The Impact of The West on Indians
The British rule in India created many changes in our administrative, economic and social life. Some of them were beneficial while some others were detrimental to the country. The English brought the whole country under a unified administration. They organized an efficient civil service. Our Constitution is on the model of the British Constitution with some changes. In the United Kingdom, Parliament is supreme. But in India it is the judiciary that is supreme. Our Constitution provides for judicial review.
But this does not exist in the United Kingdom. In our Constitution we have included Directive Principles of State Policy as in the Irish Constitution. The British introduced the Rule of Law and equality before law. They ‘codified the Indian laws. Uniform civil and criminal procedure codes were introduced throughout the country.
The economic results of the British rule were significant. Their conquest brought about the ruin of Indian industry and trade. India became a good source of the raw materials required for British industries. Indian traders were gradually eliminated from the internal and foreign trade of India. The British constructed metalled roads and introduced railway and electric telegraph. They established the postal system in the country. All these assisted in promoting the economic development of India.
Before the advent of the English, the barter system existed in India on a large scale. Gold and silver coins were also used in trade and transactions, which created much confusion. Private agencies also minted coins. The British noticed the confusion and introduced a sound currency system. The silver rupees became the legal tender-throughout the country. This was an important contribution of the British.
British rulers introduced in India some ideas which: were popular in the West. This was seen in some lof the measures of social legislation introduced by them. The most important among them was the abolition of ‘Sati’
The British introduced English system of education in India. They did it mainly with a view to establishing British imperialism in this sub-Continent. They also wanted to train people for clerical jobs. English education, according to Dr. R.C. Majumdat, famous Indian historian, not only qualified Indians for taking their share in the administration of their country, but it also inspired them with those liberal ideas which were sweeping over England. In fact, it was this education that accelerated the spirit of nationalism and made the Indians fight -for freedom. The most comprehensive feature of the new scheme of education recommended by Sir Charles Wood was the creation of a properly co-ordinated system from the lowest to the highest stage. There should be an adequate number of efficient teaching institutions such as primary schools, high schools and colleges: The. University of Calcutta (the first University in India) was founded in 1857. Between 1857 and 1887 three new universities were set up in Bombay (Mumbai), Madras (Chennai) and Allahabad. (The University of Lahore that was established during this period is now in Pakistan).
The widespread study of English and the large-scale establishment of the printing presses created a new intellectual climate in the country. The first Indian newspaper in English was the Bengal Gazette. It began its publication in early 19th century. Newspapers in Indian languages were also started. English classics and the classics in the languages on the Continent etc. were translated into Indian languages. Indian classic like the Maliabharata and Salarnatala were translated into English. The writings of scholars like Max Mueller helped realize the greatness of our cultural heritage. The’ rest of the world also came to know of the greatness of Indian thought and culture. Under the influence of English literature, prose replaced poetry as a form of literary expression. The novel, the essay and the short story developed as distinct branches of prose literature.
The contact of the Portuguese with India was very short. However, in was this contact that enabled her increase her trade with Europe. They popularized Kerala spices in the European markets.
The Dutch introduced Western Science to India. They prepared a scientific study of the flora of Malabar. This work Hortus Malabaricus was published in twelve volumes. They introduced Dutch architecture in Kerala and tried to develop Indian agriculture and industries.
The influence of the West, especially that of England, on our technology and science, language and literature, administration and law is very great. According to Toynbee, the Indians “appear to have been more successful than the Russians in harmonizing with their native ways of life a western way that is intrinsically more alien to them than it is to the Russians.”