Imperialism in India



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Imperialism in India

(Adapted from Document-Based Assessment for Global History,

Walch Education, Hofstra Education)

European imperialism in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries resulted in the carving up of

areas of Africa and Asia into vast colonial empires. This was the case for British colonialism in India. As imperialism spread, the colonizer and the colony viewed imperialism differently. They saw both positive and negative effects of imperialism.

Directions: The following questions are based on the accompanying documents. As you analyze the documents, take into account both the source of the document and the author’s point of view. Be sure to:

1. Carefully read the document-based question. Consider what you already know about this topic. How would you answer the question if you had no documents to examine?

2. Now, read each document carefully, pay attention to key phrases and words that address the

document-based question. You may also wish to make brief notes. Answer the questions which follow each document.

3. Based on your own knowledge (notes) and on the information found in the documents, formulate a response that directly answers the question.

The following documents provide information about the effects of imperialism on

India. Examine the documents carefully, and answer the questions that follow.
Document 1

In this excerpt, adapted from O.P. Austin’s “Does Colonization Pay?” in The Forum, positive and negative results of imperialism are pointed out.


Modern progressive nations [European colonizers] . . . seek to control “garden spots” in the tropics. Under their direction, these places can yield the tropical produce that their citizens need. In return the progressive nations bring to the people of those garden spots the foodstuffs, and manufacture they need. They develop the territory by building roads, canals, railways, and telegraphs. The progressive nations can establish schools and newspapers for the people of the colonies. They can also give these people the benefit of other blessings of civilization which they have not the means of creating themselves.
According to this author, what are the benefits of imperialism to the colony? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

What are the benefits of imperialism to the colonizer?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Document 2

In this speech, Dadabhai Naoroji, an Indian, describes the effect of imperialism on India.


To sum up the whole, the British rule has been—morally, a great blessing; politically peace and order on one hand . . . on the other, materially, impoverishment . . . . The natives call the British system . . . “the knife of sugar.” That is to say there is no oppression, it is all smooth and sweet, but it is the knife, nevertheless.
In later comments he stresses the negative aspects.
Europeans [the British] occupy almost all the higher places in every department of government. . . . . Natives, no matter how fit, are deliberately kept out of the social institutions started by Europeans. . . .All they [the Europeans] do is live off of India while they are here. When they go, the carry all they have gained.

How is British imperialism both positive and negative for India? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Document 3

This excerpt is adapted from The Economic History of India Under Early British Rule, by an Indian, Romesh Dutt.


Englishmen . . . have given the people of India the greatest human blessing—peace. They have

introduced Western education. This has brought an ancient and civilized nation in touch with modern thought, modern sciences, and modern life. They have built an administration that is strong and efficient. They have framed wise laws and have established courts of justice.

What benefits did India gain during British imperialism? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Document 4

This excerpt is adapted from British historian, J.A.R. Marriott’s book, The English in India, 1932.


British brains, British enterprise, and British capital have changed the face of India. Means of

communication have been developed. There are great numbers of bridges, more than 40,000 miles of railway, and 70,000 miles of paved roads. These testify to the skill and industry of British engineers. Irrigation works on a very large scale and have brought 30 million acres under cultivation. This has greatly added to the agricultural wealth of the country. Industrialization has also begun. India now has improved sanitation and a higher standard of living. It has a fine transport system and carefully thoughtout schemes for relief work. Because of these things famines have now almost disappeared.

List at least five benefits of imperialism cited by this author. ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Document 5

This excerpt, from India: A Restatement by British writer Sir Reginald Coupland, points out the social and economic impact of imperialism on India.


British rule brought with it from the West certain standards of humanity that Indian society had not yet reached. Early action was taken to stop infanticide [the killing of girl babies]. . . . The slave trade was ended and the owning of slaves was forbidden. . . . One result of the new order was a steady rise in the value of India’s export trade.

What are the benefits of imperialism identified by this author? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________



Document 6

This excerpt, from The Discovery of India by Jawaharlal Nehru, explains how India became a “typical” colonial economy.


This process continued throughout the nineteenth century. Other old Indian industries—shipbuilding, metalwork, glass, paper—and many crafts were broken up. Thus the economic development of India was stopped and the growth of new industry was prevented. . . . A typical colonial economy was built up. India became an agricultural colony of industrial England. It supplied raw materials and provided

markets for England’s industrial goods. The destruction of industry let to unemployment on a vast scale. . . . The poverty of the country grew. The standard of living fell to terribly low levels.

What negative effects of imperialism does Nehru point out? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Document 7

Mohandas Gandhi offers a complaint about imperialism.


You English committed one supreme crime against my people. For a hundred years you have done everything for us. You have given us no responsibility for our own government.

What is Gandhi’s criticism of imperialism? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


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