India remained a colony of Britishers for about two centuries. Previously too, India faced many invasions and transgressions on her land but it was British rule which proved most exploitative for India. In 1600, when East India company got its first charter, its prime objective was to earn profit. But the trade was mostly unilateral, as Britishers only imported Indian goods like spices, cotton, indigo, silk, etc. But they had nothing which could be exported to India. The position, however, changed after 1757, as Britishers acquired political power after battling Plassey. This was the beginning of an era of exploitation. Now, after gaining political powers, land revenue became an instrument of plundering peasants. The permanent settlement which was introduced by Cornwallis in 1793, earned revenue of £34,00,000. Surprisingly, the revenue earned was not meant for public welfare. It was repatriated to England.
Corrupt officers of the company also accumulated large wealth. For instance, Clive had nothing when he came to India but within a short period of 2 years, he generated a wealth of £2,50,000. This all drained the wealth of India to England. Another phase of exploitation started after the onset of the 19th century, with the start of industrialization in England. At that time Indian clothes were in great demand in England, but the British government levied a heavy custom duty of 78 % on imports of Indian products. However, their goods were kept duty-free in India. This made India a market for British goods and ruined our industry.
The British capitalists were little interested in establishing industries in India but some industries, like jute industries, were set up due to geographical reasons. Plantation of tea, coffee, and indigo was also of main interest. But these industries were not established to improve India’s fortune. Capitalists had a monopoly on supplies of these products and they earned huge profits. Plantation industries only exploited Indian workers. For imperialist pursuits, the British government maintained a big army. It accounted for roughly one–third of government expenditure. These expenditures were also born by poor Indians.
The mid-nineteenth century saw massive investment by the British capitals in India. One such investment was in railways, but everything for this investment was imported from England, thus, local resources remained unused and the burden of interest was imposed on Indians. Capitals imported for Indian railways gave impetus to industrialization in England, and its benefits were denied to Indians. The British government charged Indians for such expenditures for which they were not even remotely concerned. For example, the cost of mutiny, the price of the transfer, the transfer of the company’s rights to the crown, war expenses with China, etc.
After detailed discussions on every exploitative aspect of Britishers, we can say that it was extreme economic exploitation that made British rule different from other invasions which India faced in past. Other invaders looted and plundered India and returned to their homeland. Some of them settled in India and ruled but didn’t drain the wealth of India to their motherland. But Britishers plundered and looted India continuously for two centuries. But, now we are fortunate as we are living in a truly sovereign nation. But we should infer lessons from history and keep our motherland safe and secure.