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Sociology | Class 12 | Structural Change


This chapter focuses on the structural modifications brought about by colonialism. Therefore, we must change from this broad impressionistic perspective to one that better describes colonialism as a structure and a system.

New political, economic, and social structural changes were a result of colonialism. Only two of these structural changes—industrialization and urbanization—are examined in this chapter.

Nature of Colonialism

Indian society has been greatly impacted by colonial rule in every way, including the railways, industries, and postal service (social, cultural, economic, political).

Due to the extensive and profound changes it caused, colonial rule had a distinct impact from all other earlier ones. History is replete with instances of stronger powers occupying weaker nations and annexing their territory. However, there is a significant distinction between the creation of empires in pre- and post-capitalist eras.

The pre-capitalist conquerors profited from their dominance by collecting a steady stream of tribute. Overall, they did not interfere with the foundation of the economy. They merely took the tribute that was traditionally skimmed off the economic surplus produced in the areas under their control.

In contrast, British colonialism, which was based on a capitalist system, intervened directly to ensure that British capitalism would profit the most. Each and every policy was intended to support and advance British capitalism.

Implementing English

The use of English as a result of colonialism's changes has paradoxically paradoxical effects on many different levels. In addition to being widely spoken and written in India, Indians have produced a significant body of English-language literature. Indians now have an advantage in the international market thanks to their fluency in English.

However, the ability to speak English is still seen as a sign of privilege, and it is a liability on the job market. On the other hand, knowledge of English may open doors to opportunities that were previously closed to those who were traditionally denied access to formal education, such as the Dalits.

There was a lot of human movement as a result of colonialism. People began moving from one region of India to another as a result. People from modern-day Jharkhand, for instance, relocated to Assam to work on the tea plantations.

As government employees and professionals like doctors and lawyers moved to different parts of the country, a newly emerging middle class, particularly from the British Presidency regions of Bengal and Madras, also migrated.

Ships from India were used to transport workers to other colonised lands in far-off Asia, Africa, and the Americas. On the way, many people died. Most couldn't ever go back. Many of their descendants today are referred to as being of Indian descent.

Capitalism and colonialism

A market-based economic system known as capitalism employs privately owned production equipment that is organised to maximise profits.

Western capitalism developed as a result of a long process that involved European exploration of the rest of the world, looting of its wealth and resources, unprecedented advancements in science and technology, and harnessing of those advancements for use in business and agriculture.

The rise of western capitalism was inextricably linked to western colonialism. This had a long-lasting effect on how capitalism evolved in an area that had been colonised, like India.

Nation states took over as the predominant political form as capitalism emerged as the dominant economic system. The rise of nationalism is closely related to nation states.

Nationalism implied that all colonised societies, including India, had an equal right to be sovereign. Indian nationalist leaders fought for both political and economic freedom and proclaimed that freedom, or swaraj, was their birthright.

Industrialisation and Urbanisation During Colonial Rule

When we talk about industrialization, we're talking about the rise of machine production that relies on the use of inanimate energy sources like steam or electricity. In contrast, a key characteristic of modern industrial societies is that the vast majority of people who are employed do not work in agriculture but rather in factories, offices, or retail establishments.

The Colonial Era in Britain, the first society to industrialise, was also the first to transition from a largely rural to an overwhelmingly urban nation. The same British industrialization's effects in India resulted in deindustrialization in some industries. and the decline of historic urban areas.

The traditional exports of cotton and silk products from India decreased as a result of competition from Manchester at the same time that manufacturing grew in Britain.

Cities played a crucial part in the imperial economic system. The preference was for coastal cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai. Primary goods could be easily exported from this location, and manufactured goods could be affordably imported. Colonial cities served as the main conduit between Britain's economic core and colonised India's margins or peripheries. Cities served as the physical manifestation of capitalism on a global scale.

Additionally, during this time, Bombay and Madras expanded while cities like Surat and Masulipatnam continued to decline. Courts were lost in Thanjavur, Dhaka, and Murshidabad when the British occupied Indian states.

In India, the initial effects of the same British industrialization led to more people moving into agriculture, in contrast to Britain, where industrialisation's impact led to more people moving into urban areas.

As a result of urbanisation during the colonial era, some older urban centres began to decline and new colonial ci, Bombay and Madras expanded during this time ties began to emerge.

One of the first of these cities was Kolkata. For instance, in order to establish a trading post by the river Hugli, an English merchant by the name of Job Charnock arranged to lease three villages (called Kolikata, Gobindapur, and Sutanuti). Fort William was built by the river in 1698 for defensive purposes, and a sizable open area was cleared all around it to accommodate military operations.

Indian sociological writings have frequently covered colonialism's contradictory and unintended effects.

Tea Plantations

The colonial administrators made it clear that harsh measures were taken against the labourers in order to ensure that they benefited the planters, which is significant. They were also fully aware that colonised nations' laws were exempt from the same democratic standards that applied to them at home.

India's tea industry got its start in 1851. Assam was where the majority of the tea gardens were. The majority of the desperately needed labour had to be imported from other provinces due to Assam's sparse population and the fact that the tea plantations were frequently situated on uninhabited hillsides.

However, it took the provision of financial and other incentives, which the Assamese tea planters were unwilling to provide, to bring thousands of people each year from their remote homes into strange lands with an unfavourable climate and strange fevers. Instead, they turned to fraud and coercion, and they convinced the government to pass laws that would make them complicit in this unholy task.

Industrialisation in independent India

  • Economic exploitation during colonial rule was a major concern for Indian nationalists. Images of the fabled precolonial riches of India were shown alongside the abject poverty of British India.

  • The Swadeshi movement boosted support for the domestic economy. People realised that poverty could be avoided thanks to modern ideas.

  • Rapid economic industrialization, according to Indian nationalists, was the key to social justice and economic growth.

  • Jawaharlal Nehru envisioned an edifice of enormous steel mills, dams, and power plants as the foundation for a modern and prosperous India.

Urbanisation in independent india

  • In search of employment, a higher standard of living, and a sense of anonymity, people relocate from rural to urban areas.

  • Social motivations: feeling of anonymity; freedom to select a career.

  • Better job opportunities and a higher standard of living are economic factors.

  • Conflicts between immigrants and locals; when immigrants move to urban areas, the locals object because they believe they must provide housing options and employment opportunities.


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