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

Published: January 17, 2015

The economic policies pursued by the British in India had for the most part negative effects on the Indian economy. It changed the nature of the rural and agrarian economy in India, and adversely affected various sections of society such as artisans, farmers, handicraftsmen etc.

From late 18th century to mid-nineteenth century, the British followed a policy of systematic deindustrialization which aimed to dismantle the cottage and small-scale industries which were widely present in India under the patronage of various members of the royalty and other nobles, landlords etc. These artisans and handicraftsmen lost their traditional sources of livelihood. The new land revenue system, and the resultant new land relations, established by the British lead to the impoverishment of the peasants and also ruined some of the old zamindars/landlords. Agriculture became highly commercialized, with focus shifting onto cash crops. Additionally, the high rates of revenue collected by the British discouraged engagement in agriculture and forced people to migrate to urban areas in search of labour. The few industries that emerged later also were controlled by foreign entities or a few Indian elites.

The economic policies of the British aimed to increase and augment the economic resources of the British by means of economic drain, with little or no regard of it consequences to the Indian masses or their economy.

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