Major trends in colonial historiography

It is an unavoidable truth that the advents of British rule had brought peace and good government to the subcontinent of India. Prior to that India was a country subdivided on the basis of different norms like race, religion, caste etc. it was emphatically the British rule which laid the foundation of united India. The negative impact of colonial rule was sharply criticized by Indian nationalists in the 19th and 20th century from Dadabhai naoroji to Mahatma Gandhi. Even Marxists like Ramakrishna Mukherjee and R.P.Dutta expressed their grave concern about the transformation of India into a colonial economy. During the British rule the dominion of Indian states saw a trend of continuous changes in different fields which had brought peace and good government to the subcontinent. Huge public investment in the country brought about the development of a modern transport and communications network. The railway network and irrigation system introduced by the British in the then India was a foundation on which a modern Indian economy took birth. The blessings of western science and the benefits of education was showered upon the Indians. As a result Indians got a new perspective and a new outlook to prepare them for attaining freedom from colonial rule. Eventually self government was formed which was acknowledged by scholars like Vera Antsy and Theodore Morison. The theory of drain of wealth was strongly proposed by nationalists like Dadabhai Naoroji, Mahadeb Govinda Ranade, and J.V.Joshi. They were of the opinion that during the British rule the Indians economy was impoverished and subordinated to meet the need of the British economy. Several new policies were introduced like free trade policies, highland revenues etc. policies like free trade led to the growth of landless agricultural labor De-industrialization resulted in the decline of employment in the secondary sector of the economy. Commercialization of agriculture led to the formation of landless, formation of different classes of peasants and growth of sharecropping and tenancy. Both merchants and money Landers wanted to reap the benefit of the situation. As a result exploitation of poor peasants in their lands increased considerably. With the ill desire of colonial expansion policy of free trade was given utmost importance. British industries like Lancashire cotton textile industry flooded the markets in India. Nationalists were of the opinion that the British were tried to transform India into a valuable source of raw materials and an important consumer of British manufactured products. Scientific and technical education was neglected and investment in irrigation and agriculture was almost nil. Through a comparatively good railway network was build up. But that was also to drain of wealth from this country more speedily and effectively and to send the British manufactured products to every nook and corner of the country. Colonial economy was perceived by the Marxists as a foundation on the basis of which broad changes were brought in British economy. Indians resources contributed substantially in the creation of huge capital which paved the way of British industrial revolution in its primary stages. Karl Marx himself opined that first phase of colonialism would be destructive and it would be followed by a regenerative phase. The nationalists and majority of Marxists agreed that impact of colonial rule in India was basically negative. The emergence of liberal and neo-liberal-interpretation gave new ideas about British imperialism. Scholars like Cain and Hopkins opined that the British exploitation of the colonies did not benefit the British people as a whole. As British industrial goods got a good market in the colonial world and due to overseas investment domestic investment was discouraged and new industries did not come up substantially in Britain. The study of ecology environment was considered important by scholars. During the British rule production of poppy and indigo was encouraged which had a negative impact on Indian ecology and environment. Elizabeth whitecombe had drawn attention to the harmful effects of overuse of irrigation water by peasants and the blocking of drainage channels by rail and road development. The devastating famine of the 19th century was also attributed to the cause of British colonial exploitation. Though women had an undeniable role in agriculture their involvement in the industrial sector was very little.

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