta. Not just British, but also Portuguese who were the first Europeans in India, and also French and Dutch had their representations in India. The land itself suffered from the strained relationship of the Anglo-French relations. The French supported those native rulers with weapons with whom the British had a dispute. Suraj-ud-Daula, the Nabob of Bengal, attacked Calcutta in 1756, shocking the British. Robert Clive conquered Calcutta back for England a year later and defeated Suraj-ud-Daula and his French comrades-in-arms, not only expanding British power, but also significantly reducing French influence.

In the south in particular, the rivalries between the British and the French determined what happened. The long struggle of the British with the Marathas, who were the only ones able to fill the power vacuum after the fall of the Mughal Empire, ended in 1803 and only left the Punjab outside the control of the East India Company. This part was annexed in 1849 with the wars against the Sikha and by the beginning of the 19th century all of India was under the control of the East India Company.

The English pursued purely economic goals in their colony and unilateral treaties strengthened England's status in India. Their interests lay in the extraction of iron and coal, the development of the cultivation of tea, coffee and cotton and the construction of the widely branched Indian railway network. On the one hand, improvements in the construction of irrigation systems led to useful developments in agriculture and, from an administrative and administrative point of view, England left the subcontinent India a well-functioning and excellently structured system and a functioning bureaucratic apparatus. But on the other hand, England also gave the go-ahead for less helpful developments. Cheap textiles came to India from textile factories in England and local production was shut down. The tax collection by the British contributed to the impoverishment of landless peasants.

Rebellion of 1857 and formal British control

In 1857 there was a bloody uprising against the British, triggered by a number of different factors. Thereafter, the East India Company was liquidated and the administration of the country passed into the hands of the British government. In parallel, India's journey to independence began through changes in its administration. At the same time, Hinduism also experienced a revival and radical change in Hindu society.

Movement for Independence rises

As the resistance to British rule and the urge for independence increased at the turn of the century, Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of the independence movement, gained more and more importance. Especially after the gruesome massacre of Amritsar in 1919 there was a surge in PAN India meaning across the nation and independence leaders fully committed themselves to eliminating injustice and achieving the independence of their country. The path of passive resistance or satyagraha against English supremacy should serve him to achieve his goal. The Congress Party and Mahatma Gandhi were on the rise. But just the 2nd World War then led to the end of European, colonial rule and to the end of India's dependence on England. After the Muslims demanded that Pakistan be separated from India, a quick solution to the Indian problem was to be found in July 1945. The division of the country due to religious realities then emerged after the elections.

At the beginning of 1946 a British commission tried in vain to unite the two hostile parties. In August 1946 the Muslims called for an immediate attack, among which countless Hindus had to lose their lives in Calcutta, which led to a campaign of revenge on their part. The attempt to reconcile the parties did not bring about a solution. One had to agree to the partition of India through lack of insight. Only Gandhi accepted civil war and total chaos rather than India's partition. Tensions between Muslims and Hindus intensified, especially in areas where isolated Muslims were surrounded by Hindus.

Post-Independence conflicts and governance

The partition of India and Pakistan then took place in 1947 after Lord Mountbatten disclosed his plan for independence and partition. From then on India was a parliamentary Federal Republic. The system of government in India is parliamentary and has similarities with the system of government in the USA, which has two houses. After the partition, the respective minorities in the areas, especially around Punjab, fell victim to violent groups with around a quarter of a million dead. Regular mass migrations the Muslims to Pakistan and the Hindus to India were the result. The preservation of small principalities in India after the British era was another challenge, as it was necessary to integrate them into an independent India as well as into Pakistan. Kashmir was one of them, with a predominantly Muslim population but a Hindu maharajah. After further tensions, provocations and conflicts, he decided to join India, with the result of a brief Indo-Pakistani war. There is still a great potential for conflict here and neither side recognizes the official border. Gandhi who had been deeply shaken by the separation up to now, fell victim to the assassination attempt by a Hindu fanatic on January 30, 1948.

Since gaining independence, India has been able to rely on a strong government and its institutions. Advances in industry and agriculture made India an industrial nation; nevertheless, the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, wanted to pursue a policy without alliances with other world states. The only exception is a few wars with Pakistan and border conflicts with China, but over all India has pursued a policy of neutrality and economic growth.


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