Economic Development Of India
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The economic development of India throughout history was marked by different changes in policy from the subsistence farming, to royal family controlled ownership of the means of production, to the occupation of the country by the British Empire, to the socialist policies during the period following India's independence. The country in its early history has been considered one of the richest and the most attractive trading partners (just like China) yet ultimately, it was Europe that started to lead the world economically finally succumbing to the US economic dominance. The following essay explores the Indian economy in a greater detail focusing both on the modern economic situation yet paying the greatest attention to the economic history of India. The essay attempts to shed light on the early period of Indian development in order to understand why and how India's economic superiority and might was lost to the European economic leadership. It will note that before the Industrial revolution India and other Asian nations played and extremely important role in the world, yet the positive changes brought by the Industrial revolution as well as the British control of India that did not allow the spread of the modern Industrial-era technology was the main reason why India ultimately lost its scientific and educational capacity and turned into a resource appendix of the British Empire.
Snapshot of the Current Economic State of India.
Starting in 1980s India started to open its markets for the global organizations and companies attempting use economic liberalization as a tool of economic advances. The previous socialist policies that existed in India since its independence (from the British occupation) were ineffective. They formed numerous regulations and red tape (License Raj) and as a result were responsible for a miniscule 1% per annum GDP per capita growth. It is only in the early 1990s India managed to proceed from the reforms that endorsed economic liberalization to the market economy. The market economy allowed India to start some rapid economic development at rates of around 8% per annum. Current the standards of living in India are rising rapidly (at an average 6% GDP growth per annum) yet the majority of the population (75%) still lives on less than $2 a day. This figure is even higher than for the Sub-Saharan Africa, where only 73% of the population live on less than $2 a day. As it has been in the past thousand years, the majority of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, especially in the rural areas. These rural areas remain extremely unproductive and inefficient, so the cities and towns at present make up over 75% of the GDP (Keay, 154).
The World Bank at present believes that the main focus of the Indian government was to initiate public sector reforms in order to introduce modern technology into the undeveloped rural areas and to overcome resistance to change. India scores low on the Ease of Doing Business Index and on the Index of Economic Freedom, meaning that it is rather problematic to start a new business and to sustain an old business. It is for this reason India cannot use its full potential to improve the economy and hence the lives of its people.
Early Economic History of India
India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and hence has the greatest history. Throughout the history of India, agriculture was the main source of income. India was lucky to have fertile lands with various rivers, lakes and water bodies that provided enough moisture. At the same time the favorable climate allowed having several harvests per annum throughout the country. One should also note that the early ancient Indian civilizations such as the Indus Valley, the Aryan civilization, Mauryan Empire, Gupta Empire and most other dynasties had a command/planned economy organized by the advisors of the rulers. Even though some early dynasties issued coins, in reality the main form of trading throughout India was barter, i.e. the exchange one type of goods for other type of goods. The farmers and producers were required to pay taxes in the form of barter too, i.e. to contribute certain of crafts and certain amount of grains to the ruler, to the local lords and chiefs (Walsh , 210).
The Muslim Rule did not initiate much economic changes India as the focus was on the spread of religion. It is for this reason under the Muslim rule India continued to be an agricultural country. Still, one should note that in the later Mughal period, India managed to develop some important trade relations with the British Empire, the French and the Portuguese traders. When the British Empire determined that India could be used as a very profitable colony, it managed to gradually assert its power over India starting with the Battle of Plassey when the British East India Company came into power.
While it may sound that colonial rule has detrimental effect on the country's economy and development, yet in reality the British occupation of India in fact was one of the most significant parts of India's development. Still that amount of development was much less than what is required for India to keep up with the change and developments that took place in Europe and especially after industrial revolution took place. The British introduced the money and enforced the use of money to pay the taxes. The British introduced a complex taxation policy such as the revenue and property taxes. Such taxes negatively hit the independent craftsmen yet ultimately contributed to the formation of larger trade groups, trade unions, if you will.
