Steam Engine was first developed by James Watt in England and later with industrial revolution and colonialism railways expanded in both advanced and colonised countries. The advent of railways not only revolutionized the transport system but also had complex socio-economic effects.
Positive impact of railways:
- Facilitated quick movement of people and goods leading to increased trade and economic growth, particularly in countries where industrial revolution took place.
- Promoted urbanisation E.g., in Japan & Europe.
- Promoted social inclusion as people from different races and backgrounds, such as Dalits, women, etc.
- Promote national unification (E.g., Mahatma Gandhi travelled in Railways).
Negative impacts of Railways:
- Contributed to drain of wealth and deindustrialisation in colonised countries as exports of finished goods and imports of raw materials by colonial powers.
- Deployment of soldiers and arms became easier during revolts and wars between competing powers. (During Sepoy Mutiny and World Wars)
- Building of railways led to overexploitation of resources, especially in forest areas, for timber. Ex. Khasi Revolt.
- Finances for building railways enriched the capitalist countries but led to impoverished colonised countries.
Despite negative effects of railways, it has remained the most obvious means of national connectivity and catalyst of socio-economic development in India and beyond.