Why were boycotts of British goods effective protests for colonists?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The British had superior lethal force on their side and so a full-scale armed uprising by Indian nationalists would've been out of the question. So the anti-colonial movement hit upon a different approach. As part of its non-violent strategy of resistance, it came up with the idea of a boycott of British goods. It was believed that this would impose severe costs on the British economy, costs that could not be sustained over any length of time. In due course, it was hoped that the British would realize that the Raj was no longer viable as an economic unit, that it was more trouble than it was worth.

The boycott initially proved to be a very effective strategy. For centuries, the British had used its control of India to flood the country with cheap, mass-produced goods, thus destroying vast swathes of domestic manufacturing industry. For British manufacturers, especially cloth-producers, India was a captive market and a major driver of the export trade. The leaders of the Swadeshi movement such as Gandhi knew, therefore, that a boycott of British goods would inflict quite serious damage on the imperial economy. At the same time, it was hoped that the boycott movement would also encourage the development of domestic manufacturing, so that Indians would be able to buy Indian goods instead of British.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial