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Mains Answer Writing

3-January-2023

Q1) The ideology of paternalistic benevolence and white man’s burden thinly veiled the realities of a despotic Raj that continually impoverished the country. Comment.

ANSWER

As the ruling authority in colonial India, the British professed a role of India’s “parent,” making decisions in their supposed favour while not allowing Indians the liberty to decide on several matters. Under the hubris of ‘white man’s burden’, the British colonizers believed that it was their duty to civilize Indians, whom they considered barbaric and less efficient in administration.

The British introduced several steps under the ideology of paternalistic benevolence and white man’s burden, such as:

  1. They implemented socio-religious reforms such as the abolition of sati and promotion of widow remarriage.
  2. They brought about systems such as subsidiary alliance, doctrine of lapse, and dyarchy as administrative reforms for better governance of the country.
  3. Infrastructural reforms included building railways. It was argued the new infrastructure benefitted Indians through their better integration within the country as well as with the world.
  4. Christian missionaries became active in bringing about moral reforms in Indian society and the emancipation of ignorant masses from their ‘superstitious religions.’
  5. The establishment of several institutions like Calcutta Madrasa, Fort William College, and Sanskrit College would promote native education. Educational reforms followed a “downward filtration theory” wherein a small section of upper and middle classes was to be educated first.

However, these false benevolent acts led to the impoverishment of India in several ways as discussed below:

  1. The forced commercialization of agriculture led to depeasantization and exploitation due to distorted land revenue settlement.
  2. India was reduced to a market for dumping British goods and a mere exporter of raw materials. It created deindustrialisation and led to pauperisation of rural masses.
  3. The administrative changes made India subservient with no real power. Indians lost total control over their territories and merely remained as British puppets.
  4. The British created rifts between several communities which led to the polarization of society, such as the Bengal Partition of 1906.
  5. The Bengal famine and other calamities were overlooked by the British. It led to mass-scale misery, which highlighted the critical lack of a sympathetic native rule.
  6. The colonial regime created a middle-class intelligentsia that would remain loyal to the colonial cause. The involvement of Indians in important administrative decisions was minimal, ensuring the exploitation of the country through drain of wealth.

In conclusion, the acts of benevolence as portrayed by the British in colonial times were acts of self-profiteering and continued misery against Indians. The British self-fulfilling prophecy was soon dismantled by early nationalists through their economic critique of colonial economy and Gandhian mass-movements which united Indians to struggle for their independence from colonial rule.

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