Impact of British Colonialisation on Indian Culture Essay

Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony, and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by colonizers from the metropole. Colonialism is a set of unequal relationships between the metropole and the colony and between the colonists and the indigenous population. The colonial period normally refers to the late 15th to the 20th century, when European states established colonies on other continents.

During this time, the justifications for colonialism included various factors such as Christian missionary work, the profits to be made, the expansion of the power of the metropole and various religious and political beliefs.

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Britain discovered the Indian sub-continent when it was looking to expand its vast empire. The East India Company was formed and came to recognize that India was a hub of trade and home to many natural resources.

This situation made India an attractive colony to Britain as it seemed unquestionable that Britain would benefit from the situation. Britain did benefit from the situation; however, notwithstanding the obvious injustices associated with colonization, India also experienced positive impacts that continued even once India gained independence from Britain in 1947. It is important to note that although India gained independence all ties with the British nation were not cut. Britishers earmarked that no person in India was beggar. The country is of high wealth, high moral values, and people of caliber and thought to break the backbone of the nation i.e. cultural and spiritual heritage and therefore they proposed to replace old and ancient education system, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self esteem, their native culture and they will become what britishers want them, a truly dominated nation.


The impacts of colonization are immense and pervasive. Various effects, both immediate and protracted, include the spread of virulent diseases, the establishment of unequal social relations, exploitation, enslavement, medical advances, the creation of new institutions, and technological progress. Colonial practices also spur the spread of languages, literature and cultural institutions. The native cultures of the colonized peoples can also have a powerful influence on the imperial country. Impact of British rule in India had been widespread throughout the country and affected the cultural, technological, religious, social, political and economic state of India. India had persistently tolerated the British rule for 200 prolonged years, with their everlasting impression been forever etched upon the succeeding Indian citizens. Impact of British rule in India, in this context, is one that had perhaps emerged forth right from the 16th century, when British missionaries had sailed to eastern soil to spread Christianity, much before the British East India Company. The negative impact of British rule in India was mostly visible in the economic aspect which occurred as a result of de-industrialization and destruction of rural economy.

Initial Impact of British Rule in India

British invasion on India was not the first of its kind; India has prior to British arrival, been host to pellets of ruthless foreign invasions. The British, in this regard, were the last to arrive in India. However, when it came to the power game, it undoubtedly was the British and the British East India Company, who completely captured Indian power and people. They covertly and efficiently expanded their empire with the competent aid of Indian soldiers. Indians had joined the East India Company army solely for the reason that they received salary on the first day of every month, very much unlike the Indian emperors and their system of reign. As such, impact of British rule in India already had begun to do its work, with the very first Christian missionaries arriving to India, with the intention to turn a majority of population into Christians. They tried to cast Christianity in the light of a better religion and with economic inducements convinced the poor Indians into Christianity.


1. Modernization and industrialization

During British occupation, India was modernized and industrialized. British industrialists invested huge amounts of capital in the region. The British East India Company built the world’s third-largest railroad network, which connected regions and enabled the country to develop a modern economy. Western culture also improved Indian culture with the development of a road network, telephone and telegraph lines, many dams and bridges and irrigation canals. During British occupation, these developed systems of transportation and communication benefited the British, rather than Indians. But they were put in place for Indian culture to take advantage of when the country finally achieved its independence.

2. Education

Indian culture benefited from Western culture in the area of education. During British occupation, many schools and colleges were built throughout India. Literacy increased and, for the first time, the poorest classes of society had access to knowledge.

3. Employment

The presence of Western traders in India increased the demand for goods and services in India. As a result of the British living in India, Indian artisans, weavers and craftsmen were steadily employed. Although they were deprived of the full profits of their labors, these artisans and craftsman grew in numbers, and the Indian labor force became more skilled and handy. By the time the British left the subcontinent, a greater percentage of Indians had acquired skills to make a living.

4. Establishment of churches gave importance to port cities The very foremost impact of British rule on India was the religious impact, as was established by the missionaries and their establishment of churches in every possible corner of the country. In this regard, the port cities like Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai gained enough importance, due to their accessibility for navigational purposes. They were later turned into the 3 cardinal presidency towns. The keen attempt of British Christians to turn several bunches of Indians into a complete unfamiliar religion was successful, though only in parts. Some had gladly accepted it, in fear of inviting the rage of the company, while others had turned hostile, in turn giving rise to collisions and difference of opinion.

