Vasco da Gama disembarked at Calicut, western coast of India in 1498 and his successful expedition stimulated several other European powers to rush towards India, in quest of money, trade of Indian spices, power and religious conversions. European had heard a lot about natural resources as well as richness of India and economic competition among Europeans compelled them to explore new destinations. This paper intends to discuss arrival and interest of Europeans in India and further examines how Europeans influenced different aspects of India.
Equipped with powerful superior canons and modern devices, Europeans challenged supremacy of other voyagers like Arabs in Indian Ocean. Europeans, very soon, dominated the region and in the year 1510, Portuguese succeeded in making Goa as their center of commerce and trade in India. Goa was also a centre of power and politics for them and remained in their possession and influence for almost five centuries.
Economic competition and opportunities in India inspired the European powers to start trade aggressively and they formed companies for this purpose. East India Company was founded in England in 1600 and several other companies were formed to trade with India. The main objective of all these companies was to make money from trade of Indian spices. These companies used to supply Indian spices in their own country as well as in other parts of the world as they were in huge demands. Europeans succeeded in opening their trade centers at different places in India, mainly in south and west parts of India.
Portuguese were though the starters but several other Europeans also made fast moves and indulged in the race of money making. The Dutch also opened their trade centre in Pulicat and other places adjacent to Madras. Gradually England emerged as most powerful and captured at a larger part of trade. English established their first company in Madras in 1639 and very soon they started expanding in other places.
French came late and established their trading comanyin1664. They made their stronghold in Pondicherry where they remained for long period. All these European powers lodged their strong presence in the region and very soon dominated the region. These were major powers but Danish and Austrians also tried to gain benefits from trade of Indian spices and other goods though these powers could not lodge their presence like other dominating Europeans.
Trade was the main objective of Europeans and money was the main reason why they rushed to India but there were also other reasons. Apart from trade, Europeans intended to convert Indians into Christianity. Several Christian missions came into India from these European countries with religious motives and intention to convert Indians into Christians. These Christian missionaries started religious conversions at a larger scale. These conversions were supported by the governments of these European countries.
Initially Indians supported and welcomed Europeans. They were given all the privileges and assistance by people as well as Indian rulers. Europeans were very smart and shrewd businessmen who foresaw more scope in this nation. They became familiar with local customs and language of India. English were ahead of all other European traders, they started living like Indians and they willfully intermarried. A large number of Englishmen never returned to England. English used these tricks and because of these reasons, they gained the edge over other Europeans and remained in India for centuries.
English, French and Portuguese were major powers that remained in India for centuries and affected almost every aspects of India. English ruled India for more than two centuries while French and Portuguese remained in two different and small places. English influenced India the most and every aspect. English affected society, politics, law and order, art and architecture, infrastructure, and every other aspects of India. India remained in their subjugation and their effect is clearly visible on India.
French and Portuguese affected the Pondicherry and Goa respectively where they remained even after they were ousted from other parts of the India. India was dominated by British and French, Portuguese, Danish, and Austrians were either confined to small places or were driven out of India by British. India is influenced by all of them but English influenced India most and the effect is still visible. Europeans were influenced by Indian culture, food habits, philosophy and art.
Having observed the succinct view of the above mentioned subject, it can be concluded that European powers came into India and influenced the nation in a substantial way. This influence was a two way process and European powers were influenced by India as they influenced India in different ways. Their primary objective was to earn money from trade of Indian spices and other goods. Europeans also wanted to convert Indians into their own religion and did all tantrums to achieve their purposes. European entered into India as traders and took advantage of disarray of Indians and ruled them for centuries.
Meyer, Milton Walter. Asia: A Concise History. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield., 1997.