British rule--The British view

British rule - the Raj top
British rule from the time after the mutiny is often called the Raj. During this period a tiny number of British officials and troops (about 20,000 in all) ruled over 300 million Indians. This was often seen as evidence that most Indians accepted and even approved of British rule. There is no doubt that Britain could not have controlled India without the co-operation of Indian princes and local leaders, as well as huge numbers of Indian troops, police officers, civil servants etc.
Other historians point out that British rule of India was maintained by the fact that Indian society was so divided that it could not unite against the British. In fact, the British encouraged these divisions. The better-off classes were educated in English schools. They served in the British army or in the civil service. They effectively joined the British to rule their poorer fellow Indians. There are huge arguments about whether the British created or enlarged these divisions in Indian society (British society was deeply divided by class), or whether the British simply took advantage of divisions that were already present in Indian society. For much of the 1800s the average Indian peasant had no more say in the way he or she was ruled than did the average worker in the United Kingdom.
The British view tended to portray British rule as a charitable exercise - they suffered India's environment (eg climate, diseases) in order to bring to India good government and economic development (eg railways, irrigation, medicine). Modern admirers of British rule also note these benefits.
Other historians point out that ruling India brought huge benefits to Britain. 

India's huge population made it an attractive market for British industry. In the 1880s, for example, about 20% of Britain's total exports went to India. By 1910 these exports were worth £137 million. India also exported huge quantities of goods to Britain, especially tea, which was drunk or exported on from Britain to other countries. Then there were the human resources.
The Indian army was probably Britain's single greatest resource.

  Around 40% of India's wealth was spent on the army. This army was used by Britain all over the world, including the wars in South Africa in 1899-1902 and the First and Second World Wars. It was the backbone of the power of the British empire

In 1901, for example, the British viceroy (governor) of India, Lord Curzon, said 'As long as we rule India, we are the greatest power in the world. If we lose it we shall straightway drop to a third rate power'.[that is true today]

Image 2 top
2 Indian troops at Portsmouth in 1882 waiting to be shipped to Egypt to tackle a rebellion against British rule. The British relied heavily on Indian troops to enforce their military power.
(Catalogue ref: COPY 1/59 f.371)
Did India gain or lose from British rule? Some recent research suggests that British rule did little for India in economic terms. Britain gained hugely from ruling India, but most of the wealth created was not invested back into the country. For example, from 1860 to about 1920, economic growth in India was very slow - much slower than in Britain or America. India's population only grew by about 1% per year, which also suggests there was not much economic growth. 
 India actually started importing food under British rule, because Indians were growing 'cash crops' like cotton and tea to be sent to Britain.

It is extremely important not to forget the terrible famines that devastated India. These were partly the result of weather, but partly caused by British policies. 

click and read:-Indigo revolt - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
1 Causes of the revolt; 2 The revolt; 3 The effect on the British rulers in India; 4 Cultural ... The indigo planters left no stones unturned to make money. ... Once a farmer took such loans he remained in debt for whole of his life before passing it to ... Out of the severe oppression unleashed on them the farmers resorted to revolt.
 Food shortages came about because Indians were growing cash crops. When famine struck in 1876-77 and 1899-1900 the British system of government was completely overwhelmed and could not organise a big enough relief effort. As well as these massive famines, there were many other smaller, more localised famines.
On the other hand, research suggests that from about 1870 to 1930 Britain took about 1% of India's wealth per year.[false.they took much more ] 

  Rammohun Roy criticized the East India Company for taking two million pounds out of India to London - year  1820

Much before Dadabhai Naoroji and the so-called ‘modern nationalist’ school came up with a figure for India’s drain of wealth chroniclers had put it at more than 100,000 million pound sterling per year.

Open Library
click read:-

This was much less than the French, Dutch and Germans took from their lands. The British invested about £400 million in the same period. They brought in an irrigation programme, which increased the amount of land available for farming by 8 times. They developed a coal industry, which had not existed before. Public health and life expectancy increased under British rule, mainly due to improved water supplies and the introduction of quinine treatment against malaria.
Big landowners, Indian princes, the Indian middle classes all gained in terms of job opportunities, business opportunities and careers in areas like the law. Ordinary Indians gained little, but the argument still continues about whether British rule made much difference to their lives. Many historians think that the majority of Indians would have remained poor even if they had been ruled by Indians. 

click and read:-Hidden Gears of the Industrial Revolution – How India made Britain rich...
Apr 15, 2013 – The Industrial Revolution began an era of per-capita economic growth in ... the drug-trafficking money and consequently flush it out to Britain read ... The British rulers even took over the technology of India, along with money. ... which helped in the inventions like “The Spinning Jenny” in the year 1764, “The ...

 Constructive Impact of British Rule in India 
[another false claim-European education was introduced by Macaulay for producing clerks and etc for the English office;not for educating Indians]
 click and read:-
  1. minute on Education (1835) by Thomas Babington Macaulay
    Source: Numbers in ... Minute by the Hon'ble T. B. Macaulay, dated the 2nd February 1835. [1] As it seems to be ..... But such is our policy. We do not even ...
Amidst all these alarming states and conditions, the imperial rule were compassionate enough to introduce European education in India. This ground-breaking impact of British rule in India truly has benefited India in the long run, carving out a prestigious position of India in the world map. Knowledge of English was essential to earn a job in the British bureaucracy, in the British trading firms and of course in the British Army in the officer`s level. Many dignified concepts like parliamentary democracy, the European scientific ideas, industrialisation and liberal human philosophy permeated into the Indian brain.

