The decline of handicraft/traditional industries was the direct result of the British rule in India and had mostly negative consequences on India.” Elaborate.



Mention transformation of economy by British rule

Supporting points: Points should be connected to Handicraft/traditional industries

Negative consequences: Points to mention the negative consequences

Conclusion: Provide a conclusion mentioning the impact of British rule on India MODEL ANSWER The economic policies followed by the British led to the rapid transformation of India’s economy into a colonial economy whose nature and structure were determined by the needs of the British economy. There was a sudden and quick collapse of the urban handicrafts industry which had for centuries made India’s name a byword in the markets of the entire civilized world.
Transformation of Indian economy occurred in the following way:

  1. British imposed a policy of one-way free trade on India:
  2. After 1813, India became a net exporter of raw materials to Britain and a net importer of finished goods from British industries. This caused in unavailability of raw materials for Indian handicrafts at affordable prices. Finished goods imported from Britain were cheaper than goods produced by traditional artisans, making their business uneconomic.
  3. Gradual disappearance of Indian rulers and their courts: The gradual disappearance of Indian rulers and their courts who were the main customers of the handicrafts produced also gave a big blow to these industries. “For instance, the Indian states were completely dependent on the British in the production of military weapons. Moreover, Indian rulers and nobles were replaced as the ruling class by British officials and military officers who patronized their own home-products almost exclusively.
  4. Forced De-industrialization: British destroyed the self-sufficient village economy as the destruction of the traditional industries led to overcrowding in the agrarian sector.
  5. The Industrial Revolution in Britain: The Industrial revolution has helped the English merchants accumulate a lot of capital from the countries of Asia, Africa and America. They now wanted to invest this wealth in setting up industries and trade with India. The mass production of goods through machines that we witness today was pioneered through the Industrial Revolution which occurred first in England during the late 18th and early 19th century. This led to a massive increase in the output of finished products. This caused flooding of Indian markets by cheap factory-made goods.
  1. Distress in agriculture sector: Due to flawed settlement policies of British rule in India such as Permanent settlement, Mahalwari and Ryotwari. Agriculture was in distress causing less expenditure by farmers. This caused a lot of revenue loss to small artisans such as cobblers, black smiths, potters etc.
  2. Transport and Communication: Railways benefited the British capitalists in two important ways. First, it made trading in commodities much easier and profitable by connecting the internal markets with the ports. Secondly, the rail engines, coaches and the capital input for building of rail lines came from Britain. The British capitalists who invested in railways were also guaranteed a minimum profit of 5% by the government. These companies were also given free land with a lease of 99 years. This further caused ruin of artisans and traditional industries as these facilities enabled British goods to reach every corner of the country.

  3. Negative Consequences:
  4. Ruin of Artisans and Craftsmen: Due to these policies tradition industries were ruined. India was transformed from exporting country to an importing nation.
  5. Increased pressure on agriculture: Unemployed artisans moved to agriculture to earn their livelihood reducing per capita productivity and income in agriculture.
  6. Rise of the New Money-lending Class: Time bound and excessive demand of revenue by the British government forced the peasants to take loans from the moneylenders. These moneylenders often exploited the peasants by charging high interest rates. They often used unfair means like false accounting, forged signatures and thumb impressions. The new legal system and the policy introduced by the British only helped the moneylenders who were either local merchants or landlords
  7. Ruin of Old Zamindars and Rise of New Landlordism: The heaviness of land revenue—the government claimed ten-elevenths of the rental—and the rigid law of collection, under which the zamindari estates were ruthlessly sold in case of delay in payment of revenue, worked havoc for the first few years. Many of the great zamindars of Bengal were utterly ruined and were forced to sell their zamindari rights. This led to a new class of landlords.
  8. Poverty and Famines: A major characteristic of British rule in India, and the net result of British economic policies, was the prevalence of extreme poverty among its people. While historians disagree on the question whether India was getting poorer or not under British rule, there is no disagreement on the fact that throughout the period of British rule most Indians always lived on the verge of starvation.
    The poverty of India was not a product of its geography or of the lack of natural resources or of some ‘inherent’ defect in the character and capabilities of the people. Nor was it a remnant of the Mughal period or of the pre-British past. It was mainly a product of the history of the last two centuries. The basic fact is that the same social, political and economic processes that produced industrial development and social and cultural progress in Britain, also produced and then maintained economic underdevelopment and social and cultural backwardness in India. The reason for this is obvious. Britain subordinated the Indian economy to its own economy and determined the basic social trends in India according to her own needs.

2.Development of the education system during the British period was determined by the needs of the colonial powers. Illustrate.

Introduce with lack of initial efforts of East India Company writ education in India.
Give reasons for promotion of education by British with illustrations.
Conclude appropriately.


The East India Company became a ruling power in Bengal in 1765. For the first 60 years the East India Company took no interest in the promotion of education. Later the needs of the colonial powers led to the development of education system in India. It is quite evident that there were hidden agendas in introducing western literature and science in India. Macaulay’s Minute, Bentinck’s educational policy of 1835 and the establishment and growth of English education in India were an expression of the direct needs of the ruling colonial power.

Why British promoted education in India?

1. Political Motives: There was increasing opinion and the recognition of the fact that the British could derive political benefits from English education. They thought that spreading English education would lead to a positive bond between the rulers and the ruled and would lead to the permanence and stability of the British raj. The political benefits of the diffusion of western knowledge were clearly perceived.

2. Administrative Needs: To ensure cheap supply of educated Indians to subordinate posts in administration, there was a need of English medium as the language of administration and education. E.g. Charter Act, 1833 was passed when East India Company was in the midst of grave financial crisis.

3. Economic Motives: English education was also seen as an important basis for expanding the British market in India by harnessing English values and tastes. Anglicised Indians would be potential customers of British goods. For instance Wood’s Education Despatch visualised India as a market for the supplier of raw materials to Britain and a consumer market for the purchase of finished goods of Britain’s industries. Thus its vocational policy was lopsided.

4. Religious motives: Christian missionaries started exerting pressure on the Government to promote modern, secular, Western education, as they thought that Western education was the remedy for social, economic and political ills of the country. Missionaries thought that modern education would destroy the faith of Indians in their own religion and they would take to Christianity. Serampore missionaries were, in particular, very enthusiastic about the spread of education.

5. Policy of Downward Filtration Theory: In the beginning of 19th century the British rulers thought that in order to run the British rule in India peacefully, it is essential to make higher classes blind followers of the Government. This they wanted to achieve through educating the higher classes.

6. To prevent agitations: Enlightened Indians agitated in favour of modern education. So to suppress their voice British took halfhearted steps for promoting education in British India.

CONCLUSION The education system in India, a legacy that continues till date, originates not because of any individual opinion but because of the contemporary needs of the Government. Thus the decision to introduce English education was the result of a combination of complex economic, administrative, political, and religious motives.

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