As for the positive elements of the British occupation one should note that the British were directly responsible for the modernization of the Indian economy and bringing it to the new level. The British brought with them the modern financial and the banking system and the single currency unit to be used as means of exchange, store of value and a unit of account. They developed the currency market and the capital markets.
The British were also responsible for the standardization of various weight and measures without which it would be impossible to establish any capital markets or the modern trade. Before the British, there were no standards, so each seller was charging any price he hoped to gain for any liberally chosen amount of product. Since the farmers also created their own packaging, each farmer was selling the same product (e.g. wheat) in different bags, hence different weight.
The development of the proper infrastructure should also be credited to the British who did everything possible to create the infrastructure conducive to trade. The British create new (paved) roads; they developed the system of railway communication and the telegraph. The main problem was that the British did not do anything to improve the education and sciences of India, so the country remained in the "Dark Ages" throughout the British occupation that cared about the Indian development only as much as it could bring direct profits to the British Crown. Since education demanded huge investments, the British Empire chose not to educate the Indians, limiting their efforts to English language training to have each Indian enough understanding of the English language to serve the British.
Analysis of the history
Speaking about the history of the economic development of India in comparison to the European nations, one should note that Northern Europe historically lagged behind Asia and the Islamic world until about 1400 to 1500 when it experienced a transformation called the Renaissance or rebirth of the Greco-Roman civilization. Indeed, prior to that period the so-called "Dark Ages" of Christianity completely halted effective economic, social, cultural or political development in Europe following the fall of the Roman Empire. It is only starting with the Renaissance period that involved relative liberalization of culture, economy and technological thought that Europe started to observe some rapid changes and improvements that ultimately led this nation economically ahead of its Asian neighbors (India and China). The changes included advances in science and technology. At the same time it has been widely believed and still held today by many historians that the economic changes in Europe were largely a European endeavor owing nothing to the outside world. Still, clearly it would be absolutely silly to support such position primarily because Europe was never fully isolated from the Middle East, Central Asia and African countries that actively traded with Europe and hence were responsible for the exchange of various technologies and sciences. Indeed many science and technologies upon which Europe was building were derived from Asia - largely China and India - and passed through to the West through the Islamic (and occasionally Buddhist) cultures of Central Asia and the Persian and Arab world.
During the Maurya Empire (that existed roughly during 321-185 BC), the Indian economy underwent some important changes and innovations. In fact it was the first period in India's history when the country was united under one single ruler. While to modern readers it may sound as something unimportant (taking into account that so many countries and states trade with each other) unification was extremely important for security purposes. While in the past due to the multitude of nations, city-states and hence multiple rulers and governors it was impossible to guarantee safe movement of goods and services across the border. The unification of India was the first step to assure uninterrupted and safe movement of goods meaning that the trade became much safer and more efficient. As the number of risks fell the number of businesses increased. It was only after the unification when India started to invest in the development of the basic infrastructure such as road building. During the Maurya Empire rule Chanakya rote Arthasastra, which can be considered to be the most important and the most comprehensive textbook on politics, management, administration and economics. The book was intended for the emperor providing recommendations on how to manage the whole empire and how to pass policies that would benefit all people.
In fact the economics of India during the Maurya rule can be compared to the economics in the Roman Empire but only several centuries later. In fact the Roman Empire, which symbolizes the European development just like India during the Maurya empire had well-developed business organizations, international connections and corporation-like entities. It is necessary to note that Maurya Empire was probably more capitalist and democratic than the Roman Empire. While in Rome all corporation-like organizations were tied to the top leaders who used them to carry out various state projects, most corporation-like organizations in Maurya Empire were created purely for the private owners. It appears that the Maurya leadership wanted to maintain population satisfaction therefore, it seldom interfered into the business-interests of the larger organizations in India. These larger organizations comprised independent interest groups that could potentially challenge Maurya leadership. In the Roman Empire the leaders since the very start managed to take care of the business activities, i.e. they exercised fully control and prevented the powerful interest (business) groups from forming or becoming too powerful.
