Impact of British Rule in India: Economic, Social, Political Changes, Notes PDF

By K Balaji|Updated : January 18th, 2023

The Impact of British Rule in India is quite noticeable. There is no denying that British rule had a significant social, economic, and cultural impact on India. The British arrived in India in 1608. Gradually, they began to invade the nation and rule it according to their laws, which affected the economy across India. The Indian economy experienced a rapid transformation due to British economic policy. Between 1600 and 1757, British merchants made most of their profits by exporting goods from India. Social and Economic strategies for the Indians were cleverly created by the British administration. India was constantly dependent on them because of these policies.

The Impact of British Rule in India is an important topic for the UPSC exam as it covers the History Syllabus, which will also be useful in the Prelims and Mains paper. To understand the Social, Economic, Positive & Negative Impact of British Rule in India, we have provided thorough UPSC notes PDF below for better learning and understanding.

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Impact of British Rule in India

India has always been a wealthy nation, despite its rural economy. From the first century until the start of British colonialism, India's GDP fluctuated between 25% and 35%; however, by the time the British left India in 1947, it had decreased to 2%. The Impact of British Rule in India has been exactly as stated here, and there were massive economic, political, and social changes the British rule brought to India.

Impact of British Rule in India Notes PDF

The British, who came to India as traders and then gained power as rulers & administrators, immediately impacted the nation's social, political, and economic systems. However, their impact on India's social and cultural life was gradual.

Economic Impact of British Rule in India

It was primarily for trade that the British travelled to India. The Industrial Revolution was a problem for Britain at the time. For this reason, they needed a large number of raw materials for the factories, most of which came from India. They also required a suitable market to sell their final goods. As a result, India's transformation into the hub of British commerce was the most serious economic impact of British rule in India.

  • India became an economic colony for industrial England.
  • The industrialization of England harmed India's handloom weaving industry, which ultimately failed.
  • Both the domestic and international markets for Indian crafts were lost.
  • Farmers experienced suffering due to the following land revenue experiments:
  • The impact of commercial agriculture on labourers was severe, leading to a rise in the number of landless workers.
  • This led to a new class of money-lenders who relied on the farmers who were compelled to borrow the money from them.

Social Impact of British Rule in India

India saw several social and cultural reforms due to British rule.

  • The British introduced concepts like liberty, freedom, equality, and human rights in the middle of social problems like child marriages, sati, and infanticides.
  • Numerous legal measures were established to better the status of women in society.
  • The British were eager to inculcate the English language into Indian culture.
  • The regional languages were ignored.
  • Using the Charter Act 1813, enacted by the British Parliament, Rs. 1 lakh was authorized to promote western sciences across India.

Positive Impact of British Rule in India

The British introduced new employment opportunities, which were especially helpful to those from the lower castes. They had a higher probability of achieving social mobility upward because of these possibilities. Other aspects of the positive impact of British rule in India are as follows:

  • Indian industrialization's top pioneers were members of the middle class that grew to prominence during British rule in the post-independence period.
  • Infrastructural projects undertaken by the British government include the building of schools, hospitals, and railways. The indigenous Indians were not given a better quality of life; everything was done to make it easier for them to be exploited. All things considered, these infrastructures laid the foundation for India to grow into a sizable economic giant.
  • The economy of the Indian subcontinent underwent a significant transformation with the advent of new technology like sailing ships, telegraphs, and railroads. The Bengal Sati Regulation Act passed on December 4, 1829, put an end to societal issues like Sati and some extent, damaged the caste system. The British also made significant cultural advancements.

Negative Impact of British Rule in India

Along with a few positive changes the British rule brought in India, there are innumerable negative impacts of the British rule in India, which are explained in detail in this section.

