Structural Change

Structural Change


How has colonialism affected our lives? You can either focus on one aspact like culture or politics or treat them together.


Impact of colonialism of our life: Before August 1947, India was a colony of Britain. British colonialism had greatly influence the lives of the Indian culturally as well as politically.

(a) Some cultural impact in field of ideas and philosophy:

(i) Many modern ideas and institutions reached India through colonialism. Due to colonialism the Indians experience exposure to modern ideas which was contradictory or paradoxical.

Example: Indians in the colonial period read about western liberalism and freedom. Yet they lived under a western, colonial rule that denied Indians liberty and freedom. It is contradictions of this kind that shaped many of the structural and cultural changes.

(b) Some social Impacts: Our social organisation, social reform, our industry, our agriculture, our cities, towns and villages were affected due to colonialism. For example: Diet and food manners of the Indians were affected due to British rule. We have ‘bread-omelette’ and ‘cutlets’ as menu offered in many roadside eateries and canteens A very popular manufacturer of biscuits, is actually named after Britain. Many school uniforms include neck-ties.

(c) Some Political Impacts: Politically India was affected greatly due to colonialism-India had all types of adverse political effects nearly for 190 (1754-1947). However, these were some good political experience gained by the Indian during period of colonialism.

For example: Indians in the colonial period read about western liberalism and freedom. Our nationalist movement, our several acts and laws, our political system and our constitution had been shaped by our paradoxical experience with colonialism. We have a parliamentary and a legal system, a police and educational system built very much on the British Model. We drive on the left side of the road like the British.

(d) Introduction Impact of English (language): English language and western literature and thought is a very powerful proof of colonial rule over India. We can give an example of English language to show how its impact has been many sided and paradoxical in India. This is not a matter about wrong spellings alone.

(e) English is not only widely used in India but we now have an impressive body of literary writings by Indians in English. This knowledge of English has given Indians an edge in the global market. But English continues to be a mark of privilege.

(f) Not knowing English is a disadvantage that tells in the job market. At the same time for those who were traditionally deprived of access to formal education such as the dalits, knowledge of English may open doors of opportunities that were formerly closed.

Colonialism brought into new political, economic and social structural changes in India, introduction of capitalism and its impact on different regions were felt. 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.

(g) It meddled with the manufacturing sector. It altered the way production and distribution of goods took place. It entered into the forests. It cleared trees and started tea plantations. It brought in Forest Acts that changed the lives of pastoralists. They were prevented from entering many forests that had earlier provided valuable forage for their cattle.

(h) Impact on movement of the people: Colonialism also led to considerable movement of people. It led to movement of people from one part to another within India. For instance, people from present day Jharkhand moved to Assam to work on the tea-plantations.

(i) A newly emerging middle class particularly from the British Presidency regions of Bengal and Madras moved as government employees and professionals like doctors and lawyers moved to different parts of the country. People were carted in ships from India to work on other colonised lands in distant Asia, Africa and Americas. Many died on their way. Most could never return. Today many of their descendents are known as people of Indian origin.

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M. Imp.

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