Starting in the XVI century India was ruled by the Mughal Empire, during which India became the world's largest economy (only after China). Still during that period, India was closely behind China (which accounted for 25% of the world's GDP), with its 24.5% of the world's GDP. Under the rule of the Mughal Empire and especially during the rule of Emperor Akbar, in onset of the XVII century, Emperor Akbar made more than 18 million British pounds per annum, while the whole British treasury contained around 17 million British Pounds. At that point of time, India accounted for around 23% of the global GDP, while China (under the Ming dynasty) increased its economy to 30% of the world's GDP.
By the start of the XVIII century, Mughal Empire managed to drastically expand to the neighboring territories to increase the territory of India and to control more than 90% of the total South Asia. The Mughal Empire was good at controlling and administering its rule over these distinct and various territories. It needs to be given credit for developing a uniform tax system and the customs systems that facilitated trade and the collection of taxes from the occupied territories. In the onset of the XVIII century Emperor Aurangzeb of the Mughal Empire received more than 105 million British Pounds (equivalent) , which was twice the amount that the whole Europe produced. During this period India became the world's largest economy surpassing the economic dominance of China.
During the period of 1725-1750 India witnessed some changes in the authority after the Mughals were replaced by the Nawabs in the northern part, by the Marathas in the central part and by the Nizams in the southern part. Although there were new rules and new leaders in three different parts of the world, they did not change the existing tax system which appeared to serve very well on the whole territory. During these leadership of the Nizams, Marathas and Nawabs, India lost its title as the world's largest economy to China and continued to occupy a second place, followed by Europe and France.
In the mid XVIII century (1750-1775) India witnessed some additional changes in leadership with the majority of the territory being still under the Muslim rule (of the Maratha Empire). The territorial expansions and wars meant that the country focused less on the economic development and letting China to continue expand its economy. Therefore while during the early XVIII century India's economy equaled to roughly 80% of the Chinese economy, in the mid XVIII century, India's economy equaled to only 70% of the Chinese economy. Proper preparation for the unexpected in the 1770s resulted in large scale famines in south-eastern part of India that killed at leas 5% of the total population.
India's situation under the British control. Britain as a reason of India's economic, scientific and educational decline.
Starting from 1775, Great Britain managed to exercise more and more control over India by slowly expanding its colonial rule over the territory of India that at that time was permeated with fighting for the territory and for the dominance. The British introduced the European policies and the rules of the game that the Britain used throughout its colonies. The creation of the sophisticated infrastructure, railways and roads nonetheless was there to meet the British colonial demands. Great Britain historically had purely exploitative policies in all its colonies. The main purpose of the British colony was providing the empire (i.e. England) with the resources and tax money, nothing more, nothing less. It is for this reason all the technology and policies that the British introduced abroad was only as good as it could generate more money for the empire. India was no different and taking into account the fact that the country had abundant natural resources, it was viewed purely as a commodity source for the British Empire. The British policy meant exploitation of the natural resources of India without investing much into the science, education, technology or the economics. It is for this reason, the British did nothing to develop industries or to introduced new methods in the agricultural sector of the economy. The rapidly growing population of India at some point of time was no longer capable of feeding itself, yet the British master did not care about the Indians, about their quality of life or the falling life expectancy. India under the British rule became subject to frequent famines since the population developed only in line with the British exploitative policies that focused primarily on the extraction of the resources in India and sending them to mainland England. The Indian population did not obtain any quality education anywhere except for the basic education provided by the British in order to teach the Indians English (so that they could understand their masters) and some basic skills that made them capable workers at British-owned companies.
