Elucidate the positive and negative effects of India's contact with the West during 18th and 19th century.

Between 18th and 19th century, India was well established as a colony of Britain and due to contact with west, Indians were reintroduced with the ideas such as liberty, equality, freedom and human rights from the Renaissance, the Reformation Movement and the various revolutions that took place in Europe. These ideas appealed to some sections of Indian society and led to several reform movements in different parts of the country.
Further these reform movements helped to abolish some of the evil practices including Sati. The Western impact on Indians was also responsible for arousing nationalism among Indians. The European scholars’ work in rediscovering the glorious past of India is certainly memorable. The distinct contribution of the European scholars to Indian historiography was ideological studies which began with the foundation of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in 1784 by Sir William Jones. Then a band of British scholars were dragged to the research on Indian history and culture.
English education gained much prominence. The spread of English language and western education helped Indians to adopt modern, rational, democratic, liberal and patriotic outlook. Effective development of communication through the introduction of railways and infrastructure was another such positive impact.  
Negative effects were as follows:
Due to contact with west, machine made goods became prominent which led to decline of traditional handicrafts. India from being an exporter of clothes became an exporter of raw cotton and an importer of British clothes. This reversal made a huge impact on the Indian handloom weaving industry leading to its virtual collapse. It also created unemployment for a large community of weavers. Many of them migrated to rural areas to work on their lands as agricultural laborers. This in turn put increased pressure on the rural economy and livelihood. This process of uneven competition faced by the Indian handloom industry was later dubbed by the Indian nationalist leaders as de-industrialisation.

Question for UPSC Mains:
Elucidate the positive and negative effects of India’s contact with the West during 18th and 19th century.

Published: November 9, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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