India as the British Colony from 1850 to 1947

India has attracted the attention of merchants, European monarchs, and all sorts of adventurers for many years. Portuguese, Spanish, English, French tried to gain a foothold in the Indian subcontinent. However, the British East-India Company reached the greatest success. It became the supreme power in the peninsula. Riches of the whole country were in hands of colonialists. India was a hierarchical society based on religious beliefs. Since 1784, there was a dual control in India: Governor-General, who represented the Queen of England, ruled Calcutta, and the Governor and his entourage of petty military officials, which had been designed by the Company, emerged in Madras and Bombay. The British East-India Company established a system of tax theft, exploitation of peasants, local landlords and princes. The Company took control of almost all the principalities; the taxes were collected through the system of ransoms and intermediaries.

Robberies of wealth in the country became the subject of colonial brutality trials in Great Britain. The trial of former Governor-General W. Hastings, who plundered the treasury of Indian princes, was extremely controversial. Local population rose repeatedly against the predatory policy of the Company that brought the Indian village to ruin and starvation.

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In the second half of XIX - early XX century, economic importance of India to England began to grow rapidly. India has become a place of profitable investment. There were built railways and processors (tea, coffee, jute, etc.) in the country. Marshall wrote: “The East-India Company's trade was built on a sophisticated Indian economy.” (The British Presence in India in the 18th Century)

The East-India Company was abolished in 1858. India came under the control of the Crown. The Policy of the colonial government conducted the Council of Ministers. The Queen Victoria became the Empress of India in 1876.

At the end of the XIX century, the national industry began to develop. In 1911 India had 200 textile enterprises owned by the national capital. Despite some advances, industrial production was not developed enough.

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Incipience of the Indian nation became the foundation on which an unusually strong liberation movement appeared. In the 70-80 years, patriotic sentiments strengthened among the Indian intellectuals. Indian patriots began to unite in cultural and educational organizations. Their participants called for a return to ancient beliefs ("back to the Vedas"); they rejected the caste division of the Indian society, proclaiming the equality of men and nations, aimed at the revival of the Indian culture. The formation of a European system of education, social reform, accelerate the development of Indian industry were demanded simultaneously. The national conscious activists joined the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1885. Its first inaugural congress became a symbol of the unity of India. A moderate liberal wing of INC has established the following goals, such as the protection of national industry; tax cuts; expansion of the government and elected representation.

In some ways, the process of colonization may be called gendered. Chaudhuri wrote: To achieve the primary objective of colonialism, creating wealth for the colonizing nation and its people, many different groups, including women and children acting synergistically, must contribute. Also, he noticed that a major anxiety for the British families in colonized India was the high rate of infant mortality. (British Colonialism in India)

Chatterjee (1989) stated the following:

The simple historical fact is that the lives of the middle-class women, coming from that demographic section that effectively constituted the “nation” in the late colonial India, changed most rapidly precisely during the period of the nationalist movement – indeed, so rapidly that women from each generation in the last hundred years could say quite truthfully that their lives were strikingly different from those led by women of the preceding generation.

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After the Revolt of 1857, the new government, called the Raj, appeared. Many Indians wanted to end the British rule in their country.  However, the British improved India’s civil, legal, and justice service systems, built a few universities and created telegraph, postal, and rail networks, they did it for their own political and economic gain, but not to benefit the Indian people. From 1920 Mahatma Gandhi led a national movement for freedom. It based primarily on his philosophy of nonviolent resistance “satyagraha”, which he called the force of truth.  Gandhi and his followers were beaten and jailed for this movement.

In conclusion, it should be said that India became a British colony following the 1857 uprising. India suffered lack of freedom, poverty under the British rule. This fact inspired the Indian independence movement very much. Colonizers used to their advantage the fact that Indian society was divided based on religious, caste, national and linguistic grounds.

While British East India Company was terribly cruel in imposing its ideas, India won its independence after the World War II by mostly nonviolent means.

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