The British rule was instrumental in brining India's economy, development and future down. Prior to the British occupation (in 1700) the economy of India was greater than the whole economy of Europe (24% of world's total for India vs. 23% of world's total for Europe). By the year 1952 India's economy accounted for only 3.8% of the world's economy ( SarDesai , 98).
So what was really the result of the economic down fall of India? Was India or Great Britain solely responsible for the downfall of India? Who should be held responsible for the fact that India's share of the world economy changed from 24% to mere 3.8% in just 250 years?
During the period of 1870s the world had experienced some major economic changes caused by the adoption of the gold vs. silver standard for currency. The major nations such as the USA, England, France or Germany chose to adopt the gold standard during the 1870s. Other nations, that either did not have access to gold (such as Japan) or those that were ruled by their master-countries (like India) relied on the silver standard. The problem started with the appreciation of gold and the depreciation of silver (as more and more silver was discovered). The countries that used silver standard and that traded with the gold-based countries were hit the most as their currencies started to depreciate, i.e. lose value. India's currency depreciated causing some major loss of value (Wolpert , 153).
Starting in 1775 (and up to 1800) East India Company of Great Britain started some major tax administration reforms on the territory of over 35% of India. The company established indirect rule on the chosen protectorates and the so-called buffer states. Under the British the productivity in India was clearly falling and by 1800 India's economy was only 60% of China's. In 1870s when the silver started to lose value India's currency devalued and damaged the Indian economy even more. It is necessary to note that East India Company diverted all revenues generated in India to the British Crown that currently was battling Napoleon in the Napoleonic Wars. Nothing was reinvested in India causing the country to lose the means of production due to depreciation and wear out, which in turn caused even greater inefficiencies.
Over the period 1800 till 1825 china's economy was clearly ahead of all other economies in the world. India's economy started to deteriorate and at that time was only about 50% of China's. Over the period 1825 till 1850, China continued to be the world's #1 economy, yet for the first time in history the United Kingdom made a huge economic progress and scored #2 economy in the world. India got its third place. It is necessary to note that the changes that took place in the UK that gave this country such a rapid economic advance were caused by two major factors. First of all, it was existence of India (and other colonies) that supplied the UK with various raw materials and other resources that could be acquired cheaply and uninterruptedly. Secondly, it was the industrial revolution that meant the introduction of the new means of production in the UK that together with the cheap raw materials meant that the UK would become a world's major producer of various goods. It is precisely during this period of time when the UK started to impose even stricter policies on India for the purpose of obtaining over greater control and controlling more resources. At that point of time the UK replaced the Persian language with English to serve as the official language of India. For comparison reasons in 1850s India's economy was only about 40% of China's economy. During that time Britain accounted for more than 1/3 of all Indian cotton exports. One should keep in mind that India exported cotton, while the British industrialists converted it into textiles using the modern technology. Clearly, the UK was not interested in sharing the modern industrial era technology with India as in this case India would become a major competitor of the UK taking its access to cotton.
Following the dissolution of the Mughal Dynasty in 1850s represented another major changes in how the British Empire started to treat and view India. The so-called British Raj period ensued. The British started a major railroad project in India and in order to somehow motivate the Indian subjects introduced the 'guaranteed pensions' program to the upper caste Hindu workers, still leaving the low caste Hindus without any protection or support. At that period of time China continued to be the world's largest economy followed by the USA, the UK and ultimately India. For comparison reason India's GDP was only 1/3 of China's GDP for the period and around 60% of the US GDP. England became India's major export market for cotton accounting for 60% of all exports.
Starting since 1870s the USA become the world's number one economy followed by China and by the European industrialized nations of Great Britain, and Germany leaving India only the fifth place. One should also note that at that time the Qing Dynasty in China collapsed causing some major political, economic and social turmoil in China. This political change not only negatively affected China's economy but also its technological aspirations. The country became more open to foreign influence and invasion. At that point of time India's economy was only 1/5th of the US economy.
