Structural Change

Structural Change

Question

Discuss differences between colonial and capitalist time rule of the British in India with the pre-British and pre-capitalist time rule in about 200-300 words.

Answer

(i) Introduction: India’s past has been marked by the entry of numerous groups of people at different times who have established their rule over different parts of what constitutes modern India today.

(ii) Differences:

(a) The impact of colonial rule is distinguished from all other earlier rules because the changes it brought in were far-reaching and deep. History is full of examples of the annexation of foreign territory and the domination of weaker by stronger powers. Nevertheless, there is a vital difference between the empire building of pre-capitalist times and that of capitalist times.

(b) Apart from outright pillage, the precapitalist conquerors benefited from their domination by exacting a continuous flow of tribute. On the whole they did not interfere with the economic base. They simply took the tribute that was skimmed off the economic surplus that was produced traditionally in the subjugated areas. (Alavi and Shanin, 1982).

(c) In contrast British colonialism which was based on a capitalist system directly interfered to ensure greatest profit and benefit to British capitalism. Every policy was geared towards the strengthening and expansion of British capitalism. For instance, it changed the very laws of the land. It changed not just land ownership laws but decided even what crops ought to be grown and what ought not to be. It meddled with the manufacturing sector.

(d) It altered the way production and distribution of goods took place.

(e) It entered into the forests. It cleared trees and started tea-plantations. It brought into the Forest Acts that changed the lives of pastoralists. They were prevented from entering many forests that had earlier provided valuable forage for their cattle.

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