A rich history exists about various developments that have happened to India in the last 400 years. The history encompasses the influence of rainfall in influencing socio-economic lifestyle of the Indians, political system, the colonization, and decolonization of India, the partition of India and the factors that contributed to the partition, as well as the influence of World War 2 in resisting the colonial rule. The political model of Mahatma Gandhi is instrumental in defining the history of India during the colonial era as well as decolonization and partitioning of India into India and Pakistan. While history tend to credit the work of Gandhi in initiating non-violence resistance in India, some critic believe that Gandhi religious ideologies contributed to the partition of India.
India is a country rich in history and resources that has seen vast change in just the past 400 years. Lenin once referred to India as the “supply depot of humanity”(TirthankarA somewhat independent nation, India has seen great change due to foreign influence such as a period of British rule and political conflicts involving the Muslim nation. Within this paper we will expand on the periods both pre and post British Rule, and elaborate on the characteristics that set this nation apart from its neighbors.
India has a unique geographical border system consisting of mountains to the West, and the Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean to the South (Stratfor Analysis 2012). These geographical borders keep India somewhat isolated from its neighbors due to how difficult it would be to cross them. Internally, there are natural divisions defined by the Ganges, Narmada, and Brahmaputra Rivers (Stratfor Analysis 2012). The divided landscape has throughout the years, created opportunities for foreign nations to divide and conquer the nation of India (Stratfor 2012).
The amount of rain received each year has led to significant impact on the nation’s birth rate and population growth rate. The nation of India basically has two seasons. There are 9 months of dry weather and three months of monsoon season (Tirthankar 2002, 113). Typically monsoon season takes place during the months of June through September and results in a mean annual rainfall of up to 70 inches on the western coast (Tirthankar 2002, 113).
Periods lacking in such a large amount of rainfall have at times resulted in dire conditions. The Great Famine of 1876-1877 was a result of not enough rain during monsoon season and caused the death of 5 to 8 million people (Tirthankar 2002, 113). It is also believed that the high risk of famine mortality may be a factor in a higher birth rate seen shortly thereafter (Tirthankar 2002, 113). Few famines in recent history have resulted in an increase in the population growth by at least 1.2 percent (Tirthankar 2002, 113.).
It could be said the geography of India helped define the country prior to British Rule. A labor intensive agricultural way of life dominated most of the population within India. For a long length of time, Indian textiles were the most important trade item the country had to offer due to the great conditions for growing cotton (Tirthankar 2002, 112). Things shifted in the country in the mid to late 1750’s when the transition from trade to direct rule took place (Tirthankar 2002, 111). Agrarian settlements were created between the state and cultivators in hopes of generating more revenue (Tirthankar 2002, 112). Unfortunately, the regulations and rules involved were not very well understood and this led to confusion regarding tenancy rights and rights of use (Tirthankar 2002, 112).
It could be said that the increased crop production led to an expanded trade business by the early 19th century with new commodities being introduced to the market such as opium and cotton (Tirthankar 2002, 113). This led to the establishing of new port towns such as Calcutta and Bombay (Tirthankar 2002, 113). It was during this time that Britain who already had a trade relationship with the country became more involved. The British were receiving land revenue as a form of payment and wanted to be involved with the Agrarian settlements (Tirthankar 2002, 111). Between 1820 and 1860, the country saw a decline in its cotton textile industry mainly due to the growth of mills in England (Tirthankar 2002, 112). It has also believed that the consolidation of British control in the economic community caused a great economic disturbance (Tirthankar 2002, 112).
The British rule in India had begun when Britain established the East India Company. The British used India as a source of market to sell the goods they produced, a place to get very important raw resources, and used India’s men as soldiers in the war. By the end of the seventeenth century India was the primary point of trade. Britain imported goods such as cloth that was made out of cotton and was made by the Indian weavers. By importing the goods from India, Britain was able to fund the request of fabrics that were washable, lightweight, and inexpensive. India did many things for Britain such as winding raw silk together, making fabrics, and producing sugar and dyes. At the beginning of the eighteenth century India was a pronounced agricultural and industrialized nation. The goods that India produced did not just go to Britain they also went to the European and Asian markets. During the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, Britain had permanent policies for India to be passive to the manufactures of Britain. The policy also enforced the Indian people to only harvest raw goods. By India only harvesting raw goods it equipped the factories in Britain with the supplies that they needed. Indian artisans were also forced to work in the East India Company sweatshops. India’s national finances were booming, but suddenly India’s wealth decreased tremendously due to the development of the power-loom. When the power-loom was made in Europe it decreased the need for the Indian industries. Due to the invention of the power-loom, it had unindustrialized India and had left them with only farming to be their primary way to obtain money. Many people in India depended upon the land, but when the British government forced a land tax on the people of India they suffered. The land tax was over 90 percent of rental and in Northern India the tax was over 80 percent of the rental. Many years’ later Bengal and Northern India slowly received some relief from the heavy land tax. The people of India believed that the taxes that they had to pay should be used for the country not for outside sources. The East Indian Company’s trade was eliminated in 1833 and it 1858 the Company itself was removed. The Indian Debt came from when the Company’s capital needed to be paid off and was paid off with loans. However, the loans had to be paid off as well. The loans were decided to be paid off by the people of India’s money that they worked so hard for. From 1857 to 1862 the debt had risen, but forty years later in 1901 the debt had skyrocketed. With the increase in debt the country of India suffered in poverty as well. India was faced with famines, due to their damaged industries, half of the country’s revenue not even being used for the country, and the land tax on the agricultural aspect. India needed a way out of their downward spiraling economy.