5. Socio-Cultural Impact of British Rule in India

The socio-cultural impact of British rule upon India was also another intense impression that had lasted throughout their rule, never for once losing their significant status. From every field of living, be it in education, art, architecture, painting, literature, poetry, drama, novels or even Indian religion and philosophy, the whole Indian set-up had suffered a gradual change. The conventional and simple society, prevalent in India, respected and dreaded the British rulers. British aristocrats travelled throughout India in separate “Europeans Only” First-Class Railway Carriages. They had for themselves separate waiting rooms in most of the major railway stations. They also came to set up elite schools for their children. In most of the theatre halls, the balcony was earmarked for the whites and the local maharaja. Their significant passionate pastime, during late 19th and early 20th centuries, appeared to be hunting animals and birds in Indian jungles. As such, the population of tigers, lions and elephants slumped down because of indiscriminate hunting.

6. Creating Unity

One of the first impacts that colonisation had in India was the development of unity. When Britain first acquired India as a colony the country was divided. The British imposed system impacted India by bringing more equality to the country as the caste system which outlined social hierarchy was adapted. It is also significant that Britain accepted all of the religions of India which also allowed unity to prosper.

7. Leading Towards Democracy

India has also experienced positive impacts from the institution established and then left behind by the colonizers. The institutions established by the British Raj and then inherited by India helped lead to democracy in modern day India. The assistance of these institutions assisted India in becoming the world’s largest democracy today. It is also of note that Britain first introduced India to early capitalism through colonization. Britain transformed India into an agricultural based capitalist economy and established forms of private ownership. These actions led India into creating free trade and competitive business.

8. Sports

Another positive impact of colonisation can be seen in sport in India. During the colonial period Britain brought the sport of cricket to India. Cricket today brings enthusiasm to millions of Indians and is celebrated around the country. India as a nation has also emerged as a prominent team in cricket tournaments as India has successfully beaten many other countries. Cricket also serves to connect much of the Indian population as the sport is celebrated nationally.

9. Setting up of railways

The British had introduced the system of Railways in a chain method, with the whole of the country staying witness to placing of railways tracks, railway platforms and railway carriages. Indeed India railways, postal services, legal and judicial systems and other government-based services have all been derived primarily from the British administration. British rule virtually had helped unify India, which till then was quite fragmentary. The in-built inferiority complex was the characteristic trademark of the mass of the native population, till Mahatma Gandhi.

10. Introduction of English language

Introduction of English language which was infact intended to create a class of people appreciative of English culture and life style indirectly helped Indians to acquire a link language. Although introduction of helped in developing an efficient bureaucracy for the british government, it gave Indians an opportunity to know western concept of rights and freedom and the extent of discrimination practiced against them by British. Exchange of ideas among Indians speaking variety of languages became possible.

11. Other positive effects

* Stamping out of infanticide
* Stamping out of ritual burning of widows (Sati)
* Abolishment of slavery
* Elimination of dacoits from highways
* Legalization of remarriage of widows
* Introduction of penal code for equality


1. Development of constitution

Development of our constitutional framework is to a great extent based on the legacies of the British colonial rule. Our constitution was formed in protest to britishers because at that time India was under the slavery of British raj otherwise the picture of our constitution would have been different. 2. Slaves and indentured servants

The labour shortage that resulted inspired European colonizers to develop a new source of labour, using a system of indentured servitude. Indentured servants consented to a contract with the European colonizers. Under their contract, the servant would work for an employer for a term of at least a year, while the employer agreed to pay for the servant’s voyage to the colony, possibly pay for the return to the country of origin, and pay the employee a wage as well. The employee was “indentured” to the employer because they owed a debt back to the employer for their travel expense to the colony, which they were expected to pay through their wages. In practice, indentured servants were exploited through terrible working conditions and burdensome debts created by the employers, with whom the servants had no means of negotiating the debt once they arrived in the colony.

