Indian trade and Industry between 1755 and 1857. How there was the breakdown of the traditional economy under the British?

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Short note about the Indian trade and Industry between 1755 and 1857. How there was the breakdown of the traditional economy under the British? Before the victory in the battle of Plassey, the East India Company, like other foreign traders, remained primarily engaged in commercial activities.

a. Trade and Industry:

Before the victory in the battle of Plassey, the East India Company, like other foreign traders, remained primarily engaged in commercial activities.

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After the battle of Plassey the Nawabs of Bengal became mere puppets in the hands of the Company’s servants.

But with the acquisition of the political power there was a change in the commercial policy so far pursued by the East India Company in India.

This change utterly ruined the industrial tradition of India. Weaving, considered to be the ‘national industry’ of India, faced a total ruination.

Also lost were the days when Indian cotton-goods had a steady demand in the foreign markets. On the other hand, Indian markets were now flooded with British goods, and India merely became a supplier of raw materials to Britain.

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Official documents show that in 1856 Indian export of raw-cotton to England amounted to 43-lakh Pounds Sterling. Thus while Indian foreign trade showed an increase her indigenous industries were ruined.

Then the question arises as to how and with what motive did the British follow such a destructive course of action? There were various causes of the decline of indigenous industries, particularly the cotton textiles, under the Company’s rule.

b. Breakdown of Economy:

There was indeed the breakdown of the traditional agrarian economy of India under the British rule.

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For example it may be said: (1) first, prior to the British, ownership of land lay with the panchayat, and not on any individual. But the British created property in land.

This led to altogether a new system in which direct, relationship was established between the owner of the land and government.

(2) Second, with the breakdown of the self-sufficient village economy there was the ruination both of the artisans, craftsmen and the peasantry.

(3) Third, the British started importing machine-made textile goods and sold them in Indian markets at a cheap price. This was responsible for the ruin of Indian industries.

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(4) Fourth, the British policy of exporting raw materials from Indian adversely affected the Indian handicrafts.

(5) Fifth, the British conquest that led to the deindustrialization of the country increased, consequently, the dependence of people on agriculture.

This again increased pressure on land. This had injured the interest of the peasantry. Above are some of the instances how there was the disruption of the traditional economy under the British rule.

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