What were the Effects of Colonialism on India?

In the first stage both the objectives-the monopoly of trade and appropriation of government revenues-were rapidly fulfilled with the conquest first of Bengal and parts of south India and then the rest of India.

The East India Company now used its political power to acquire monopolistic control over Indian trade and handicrafts.

Indian traders were ruined while weavers were forced to sell cheap. The company’s monopoly ruined the weavers. In the next stage cheap manufactured goods finished them.

The era of free trade saw India emerge as a market for manufactured goods and a supplier of raw materials and food grains. Import of Manchester cloth increased in value from 96 lakes sterling in 1860 to 27 core sterling in 1900.

Traditional weavers were ruined by this competition. Rather than industrialization, decline of industry or deindustrialization took place. In the middle Genetic region, according to historian A.K. Bagchi, the weight of industry in the livelihood pattern of the people was reduced by half from 1809-13 to the census year 1901.

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Estimates by Sivasubramaniam indicate that in the last half century of British rule per capita income in India remained almost stagnant. Dadabhai Naoroji calculated per capita income at Rs.20 per annum.

Transformation of the existing culture and social organization required that the existing culture be denounced. Orientalism, by depriving people of the power to study their own languages, was an appropriation of the processes by which people understand themselves.

The new ideology was one of development. Underdevelopment was not the desired but the inevitable consequence of the inexorable working of colonialism of trade and of its inner contradictions.


The third stage is rightly known as the era of finance capital. A huge amount of capital was invested in railways, loans to the Government of India, trade and to a lesser extent in plantations, coal mining, jute mills, shipping and banking in India.

Reactionary imperialist policies characterized the viceroyalties of Lytton and Curzon. All talk of self government ended and the aim of British rule was declared to be permanent trusteeship over the child people of India.

The British wielded brute force to maintain their rule in India and to crush opposition is well known. Very often, the state did not actually repress; the very fact that it had the capacity to do so was enough to contain revolt.

Hence, the British considered the maintenance of a large, disciplined, efficient and loyal army to be a prime necessity, for the armed forces remained, in the ultimate analysis, the final guarantor of British interests.


But generally, for the continued existence of their rule and for the perpetuation of imperialist domination, they relied on a variety of ideological instruments. It is in this sense that the British colonial state in India was in however limited a way, a hegemonic or semi-hegemonic stare.

Its semi-hegemonic foundations were buttressed by the ideology of pox Britannica, law and order, the British official as the ma-Bap of the people, as well as by the institutions of the ideological, legal, judicial and administrative systems.

Colonialism is as modern a historical phenomenon as industrial capitalism. While the metropolis experiences growth under capitalism the colony undergoes underdevelopment. Colonialism is more than foreign political domination; it is a distinct social formation in which control is in the hands of the metropolitan ruling class. In short, colonialism is what happened in the colony and imperialism


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