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Modern History / British Administration

Social and Economic Impact of British Rule in India

The social and economic impact is more on India during the British rule, as India witnessed some progressive legislations in the social front and regressive policies in the economic front.

Social Impact of British Rule in India

The various legislations that were brought in by the British were

  • Sati Aboliation Act, 1829 - It was passed under Governor General William Bentinck. Raja Ram Mohan Roy's effort was responsible for passing this Act.

  • Female Infanticide Act, 1802 - It was passed under Governor General Lord Wellesley. Previous Governor Generals who tried to bring this Act were William Bentinck and Lord Hardinge I.

  • Slavery Abolition Act, 1833 - It was made by British Parliament prohibiting slavery for the entire British empire. In India, it came into effect in 1843 under Governor General Ellenborough.

  • Human Sacrifice Abolition Act, 1846 - It was passed under Governor General Hardinge I. It is still practised by Khond tribe of Odisha and the practice is called as Meriah System.

  • Caste Disabilities Removal Act, 1850 - It was passed under Governor General Lord Dalhousie.

  • Windows' Remarriage Act, 1856 - It was passed under Governor General Lord Dalhousie. Widow remarriages were made legal. Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar's effort was responsible for passing this Act.

Economic Impact of British Rule in India

  • British were following the Putting out system from 1600 to 1750. In this system, they were giving advances to cottage and small scale industries for manufacturing articles and to peasants for production of crops.

  • After 1750, industrial revolution started in Britain. The British discouraged Indian industry after industrial revolution. Deindustrialization of India was the British policy. Percentage of population who were depending on industry in 1911 was 8% and in 1921 it got reduced to 6%.

  • Before 1853, only urban industry was destroyed but after 1853, even rural industry was destroyed because of railways. The money spent on railways was huge.

    In this regard Tilak says, "Decorating neighbour’s wife with our jewelry". Industrial revolution was boon to Britain and bane to India.

  • In 1813 Charter Act, the monopoly rights of East India Company were abolished except tea and China trades. 1833 Charter Act opened tea and China trade to other companies also. So, by this Act complete monopoly of East India Company was ended.

  • With British economic policies, village self-sufficiency was got disturbed. Every village had some functionaries. Needs of the village were met in a reciprocal manner. In this regard, a US author Buchanan says, "Steel rails pierced into the Armour of self sufficiency of villages".

  • Various authors wrote books on the British plundering of India. Dadabhai Naoroji wrote "Poverty, Un-British Rule in India", "Ends and Means" and "England's Debt to India". R.C.Dutt has writtem a Book "Economic History of India".

    In this book, he says "Nadir Shah is far better than the British. Nadir Shah's plunder is open but the British plunder is unseen like leaches.

    Nadir Shah looted the houses of rich but the British robbery reached grassroots level. The British take water vapour in India and rain in England".