Imperialism in India: An Evaluation Historical Context

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Imperialism in India: An Evaluation

Historical Context

European Imperialism was widespread in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It 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 colony viewed imperialism differently. They saw both positive and negative effects of imperialism.

Document 1

This excerpt points out the positive and negative results of imperialism.

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 the people of those garden spots the foodstuffs and manufactures 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.

Source: O.P. Austin, “Does Colonization Pay?” The Forum, 1900 (adapted)

1a. According to this author, what are the benefits of imperialism to the colony? _________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

b. 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 a knife, nevertheless.
In these later comments, Naoroji 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, they carry all they have gained.

Source: Dadabhai, Naoroji, Essays, Speeches, Addresses and Writings, Caxton Printing Works, 1887 (adapted)

2. According to Naoroji, how is British imperialism both positive and negative for India?__________________


Document 6

In this excerpt, 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 in our own government.

6. What is Gandhi’s criticism of imperialism?_____________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Document 7

This excerpt 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 prevented…A typical colonial economy was built up. India became an agricultural colony of industrial England.

It supplied raw material and provided markets for England’s industrial goods. The destruction of industry led to unemployment on a vast scale…The poverty of the country grew. The standard of living fell to terribly low levels.

Source: Jawaharlal Nehru, The Discovery of India, The John Day Company, 1946 (adapted)
7. What negative effects of imperialism does Nehru point out? _______________________________________ 



Document 8

In his book Indian Home Rule, Gandhi asked the question, “Why do you want to drive away the English?” He replied with the following statement:

...”Because India has become impoverished by the Government. They take away our money from year to year. The most important posts are reserved for themselves. We are kept in a state of slavery. They behave insolently (insultingly) toward us and disregard our feelings…”

Source: Mohandas Gandhi, Indian Home Rule, Navajivan Publishing, 1938, reprinted in 1946 (adapted)

8. Based on this document, state two reasons Gandhi wanted to drive away the English.



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