Write a note on Stages of colonialism in India.
Colonialism is not a continuous phenomenon but it can be divided into three stages on the basis of the distinct form of exploitation and the different pattern of subordination of colonial economy, society and policy. However, these different stages occupy different periods in different countries, but the content of each stage remains same.
The stages of colonialism in India are:
During the first stage company has on objective of acquiring a monopoly over Indian trade. So that, neither Indian nor any other foreign company can compete with them, and they can buy Indian product at the cheapest rate and sell them in the world at the highest price. While the other objective at this stage was to take over the governmental revenues through control over state power.
Financial resources had to be raised in India in order to conquer different Indian provinces, to wage war against European rivals, to maintain naval force etc. And they needed Indian money to purchase the Indian goods because British goods could not compete with Indian products and export of gold and silver was barred to India.
So, this first stage is known as the period of “Monopoly of Trade and Direct Appropriation,” and both these objectives fulfilled with the conquest of India and company used its political power to acquire monopoly over Indian trade and handicraft product. At this stage Indian traders were gradually replaced and ruined. However, this period did not witnessed any kind of changes into the colonial administration, judicial system, methods of agriculture and industrial production, transportation and communication,forms of business or in educations or in intellectual field, culture or social organisation.
So, the colonialism of this stage could be superimposed over its existing economic, cultural, social and political structure. This period witnessed large scale drain of wealth from India which constituted 2 to 3 percent of Britain’s national income at that time.
This period witnessed the exploitation through trade, it also termed as colonialism of free trade. Immediately after gaining political dominancy over India, an intense struggle broke out in Britain.The newly developing industrial capitalists began to attack the East India Company and they wanted India to serve as a market for their ever-increasing manufactured goods and demanded raw materials, especially cottons and food grain from India, but India could not buy British goods due to the lack of foreign. exchange.
So, for fulfilling the demands of British Industrial capitalist, India must become a subordinate trading partner of Britain, as a market to be exploited and as a dependent colony to produce and supply the raw materials and food stuffs which Britain needed.
During this phase British Indian government find a new tool of exploitation, that is, “Free Trade”. All import duties in India were either totally removed or drastically reduced to nominal rates. British manufacturers had full fledged right to develop tea, coffee and indigo plantation, trade, transport mining and modern industries in India.
This theory of free trade which led the large scale import and export of bulky raw material required a cheap and easy system of transport and communications. So, the government introduced the steamships on the rivers, improved the rivers, canals and the roads. Above all, it encouraged and financed a large network of railways linking India’s major cities and markets to its ports. Similarly a modern postal and telegraph system was introduced to facilitate economic transaction.
Administrative field also witnessed many changes. Administration was made more elaborate and comprehensive so that British goods could reach, and agricultural product drawn from, its interior villages. Modern education was also introduced with the objective of generating the loyal middle class for expanded administration.
However, the earlier forms of surplus extraction continued during this phase, but this costly administration and effort of economic transformation led to a rise in taxation and burden upon the peasant. During this stage, India played a crucial role in the development of British capitalism. Approximately, 10 to 12 percent of British export goods absorbed in India.
During this third stage, which is known as the “Era of Foreign Investment and International Competition for colonies,” In the world economy several major changes were taking place. Spread of Industrialization leds to emergence of several countries of Europe,The United State and Japan as a strong competitor of Britain’s industrial supremacy.
The new industries of Industrialized countries required immense quantities of raw materials, increasing urban population needed more food. This. led the intense struggle for new, secure and exclusive markets and sources of raw material and food stuffs.
Moreover, accumulation of capital through the development of trade and industry at home and increasing exploitation of colonies and semi-colonies by capitalist countries led to the concentration of capital into a fewer hand, this began a search and competition among developed capitalist countries for areas where they could invest their surplus capital. This whole process began the division and division of the world. So, these rival capitalistic countries constantly challenged and weakened to Britain’s position in the world.
The reactionary imperialist policies now replaced as liberal imperialist policies for the purpose of consolidating their control over India. Because India not only providing surplus to Britain but also provided the army which could be used to fight Britain’s rival in this struggle. So, during 1904, 52 per cent of Indian revenues was absorbed in the standing army.
This stage witnessed a major changes in the ideology of colonism. Now, the administration became more bureaucratically tight, efficient and extensive than earlier, but this change in ideology leds the declaration that Indian people are immature, as a child, which needed British control or trusteeship. The effort at the transformation of India ended with nothing or meager results may be because of financial constraint and also due to rise of national movements. Now, the British administrator assumed a neutral stand on social and cultural questions.