Effects of British Rule Class 8 History Notes Maharashtra State Board
In this chapter, we are going to study the effects of British rule over India.
Establishment of East India Company:
We have seen that due to geographical discoveries, the European powers reached the Indian coast. All the Europeans including Portuguese, Dutch, French, and British entered the race to capture the Indian market. When the British came to India for trade purposes, the Portuguese had already settled here and they gave a bitter resistance. Later friendly relations developed between them. But, to establish domination over India, the British had to face opposition from French, Dutch, and local rulers.
British and Marathas:
Mumbai was the main center of British in western India. They were trying to acquire the nearby territories but the Marathas had a strong hold over it. After the death of Peshwa Madhavrao, his uncle, Raghunathrao approached for help from the British due to his greed for Peshwaship. This led to the entrance of the British into Maratha politics. From 1774 to 1818, three wars were fought between the Marathas and the British. During the first war, the Marathas unitedly faced the British and hence proved superior. In 1782, with the Treaty of Salbai, the first Anglo-Maratha war came to an end.
In 1798, Lord Wellesley arrived in India as Governor General. His objective was to establish the British Dominion all over India. For this, he signed the Subsidiary Alliance with many Indian rulers. According to this Alliance, the Indian rulers were assured of British military help. There were some terms laid on them. The Indian rulers had to maintain the British army in their court and have to pay cash or part of their territory to the company for its maintenance. The ruler would not have any alliance with any other power or declare war against any power without the intervention of the British. The ruler would accept a British resident in his state. Some Indian rulers accepted the system and lost their freedom.
In 1802, Bajirao II signed the Subsidiary Alliance treaty with the British. This alliance is well known as the Treaty of Vasai. But this treaty was not acceptable to some Maratha sardars. This led to the second Anglo-Maratha War. After the victory of the British, there was increased interference of the British in the Maratha state. This became intolerable and Bajirao II waged a war against the British. He was defeated in this battle and 1818 he surrendered to the British. In the mean time, the capital of Mughals was under the control of Daulatrao Shinde. By defeating the troop of Shinde, General Lake captured the Mughal emperor and gained victory over Hindustan.
Although the Peshwaship came to an end, Chhatrapati Pratapsingh of Satara was still ruling. Britishers signed a treaty with Chhatrapati Pratapsingh and appointed Grant Duff as an officer to assist him in state affairs. But later, the Chhatrapati was dethroned and exiled to Kashi. He died there in 1847. Rango Bapuji Gupte, a loyal officer of the Chhatrapati fought the legal battle and went up to England but his efforts were unsuccessful. Later Lord Dalhousie rejected the adoption policy and in 1848 annexed the state of Satara.
Chhatrapati Pratapsingh made provision of water to the city by building a water tank on the back side of Yevteshwar temple and Mahadara in Satara. Roads were built in the city. Trees were planted on both sides of the road. Schools were built for boys and girls to teach Sanskrit, Marathi, and English. The printing press was set up and many useful books were published. In 1827, ‘Sabhaniti’, a book on polity, was printed. He built a road from Satara to Mahabaleshwar to Pratapgad. The same road further extended to Mahad. Chhatrapati Pratapsingh used to write a personal daily diary.
Effect of British Rule on India
Robert Clive, in 1765, introduced the dual government system in Bengal. The company undertook the work of revenue collection whereas the Nawab of Bengal had to maintain law and order. This was known as the Dual Government system. The ill effects of a dual government system could be seen after a certain period. Money in the form of taxes went into the pockets of the company officers. The Monopoly of Trade in India was given to the East India Company and hence many trading companies in England envied them. The working system of the company in India received criticism in England and British Parliament introduced some important laws to keep control over the company.
According to the Regulating Act of 1773, the Bengal Governor came to be known as the Governor General. According to this act, Lord Warren Hastings became the Governor General of India. He got the right to control the policies of Mumbai and Madras provinces. A committee of four members was set up to assist him.
In 1784, Pitt’s India Act was passed. The Act provided for the appointment of a permanent Board of Control for better regulation and management of affairs of the East India Company in India. In 1813, 1833, and 1853 new laws were passed by the Parliament to make certain changes in the working of the company. In this way there evolved an indirect control of the British Government on the administration of the East India Company. With the emergence of British rule, a new administrative system was developed in India. Civil Services, military, police force, and judicial system became the main pillars of British administration in India.
To strengthen the British rule in India there was a need of bureaucrats. Lord Cornwallis introduced bureaucracy. Civil services became an important part of the British government. He restricted the private trade carried out by the company officers and for this purpose, he increased their salaries. For the convenience of administration, he divided the British-occupied territories into districts. The District Collector was the chief of district administration. He was responsible for the collection of revenue, giving justice, and maintaining law and order. The officers were appointed through competitive examinations known as Indian Civil Services (ICS).
Military and Police Force:
The duty of military was to safeguard the British-occupied regions in India, acquire new territories and break down any revolt against the British in India. To maintain law and order in the country was the duty of the police force.
