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British Imperialism in India

Uploaded by kate1872 on Apr 11, 2001

"All the leadership had spent their early years in England. They were influenced by British thought, British ideas, that is why our leaders were always telling the British "How can you do these things? They’re against your own basic values.". We had no hatred, in fact it was the other way round - it was their values that made us revolt."
-Aruna Asaf Ali, a leader of the Indian National Congress.
(Masani, quoted in Wood, 32, 1989)

There is no doubt that British imperialism had a large impact on India. India, having previously been an group of independent and semi-independent princedoms and territories, underwent great change under British administration. Originally intended to consolidate their hold on India by establishing a population that spoke the same language as their rulers, the British decision in the 1830s to educate Indians in a Western fashion, with English as the language of instruction, was the beginning of a chain of events, including a rise in Indian nationalism, that led to Indian resentment of British imperialism and ultimately to the loss of British control over India.

One of the most important factors in the British loss of control over India was the establishment of English as a unifying language. Prior to British colonisation, India was fragmented and multi-lingual, with 15 major languages and around 720 dialects. English served as a common ground for Indians, and allowed separate cultural and ethnic groups to identify with each other, something which had rarely if ever occurred before on a grand scale. Although it was mainly educated Indians of a privileged caste who spoke English, these were the most influential people in terms of acting as facilitators for nationalist ideas to be communicated throughout the populace. The publication of magazines and journals in English was also a great influence on the rise of Indian nationalism. Although most Indians received nationalist ideas orally, these journals allowed Indians who were literate in English to come into contact with the ideas of social and political reformers.

Political and social reform in India was achieved as a result of the European political principles brought to India by the British. Indians were Anglicised, and the British ideal for an Indian was to be "Indians in blood and colour, but English in tastes, opinions and intellect", as put by one British legislator (Rich, 214, 1979). This Western education inevitably led to well-read Indians encountering European principles such as human rights,...

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Uploaded by:   kate1872

Date:   04/11/2001

Category:   History

Length:   7 pages (1,684 words)

Views:   2795

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