Aartee Mishra is teaching live on Unacademy Plus
Spectrum's A brief history of Moderrn India Economic Impact of British Rule in India
wishing. stop start doing Star Educator Topper from Delhi University Top Educator on Unacademy Plus Pursuing P.G 2 Years of teaching experience of General Studies for competitive examination
NATIONALIST CRITIQUE OF COLONIAL ECONOMY FAMINE AND POVERTY Regular recurrence of famines became a common feature of daily existence in India. These famines were not just foodgrain scarcity-based phenomena, but were a direct result of poverty unleashed by colonial forces in India. Between 1850 and 1900, about 2.8 crore people died in famines. The early intellectuals of the first half of the nineteenth century supported British rule under the impression that it would modernise the country based on latest technology and capitalist economic organisation. After the 1860s, disillusionment started to set in among the politically conscious and they began to probe into the reality of British rule in India. The foremost among these economic analysts was Dadabhai Naoroji, the 'Grand Old Man of India', who after a brnt analysis of the colonial economy put forward the theory of economic drain in Poverty and British Rule in India. The essence of nineteenth century colonialism, they said, lay in the transformation of India into a supplier of foodstuffs and raw-materials to the metropolis, a market for metropolitan manufacturers and a field for investment of British capital. These early nationalist analysts organised intellectual agitations and advocated a complete severance of India's economic subservience to Britain and the development of an independent economy based on modern industries
NATIONALIST CRITIQUE OF COLONIAL ECONOMY The basic assertion of these early intellectuals was that India was poor and growing poorer due to British imperialism, and since the causes of India's economic backwardness were man-made, they were explainable and removable. The problem of poverty was seen as a problem of raising productive capacity and energy of the people or as a problem of national development, thus making poverty national issue. This helped in rallying all sections of society around common economic issues. Also, development was equated with industrialisation. This industrialisation was to be based on Indian and not foreign capital because, according to the early nationalists, foreign capital replaced and suppressed instead of augmenting and encouraging Indian capital. This suppression caused economic drain, further strengthening British hold over India. The political consequences of foreign capital investments were equally harmful as they caused political subjugation and created vested interests which sought security for investors, thus perpetuating the foreign rule. These analysts exposed the force of British arguments that the growth of foreign trade and railways implied development for India. They argued back that the pattern of foreign trade was unfavourable to India. It relegated India to a position of importer of finished goods and exporter of raw materials and foodstuffs.
NATIONALIST CRITIQUE OF COLONIAL ECONOMY The development of railways, they argued, was, not coordinated with India's industrial needs and it ushered in a commercial rather than an industrial revolution. The net effect of the railways was to enable foreign goods to outsell indigenous products. The nationalists claimed that one-way free trade was ruining Indian handicrafts industry, exposing it to premature, unequal and unfair competition, while tariff policy was guided by British capitalist interests. On the finance front, taxes were levied to overburden the poor, sparing British capitalists and the bureaucrats. They demanded reduction of land revenue, abolition of salt tax, imposition of income tax and excise duties on consumer goods consumed by the rich middle classes. The government expenditure, it was argued, was meant to serve colonial needs only, while development and welfare were ignored The concept of drain-one country taking away wealth from another country-was easily grasped by a nation of peasants for whom exploitation was a matter of daily experience. It was also shown clearly that India was poor because it was being ruled for British interests.
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