The XX century involved some major changes on the global arena and clearly demonstrated that India lost any hope of succeeding on the global market under the UK influence. During the period of 1900 to 1925 the US and the UK were two major world's economies followed by China, France, Germany and India, with India's economy equaling to only ten percent of the US economy. As it has been done throughout history, India focused exclusively on the raw materials, so even the largest companies of India such as Godrej or Tata did nothing else but expanded into other low-tech, high-labor industries. To support its growing population and extremely inefficient agricultural sector that never developed since it was not prioritized by the British, India started to regularly import grains.
The first half of the XX century presented even more challenges and changes. In the 1950s the US clearly was the world's largest economy followed by the economy of the Soviet Union, the UK, China, France and Germany. India's economy during that period was around 6% of the total US economy. It is necessary to add here that since India was a British colony it was drastically affected by the Great Depression that hit all capitalist nations. As noted earlier India depended heavily on the UK for exporting raw materials and other products. The British that subsequently added value to the products and produced high-value products on the European or the US market was hit greatly by the falling markets across Europe, ordering less from India. India's dependence on one sole (British) market meant that the country experienced a major downturn not only in the raw materials industry but also in the accompanies industries such as agriculture and transportations (railway, marine transport). The British rule clearly wanted to overcome the Great Depression as soon as possible so it imposed higher and stricter taxes and tariffs on India (and other colonies) hoping to improve its economy at the expense of the colonies' economies. The heavy taxation during the period of the Great Depression resulted in famine, and public discontent among the farmers and Indians.
Starting in the late 1930s India experienced various social changes that poured into anti-British sentiments in most Indian states. It was a period of time when it became apparent that the UK will use force to further extract revenue from its colony simply because the subtle economic methods already brought India to its knees in terms of economy making the country undeveloped, inefficient, poor and hopeless. Only following the end of the WWII when it became apparent that the war-stricken Britain would be unable to hold its colonies or control them in any other way, that India gained true independence. While independent its economy and society was in a complete chaos that was left in India by the British presence (Tammita-Delgoda, 135).
Knowledge and education as a guarantee of long-term development.
From the overview of the history of India and brief analysis, one can see that India's future has been definitely and greatly shaped by the British presence. The country that once has been the world's largest economy (or second largest after China depending on what period one looks at) has clearly lost its economic dominance and leadership precisely under the British rule. Under the Economic Drain Theory of Rajan Kanta Ray, the UK attempted to deplete the natural resource of India by imposing high taxes on India and by making India depend heavily on the UK markets for exports. At the same time the UK never wanted to share any technological innovations with India so that India does not make economic advances. Another step was to provide only basic education in English that would make the India citizens capable of providing basic menial service to the British masters without possessing enough knowledge to understand how the British presence damages Indian economy in the long-run. To better understand the last sentence, one should note that the British were not the bad guys who pillaged the villages and cities as the Barbarians or other conquerors of the past did. The British did everything possible to monetize the relationship, paying the Indian wherever they could. The idea was to lure the British into short-term thinking where everyone in the Indian society would dedicate his/her time serving the British for the money they received, without investing their time in education, science, development and long-term planning. The British encouraged the Indians to focus on short-term money-generating strategies because it meant that everyone in the Indian society was working for the labor-intensive industries controlled by the British. For such uneducated, undeveloped and unsophisticated people like those in India the best happiness was to get a pay raise, a guaranteed pension or a small present for Christmas. The country's growing population was unable to feed itself, because the British planning was focused not on how to develop the country but rather on how to drain the society off its resources as much as possible. The majority of the population, therefore, in general did not understand any problems with the British presence being unhappy perhaps only with the amount that they get paid for the services that they provide to the British without realizing that without proper education, investment in technology, science and heavy industry India's economy would collapse.
