Structural Change

Structural Change


What consequences of colonialism pointed out upon India by the sociologists? Discuss in about 250-300


(i) Writing of Sociology in India:

Sociological writings in India have often discussed both the contradictory and unintended consequences of colonialism. Comparisons have been made between the industrialisation in the west and the growth of a western middle class with that of the Indian experience.

(ii) Role of Company and British Government: The substitutes offered by the East India Company and subsequently by the British government were land ownership and facilities for education in English. The facts that the first remained unconnected with agricultural productivity and the second with the mainstream of indian cultural traditions amply show that the alternatives were not sufficient in the sense that they could not create any genuine middle class. We know only too well that the zamindars become parasites in land and the graduates job hunters.

(iii) Role of the cities: Cities had a key role in the economic system of empires. Coastal cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai were favoured. From here primary commodities could be easily exported and manufactured goods could be cheaply imported.

(iv) Position of cities during colonial Rule: Colonial cities were the prime link between the economic centre or core in Britain and periphery or margins in colonised India. Cities in this sense were the concrete expression of global capitalism.

In British India for example, Bombay was planned and re-developed so that by 1900 over three-quarters of India’s raw cotton were shipped through the city. Calcutta exported jute to Dundee while Madras sent coffee, sugar, Indigo dyes and cotton to Britain.

(v) Decline of old cities: Urbanisation in the colonial period saw the decline of some earlier urban centres and the emergence of new colonial cities. Kolkata was one of the first of such cities.

(vi) Birth of Calcutta: In 1690, an English merchant named Job Charnock arranged to lease three villages (named Kolikata, Gobindapur, and Sutanuti) by the river Hugli in order to set up a trading post. In 1698, Fort William was established by the river for defensive purposes, and a large open area was cleared around the fort for military engagements. The fort and the open area (called Maidan) formed the core of the city that emerged rather rapidly.

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