Essay on the Racial Discrimination in Colonial India


The growth of Western education and India’s contact with the West awakened the Indian mind to the evils of social and religious practices. It led to the religious and social movements of the 19th century.

The leaders of these socio-religious movements like Raja Rammohan Roy, Swami Dayananda Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda and Mrs. Annie Besant, launched a crusade against the abuses and evils of the Hindu Society and religion. They emphasized that no political regeneration and freedom could be possible without social and religious reformation. Indians become aware of their motherland. Dayananda said, “India for Indians” Tilak said, “Swaraj is my birth right and I shall have it.”

Indians were discriminated on grounds of color. An attitude of contempt towards Indians was developed by the Anglo-Indian bureaucracy. They looked upon the Indians as half Negroes and half guarillas who could effectively work under force only. The white Europeans always considered the Indians as people of an inferior race.


The British Government openly displayed social antagonism by adopting certain measures and laws which discriminated the brown Indians from the white Europeans. The British administrators in India used to exploit the Indians who remained as humble servants to them. The subordinate Indian officials were leading a very poor and wrenched life whereas the British officers were rolling in luxury.

It annoyed the educated Indians who could not relish the over bearing attitude of the Britishers in India. They came forward to raise their voice against the racial discrimination of the British. It fostered a sense of nationalism in the minds of the conscious Indians.

The British policy of racial discrimination was further revealed in what is known as the llbert Bill Controversy. Lord Ripon, the Viceroy of India got a draft bill prepared through his law member Sir IIbert. The Bill was aimed at removing certain racial inequalities by putting Indian judges at partnership with the European judges in dealing with all cases in Bengal Presidency. Hitherto the Europeans could only be tried by special court consisting of European judges.

The IIbert Bill was approved by Lord Ripon’s executive council as well as by all the provincial Governments. The Bill brought the Indian and European Judges on the same footing. The Bill was about to abolish the criminal procedure code of 1873 according to which no Indian Magistrate or Sessions Judge could try a case in which an European was involved. The European culprits were tried only by European judges, because the European considered it beyond their dignity to be prosecuted and punished by the Indians.


The European community in India reacted violently against the bill. They criticized Ripon vehemently; Ripon was ultimately forced to bring about some changes in the Bill in order to avoid an unhealthy situation. The educated Indian was highly influenced by this incident. Their dissatisfaction against the British grew in intensity. A sense of keen patriotism began to gain ground in their minds. This patriotism and national awakening finally led to the establishment of Indian National Congress in 1885.

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