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Cultural Interaction and Colonialism in India Essay

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Updated: Apr 11th, 2022

The British people entered India in 1600s after the Portuguese and French. The then lucrative trade in ornamental goods was the driving force behind British interest in India. The British entered India and established trading posts in major towns such as Madras, Bombay, and Calcutta.

The interaction between the British and Indians was stable and the Mughal dynasty of India kept the British traders under control. However, with time the empire started collapsing. Small states under the Mughal dynasty, led by maharajahs started fragmenting.

This was because of the unrest between the Hindus and Muslims in India. This fragmentation left the dynasty weak and vulnerable. Consequently, the Indian emperor surrendered his dominions to the English east India Company. The British took advantage of this and gradually started controlling Indian territories. Eventually, the British took India as her colony up to 1947 when India gained independence (Patrick, 2009).

The British contributed to the economy of India positively by building roads and railways, stabilizing the land tax rate and expanding trade in India. This worked well with the Indians as it favored their economy. However, the British started restricting Indians to industries such as cotton and textile industries straining their relationship with India. Further, the British developed a racist attitude that resulted to imperialism.

Imperialism is the act of extending control over foreign entities by creating and maintaining unequal economic, social, cultural, and territorial relationships through domination and subordination.

Imperialism acquisition is through direct territorial conquest or indirect methods of exerting control on politics or economy of other countries. Imperialism in India was a result of direct conquest of the Indian territories by the English east India Company owned by the British (Santhanam, 1972).

That new culture of imperialism went on for long with the British oppressing Indians further each day. As the British accumulated more wealth, they became increasingly interested in gaining added control and power over Indian territories. They created social classes that differentiated them from the Indians. The British occupied the first class while Indians occupied the lower classes.

The British allowed the upper Indian caste to assimilate and mingle with them. In addition, the upper and second-class Indians had privileges and got chances to go to school to fill up job positions and take up leadership. However, The Indians not allowed to occupy top government positions or own companies.

The British took imperialism to the next level and coupled it with colonialism, completely subduing Indians. They enslaved Indians and made grow cash crops. The British exported the raw materials to Europe and the brought back finished products to India where they sold them at high prices.

This increased profits for the British and motivated them to expand their territory. The profits also gave the British a stronghold on Asia and increased their power such that they could launch attacks on china. This prompted the British to hire more soldiers and Indians were not willing. This strained the relationship between the Indians and the British further.

The exploitation by the British infuriated a section of Indians who were working in the military. The soldiers started a rebellion because the British disregarded their traditions.

For instance, the soldiers were to staff bullet shells coated with beef or pork fat in their mouths. This was offensive to the Indian and Muslim religion respectively. These soldiers referred to as Sepoy started rebelling against the British and influenced the other Indians to rebel.

The Indians then engaged in war with the British and compelled the British to give them their independence. The Indians gained their independence in 1947. However, despite the fact that they gained independence over fifty years ago imperialism have taken root in India.


Patrick, B. (2009). Awakening: An Introduction to the History of Eastern Thought (4th ed.). New York: Pearson.

Santhanam, K. (1972). British Imperialism and Indian Nationalism. Bombay: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

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