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Chapter 11 Section 4
As the Mughal Empire declined, Britain seized Indian territory and soon controlled almost the whole subcontinent. India, the second most populated nation in the world, adopted some of its modern political institutions from the British.
British economic interest began in India in the 1600 s, when the British East India Company set up trading posts. At first, India’s ruling Mughal Dynasty kept European traders under control. By 1707, the Mughal Empire was collapsing. Small states broke away from Mughal control. East India Company became the leading power in India.
The area controlled by the East India Company grew over time. It eventually governed modern Bangladesh, most of southern India and nearly all the territory along the Ganges River in the north.
The British government regulated the East India Company’s efforts both in London and in India. Before the 19 th century, the EIC ruled India with little interference from the British government. EIC even had its own army. Staffed by Indian soldiers Sepoys.
Britain’s economy was booming due to the Industrial Revolution. India was a great source of raw materials. Its 300 million people were a large potential market for British-made goods. British considered India the brightest “jewel in the crown” - the most valuable of the British colonies.
The British set up policies that forced India to give Britain raw materials and buy British goods. Competition was prohibited. Indian’s textile industry was almost put of business.
After the railroad network was established in India, it became even more important to Britain. India could now transport raw materials from the interior to the ports.
India both benefited and was harmed by British colonialism. Negative – British had too much political and economic power. Emphasis on cash crops resulted in loss of self-sufficiency for many villagers. Reduced food production and caused famine. Positive – India now had the 3 rd largest railroad network. Led to the development of a modern economy and unity among the regions.
By 1850, British controlled most of Indians were discontent. They believed that the British were also trying to convert them to Christianity. They also resented the constant racism that the British expressed toward them.
As the economic problems increased for Indians, so did their feelings of resentment and nationalism. Rumors spread among the sepoys that their gun cartridges were greased with beef and pork. To use the cartridge the soldiers had to bite off the ends. Hindus do not eat cows. Muslims do not eat pork. They were outraged.
Eighty five out of ninety sepoys refused to accept the cartridges. British jailed the soldiers who disobeyed. Next day, the sepoys rebelled. Known as the Sepoy Mutiny. Spread over northern India. Fighting was intense. Took over a year for the British to regain control.
Indians could not unite due to weak leadership and splits between the Muslims and Hindus did not want the Muslim Mughal Empire restored. Many Hindus preferred British rule to Muslim rule.
As a result of the mutiny, the British took direct control of India. The term Raj referred to British rule after India came under the British crown during the reign of Queen Victoria.
In the early 1800 s, some Indians began demanding more modernization and a greater role in governing themselves. Traditional Indian practices – arranged child marriages and rigid caste system. Many felt Indians needed to change their traditional practices.
Indians hated being second-class citizens in their own country. They were paid less for the same jobs that Europeans performed in their country. Ex. European engineers made 20 times the amount of Indian engineers.
Growing nationalism led to the founding of two groups: Indian National Congress (1885) and the Muslim League (1906). By the early 1900 s they were calling for self-government. British divided Bengal into two sections: Muslim and Hindu. Harder for them to unite. This infuriated the Indians. British recalled the order and divided Bengal differently.