The main reason for the economic deterioration, famine and overall collapse of India was not only its lack of education, science and technology but also its inability to openly compete in the global market maintaining diverse ties and relationships with other nations as India maintained in the past. The British rule and control replaced the "Invisible Hand" of Adam Smith, and as a result the Indian economy and population became "planned" not capitalist and democratic. While it is hard to say what could have happened for certain had British never come to India and had they never occupied that country. Still, in that case, one can assume that India would maintain its cooperation with many other nations around the world, namely European countries and China and as a result of such cooperation, India would learn about the market needs of these countries just like it would gain access to modern technologies as other nations would be eager to share technologies with India at a profit. Having access to cotton, India could have made a fortune by adopting the modern technology created by Industrial revolution, similar to what the USA had done (the US also has access to cotton that grows in Southern US states). The Great Britain was responsible for not sharing any technology with India and for making certain that the country's main focus was short-term labor-intensive industry that would benefit the Great Britain more than India in the long-run.
Therefore, when looking at India or China or some other Asian nations starting in the past 250 years one can clearly say that these nations have not contributed much to the world. Originally, the view that Asia contributed little or nothing to European development gave rise to a set of beliefs about poverty and lack of science and technology in Asia and when Europe passed Asia in development. Indeed, depending on how far one looks, one can say that certain nations did or did not contribute anything to the world's development. When looking at North America prior to the creation of the USA and Canada, it was populated by the native tribes that although did have some basic science did in no way contribute to the development of Europe. In fact the USA started to contribute to the world's development also only after the Industrial revolution.
China, India and some Middle East nations historically were traditional societies that over their long history managed to accumulate wealth due to trade relationships such as those that existed ever since the creation of the "Silk Route". These nations had balanced tax systems and the ability to understand the market interests and meet these interests at a profit. So one cannot say that these societies were poor and undeveloped. At the same time, the scientists of China, the Middle East and India contributed to various health practices and medicine. In fact, the modern Aurvedic medicine dates back hundreds years as it was invented in India. Various other health systems of the non-traditional medicine also date back to India and China, as well as to the Middle East. It is necessary to note though that as the European nations have continued to wage numerous wars and develop more sophisticated weapons they developed a different medicine that focused exclusively on the alleviation of the symptoms that in practice would mean that the soldier would be able to return to the army soon. Since India and China had fewer wars (in fact China is considered to be one of the most peaceful nations on earth waging only defensive wars) their medicine focused more on holistic practices that overall meant healthy lifestyles, hygiene, diets and exercise.
The religion of India (as well as China and some Middle East nations) focused on the balance between the person and the nature. The role of the human being was to function well within the nature to maintain some abstract balance and peace. This approach in fact meant that the countries were using resources sparingly and wisely, consuming only as much as it was necessary. These practices existed till the industrial revolution in many other nations and historically proved to be very efficient and effective.
Industrial revolution: a turning point for Europe and a point-of-no-return for Asia.