3. Impact on health

Encounters between explorers and populations in the rest of the world often introduced new diseases, which sometimes caused local epidemics of extraordinary virulence. For example, smallpox, measles, malaria, yellow fever, and others were unknown in pre-Columbian America.

4. Economic Impact of British Rule in India

Impact of British rule in India however was not restricted only to these spheres; the economic impact was yet another domain which practically had drained out the native populace, creating a forever draught in 1947. The chief aim of these settlers was to make India an agrarian country that would supply an industrialised England. As such, the Indian farmers suffered with their land revenue, most of which were ruthlessly being seized by the hyperbolic Zamindar class. Each passing year further tightened the economy, making Indians go insane to the nerve; Indian local-manufactured products were sold in tremendously cheap rates in Britain, making the native money-making policy even harder. The world-over societal degradation also had spilled in India, like the World War I or the Great Depression of the 1930s. The situation had become so very dreadful that there could not be found any out of such an entangled mess.

5. Constructive Impact of British Rule in India

Amidst all these alarming states and conditions, the imperial rule were compassionate enough to introduce European education in India. This ground-breaking impact of British rule in India truly has benefited India in the long run, carving out a prestigious position of India in the world map. Knowledge of English was essential to earn a job in the British bureaucracy, in the British trading firms and of course in the British Army in the officer level. Many dignified concepts like parliamentary democracy, the European scientific ideas, industrialization and liberal human philosophy permeated into the Indian brain.

6. Resource Drain

One of the primary goals of colonialism was the establishment of a resource-generating system through which natural resources from colonized regions were gathered and traded by the colonizing nation. This process reduced the availability of natural resources in the colonized nations, leading to times of hunger, poverty and need. Some colonies were heavily farmed, with food stores shipped to feed populations elsewhere while locals survived on less. Further, this created a system where a colonized country could be farmed for its natural wealth, but receive no monetary benefits.

7. Dismissal of Hinduism

Religion provided the needed rationale for this cruel plunder. All native Hindus were dismissed as heathens or pagans ‘ despicable creatures who don’t have to be treated like human beings till they take their fateful decision to embrace Christianity. According to the missionaries who came to India to play second fiddle to the British Imperial rulers, Christianity was the only true religion. Jesus Christ was the only true God. All other religions like Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and many other traditional faiths and religions in India had to be eliminated to save the souls of India and Indians. All facets and all aspects of Hindu religion and Hindu society were dismissed as idolatry and superstition, in order to advance the noble Christian pursuit of salvation for the barbarous heathens of India. Along with Christian religion came the rest of British or Western culture, thought and customs and the gradual end of traditional ways of life. Thus our traditional religions and cultures were gradually subverted or eliminated.


Today India is the largest provider of services in the world in large part due to colonisation; however, it is uncertain if without colonisation this would be possible. The Indian population is able to compete in the service sector due to the positive impact of the English language being left behind post British rule. When colonisation was occurring in India schools were established which taught and offered instruction in English. It is also of note that the East India Company had a positive impact by establishing some services such as rail throughout the country. The British rule introduced the railways, the press, and the western system of education, clubs and associations all of which shook the prevalent socio-economic order. But the processes of exploitation unleashed by them destroyed the possibilities of development of industries and a modern economic system in India.

The British rule rather systematically destroyed the native industries of India for the benefit of the industries in Britain and their market in India. Even though it sought to tie down the people it ruled to colonial backwardness, it released new historical forces within the Indian fold by throwing the traditional economic system and socio-cultural order out of gear. It gave birth to the desire of material advancement and better amenities and living conditions of individuals. Also it gave birth to a spirit of inquiry in the minds of Indian intellectuals who came in contact with western education. Both the social reformists and the conservatives took a fresh and critical look at their own society and culture as a reaction to western interpretation of the same.

* Positive & Negative Effects of Colonialism | * *…/india/…Impact-of-Colonisation-in-India/…Cached *

* Government of India, Report of the Education Commission 1964-66, Delhi, 1966. * D. Warriner, Land Reform in Principle and Practice, Oxford University Press, 1969 * Maddison, “The Historical Origins of Indian Poverty”

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