Only 15% of Indians were literate (literacy rate among women was 9%)}



  • India had 30crore (300mn) population, with an average longivity of 32 years (with between 17.5 to 19.0% infantile mortality)
  • There were just 360,000 income-tax payers in 1947
  • Only 15% of Indians were literate (literacy rate among women was 9%)
  • 83% of Indians lived in villages, and 70% depended on agriculture... 28% were landless labours (this, as one would notice, has not changed much)
  • 70% of cultivated land was owned by a handful of zamindars and money-lenders.
  • Only 3% of India's workforce (less than 9mn) was employed in manufacturing sector.
  • Jute and cotton industry accounted for 30% of the total industrial employment (and about 55% of value-added to manufacturing)
  • Indian farmers owned 0.9mn iron plough, and 31.3mn wooden plough.
  • Across the total population, even in 1950-51, there were just about 168,000 telephones.
  • Only 27% of cultivated land was irrigated.
  • In 1951, there were just 37,000 towns and villages (out of around 5,000 cities and 500,000 villages) with electricity
  • There were 9 agricultural colleges with around 3,000 students.
  • There were just 10 medical colleges that turned out about 700 doctors every years. In 1951 census, India had about 18,000 doctors... We also had 1,900 hospitals and 6,500 dispensaries, accounting for around 1.2lac (.12mn beds) - for a population of 300mn.
  • There were a total of 7 engineering colleges, with around 2,200 students.
  • In 1950, India produced 7 locomotives, 1mn tons of steel, 99,000 bicycles, 33mn tons of coal, 2.7mn tons of cement, 33,000 sewing machines,
  • India had a total number of 27 universities/colleges in 1950.
  • The total number of enrollment of students from primary to pre-degree education, in 1950-51, was less than 25mn.
  • There were around 6,500 newspapers and periodicals (nationals and vernacular) and 26 radio centers.
  • Even as late as 1955, India had just about 790,000 engineering degree/diploma holders.
  • There were a total of 1125 companies listed on the stock exchange (there were only two of them - Bombay and Calcutta)

  •  India hardly had any large-scale industry in 1947, which could process the raw-material into finished usable goods. There were a few industries in the cotton, jute, sugar, matches, and steel sectors, etc. - but they were too few to really service the country's needs. About 65-70% of India's less-than-Rs.600cr export consisted of raw material (cotton, oilseeds, minerals and ores, tobacco, etc.); around the same proportion of its imports were finished goods (ranging from biscuits, sewing needles, cloth etc., to dress-material, medicines to machines-tools). In fact, even in 1950, India was importing 90% of its requirement of machine tools.

      The British had introduced the system of Railways[mainly for troop movements after 1856 Indian uprising ,later for goods]

    Indian Railways – The British Legacy-1947

      . Facing problems at home and abroad, the significant British interest in India was extraction of remaining wealth in Indian hands.
    Indian Railway system too suffered  from this approach.  Especially after WWI, the Great Depression  and the currency crisis, starved of investments and renewal, Indian railways suffered.

    During WW2, nearly 40% rolling stock from India was diverted to the Middle East. More than 50% of the track system was the outdated metre gauge and narrow gauge. Track systems were nearly a century old. 40% of the railway system went to Pakistan. 32 of the forty-two separate railway systems operating in India, were owned by the former Indian princely states. More than 8000 outdated steam engines were used as motive power – and less than 20 diesel locomotives were in use. Apart from elephants and people – called as ‘hand-shunting’ in Indian Railways lingo.

    So much for the British gift of railways to India.
    The railways run by the Indian princely states became party to the collusive price fixing systems. Like this extract (linked to the right) shows, all the business went to the British engineering yards. To this add the guaranteed returns systems, and what was achieved was something else.
    “The guarantee system did not encourage cost control, and, at an average cost of BP18,000 per mile, the Indian railways were some of the costliest in the worldStarved of investments and maintenance, the railways infrastructure at the time of British departure was crumbling
     In 1952, it was decided that IIIrd class passengers deserved fans and light. It took another 7 years to implement this decision. Elephants used for shunting wagons, box-cars, finally got a respite after WDS-4B shunters were introduced by Chittaranjan Locomotive Works in 1969. In the 1977,3rd class railway travel was abolished. Wooden-slat seats were abolished. Cushioned 2nd class seating system was made minimum and standard. It took India 40 years, to modernize the colonial railway system, we should be thankful. Remember, they could have uprooted the rails, and taken away the wagons and engines. After all, Indian Railways was the biggest scrap iron collection in the world at that time.

    (From Mumbai to Thane at First) in a chain method, with the whole of the country staying witness to placing of railways tracks, railway platforms and railway carriages. Indeed India`s railways, postal services, legal and judicial systems and other government-based services have all been derived primarily from the British administration.
    British rule in India virtually had helped unify India

     [false claim-India was unified under various Indian emperors from Asoka
    to Akbar],

     which till then was quite fragmentary. The in-built inferiority complex was the characteristic trademark of the mass of the native population, till Mahatma Gandhi and many other nationalist leaders like Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Jawaharlal Nehru arrived onto the scene. The bulk of Indian students who set sail to England for higher studies were at first profoundly shocked in seeing white men and women performing lowly jobs in England.

    British empire