The British established a new judicial system in India based on the judicial system in England. Every district had a Civil and Criminal Court to solve the local cases. For reconsideration of their judgments, a High Court was established.
Equality Before Law:
In early times, law in India differed from place to place. There was a difference in judgment based on casteism. Under the leadership of Lord Macaulay, a committee was set upto create the code of law. The Indian Penal Code was enforced all over British India with the British principle of equality before the law. But there were some defects in it. There were separate courts and different laws for the Europeans. New laws were difficult to be understood by common people. Legal cases became an expensive affair for the community and the cases remained pending for years together.
Economic Policies of the British:
Since ancient times there have been invasions in India. Many invaders settled in India and were absorbed into the Indian culture. Even though they ruled here, they never made any changes in the basic Indian economic system. The Britishers were an exception. England was a modern nation. Due to the Industrial Revolution, the capitalist economy prevailed. Hence they inculcated an economic system in India that was conducive to an economic system in England. Due to this Britishers gained economic benefit, but India started facing economic exploitation.
Land Revenue Policy:
Before the British rule, the village economic system was self-sufficient. Through agriculture and related services, the needs of the village were fulfilled in the village itself. Land revenue was the main source of income of the state. During the pre-British period, revenue was based on the type of cultivated crop. The farmer was exempted from taxation in case of loss of crops. Revenue was mainly collected in the form of grains. Even in case of late payment of tax, the farmer’s land was not confiscated. To increase income, the British made important changes in the revenue system. Land was measured and as per the area of the land, the tax was fixed. Payment of tax was made compulsory in the form of cash. If the farmer failed to pay tax in time, then his land would be confiscated. The British system of land revenue collection differed from place to place which led to the exploitation of all farmers.
Consequences of New Land Revenue System:
There were undesirable effects of the new land revenue system on rural life. For payment of taxes, Indian farmers started selling the crops at whatever price it received. The merchants and brokers started purchasing their goods at a minimum rate. At certain times the farmer had to mortgage his land to the money lender for arrangement of money to pay the tax. The farmer became bankrupt. In case of non repayment of the loan, the farmer had to sell his land. The farmer was exploited by the government, zamindar, money lenders, and merchants.
Commercialisation of Agriculture:
Initially, food grains were cultivated by the farmers. It used to fulfill their domestic needs as well as the needs of the village. The British Government started giving more encouragement to cash crops like cotton, indigo, tobacco, tea, etc. The process of putting stress on the cultivation of profit-giving cash crops instead of food grains is known as the commercialization of agriculture.
From 1860 to 1900, India faced great famine but the British rulers did not make much effort to overcome it. Similarly, not much expenditure was made on provision of water supply.
Development in Transport and Communication System:
For an increase in trade and convenience of administration, the British developed modern facilities like transport and communication in India. In 1853, the first Railway ran on the route from Mumbai to Thane. In the same year, the British started the Telegraph system in India. Due to this all cities and military stations got connected. Similarly, the British also started the Postal System. Due to all these developments, there was a long-term impact on the social life of the Indians. Due to this, there was an increasing sense of unity among them.
The Decline of Traditional Industries in India:
The British government obtained huge taxes on goods exported from India to England. On the other hand, very little tax was imposed on goods imported from England to India. Also, the goods manufactured in England were machines and hence there was maximum production at minimum cost. To compete with such cheap products was difficult for the Indian artisans. Eventually, it led to the closing down of traditional industries and many artisans became unemployed.
Development of New Industries in India:
Due to the lack of British support, experience in management, and capital, the Indian businessmen could not come forward in large numbers. Yet some of them built up their business by overcoming these problems. In 1853, Kawasjee Nanabhoy Davar started the first textile mill in Mumbai. In 1855 the first Jute mill was started at Rishra in Bengal. In 1907 Jamshedji Tata established the Tata Iron and Steel Company at Jamshedpur. In India coal, metals, sugar, cement, and chemical Industries came to be started.
Social and Cultural Effects:
In 19th Century Europe, a new era took shape based on values like humanitarianism, democracy, nationalism, liberalism, etc. This change in the West led to obvious repercussions for India. To carry out administration the British had to understand the Indian society. For this purpose, they started studying the tradition, history, literature, as well as music, and flora-fauna of India. In 1784, Sir William Jones, an English officer established the ‘Asiatic Society of Bengal’ at Kolkata. Max Mueller, a German thinker was a devout scholar of Indian religion, language, and history. These examples aroused feelings among newly educated Indians to study Indian religion, history, and tradition.
The British introduced many laws in India. In 1829, Lord William Bentinck passed the Sati Prohibition Act. In 1856 Lord Dalhousie passed the Widow Remarriage Act. These acts were responsible for social reforms. To carry out administration in India, the British required English-educated Indians. According to the recommendation of Lord Macaulay, in 1835, English education started being imparted in India. Through new education, Indians were introduced to Western thoughts, modern reforms, science, and technology. In 1857, universities were established in Kolkata, Mumbai, and Madras (Chennai). The Western-educated middle-class Indians led the social reform movement in India.
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