Fall of Colonial Empire in India – 1


India was a direct colony of the British and the impact of this colonial rule over the economy, society and polity of India has been quite deep. Many serious consequences of the British Colonial Rule are still persisting and this makes the study of colonial phase of India very relevant for understanding many contemporary aspects of the Indian society. It must be stated at the outset that direct colonial rule leaves total impact on the colonized society because every aspect of social life is influenced by colonial

Policies of the colonisers. A direct colony as was the case with India is under the complete control of the colonizers and colonial policies and interests penetrate every aspect of social life of a colony. Another important fact about India is that the colonial rule lasted for a very long time and this longevity of the colonial rule over India affected the vitals of the Indian society. The long period of British rule over India provided enough time to the British to establish strong and stable institutions for the governance of India. The journey of British occupation of India was slow and steady and it passed through various stages. This evolutionary processes provided the British an opportunity to evolve their policies and change their policies on the basis of experience gained through practice. But before we go into that, we should have look at the nature of Indian economy prior to British rule.

Aspects of colonial rule

Two aspects of the gradual expansion of British occupation of India deserve attention. The experiences gained by the British in one region of India were either extended or modified in other regions and this learning through practice made them quite powerful in dealing with the problems of a large colony like India. The changes in British society demanded different approach to satisfy the interests of emerging social groups in Britain. The essence of British colonial policies in India was determined by the dynamics of society which witnessed many changes in Britain. The modern British society progressed through stages like mercantile capitalism to industrial capitalism and from competitive industrial capitalism to monopoly industrial capitalism. The interests of mercantile British capitalism lay in trade with India. The interests of industrial capitalism were, on the other hand, market oriented, in which the Indian colony was to provide raw material and buy manufactured goods from Britain. Thus social and economic changes in Britain directly influenced British colonial policies in India.

Princely States

A princely state, also called native state legally, under the British or Indian state for those states on the subcontinent was a nominally sovereign monarchy under a local or regional ruler in a subsidiary alliance with a greater power. The British ruled India with two administrative systems: British Provinces and Indian “princely” states; about 60% of the territory of the Indian sub-continent was provinces and 40% were princely states. Though the history of the princely states of the subcontinent dates from at least the classical period of Indian history, the predominant usage of the term princely state specifically refers to a semi-sovereign principality on the Indian subcontinent during the British Raj that was not directly governed by the British, but rather by a local ruler under a form of indirect rule. In principle, the princely states had internal autonomy, while by treaty the British Crown had suzerainty and was responsible for the states’ external affairs. In practice, while the states were indeed ruled by potentates with a variety of titles, such as Chhatrapati, Maharaja, Raja, Raja, Deshmukh, Nawab, Baig, Khan, Nizam,Mirza or specially Jam for Jadeja Samma The princely States recognised the paramount of the British Crown. The functions of paramount were exercised through the Crown Representative, who was also the Governor General of India and whose functions relating to the relations of the British Crown with the Rulers of all princely states remained distinct. A separate machinery as well as procedure was evolved for the exercise of these functions. From 1920, the states were represented in the Chamber of Princes, which held its meetings in New Delhi. The most important states were ranked among the salute states. Before the Partition of India in 1947, multiple Rajput and non-Rajput Princely States existed in India which were not part of British India. These were the parts of the Indian subcontinent which had not been conquered or annexed by the British but were subject to subsidiary alliances.