British India and Ghandi

British India and Ghandi’s Resistance

Research task - the British in India

The rule of the British in India is possibly the most controversial and the most hotly debated aspect of the history of the British Empire. Admirers of British rule point to the economic developments, the legal and administrative system, and the fact that India became the centre of world politics. Critics of British rule generally point out that all of these benefits went to a tiny British ruling class and the majority of Indians gained little. This is countered by saying that most Indians were poor and oppressed by their own leaders before the British arrived, and that British rule was less harsh on ordinary Indians than rule by Indian princes.
Perhaps the main reason why the arguments are so heated and so complex is that India was very different from the other territories that made up the empire. North America and Australia, for example, were sparsely populated and their populations were less economically developed than Britain. India, however, had a huge population and was just as developed as Britain in the 1700s when the British arrived.
The British were able to take control of India mainly because India was not united. The British signed treaties and made military and trading alliances with many of the independent states that made up India. The British were very effective at infiltrating these states and gradually taking control. They often left the local princes in charge of the various parts of India. These local princes were effective at maintaining British rule and gained much from being loyal to the British.
Did India gain or lose from British rule? Some recent research suggests that British rule did little for India in economic terms. Britain gained hugely from ruling India, but most of the wealth created was not invested back into the country. For example, from 1860 to about 1920, economic growth in India was very slow - much slower than in Britain or America. India's...