Examine critically the various facets of economic policies of the British in India from mid-eighteenth century till independence.

Sample Answer

Introduction

The British, from mid-eighteenth century to 1947, imposed economic policies in India that favored their colonial interests at the cost of India’s economic growth.

Body

Revenue Systems:

  • The Permanent Settlement of 1793 and the Ryotwari System led to rural indebtedness and hardship during famines.

Industrial Policy:

  • Deindustrialization, like the decline of the Bengal muslin industry and the promotion of British goods, undermined local industries.

Trade Policies:

  • One-way trade and discriminatory tariff policies, like the Salt Act, resulted in economic exploitation and ‘Drain of Wealth’.

Infrastructure Development:

  • Railways and communication networks were built primarily for colonial administration and military mobility, not local development.

Financial Policies:

  • British banks and exorbitant taxes, including the salt tax, facilitated wealth transfers to Britain and burdened the populace.

Conclusion

The British economic policies prioritized colonial gains, leading to India’s economic exploitation and underdevelopment, a legacy independent India had to address post-1947.

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