Chapter 11:ECONOMIC CRITIQUE OF COLONIALISM
early leaders of the congress, the moderates, were the
first to develop an economic critique of colonialism. This
was the most important contribution to the development of
national movement in India.
Ideology of the Moderates
moderates had faith in British justice and goodwill. They
were called moderates as they adopted peaceful and
constitutional methods for achieving demands. They were
loyal to British and looked to it for inspiration. They
confined their activities to political class only.
Disillusionment of the
intellectuals in the early 19th century had
positive attitude towards the British rule hoping it would
modernize India. Later they were disillusioned by the rule
as progress in new areas was slow but overall the country
was regressing and under developing. This change of image
led to a deeper probe into the reality of British rule and
his impact on people.
Study of the Impact of
the economist who studies Dadabhai Nauroji was the most
prominent. He was the grand old man of India. He spent
his entire life and wealth in forming a national
movement. He was the first Indian to become member of
the British House of Commons. He popularized the drain
theory in his book “Poverty and UnBritish Rule in
India”. He also founded Bombay Association in 1852 and
East Indian Association.
Ranade was his contemporary and taught an entire
generation of Indians the importance of industrial
development. RC Dutt examined minutely the entire economic
impact of colonial rule from 1757.
GV Joshi, G Subramanium iyer, GK Gokhale, PC
Ray were the others.
understood that British imperialism was leading to
subordination of Indian economy by British economy. They
agitated against the British policies that aimed to turn
India into supplier of raw materials and consumer of
British manufactured goods.
believed to be the answer to all problems of poverty. So
the economists tried to look into foreign trade, railways,
currency, tariffs and labor legislations as it affected
also firmly believed that Indian capital and not foreign
capital was the great need of India for industrialization.
Foreign capital would only exploit India further and
suppress Indian capital.
theory was also focal point of the economic critique. It
said that large part of Indian capital would go into
salaries and pensions of British officers, charges for
maintaining an army and home
charges [charges needed to maintain administration,
army, war expense, pensions to returned officers and
expense in maintaining the colony]. The drain theory was
easily understood even by common peasants and thus became
the staple of nationalist political agitations during the
Impact of their work
work of the economists and the moderates eroded the people
belief in the benevolence of the British rule. The
nationalist raised that development of India would happen
only when the political power would be in the Indian
moderate leaders who till now professed loyalty to British
rule began sowing seeds of disaffection and discontent and
even sedition. This period 1875-1905 became a period for
growing national consciousness and the seed time for the
modern Indian national movement.
the end of 1905 even prominent leaders like Dadabhai
Nauroji asserted self government or Swaraj as the main
political demand. Due
to the firm foundation laid by the economic critique the
later nationalist could launch powerful mass agitations
and movements. They didn’t waver in their anti imperial
efforts due to this firm foundation.
Role of the masses in the Congress working - Moderate Phase
The moderate phase ofthe national movement had a narrow social base and
the masses played a passive role.
This was because the early nationalists
lacked political faith in the masses; they felt that there were
numerous' divisions and subdivisions in the Indian society, and the
generally ignorant and had conservative ideas and thoughts.
heterogeneous elements had first to be welded into a nation before their
entry into the political sphere. But they failed to realise that it was
only during the freedom struggle and political participation that these
diverse elements were to come together.
Because of the lack of mass
participation, the Moderates could not take militant political positions
against the authorities. The later nationalists differed from the
Moderates precisely on this point. Still, the early nationalists
represented the emerging Indian nation against colonial interests.
Q.Who of the following was/were economic critic/critics of colonialism in India?
1. Dadabhai Naoroji
2. G. Subramania Iyer
3. R. C. Dutt
Select the correct answer using the code given below. (UPSC CSAT 2015)
1 and 2 only
2 and 3 only
1, 2 and 3
Ans . D
Dadabhai Naoroji, R. C. Dutt, Ranade, Gokhale, G. Subramania Iyer, were among those who grounded Indian nationalism firmly on the foundation of anti-imperialism by fashioning the world’s first economic critique of colonialism, before Hobson and Lenin.
he drain theory was established by Dadabhai Naoroji. Increased poverty and lower wages were among the indirect products of colonial rule according to Dutt.
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