The Industrial revolution, nonetheless, contributed to the major changes on the global arena and was the main reason why India and Asia in general fell behind Europe and the USA. The Industrial revolution was not called a "revolution" for not reason-it definitely changed not only the business and production practices but also it revolutionized the relationships, trade and the worldviews of the individuals. Industrial revolution for the first time in human history provided people with a much better control over the means of production and over the production practices as such. Prior to the industrial revolution most businesses and industries were represented by the family businesses or cartels, organizations where the artisans got together and worked together on various projects and orders. Clearly, in the absence of slaves, each person's work correlated with the time spent doing a certain craft manually. Hiring someone to do that job was not very popular, because for one would rather produce the product and sell it personally on the market rather than get hired and sell that product at a cheaper price to his master. Industrial revolution introduced new machines and new technologies and the processes such as division of labor, automation, assembly line and standardization meant that now it was possible to increase the output drastically. So the cartels could no longer compete with the industrial companies that hired employees to perform some basic tasks to get more quality product in the end. Such methods of production meant huge profits for the manufacturers, for the first time in history giving an opportunity for "common" people (manufacturers) to get as much wealth as the royalty historically possessed. Such ability to get rich, to make it from zero to hero and from rugs to riches definitely changed the worldviews of people who in the past had been drastically affected by religious dogmas and teachings. No longer were humans viewed as weak and meek-no people could make money, produce things and control the nature. The new technologies allowed Americans and Europeans to rely on themselves and not on God to survive, to travel to grow food. The person became a master of the nature and unlike in the East was not about maintaining some balance with the environment. During the Industrialization times there was a proverb "Why do we need thick forests, clean rivers and fresh air if we have no jobs?". The idea was to use the nature as much as one wanted for as long as one wanted to make as much money as possible. Industrial revolution, as noted earlier, introduced new tools for making huge money without spending much of one's personal time. As long as one could organize the assembly line and the production process properly one could make a fortune. Before "Mass production" it was very hard to control the artisans and make huge profits. Furthermore, once the Industrial revolution provided an opportunity to mass produce goods, it was necessary to foster and promote consumption in order for the manufacturers to actually make money. As the society starts to promote consumption, it clearly abandons the traditional religion that asks a person to serve god rather than to focus on the external/material things. The society starts to rationalize one's actions as human weaknesses and inventing new interpretations for the biblical teachings focusing on things like personal goodness being enough for one's salvation. At the same time consumption becomes the main God of Europe. In the USA, where the Puritan ethics of hard work were the initial primary reason for hard work among the population, consumption became the nation's God a few generations later. It is precisely after the Industrial revolution that urban population could actually become rich and wealthy and could rely on one's own profession to make a living. Prior to the industrial revolution even doctors typically had kitchen plots where they grew food for personal consumption because the money was not always enough. Clearly artisans also had to grow food. The industrial revolution changed the way of life and now a factory worker could afford to live only on one's salary (not a luxurious life).
Getting back to India and Asia in general. The industrial revolution in Europe made the European products extremely price competitive and efficient because of the nature of mass production. In India and other Asian nations, that relied on cartel-like and family business for production of textiles and other products, even proximity to resources (to produce the final product) was not enough to assure the competitiveness of the products. Therefore, these nations watched the foreign industrialized nations present very competitive products mass produced and available for everyone. Without having access to the modern Industrial-era technology (and Great Britain never wanted to share technology with Asian nations) the Asian countries became competitive only in natural and other resources that the industrialized nations purchased to subsequently process into finished goods and even send these goods to the Asian nations at prices below the market. Without foreign influence and control India and other Asian nation would be able to buy the technology and develop naturally competing with the other nations for the ultimate customer. Yet in this particular case India's foreign and domestic policies were controlled by the British who not only prevented the modern technology from entering India but also did everything possible to provide little or not education to the Indians so that they do not really know that they are losing long term and that there is some sophisticated technology out there turning India into a resource appendix of the UK.
The Industrial revolution was instrumental in providing people with more free time and with an opportunity to succeed. As it demonstrated that humans were the master of earth (not God) and that the humans controlled the element and the environment, industrial revolution provoked some dramatic changes and curiosity that contributed to multiple inventions and innovations in the industrialized nations. In fact, in the XIX century, it is argued there were more innovations and inventions than in the previous known human history. In the XX century there is arguable more inventions and innovations than in the previous human history too!
Asian influence: mattered before Industrial revolution
To remain fair, Asian science, technology and innovations have historically benefited Europe and influence it. Chinese's invention of paper, gunpowder, 'china' material used in making cups and plates. India also contributed much to the production of silk and cotton, creation of numerous expensive fabric colorants as well as medicines and other products. A compass and many sea navigation equipment was invented in Asia by Asian travelers and traders. Still, one should note that these products were a result of the years of previous inventions and innovations that existed in these nations before Industrial revolution took place. As noted earlier Industrial revolutions completely revolutionized the society and the way people thought. For the first time in history humans became omnipotent and free. It is no wonder that once the mechanism of making a lot of money (via mass production) was understood everyone was inclined to invent something interesting, have it implemented, and mass produced to make a fortune. Industrial revolution contributed to increase of wealth and accumulation of other resources that subsequently got spent on science, education and learning. As a result the industrialized nations started to develop at huge steps leaving the more traditional and occupied countries far behind technologically, scientifically and ultimately economically.
