Colonialism in India, Ram Chandra Pradhan, Macmillan Publishers India Ltd, Pp 270, Rs 215.00
Talking of capitalism in Part I, the author says that capitalism and socialism have been two major ideologies offering two different socio-economic and political orders of our time. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union and with the communist China too taking the capitalist road, Marxism/socialism as a working system has been on the decline. This, he says, is because of the enormous adaptability to the new challenges by capitalism. After discussing the characteristics and forms of capitalism, the author presents an overview of imperialism and colonialism and he says that in all, the colonial system greatly harmed the basic interests of the people of their colonies who profited much less than what they lost in the process.
The author discusses themes of imperialism, neo-colonialism, post-colonialism, nationalism and history of colonisation and nationalism in India. While presenting an overview of British occupation of India, he provides answers to what was wrong with our polity and economy, which prevented us from successfully thwarting all British attempts at occupation of India. He also delineates and analyses the actual conditions responsible for the East Indian Company and its profit-making merchants, who, equipped with a weighing scale in their hands, turned from power-weighing to a power-wielding sceptre.
With reference to the effects of British rule on Indian agriculture, the author says that it was due to acquisition of diwani rights of Bengal, Orissa and Bihar in 1765 that the East India Company could buy Indian goods as they could pay for them from the funds accumulated from its land revenue exactions. In other words, the East India Company re-used sufficient funds to buy Indian goods without bringing its bullion from England. It resorted to exacting the main amount of land revenue from Indian tenants, even by resorting to force. This had a disastrous impact on Indian agriculture.
In the next chapter, the author describes how Macaulay’s system of English education created a barrier between the elite and the common masses which turned out to be unbridgeable, even in the post-Independent era.
In the third part of the book, the author discusses the peasant and tribal revolts during the colonial period, followed by the war of Independence of 1857. Talking of the gender issues in the colonial era, the author says that it strengthened the institution of patriarchy and the socio-religious movement did not touch the women of the lower strata. He concedes that though since then, Indian leaders have laid the foundation for women’s liberation, a lot yet remains to be done for the woman’s cause. He concludes by saying that in this era of globalisation, the “colonial and slavish mentality is growing among the elite and though leaders like Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Raman Maharshi, Dayanand and Mahatma Gandhi and others tried to control the tide of Westernisation, a similar challenge of Westernisation is facing us today.”
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