British Imperialism brought about a lot of changes – both positive and negative — to India’s political and social reality. .
Let me give you some examples.
The present Indian system of law is completely based on the British model. There existed a system of law prior to this, which is completely discarded. While there are a lot of advantages to this system of law, there are also great costs incurred in the loss of the original system. The present Indian schooling system also originated with the British. The railways – the largest in the word – were brought by the British. T S Eliot in England first suggested the teaching of English in Universities – this subject was not taught at universities until 1900 – and English was first taught in India as an experiment. The British set up major universities at places like Calcutta, Bombay and Chennai. The traditional practice of sati was abolished, which to me is a fantastic thing. The Brahmo Samaj was formed, and was influenced by Europeans. The English language itself was a very positive thing – in some respects – to have happened to India. There were many wonderful Britons who came here and did some great work.
Every time a country is ruled by another, there are advantages and disadvantages working at many levels on both sides. The British rule of India is no different. I’ve already cited some positive examples for you, now let me cite what might be perceived as negative – because of the British, the indigenous handicrafts industry was pushed out of the mainstream and till date, remains in the sidelines. The hierarchy of languages is such that English must be known and spoken in order to obtain a so called “respectable” job especially in urban India. There are no computer programs in any of the vernacular languages in Indian educational institutions, indeed the vernacular languages do have less of a currency than English.
The cultural divide between Britain and India at the time of colonization was such that much of original Indian music, culture, arts and sciences and other disciplines lost out due to imperialism. One of the biggest political problems in India today – the strife between the Hindus and the Muslims – was first observed only after the British came to India. Prior to this, the Hindus and Muslims did not have major conflicts in the 1000 years of coexistence that they shared. Today, riots and endless warring over Kashmir are big political features. The partition is a big scar that both nations of India and Pakistan have had to endure. And I haven’t even talked about Bangladesh here. These are very tangible examples, and there are a other, more intangible ones which I will illustrate for you if you want. Everyone should have to read this .
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