By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Mar 8, 2023, 15:40

Decolonisation refers to the process of a conqueror state or empire relinquishing its military and administrative control of colonies it held by force. The conqueror completely withdraws from the colony, allowing its self-government to make independent decisions about its future.

Before Decolonisation - Overview

Colonisation started in the 15th century when the European empires of Britain, Portugal, France, Italy and Spain kicked off the 'Age of Discovery'. Their armies started invading territories in America and Africa. Elsewhere, like in India, the British came behind the veil of trading and gradually usurped power through political stratagems.

The colonising powers were driven by the motive of 'Gold, Glory and God'. They plundered the colonies' wealth, exploited their resources ruthlessly, and oppressed the natives. The missionaries converted people to Christianism either by force or through allure. The colonial power which had the maximum number of colonies basked in glory.

The Britons, for example, used to exult because "The sun never set on the British Empire."

However, everything changed for good after the conclusion of World War II, which had economically weakened the then superpowers. This started the process of Decolonisation as the majority of colonies gained independence.

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Major Impacts of Decolonisation

Decolonisation paved the way for self-rule through a constitutional form of government in erstwhile colonies. The imperial powers kept subjugating captured states previously because they claimed that their departure would lead to anarchy.

However, this turned out to be a fallacy.

Newly independent nations formed democratically elected governments, though there were aberrations, and chalked out policies to optimise the usage of human and natural resources. Colonisation had left in its wake the destruction of indigenous economies. The newly formed governments struggled hard to set things right.

Some of the major impacts of Decolonisation can be figured out from the following points:

State-building -

Post-Independence, nations had to chalk out comprehensive and strategic plans for a democratic government system, administration, enacting of laws, demarcation of boundaries etc.

Language -

Former colonies hardly experienced linguistic Decolonisation. In the case of India, English rules as the most used and official language vis-à-vis Hindi or other local languages.

Capitalistic Colonisation -

The former colonies, or people from these colonies who had settled in other nations, started influencing the former colonies to adopt a capitalist model. This enabled companies from former imperial states to set up their manufacturing plants and other installations in previous colonies.

Through this, the new superpowers seek to control the economies of the underdeveloped countries surreptitiously.

Democracy as the new system -

With monarchy and oligarchy failing around the world, the people who fought for independence continued to assert and exercise their power through democracy.

Even after Decolonisation, former imperial masters are seeking ways of influencing and controlling the decision-making process of former colonies that are now independent.

Under the garb of extending assistance to eradicate poverty or other social problems, the imperialists are leveraging their economic, cultural and political power to dominate developing countries.

This is neo-colonisation, wherein imperialists are subtly pushing for the usage of colonial languages (like English or Spanish), marginalising indigenous cultures through gaudy Western influences, economically undermining states and stirring civil unrest for military domination.

All this makes Decolonisation necessary even today.

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FAQs on Decolonisation

Q.1. How can we define Decolonisation?

Decolonisation implies the freedom of those nations which were earlier colonized by imperial rulers that controlled the domestic as well as international affairs of the subjugated states. It also refers to the willingness and ability of the population of previously colonised states to gain liberation from foreign influence on native culture and psychology.

Q.2. What was the major trigger that started the process of Decolonisation?

World War II had economically and militarily weakened the colonial forces. They could no longer exercise absolute control over colonies through the brute force of the military. This triggered the process of Decolonisation.

Q.3. What is intellectual Decolonisation?

Intellectual Decolonisation refers to freedom of thought process from the dominating idea that people of colonies are inferior to those who had enslaved them.

Q.4. Do we still need Decolonisation?

Yes, Decolonisation is still necessary to get rid of neo-colonialism wherein erstwhile imperial forces are subtly using political and economic pressures for controlling the governance and resources of previous colonies.