Remembering the colonial rule by British
Looting, de-industrialisation of India for centuries
Railway, English and political unity were positive aspects
Churchill’s response to Bengal famine
It was exactly 400 years ago that the envoy of King James I arrived at the court of Emperor Jahangir. It is not necessary to recount how the British took over the country and ruled for more than two centuries. The colonial rule did a lot of harm to the inhabitants of the colony though there were some good things that happened like the English language, railways and the integration of the country of India as we know it today.
Let us first look at the loss. At the beginning of the 18th century, India’s share of the world economy was 23 percent, as large as all the Europe put together. That was at the beginning of the colonial rule. By the time it ended with the Independence of India the share in the world economy fell to less than 4 percent. India was looted by the Britain which prospered at the cost of the colony.
Indian textile industry was destroyed and industries were developed in England by using the raw material imported from India for a song. The steam mills of England produced so much fabric that it inundated the markets not only in India but across the world. The weavers of Bengal and other provinces in India became beggars while the textile industry in England flourished. By the end of 19th century India was British’s biggest, the world biggest purchaser of British products.
As the exploitation of India by the British colonialists went on more than 2.5 crore people died of starvation. 40 lakh Bengalis died in Great Famine in 1943. It was then that Winston Churchill order the food stocks to be diverted from Bengal to the well-fed British soldiers and the European stockpiles. In a debate held in the middle of September in London on the occasion of the colonial rule setting up in India, former minister of state for foreign affairs and two time MP Shashi Tharoor reminded the audience that when some conscientious officers serving the British India reported to Prime Minister Churchill the grave tragedy of millions dying of famine, the PM peevishly enquired “why did not Gandhi die yet”.
British colonialist described their rule as enlightened despotism for the good of the ruled. The positive contribution of the colonial rule was the political unity of India, Indian Railways and the English language. The rule of law also could be credited to the British rulers.