India is a country with a rich culture and many age-old traditions. Although some of these aspects of indian culture can still be seen today, India has changed greatly over the year. A major contributing factor to this change was British colonization of India in the early and mid-1700s; colonization had both short-term and long-term impacts on India.
Prior to British colonization most of India lived in small villages and maintained a predominantly agricultural economy. In most regions of India there is a strong sense of family and community. There are many festivals and occasions for celebration, especially weddings. As each region of India has elements of unique culture, occasions and celebrations can vary widely. Before colonization, people lived in extended families. A son would not leave his parents’ home when he married. Instead, his new wife would live with her husband’s family and work for and serve his household.
Women had very few choices or rights. They were expected to obey their father until they married, then they would obey their husband. If their husband died, they would be expected to obey their father-in-law. Houses were built of wood, reeds, mud bricks and straw. People slept, ate and sat on the floor, and furniture in houses was not common prior to colonization. Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism are the three religions that are believed to have shaped Indian thought; religions that are practices world-wide.
Many motivations pushed Europeans towards colonizing foreign lands. Primarily, nations established colonies to gain economic profits. In addition to a desire for economic profit, nationalism also served as a reason for colonization. Europeans used the ideas of the “White Man’s Burden” to help justify their colonization of foreign lands. The White Man’s Burden was the idea that as supreme beings, it was the job of the white people to spread their superior ways of living to the inferior people of other places. Britain discovered the Indian sub-continent when it was looking to expand its vast empire. In the mid eighteenth century, India became one of Great Britain’s most important colonies. Great Britain relied heavily on India as a source of raw materials. Britain profited from India’s vast supply of tea and cotton. Beginning in 1757, the East India Company, which was overseen by the British government, ruled India.
Britain did benefit from the situation; however, notwithstanding the obvious injustices associated with colonization, India also experienced positive impacts. While Great Britain felt that they were being very generous to the Indian people in colonizing and modernizing the nation, the Indians did not always agree with this. Under British rule, many new roads, railways, and harbors were built, and a telegraph system was created. While the Indians were forced to do much labor in the construction of these things, they were often kept from enjoying and benefiting from the finished products. In fact, the Indian people were treated as second class citizens in their own nation.
They were banned from many government positions, and had little rights. They often received lower wages than Europeans working in the same job, and their educations did little for them. The Indians eventually came together to fight against the way that they were treated influenced by the same sense of nationalism that had prompted the British to colonize India more than a century before. After much hard work, India finally gained independence from Great Britain in August 1947; however, although India gained independence all ties with the British nation were not cut.
One of the first impacts that colonization had in India was the development of unity. When Britain first acquired India as a colony the country was divided. The British imposed system impacted India by bringing more equality to the country as the caste system which outlined social hierarchy was adapted. It is also significant that Britain accepted all of the religions of India which also allowed unity to prosper. India has also experienced positive impacts from the institution established and then left behind by the colonizers. The institutions established by the British Raj and then inherited by India helped lead to democracy in modern day India. The assistance of these institutions assisted India in becoming the world’s largest democracy today. It is also of note that Britain first introduced India to early capitalism through colonization. Britain transformed India into an agricultural based capitalist economy and established forms of private ownership.
These actions led India into creating free trade and competitive business. Today India is the largest provider of services in the world in large part due to colonization; however, it is uncertain if without colonization this would be possible. The Indian population is able to compete in the service sector due to the positive impact of the English language being left behind post British rule. When colonization was occurring in India schools were established which taught and offered instruction in English. It is also of note that the East India Company had a positive impact by establishing some services such as rail throughout the country. The culture of India was also greatly impacted. As the English language spread, indigenous languages were diminished, and the culture, as a whole, began to take on a more European style.
Under colonial rule India often depended on Great Britian for such things as technological advances and manufactured goods. Once it became independent, India slowly fell behind the rest of the world, as it had to learn to depend less on other nations and more on itself. India, even today, is considered a third-world country. The nations that were once under colonial rule, such as India, are for the most part the nations that are currently undergoing industrial revolutions.
In addition to colonization changing the culture of India, it also affected that of the mother country, Great Britain. Colonization led to an increased diversity of culture in Great Britain. This was because many people from India began to move to Great Britain. Today, Great Britain is still home to many Indian people.
The impacts of British colonization were huge and the changes made to India as a nation were great. However, not all of that rich culture was lost. Many of those original religions such as Jainism, Hinduism and Buddhism are still practiced world-wide. Also, even though English is common in education and business, the official language of India today is Hindi. Indians continue to be proud of their culture and traditional Indian buildings, attire, and customs can still be seen throughout the country.
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