Part I: European Arrival & Imperialism How did India become a British colony?
1498 – European arrival (Portugal) Vasco da Gama of Portugal
1600 – British East India Company Tea Silk Cotton
1700s – Mughal decline + British ascendancy over French Seven Years’ War: British defeat French
East India Company rule • became like a foreign gov’t. • took more land • forced Indian rulers to sign treaties granting it power • collected taxes from Indians • est. law code & courts Robert Clive (1725-1774)
Part II:British Rule Was British rule good or bad for India?
Information on Sources 1-2 There was a devastating famine in India, 1876-1878. Lord Lytton, viceroy of India, opposed any efforts to intervene in the famine as violating the principles of laissez faire economics. In The Wealth of Nations (1776), Adam Smith had written that “famine has never arisen from any other cause but the violence of government attempting, by improper means, to remedy the inconvenience of death.” Lytton opposed government charity because it would diminish the work ethic of those receiving it. The only charity he allowed was given out in small amounts and included difficult requirements for those receiving it. Lytton appointed Sir Richard Temple a Famine Delegate to control government expenditures. He set up a government program where those in need could get work as manual labor for railroad and canal projects. However, the workers had to travel far away from their homes and live in camps in order to do this work. They were given food, but the prescribed ration was 1627 calories per day. By comparison, the ration provided to prisoners at Buchenwald, a Holocaust concentration camp, was 1750 calories. There were calls for a Famine Fund to counteract future famines. However, Lytton opposed financing it with an income tax, which would affect the rich, and instead supported a land tax on the peasantry. This was rejected, so Lytton pushed taxes on small traders and on salt. In the end, the Famine Fund wasn’t even spend on famine relief, but rather was used to reduce the tariff on cotton goods imported into India and on the war in Afghanistan. In 1876, at the beginning of the famine, the proclamation of Queen Victoria as Empress of India was celebrated with a weak-long feast for 68,000 officials. Meanwhile, a British journalist estimated that 100,000 people died during the course of the festivities. The death toll of the famine is hard to calculate. One British demographer provides a figure of 7.1 million deaths. - Adapted from Mr. Carroll’s synopsis of Late Victorian Holocausts (2001) by Mike Davis
Source 5: “Inoculation against Plague, Bombay,” postcard, early 20th c.
Source 6: 1815 print showing Hindu religious custom of sati British officer: “This Custom tho' shocking to humanity we still allow in consequence of the revenue it brings in, which is of importance. I have also private reasons for not suppressing the burning system immediately.”British bishop: “Why my Lord, with a view to [O]economy under existing circumstances it might be imprudent to press the measure at present. Besides I think I feel also the private motives which actuates your Lordship.”
Source 7: Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, 1898-1905 “There has never been anything so great in the world’s history as the British empire, so great an instrument for the good of humanity.” - Lord Curzon, British Viceroy of India, 1898-1905
Source 8.1: Trade that the British East India Co. was involved in, 1814-1835
Source 8.2: Trade that the British East India Co. was involved in, 1814-1835