Chapter 5: BRITISH POLICY AND EFFECTS
was known for agriculture and handicraft. The national income,
foreign trade, industrial expansion all economic activities
depended on agriculture. British however started a policy of
ruthless revenue collection without caring for the
The principal types of
land tenure obtained by the British were:
1. Zamindari or Permanent
Bengal and Bihar, odissa and extended to a total of 19% of
India. It was introduced by Lord Cornwallis.
were recognized as owners as long as they paid revenue to
the Company. They had heritary positions. Once appointed
couldn’t be removed. The revenue was high but fixed 89% would
belong to Company and remaining to zamindars. The
administrative and judicial powers of zamindars were taken.
Ryots [tillers of soil] became the tenants. Ryots could be
zamindars extorted as many as they could and passed on a fixed
pat to the government. Many intermediaries were introduced
for revenue collection. Illegal levies were common.
now dealt with zamindars rather than Lakhs of peasants.
long term the Company faced losses as land productivity was
high but the revenue for Company was fixed.
cultivators were exploited and no agrarian reforms were
in madras, Berar, Assam, Bombay by Thomas Munroe. It was
operating in 51% of India.
peasant was recognized as the owner who had full rights over his
land as long as he paid the revenue.
had to be paid in cash. Farmers grew cash crops for this. During
famines no relief was given so he borrowed from money lenders to
pay revenue. This made him indebted.
revenue was fixed to 20-40 years.
was introduced in Punjab and North West provinces and operated
in 30% of India.
unit of revenue settlement was the village. The village lands
belonged jointly to the village community and hence the
responsibility of payment also belonged to the entire village.
were no middlemen for collection of revenue.
British policy on handicrafts:
India was a leader
in handicrafts. Its products on art and sculpture were famous.
It was also known for its textiles. The shipping of cotton,
silk, woolen products and embroidery was known. Even marbles
and cutting polishing of precious stones, ivory and sandalwood
was done. Despite enjoying fame in the world Indian
handicrafts industry started declining by 18th
century. The policies of east India Company were responsible for
British policy encouraged India to be a supplier of raw
materials to England and consumer of finished British goods.
Indian markets were flooded with cheap manufactured goods of
tariff and octroi policies were also modified to suit British
interests. A high export duty was imposed on Indian goods but a
low import duty on British goods. Also the goods from England
could only be brought by English ships.
the domination of British over Indian states the demand by
Indian royalty for luxury domestic goods like art, objects of
attire declined. Traditional royalty also were removed and this
caused a decline in patronage to Indian handicrafts.
replaced manpower in India as well and power loom made goods
were introduced replacing handloom made goods.
Language and Education Policy
British captured India in 1757 but education remained
responsibility of Indians only. Warren Hastings was a prominent
patron of oriental education. He started a madrassa in Calcutta
for Muslim traditional learning. Then John Duncan started a
Sanskrit college in Varanasi. Education was imparted only
through these traditional institutions. In India there was one
leaning center for every village.
India Company followed a dual policy by discouraging oriental
education and encouraging education of western science and
English language. In 1813, the charter act allotted Rs. 1 lakh
for education in India. But due to the debate on education for
the next 20 years not a penny was spent.
British scholars were divided into two groups, orientalists
[wanted promotion of oriental subjects in Indian languages for
education] and Anglicists
[wanted promotion of western science and literature though
had interest in learning eastern culture, values and sciences.
They learned Indian languages and the first oriental institute
was created with the support of other like minded officials Asiatic society of Bengal.
respected culture of east and west and felt study of ancient
tradition would help in future development of India. They
started translating ancient texts to help Indians rediscover
ancient heritage and glory. They wanted to become guardians of
Indian culture. By teaching Indians Persian, Sanskrit and
literature the British would get their respect. The
Orientalists favored social stability over modernization and
believed in introducing western science gradually.
conservative policy changed as it didn’t lead to expansion of
trade or perpetuation of British supremacy. Anglicist felt
oriental thinking was unscientific and full of errors. They
wanted education to teach useful and practical things and not
Lord Macaulay was an advocate of Anglicism. He rubbished eastern
knowledge and emphasized English language. He wanted Indians to
read English so that they would be familiar with the
developments in the west. This would civilize them and change
their culture and values.
and Governor General Bentinck passed the policy of western
science and education in English language in 1835.
Social policies and reforms:
British had a policy of indifference for social and religious
practices. They refrained from interference as they feared they
might lose their trade advantage over others. But later on they
indulged in criticism of it to create an inferiority complex in
and religious reforms launched in mid 19th century
had caught the attention of British authorities. The work of
Christian missionaries, impact of newspapers and western
thought and education had created an impact on minds. William
Bentinck and other governor generals and colonial authorities
took steps to bring in reforms.
abolished Sati and female infanticide by legislations
Dalhousie passed the widow remarriage act and the lex
loci Act [Allowing converts to christainity to
inherit ancestral property]
Voices were raised against child marriage and purdah system.
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