In conclusion it is necessary to note that although there are multiple opinions and points of view concerning the history of India and other Asian nations and although every history has its own history (because winners write history) one can say that the British occupation of India was the primary reason why India was unable to develop fast enough, to adopt the modern Industrial-era technology and improve economically to be on par with the other European or North American nations. When looking at India's history one learns that the country has historically been one of the richest nations on earth together with China due to trade relationships with Europe, Middle East and Africa. The country over hundreds of years was capable to adapt to the market demands, foresee and tap market trends and have enough scientific knowledge and production capacity to remain an economic leader. After India became a colony of the UK the situation changed and India's economy has been falling while the UK's economy has been only growing (probably at India's expense). In fact the Chinese economy also grew until its Qing dynasty collapsed and until it was also occupied by the foreign nations that just like Britain used the 'Drain' policy to exploit the natural resources and leave the nations impoverished, uneducated and destroyed. In fact, the UK did not reinvest the money but brought all the revenues to the UK. The UK did not invest in education and science in India. It invested only in the infrastructure that was conducive for collecting resources in India and in basic language training that would make more Indians capable of serving the British. It is one of the reasons why industrial revolution did not start in India and why India was not able to benefit from Industrial revolution quickly. The uneducated Indian citizens simply could not create industrial revolution and they could not quickly learn about the existing technologies and how to use these technologies to generate more profit. The British and the Europeans on the other hand greatly benefited from Industrial revolution that revolutionized virtually everything in the lives of people. The products became more affordable due to mass production, God was no longer feared as men could rule the world and control the nature. It was no possible to organize labor effectively and reap huge profits because of the assembly line, standardization and automation. The British clearly realized their power and abilities and were more effective in maintaining their control in their foreign colonies. The uneducated Indians were now viewed as animals, capable of only doing basic menial work to serve their foreign masters. Clearly it was not in British interests to invest huge sums of money in building a network of schools, universities, colleges and then wait several years to have the Indian children grow into smart workers and scientists because the UK already had the best thinkers and the best scientists in the UK. It only wanted natural resources from India, nothing else, because the final products now could be easily and cheaply manufactured in Europe. Industrial revolution revolutionized the way people started to think and to approach nature. It is for this reason, a more scientific approach was used towards things which resulted in multitude of inventions and innovations. The amount of inventions following the Industrial revolution was greater than the amount of all innovations in the world prior to the industrial revolution. So it is fair to say that in relative terms (since most inventions were created in Industrialized European nations) Asia did not contribute much to the modern way of living because virtually all that we have was created by the European/US thinkers. Still in absolute terms one needs to remember that up until the Industrial revolution, India, China and many other Asian nations had a tremendous influence on European and world's way of living. It is only after the Industrial revolution that equipped the Europeans with the proper tools of research and development and because the Asian nations were denied such tools by the colonists, the Europe took the lead in terms of science, production, culture, technology and economy. Prior to the industrial revolution the Europe depended heavily on the Asian nations for technology, fashion, tools, means of production and sciences. Taking into account the history of India and other Asian nations and using common sense one can be certain that one can blame the British Empire for shifting the power and global importance from Asia to Europe, similarly to how the Roman Empire shifted the power and importance from Africa (Carthage) to Europe (Rome). In more philosophical terms one can say that the Eastern civilization dominated the world until the industrial revolution liberated the Western man from the chains of religious dogmas and limitations and allowed him to fully utilize the capability in gaining global control.
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