British Raj in India was it Good or Bad?
The British ruled India for almost 200 years. The battle of Plassey or Palassy was won by the East India Company in 1757 and the rule began which was ended in 1947 after Indian independence. The rule was indirect through the company till 1857-58 great revolt. After that India was under the direct rule of the British crown. Almost 60% of the country was under British officials control and the rest was ruled via Native princes who were actually puppets. Now the question is was the British rule in India good or bad for India?
I know this is a very controversial issue. Some will say the British raj was actually good and some will totally contradict. There are some stereotypical answers and myths – some which are true or partly true and some are baseless.
Map of British India
Did the British have selfish intentions?
The harsh critiques of the raj always say that all the minimal development like vast rail lines or road networks, bridge and other infrastructures were built only to loot India. They will argue they have no good wish to improve India.
Off course, the British were here to gain. The British raj was a vast system of planned slow plundering of India of her wealth. There is no doubt about it. But the question is they have any good intentions or not were their Raj was good for India?
The Modernization of India and the Raj
The modern age of India has come after the introduction of western education and culture was introduced by the British in India. There was nothing philanthropic about it. They intended to create a class of “babus” who will serve the British masters and also will act as loyal buffers against the native antagonist forces.
But, despite of their selfish goals the western contact brought the modernization and enlightenment in India. An educated and conscious middle class was generated as a process. Who was and still is the driving force of modern India.
British made Infrastructures in India
The ancient stone aged communication system was modernized with the vast rail network. The railways itself was a huge development in India. The people and business began to flow and the limitations of the area, state, race and cast began to fade away. The good roads, bridges etc was actually very beneficial to Indian populace.
What would happen without the British?
What would happen to India if the British could not conquer it?
This is a question of speculations. It is very difficult to answer this question correctly. Some will say that the industrialization and modernization would occur automatically even without the Britons. They will argue the British has actually destroyed our native industries and never let any native industry to rise and flourish.
It is too much probable that the modernization and industrialization would also inevitably come to India without the British. But most probably it would take more time. It is also can be doubted that how much modern the country would be, I think like nothing better than the Soudi Arabia or such countries.
The Unity of India and the British Rule:
India was unified under the British crown. The British empire of India was the all-time largest in India history. This unity made the Indians subject of exploitations disregarding language, cast or religion.
The concept of modern unified nation state would not be possible without the Raj. Without them the modern India would be divided among thousands of big and small countries ruled by Rajahs and Nawabs.
The Systematic Looting of India
The British raj and East India Company has exploited India’s resources to gain wealth. India was the source of cheap raw materials and labors which had boosted the British industries. Time to time there exploiting was so hard for the people that famine was commonplace. Millions of people have died in several famines during the Raj.
This was very harmful to India. This foraging by the British was the main culprit for destruction of native economy.
The Unity of India and the British Rule
The British raj held together the all of India for a long time as an empire. The people of all the Indian empire rose together against the British atrocities which gave birth to the pan Indianism.
Without the British rule there would be, most probably, hundreds of tiny and medium sized states scattered throughout the subcontinent.
Hindu – Muslim Conflict and the British Raj
The British had taken the divide and rule policy to keep Indians underfoot. They wanted to lead the Hindus and Muslims of the country to be at perpetual enmity. They got success in that mission to make India weak.
But it is not all the British imperialism which is responsible for Hindu-Muslim conflicts in India. I think they are not childish fools to be duped by the British so easily. The invasion of Muslim powers from outside and replacement of Hindu rulers by Muslims had its impact on the relationship between these two religions.
Atrocities of the British Raj
The British Raj in India has done many atrocities towards the Indian people. Everybody knows about the massacre of Jalianwalabag. But, the British brutality was most visible after the 1857 revolts. While suppressing the uprising the British had killed thousands of innocent people. They mass hanged innocent villagers for the crime of being native black Indians. These hideous acts were supported by the then mainstream British media and intellectual people. General Neil was one of the British army officials responsible for countless murders.
It is true that a great many of the rebels were no saints though. Many incidents, like that of the Chauri Choura against the innocent British people including women and children inflamed the British army against the rebels. But, that cannot be an excuse for killing thousands of harmless villagers by mass hanging from trees.