India needed to gain independence from Britain because Britain was destroying India. To gain independence India formed a group called the Indian National Congress. The Congress obtained their ideas from a man name, Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi. Gandhi was a Hindu spiritual leader that believed in nonviolence. Gandhi was sent to prison on multiple occasions for his uncivil ways/breaking the rules. However Britain still had control over India, until World War 2 came about. During World War 2 Britain was so caught up in keeping their own country alive Japan overtook Britain’s colonies except India, at this point. Japan kept pushing forward until they had reached the India borderline. There Japan persuaded the Indian people to revolt against the British rule and unite with the Japanese. Though, Gandhi and the Indian people did not join with Japan, Gandhi did request that Britain take themselves out of India. Britain did not like that he had requested them to do this so Gandhi was thrown back into prison. Since Britain would not take themselves out of the India, other situations made them withdrawal from India. One reason Britain had to remove themselves was due to financial issues from World War 2. After Britain had been involved with the war for six years they did not have a great deal of money to spend on their empire. Another reason Britain had the remove themselves from India was because of an election in July of 1945. This election was trying to exchange the government of Winston Churchill, which was Conservative, with Clement Attlee’s government that was a Labour government that focused on decolonization. India was now being run by Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, one of Gandhi’s disciples. On March 14, 1946 there had been discussions with Indian representatives, which would help lead India to their independence. However, with all the discussions India realized how hard it would be to become an independent nation. Britain and India had discussions as well in 1946, which ended in conflict because the Muslim group wanted to be separate from the Congress Party states. However, Gandhi did not want this for India he wanted for India to be united as one even with the different religious convictions. On February 20, 1947 India was approved to become a fully independent nation, no later than June 1948. Although India had become an independent nation, there were still issues with the border and there was fighting between India and Britain. The border had not been drawn correctly and left many Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India, it was supposed to be Hindus in India and Muslims in Pakistan. This made about 14.2 million people move, with all the moving people began committing ferocious acts leaving about 500,000 Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims dead. Fighting between India and Britain still continued and the United Nations had to intervene and established the Line of Control. The Line of Control was established between Kashmir and India.
India in the Post Colonial Era
Historians have varied notions about the role played by different personalities, organizations, and parties in the partition of India in the postcolonial India. The historian bent to the British regime absolves the imperialist of their role in defining the partition. The colonial policy that influenced the partition process was divide at empara. Historians agree that the British government used the above policy to dissolve the ideologies of the elite that resisted their rule. By applying this rule, the colonial master would imprison or remove a critic believed to be influential in challenging the regime. Unfortunately, the partition of India during the postcolonial era elicited massacres and displacement of masses.
Critics argue that the historian bent the British regime tends to blame the objective-subjective socio-cultural milieu and the nature of the contemporary leadership for partition. Such blames are culminated into dragging Gandhi into the massacre and displacement of masses that was evident during the partition process. Some of the factors that contributed to the partition of India and the colonialist left were socio-cultural ideological issues- the religious inclination of the Indian people created a drift the India. One faction was practicing Hinduism religion whereas the other was practicing Islam. The power hungry elite capitalized on the socio-cultural differences in promoting the partition of India. Moreover, the British policy influenceed the manner in which the society reacted in pushing for the separation of the Islamic faction and the Hinduism faction. Secondly, Gandhi opposition politics widened the gap between the Hindus and Muslim. Gandhi was known for his opposition politics as well as his ideologies of non-violence against the colonial regime. His ideologies did not promote imperialism an aspect that was critical in building his popularity among the Indians. However, the power angry elite especially the Muslim Indian capitalized on the Gandhi’s rejection of the colonial regime and its ideologies to push for the partition of India.
Thirdly, the ideological differences between the Hindus and the Muslim led to political conflict. The conflict was between the Muslim elites and the Hindus elite led by Mahatma Gandhi. Although Gandhi was a popular leader known for his resistance against the colonial regime, power angry elite attempted to portray him as a Hindus leader as opposed to mass leader. In 1947, the differences between faction allied to Gandhi and that allied to the Muslim movement became sour eliciting massacre, displacement of masses and ultimate partition of India into two states, the present day India and Pakistan. The movement of the people during the partition largely demonstrates the influence of colonialist ideologies. The population thronged the urban centers created during the colonial regime. The settlement pattern were inherent of the past, configuring the past into the present regime. Additionally, the cultural affiliation of the faction allied to the Muslim and that allied to Hinduism seems to be evident to date.
In conclusion, India in the hands the colonial master encompasses the present day India and Pakistan. The elites in India led by Mahatma Gandhi resisted the British through the philosophy of nonviolence. The resistance earned the mass leader several years in Prison, but he did not remit his steps. Elsewhere, the World War 2 played a critical role in forcing the vexed colonialist to surrender their hold on India as its colony. After the independence of India, socio-political differences influenced the partitioning of India into two resulting in Muslim nation and Hindus nation.
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