India, often known as "THE GOLDEN BIRD" or "QUEEN’S NECKLACE," was one of the most important colonies of British Empire. As India was politically, socially, and economically distinct from the rest of the British empire's colonies, British policies in India differed from those in other colonies. When British settlers arrived in India in the early 17th century, they surprisingly discovered that India was economically prosperous and self-sufficient, unlike the British colonies of Australia and Canada.
Although the British came to India arguably as traders, the disintegration of the Mughal Empire and the fragmentation of politics changed the very nature of the British presence in India. The British Conquest and Treaty of Subsidiary Alliance helped the British to consolidate their authority, and by the second decade of the 19th century, British power in India was well established.
Indians, on the other hand, were dissatisfied with the British's exploitative policies. Initially, they protested against British policies in a disorganized manner through the Peasant, Tribal, and Civilian Movement. However, the failure of the unorganized method persuaded Indians of the effectiveness of Organized Resistance. As a result, in the first half of the 20th century, India witnessed a number of organized violent as well as non-violent movements for liberating the mother India from the clutches of colonialism. In 1947 the British withdrew from the India and British India was partitioned into two independent countries –
Partition, colonial hand that wrought Partition, left an indelible mark in hearts and memories across the subcontinent. Around 2 million people left their ancestral home and fled to areas of Pakistan or India. It resulted in emotional outburst with about two million killed in the most brutal ways, an estimated 1,00,000 women kidnapped and raped, and more than 15 million men, women and children displaced.
“THE ROAD THROUGH HISTORY is the theme of the document. It aims to concentrate on historical events ranging from the British conquest of India to Indian resistance and final independence from the British Empire.”
Political Structure Prior To Mid-18th Century
The mid-18th century India witnessed transformation from Centralized to Fragmented political structure. After Aurangzeb’s death in 1707 AD and that of his weak successor, Bahadur Shah, five years later, the empire of the Great Mughals began to crumble. The devastating raid by Nadir Shah in 1739 prove to be last nail in coffins of Imperial Mughals.
In the 1740s the ambitious Subadars of Bengal, Awadh, Hyderabad and Carnatic had become to all intents and purposes, independent rulers." Besides, the Maratha, Jats and Sikhs had also set up their own states as challenger to weakened Mughal Empire.
The most important power to rise on the debris of the Mughal empire was that of the Marathas who occupied huge tracts of Mughal territory by 1730, besides holding large areas in central India and the Deccan and forcibly collecting taxes from as far as Orissa.
When Ahmad Shah Abdali invaded India, it was the Marathas and not the forces of the Mughal emperor who opposed him in the third battle of Panipat in 1761. Nevertheless,their defeat dealt a severe blow to their power around the time when victory over Nawab Siraj-ud-daulla of Bengal in the Battle of Plassey in 1757, had given the British their first foothold on power in India.
Administrative Unity under British
Indiahad been united under the Mauryas and the Great Mughals. However, the unity established by the British was, however, qualitatively different. This was due not only to their extremely efficient and centralized administration, but also to the development of modern infrastructure, which became the foundation of a modern state. Though modern infrastructure was built to meet colonial needs, it also contributed to Indian unity and the emergence of nationalism.
The magnitude of the differences can be easily perceived.
The British Bequest
What led to Revolt of 1857?
British System of Education
The system of education the British established during the governor-generalship of Lord William Bentinck (1828-35) and the far-reaching consequences on Indian society, political structure, economy and Nationalism.
Exposure to the critical methods, rationalism and liberal ideas of the West triggered an intellectual turmoil in the minds of the young, educated class of Indians particularly Bengalis. Simultaneously, the rediscovery of India's glorious ancient history and rich civilization legacy by European orientalists like James Princep, William Jones, Monnier Williams, Max Muller and others, greatly boosted their self-esteem and confidence in their ability.
Two important results followed from this.
1. Nationalist sentiments:
The first was the emergence of one of the main prerequisites of nationalist sentiments.
2. Intellectual ferment
The second outcome of the intellectual ferment created by the introduction of Western education was the Bengal Renaissance of the 19th century characterized by-
It enhanced the confidence of the Indians and encouraged them to examine the causes of the country's decline into colonial servitude as well as of the stagnation, degradation and intellectual barrenness of their ritual/superstition-plagued life.
Organized Resistance to British Rule
Formation of Political Association
The Revolt of 1857 led to beginning of nationalism in modern sense. It manifested itself in the shape of political associations, culminating in the establishment of India's first all-India political organization, the Indian National Congress, in 1885.
British Rule was contested in the moderate phase (1885-1905) by the ideology of 3P (Prayer, Petition, and Protest), which was further advanced by extremists through the concept of passive resistance and boycott of British goods.
During Gandhian Phase, Mahatma Gandhi challenged the might of British Government through the Ideology of Satyagraha and in the form of Non-Cooperation Movement, Civil Disobedient Movement and Quit India Movement.
Transfer of Power
British began the transfer of power in 1940 via august offer which was further carried forward Crips Mission, Shimla Conference and Cabinet Mission.
On August 15, 1947, the Indian Independence Bill took effect as per the recommendation of Mountbatten plan. It provided for the end of the British rule in India, on August 15, 1947, and India became a free nation with the bifurcation of India and Pakistan.
The decision of partition was a painful as India lost its territory and its people to the west and the east and spoiled much of the euphoria of independence. The violence that was released by the decision put Indians against Indians, Hindus and Sikhs against Muslims, with the worst of the horrors seen in Punjab and Bengal — States that were partitioned in the most mindless display of colonial insensitivity.
The scar of partition was not forgotten, but borne with fortitude and a desire to move on from them. Along the way, the two-nation theory based on religion alone that Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah fought for so bitterly, disintegrated with the creation of Bangladesh in 1971. Other developments have also helped heal the wounds of Partition, not the least, India’s successes over the past three-quarters of a century, including a growing economy, its technological prowess, and as a respected voice on the global stage.
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