British imperialism in india british east india company control



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BRITISH IMPERIALISM IN INDIA
BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY CONTROL
In 1757, the British East India Company won a battle over a weak Mughal empire that made them the leading power in India. Officially, the British government regulated the East India Company’s efforts both in London and in India. Until the beginning of the 19th century, the company ruled India with little interference from the British government. The company even had its own army, led by British officers and staffed by sepoys or Indian soldiers.
By 1850, the company controlled most of the Indian subcontinent. However, there were many pockets of discontent. Many Indians believed that in addition to controlling their land, the British were trying to convert them to Christianity. The Indian people also resented the constant racism that the British expressed toward them.
THE SEPOY REBELLION
As economic problems increased for Indians, so did their feelings of resentment and nationalism. In 1857, gossip spread among the Sepoys, the Indian soldiers, that the bullets of their new Enfield rifles were sealed with beef and pork fat. To use the bullets, soldiers had to bite off the seal. Both Hindus, who consider the cow sacred and Muslims, who do not eat pork, were outraged by the news.
A garrison commander was shocked when 85 of the 90 Sepoys refused to accept the bullet cartridges. The British handled the crisis badly. The soldiers who had disobeyed were jailed. The next day, on May 19, 1857, the Sepoys rebelled. They marched to Delhi where they were joined by Indian soldiers stationed there. They captured the city of Delhi. From Delhi, the rebellion spread to northern and central India.

Some historians have called this outbreak the Sepoy Mutiny. This uprising spread over much of northern India. Fierce fighting took place. Both British and Sepoys tried to slaughter each other’s armies. The East India Company took more than a year to regain control of the country. The British government sent troops to help them.


The Indians could not unite against the British due to weak leadership and serious splits between Hindus and Muslims. Hindus did not want the Muslim Mughal Empire restored. Indeed, many Hindus preferred British rule to Muslim rule.


Who maintained British control of India from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s? How is this an example of indirect rule?

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What was causing Indian discontent with British rule?

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How did the new Enfield rifles fuel the Sepoy Mutiny?

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Why were the Indians unsuccessful in their efforts to throw off British rule during the Sepoy Mutiny?

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The mutiny marked a turning point in Indian history. As a result of the mutiny, in 1858, the British government took direct command of India. Sometimes, a handful of officials were the only British among the million or so people in a district. The Sepoy Munity fueled the racist attitudes of the English. The mutiny also increased distrust between the British and the Indians.


INDIA AS DIRECT COLONY
After the Sepoy Mutiny, India became a colony of the British government and a major supplier of raw materials for Britain’s industrial factories. It is not surprising, then that the British considered India the brightest “jewel in the crown” – the most valuable of all Britain’s’ colonies. India provided the British with tea and other agricultural goods. The British set up restrictions that prevented Indian businesses from competing with the British. Its 300 million people became a large market for British made goods
India both benefited from and was limited by British colonialism. On the positive side the British built the world’s third largest railroad in India. When completed, the railroads enabled India to develop a modern economy and brought unity to the connected regions. Modern roads, telephones, telegraphs, dams, bridges and irrigation canals soon followed. Sanitation and public health soon improved. Schools and colleges were founded and literacy increased. Also, British troops cleared central India of bandits and put an end to local warfare among competing local rulers.
On the negative side, the British held much of the political and economic power. The British restricted Indian-owned industries such as cotton textiles. The British emphasis on selling crops for cash produced a food shortage and a famine (hunger) in the late 1800’s and eliminated the self-sufficient villager who could grow his own foods. The British officially had a hands-off policy regarding Indian religion, but the increase presence of missionaries and racism by the British threatened traditional Indian life.

Why do historians consider the Sepoy Mutiny a major turning point in Indian History?

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Why did the British consider India to be the “Jewel of the Crown”?

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How was British imperialism both a blessing and a curse for India?

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Think Ahead: How do you think Indians will react to British imperialism and control over the long term? What will the Indians need to overthrow British rule?

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PRIMARY SOURCEShttps://s3.amazonaws.com/files.digication.com/m1aaebc85bb4fad1d9a87d39caf53bf2e.jpg

It is this consciousness of the inherent superiority of the European which has won for us India. However well-educated and clever a native may be, and however brave he may prove himself, I believe that no rank we can bestow on him will cause him to be considered an equal of the British officer” - Lord Kitchener


Exit Ticket:
Pretend you are one of the Indian people during this time and you work for a newspaper….

1. Create a Newspaper headline illustrating what is going on in India during this time period.

2. Write 1-2 paragraphs about the situations facing common Indians.

What issues with British imperialism in India are illustrated in this political cartoon and photograph?

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How did Lord Kitchener view the Indian people?

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