The primarily interest of the British in India was to promote their Industry and commerce. Indian economy suffered a great set-back during the British rule on account of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. India played the role of a supplier of raw materials for the British industries and market for the British finished goods.
The British did not like the Indians to develop any industry. The British industrialist encouraged to set upon Industries in India and exploited the Indian labour by paying low wages to the workers.
The British started collecting huge amount of land revenue which the peasants found very difficult to pay. They introduced Zamindars system which impoverished the Indian peasants. The zamindars collected rent from the peasants and paid it to the Government after keeping their own share. The money lenders also exploited the peasant class by realizing exorbitant rate of interest from them.
Jute, tea and coffee industries were monopolized by the British. Indian handicrafts were seriously damaged. The policy of free trade was also responsible for the destruction of Indian crafts trade. In order to cripple the Indian traders the British Government lifted levy on the threads and clothed imported to India from England.
The frequent wars in the front interest of expansion of British Empire that was going on in the North-West Frontier or in Africa, China, Tibet, Burma and Afghanistan told heavily upon the economy of the Indian people.
The economic exploitation of the British led to the outbreak of severe famines in different provinces of India. A terrible famine occurred in Orissa in 1866, which took toll of lakhs of people.
The terrible famine of 1877 lasted for two years affecting Madras, Mysore and other Southern and central parts of India. Between 1858 and 1918 as many as six great famines broke out in India. People lost faith in the British sense of justice. Man like Surendar Nath Banarjee, who was discharged from the Indian Civil Service, took leadership in uniting the educated Indians for the cause of national movement.