British Imperialism in India Historical Role Play Scenarios
Background Information • The Mughal Empire (Muslim) in India is declining and there is a lot of fighting between the Muslims and Hindus living in India. • The collapse of the Mughal Empire occurred at the same time as the British and French are attempting to establish control over India (Pakistan & Bangladesh). Britain and France get into a war (Seven Years War - 1763) in which the French and pushed out of India and the British take control.
Background Information • The British created the British East India Company and they ruled India through economic imperialism. • In 1813 the British government took away some of the British East India Company’s power, but they still remained a large part of controlling life in India.
Economic Impacts on India (1) • In order for the British East India company to ensure they were profitable they made it illegal for India to produce any finished goods (ex: clothing).
Economic Impacts on India (1) • India was only allowed to produce raw materials that could be used by the British. • India’s only option was to purchase finished products from the British.
Economic Impacts on India (2) • The British also greatly restricted India’s ability to farm for food.
Economic Impacts on India (2) • India was forced to produce cash crops for the British to trade such as: tea, indigo (a dye), coffee, cotton, and opium. • This policy caused issues with famine in much of India.
Your Role In this activity you are one of the following: • A British citizen who works for the British East India Company • A Muslim Sepoy – a Muslim Indian who is a soldier for the British East India Company • A Hindu Sepoy – a Hindu Indian who is a soldier for the British East India Company A sepoy is a soldier for the British East India Company. They are native Indians who are recruited into serving the British East India Company. Being a sepoy provided a decent income when the British eliminated many of India’s industries and jobs.
Scenario 1 - 1856 A group of Christian missionaries arrive. They want to set up schools in order to preach their religion to the Indian people. The Christian missionaries believe that the Indian social caste systems are wrong, and that both Islam (the religion of Muslims) and Hinduism are evil religions.
What will you do? If you are British, will you allow them to set up schools and preach to the sepoys? If you are a sepoy how will you react? Consider, the conflicts and options this may present to you.
What Actually Happened? • Many Christian missionaries came to India to spread their religion. • The members of the British East India Company were not concerned with the social or religious customs of India. • Both Hindus and Muslims were frequently offended by missionaries racist and negative attitudes towards their beliefs and rarely converted or listened to them.
Scenario 2 – May 9, 1857 Rumor has spread that the cartridges for the sepoys rifle are sealed with beef and pork fat. In order to use the cartridges you must bite off the seal.
What will you do? If you are a Muslim you do not eat pork, if you are a Hindu you do not eat beef. How will you handle this rumor? If you are British, how will you quell this rumor?
What Actually Happened? The sepoys were furious and many refused to bite off the cartridges and do their jobs even. The British arrested any sepoys who refused to bite off the cartridges.
Scenario 3 – May 10, 1857 Rumors of what happened to the sepoys who refused to bite off the cartridges spread around India rapidly. Sepoys all over India are rebelling and marching to the capital in Delhi to protest the British rule. It looks as if a war could break out between the British and the sepoy.
What will you do? • Can this conflict be prevented? How would a potential war impact your life?
What Actually Happened? • The rebellion began in Delhi, but quickly spread throughout India. • This outbreak became known as the Sepoy Mutiny, when the sepoys rebelled against the British East India Company. • The British government sent in additional troops to assist the company in fighting the sepoys.
Scenario 4 – Summer 1857 Additional British troops have arrived to assist the East India Company. The sepoys continue to fight, but there are arguments between the Hindus and Muslims. If the British are pushed out of India who will take charge? The Muslim Mughal Empire that was disliked by the Hindus? If the Hindus and Muslims are not able to unite they will likely be defeated by the British. If the British can win one of these groups over to their side they could likely end the rebellion. What should you do? What do you think your group should do? Why?
What Actually Happened? • The Hindus and the Muslims were not able to come to an agreement and unite to fight against the British. • The Sikhs, a religious group that is native to India and practices a peaceful religion, disliked the Mughal Empire and remained loyal to the British. • With the Hindus and Muslims split and the Sikhs siding with the British they were able to put down the mutiny and regain control.
Scenario 5 - 1858 Although the British East India company was able to get the mutiny under control the British government is unhappy with them. As a result the British government takes control over India. Indian’s refer to the period the British controlled them as the Raj. Local Indian princes still remain in control, but the British are really pulling all the strings. The British in India take on very harsh attitudes towards Muslims and Hindus as a result of the rebellion. Some people believe that Muslims and Hindus need to unite and modify their beliefs and practices, while others believe this may just cause the British to take firmer control over India. What will you do? What should your group do?
What Actually Happened? • Ram Mohun Roy a native born well educated Indian man began a campaign advocating that India move themselves away from some of their traditional practices an ideas (such as the caste system) and begin to modernize. • This began the first nationalist movement in India to make changes to the Raj and for Indian people to regain pride in their country.
Scenario 6 - 1885 Ram Mohun Roy’s ideas and teachings have spread throughout India. People are tired of being treated as second class citizens under the Raj. Indians are not allowed to hold high up government positions and are constantly discriminated against by the British. For example a British engineer makes 20x as much as an Indian engineer with the same job and level of education. Many people are calling for some kind of organization to be created to resist British imperialism. What should you do? Who should be allowed to be in this organization and how should it work?
What Actually Happened? • In 1885 the Indian National Congresswas created to address some of these issues. • In 1906 a separate group for Muslims was created called the Muslim League. • Both groups wanted to be independent of British rule, but there was still conflict between the Muslims and the Hindus.
1905 - 1911 Despite these new organizations forming the British still held control over India. In 1905 they decided the region of Bengal was too large to rule over as one so they divided it into a Hindu and Muslim region to rule over separately. Both Hindus and Muslims are angry about this partition. What should you do? How can this issue be resolved, or how should it be resolved?
What Actually Happened? • Due to the anger and the terrorist attacks that began to occur in the region the British reunited the Bengal province. • This issue helped Hindus and Muslims to unite in their anger and outrage against British rule.
1918 - 1919 Many Indian people served alongside the British in World War I. After World War I ,the Indians believed the British would give them more independence. The British made no changes and instead restricted Indian rights even more. When Indian groups began to protest, they were open fired upon by British troops killed 400 people.
1920 Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi an educated Indian man promoted unity and peace between all religions in India and using non-violent protest (civil disobedience) to resist British rule. Gandhi encouraged Indians to rebel against the British by refusing to buy their products, attend British schools, or pay British taxes.
1930 In 1930, Gandhi organized a demonstration to defy the Salt Acts, which said Indians could only buy salt from the government and had to pay high taxes. To protest Indians marched to the sea and began making their own salt. The British came and beat and attacked people. This was witnessed by American journalists and won support for India’s independence movement.
1935-1947 In 1935, the British passed the Government of India Act, which allowed India to form their own government at the local level and for limited democratic elections. After WWII, the stage was set to for India’s independence. The British were ready to “give up” India. However, there were a lot of tensions between the Muslims and Hindus over the type of government they would have. They were unable to come to an agreement & this leads to the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan & Bangladesh.
Modern Day Problems & Tensions • Issues with India and Pakistan still exist today over the disputed borders in a region called Kashmir. • India still struggles with issues overcoming the caste system and systems the British put into place during their imperialism. • Since becoming independent, India’s economy has been rapidly growing. It is predicted that within our lifetimes India’s economy will become bigger and stronger than America’s.