The Raj and its Plus Points
The British came to India as Traders during the seventeenth century when the Moslem power as represented by the Mughul was paramount. However by a combination of circumstances coupled with fate made them masters of the greatest empire in world history. India was the jewel in the English crown and the British reveled in their possession of this vast sub continent.
The period of British rule lasted for nearly 190 years and it forms a significant part of Indian history. Many have commented on the negative aspects of the Raj and perhaps to an extant they may be right. But at the same time the benefits that accrued to India from British rule cannot be dismissed out of hand.
Thus it is important to look at the period of British popularly referred to as the Raj with a balanced mind. We must remember that when the British came to India the Hindus were an exploited lot who were almost like second class citizens in their own land, as power was with the Moslems. In fact the Moslem rule lasted almost 800 years. The Hindus also had to pay the jizzia tax to profess their religion. The fact remains that the Moslems with a few exceptions ruled with an iron hand which came down heavily on their Hindu subjects. They did adopt local customs but mass scale conversions were carried out on the point of the sword coupled with destruction of Hindu temples and forcible abduction and marriages into the harem of Hindu girls.
Benefits of the Raj
One great advantage of the British raj was that the Hindus were liberated from the oppression of the Moslems and became equals of the Muslims. The Hindus could now live and breathe with ease. They could worship their Gods and the Jizzia tax was abolished. The Hindus took full advantage of this and developed far more than the Muslims who steeped in iconoclast ideas just lost their moorings and fell way behind in the fields of education and commerce.
It cannot be denied that this dark period of Moslem rule resulted in some obscure and abhorrent practices creeping into the Hindu philosophy. Thus practices like the purdah system, seclusion of women, child marriage, sati-burning of the wife on the husband’s pyre, caste system and thuggery crept in. go to the English rule that these practices were taken headlong and laws passed that made India move forward. An enlightened British rule took these abhorrent practices head on and cleansed India as never before.
The Raj was a period when law and order was restored in India and for once in a thousand years the people could live and work freely. For the English rule were not a terror and a lot many Englishmen came to India with zeal, mission and love with the task of preserving the ancient Indian heritage. Thus the famous temples of Khujaraho and creation of the infrastructure for development like roads and railway cannot be wished away.
The Raj gave to India a frame work of a civil administration to govern this vast country. They set up the all India services and brought in the railways and postal services that benefitted the common man. India slowly started moving forward under the British raj.
The British did rule and live like ‘Nawabs’ but from the tea gardens of Assam to the cotton mills of Ahmadabad, the British mark of development is there for all to see.
Lastly the Raj gave something that had not exited for many centuries. They created the concept of one nation as they had brought the entire India from the Khyber to the Hills of Nagaland under one administrative unit. It had never happened before as even the empires of Asoka and Aurangzeb never encompassed the entire sub continent.
With the advent of the twenty-first century we can look back to the period of British rule as a romantic period and heave a sigh of relief that the British colonized Indian and not the other European powers like the French or Belgians. The British rule created India and it is something that is part of history.