  • Indian industry was damaged when Britain seized control because they were obliged to acquire things from the British Kingdom rather than produce their own. The resulting chaos caused the local woodwork, metal, and clothing businesses to collapse. It effectively turned India into a pawn in the hands of Britain's economic schemes, making moving away from it impossible.
  • Famines were caused by British mismanagement because the country's large population was not adequately fed during the British Empire's control; rather, cash crops were prioritized above food crops. Food was brought from other provinces of the empire to feed the population. Between 1850 to 1899 alone, 24 famines claimed millions of lives due to this strategy and the inequitable distribution of food.
  • The British realized they could never rule a vast area like India without dividing powerful kingdoms into manageable, easily conquerable pieces. Additionally, the British Empire made it a practice to compensate religious leaders for speaking out against one another, slowly corroding relations across other faiths. This approach has had a direct impact on the adversarial relationship between India & Pakistan.
  • Britain stole trillions from the Indian economy due to the East India Company's unethical business practices. Such actions even led to the destruction of Indian industry and made sure that London received the profits from the Indian economy.

Impact of British Rule in India UPSC

It would appear that India's society improved during British rule. But upon closer inspection, it became clear that these advantages were at best fortuitous and at worst self-serving. Only to effectively exploit the Indian economy were economic reforms implemented. Without the necessity for British involvement, even sociological changes would have shown themselves. The negative impact of British rule in India ultimately outweighs the advantages.

Aspirants to the Civil Services should have a solid understanding of the impact of British rule in India. Both the Civil Services (Prelims) and (Mains) Examinations may include questions on this topic. Studying the following important points will certainly help and further improve your knowledge about the Impact of British Rule in India notes.

  • Many social and cultural changes, including the introduction of concepts like liberty and freedom, were brought to India by the British.
  • The caste system was destroyed due to changes brought forth by Indian reformers & mass leaders, as well as British regulations.
  • The British policy of "Divide & Rule" was maintained despite the reforms, which resulted in ongoing turmoil and mistrust because of caste, religious, and intellectual divides.
  • The Indian economy collapsed due to unfair tax techniques and declining of the Indian industries.
Important Notes for UPSC
Lachit BorphukanLocal Winds
Bhagat SinghCommissions and their Recommendations
DemonetisationScheduled Tribes
Important Boundary Lines of IndiaDisinvestment Policy
Tribes of IndiaConsumer Protection Act 2019

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FAQs on Impact of British Rule in India

  • The collapse of the Indian economy was the biggest impact of British rule in India. The numerous changes/laws the British imposed to promote their large factories' goods destroyed the local handicraft industry. Their strategy of requiring Indian farmers to cultivate products like cotton, tobacco, indigo, and other raw materials had an influence on the agriculture sector and caused several famines in India.

  • The Pitts India Act of 1784, the Regulating Act of 1773, and other new laws that helped constitutional development were positive impacts of British rule in India. Numerous modifications were made to the administration, notably to the judicial, civil, police, and tax administrations.

  • The introduction of modern education, the improvement of women's lives, the improvement of India's infrastructure as a result of the construction of railways, hospitals, and schools, modern governance systems, as well as the introduction of industrialization are just a few of the positive impacts of British rule in India.

  • The destruction of the local industry and agricultural system, the divide-and-rule strategy that resulted in conflict between various castes, creeds, and religions, continuous famines, and the exploitation of peasants through high taxation and profit margins are just a few of the negative impacts of British rule in India.

  • Numerous initiatives that the British implemented changed Indian cultural and social norms. Examples include the elimination of long-standing traditions like untouchability. However, the British strategy of "Divide & Rule" caused significant dissatisfaction in Indian society, ultimately serving as the justification for India's partition.

  • Because the traditional Indian economy depended on the British at that time, British rule had a significant economic impact in India. The Indian urban handicrafts sector abruptly collapsed at the beginning of the 1800s. Also, The new landlord system was introduced in which the land was transferred to a few new landowners in return for receiving less money. This led to difficulties in the country's economy.

  • Aspirants preparing for the UPSC and other competitive exams can download the Impact of British Rule in India notes from the direct link here. It will help them to understand both the positive and negative impact of British rule in India.

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