Why did the British view India as the "jewel in the crown".

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mr-mayonnaise eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While other territories that belonged to England brought wealth, India did that and so much more. Not only was India wildly profitable what with its spices, large numbers of cheap laborers and other exports, but its location is also prime for being able to trade by sea with foreign ports. The Indian Ocean has for centuries been an extremely busy naval market spanning between the Ivory Coast across to China. Previously any English merchant dealing with out of lands goods would either have to sail around the bottom of Africa or rely on land routes that were never truly safe. With India in their pocket they were able to control a significant portion of the trade that happened in that region. This allowed them to bring in more exotic goods, jewels, gold, and tax any and all trades that needed to pass through India like African sailors carrying Ivory to China. This also gave them a hand on all of the scientific marvels that were happening in the region, such as cheap gunpowder from China. India brought wealth but also just as importantly it brought opportunity for England in both trade and knowledge. 

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The British termed India as the “Jewel in the crown” because;

Access to India made the region the most valuable colony for the British. Prior to colonizing India, Britain had access to North America, but this access ended with the American Revolution. This forced Britain to consider available options which included India. India thus replaced North America as the most lucrative colony of the British Empire.

The region was also a major supplier of different raw materials for British industries and trade. Britain traded India’s resources internationally with the proceeds going to the colonial empire. Britain increased export of products such as cotton, Indian pepper, spices and porcelain.

The British viewed the region as a market for its products. This was because of the high population within the territory and the country’s strategic location. India at the time had a population of approximately 300 million people and was strategically located between England and China. The location was important for silk trade between Britain and China.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The British viewed India in this way because it was their biggest and most important possession.  Unlike places like Canada and Australia, India already had a very large population of people who could contribute a great deal to the wealth of the empire.  The Indians could be taxed, adding huge amounts of money to the British treasury.  They had all sorts of goods that the British wanted.  These included things like spices, textiles, cotton, and the opium that the British would sell in China to be able to buy tea.  Because India had so many people and so much wealth, it was the "jewel in the crown" of the British Empire.