Economic exploitation, impact of British rule on 18th century India - 01

Rule Britannia -British Raj.

British Boss and Indian native subduing rebellion puchaday,

The take over of Indian economy by colonial economy was gradual - just like a huge python slowly and surely swallowing its prey that is bigger than  the size of its mouth. As years went by, the  English became richer  through conceit and deception while the prosperous Indians became poorer. The decline of India’s trade and commerce  first began during the closing years of Aurangazeb’s reign. Since the fall of Bengal 1764 it had been a steady decline in India's prosperity. on the contrary, the East India company became the paramount political and military power in SE Asia. For the purpose of administration and check on its activities the British Crown held the EIC's territories in trust.

EIC took over the trade in  commodities like salt, betel-nut and tobacco which had so long been prohibited to all European traders. In 1765 salt production and sale through the EIC was introduced by Clive.  In 1765 Clive re-established monopoly of salt manufacture and trade through a society after brief break, company continued their dominance in salt trade.

Britsh shabib and Indian natives. afe,

This system was abolished in 1768 and the Zamindars and Indian merchants were permitted to manufacture salt, subject to payment of a duty of 30% to the company /Government. Under Warren Hastings the company assumed exclusive rights in salt.

In 1758, Mir Jafar, the puppet Nawob of Bengal was  installed by East India Company(EIC) after the battle of Plassey in 1657and Robert Clive  cleverly secured from Mir Jafar monopoly of saltpeter, an important ingredient in gunpowder production trade in Bengal for the company. Later company entered into indigo production -1793  and assumed monopoly in opium export to China. Export of opium to China was a money-spinning business and the british company and their agents made a bundle.

The inventions of ''ginning wheel'' by Hargreaves, Arkwright and others during the years 1767 to 1785 improved large scale production of cotton goods in England.   English Company in 1786 pushed the sale  of Lancashire cotton clothes in Bengal and later in other places in competition with native goods.

In 1793 “the Calicoes and Muslins'' of  India, even for Indian use,  were supplanted in  Bengal by the products of the steam looms of Manchester. To make the British products cheaper, in 1815 the company enjoyed 2 to 3% duty cut, thus forcing Indian traders to down the shutters.

As a result of British colonialism and unscrupulous economic exploitation,  India’s  centuries-old handicrafts and village industries, and agriculture were very much affected and it became the only source of survival for the people in Bengal and other places. Their economic future was bleak and in jeopardy.

To begin with BEI company bought Indian goods at cheap rate -  at rock bottom price and made enormous profits in exports, the mark-up was several times more than the procured price,  The British  plundered India's wealth and resources (1747 to 1813). After industrial revolution in England, India became a dumping market for the  finished British goods.  Raw material sources being from India,  they offered low prices for them - a subtle  monopoly and free market capitalism - a sort of out right looting. After 1860 the British Crown allowed finances and aids to companies operating on the Indian soil, thus encouraging capital flow to India.The British banks moved in and the loans and aids were given only to the whites and not to native traders.

The lands, once under the British East India company,  now belonged to the British crown, who held the strings on them. Representative rulers like Warren Hastings  and  Robert Clive introduced various land revenue reforms, but they  were detrimental to the welfare of the natives and meant to generate more income for the British exchequer. In 1793 ''Zamindari System'' was introduced by  Lord Cornwallis mostly in northern states. Zamindars became land owners and had to retain 10% of the revenue and the rest would go to the Crown. As one will see 10% of revenue means the land owners had to bear all the agricultural expenses including labor wages within this share - a pittance. The fat English Bobs would get  a solid 90% flat  of the revenue by sitting under the shadow of a tree, while the poor natives  sweating it out like hogs under the tropical sun on the wet agricultural fields. The land owner (Zamindar) were  left with very  small income for bare survival - a sort of hand to mouth survival. As for British Sahibs, their coffers were full without any sweat and blood. The irony is  the income was not from their English lands, but from the natives' who had owned these lands for centuries. It was nothing but unabated exploitation of Indian natives and their resources,


Various sources