How did the British treat the Indians when they took over India?

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The British Crown and British Parliament officially took over India in 1858 after the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Before that time, the British East India Company controlled much of the Indian Subcontinent, but India was not officially under the British government. On August 2, 1858, Parliament passed the Government of India Act, the East India Company was abolished, and power was passed to the Crown. This era became known as the British Raj, during which about 20,000 British officials and troops were tasked with subjugating about 300 million Indians.

The British formed alliances with Indian princes and local leaders to facilitate their rule. They also encouraged the divisions that already existed in Indian society as a means of keeping the masses in line.

Although some British saw the Indian incursion as a charitable endeavor (the writer Kipling referred to it as "taking up the white man's burden" to help the supposedly ignorant masses), in fact, the main concern of the British was profit, and policies were primarily put in place that would exploit the Indian people. Even the railroad infrastructure, which outsiders saw as a great British achievement, oppressed and impoverished the Indian people by easing the transportation of British goods, which people would have to buy instead of local products. Additionally, farmers were forced to plant crops that would benefit British landlords, such as tea, opium, and indigo, rather than food crops that the Indians needed to survive. This brought on numerous famines that ravaged India's poor.

The British influence on India's people was not entirely negative, however. For instance, the British authorities banned female infanticide, or the practice of killing baby girls. It discouraged child marriage and made educational opportunities more equal for men and women. The British also forbad the practice of the immolation of widows. It was the custom of some Hindu upper castes to burn widows alive along with the bodies of their dead husbands. The British put a stop to this horrible practice.

On the other hand, the court system in India under the British Raj was notoriously unfair. If a British person came up against an Indian in court, the British person would almost always win, regardless of any evidence to the contrary.

In conclusion, the British in India mainly treated the Indian people very badly—as people to be exploited rather than helped—but they did institute certain social reforms that helped the Indian people.

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British control of India really encompassed two main phases. The first was the period from 1785-1858, when India was under the control of the East India Company (EIC). The EIC was a corporation chartered by the Crown that had virtual sovereignty over India. It had slowly gained control over Indian commerce and territory throughout the eighteenth century, and became especially prominent after the Seven Years' War. The EIC was characterized by corruption and mismanagement, which led Parliament, over time, to establish more and more control over Indian affairs. EIC rule was also deeply resented by many of the Indian people. The EIC sought to exploit social and political divisions of the subcontinent and violently suppressed uprisings using mercenary forces and men conscripted from the local population. Dissatisfaction with EIC rule culminated with a massive rebellion that began in the ranks of these colonial forces, and after it was violently put down in 1858, Parliament placed the subcontinent directly under government rule. This government control was known as the "Raj," and it would last until after World War II. Throughout the Raj, British rulers viewed the Indian people as racially and culturally inferior. They also alienated ordinary Indian people even as they made alliances with Indian elites, who ruled in agreements with the Crown. Again, the British created divisions by choosing Indians to serve in the colonial bureaucracy, nurturing a subclass of elites that were resented by the masses. They legally and socially discriminated against Indians and people of mixed race, who were also shunned by Indian people. They forced Indian farmers into a global market and mandated the growth of commercial crops, which left them open to the ups and downs of supply and demand. Overall, the wealth generated by India under the Raj was not invested back into India (though the British did construct considerable infrastructure, roads in particular). In sum, the British treated Indians as subject peoples, useful only inasmuch as they could enrich the British empire.

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For the most part, the British did not treat the Indians very well when they took over India.

There can be many different reasons to explain the poor treatment of Indians at the hands of the British during the take over of India.  One reason would be economic.  Britain saw India as an investment opportunity.  British control over India guaranteed new revenue streams.  They were able to take cloth, spices, and others items from India and sell them for profit.  English exports from India were produced in large quantities to guarantee economic growth. The desire for wealth helped to drive the British control of India.  In the process, many British people treated Indians as a means to an end.  

I think that another reason why Indians were mistreated was because of a culture clash.  The British came to regard much of Indian culture as "backwards" or "superstitious" or "uncivilized."  Such views enabled the British to denigrate Indian culture and label those who adhered to such beliefs and practices as inferior.  The British failed to understand the nuanced cultural reality that defined so much of India.  They did not account for the level of divergent social, cultural, and religious reality that defined so much of the subcontinent. Many British viewed their purpose as "improving" the condition of India This process resulted in the relegation of Indians to the margins of many aspects of life.  Such beliefs led to a social order that placed the British at the highest of positions and kept Indians subservient. Exclusionary practices, force, and political manipulation were means used to silence Indians while maintaining this hierarchy.  This became another way in which Indians were mistreated at the hands of the British.

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