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The History of India's Modernization

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The History of India's Modernization

Because of external influence, India modernized at the turn of the twentieth century. It was originally a long-established, traditional country. They were for the most part against British interference, due to their religious traditions and culture. Due to colonialism, their country turned upside down and back again. India transformed in many ways: politically, economically, socially, and technologically. India has also felt the stings of long-term effects of colonialism, and does today.

In the sixteenth century, European countries such as Portugal, the Netherlands, France, and the United Kingdom arrived as traders in India. The eventual British control of India was brought by the fall of the Mogul Empire. India was very religiously divided, between the Muslims and the Hindus. Mogul control in south India came under pressure with the increase of strong attacks by the Hindu rebels. Mogul leaders imposed taxes on Hindus, destroyed their temples, and forced them to convert to Islam. With the absence of a strong central authority, the provinces of India became increasing independent from the central authority both economically and politically.

Despite their own internal conflict, they did not want to be controlled by the British. But at the Battle of Plassey, Britain proved its dominance. By 1865, India was under control of the East India Trading Company. The British felt they were more or less welcome until the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857-58. Its immediate cause was the cartridge for the new rifle, which had to be bitten before it was loaded. Rumors spread that the cartridge were greased with cow-fat and pig-lard. Because the cow is sacred to the Hindus, and the Moslems considers pigs unclean, both religious groups were offended. The deeper causes of the Mutiny were resentment over the Westernization of India and fear that native customs, religions, and social structures would be lost. In 1947, after the long campaign of civil disobedience led by the Mahatma Gandhi, England gave independence to the colony, and it was divided into India, an officially secular state with a largely Hindu population, and Pakistan, an officially Muslim state.

Britain held the political and economical power. India's government changed because of Britain's influence. They were completely in control of every aspect, and only gradually allowed Indians to participate in the structure of government. They restricted Indian-owned industries, such as cotton textiles. The East India Trading Company's emphasis on cash crops resulted in a loss of self-sufficiency. The switch from subsistence farming to cash crops reduced food production, and caused famines in the late 1800's.

Britain Greatly influenced India socially. The presence of missionaries and racist British officials threatened the traditional Indian life. Hinduism was is India's predominant religion, but to the British, Hinduism was often associated with several social abuses, such as infanticide, child marriage, the prohibition of widow remarriage, suttee, and other social evils of the caste system. The custom of suttee was a practice in Hinduism in which widows threw themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands to accompany them to the next life. Hinduism came under more pressures in the form of Christianity. The Caste system was maintained for generations, and allowed little mobility out of the position to which a person is born. Each caste had its own occupation and any contact with another caste was prohibited. British legislators did not agree that the members of the lower-caste should receive greater punishment, than members of the upper-caste, for committing the same offense. Under British rule, the untouchables and low-caste Indians enjoyed an improvement of their social standings. The strict restrictions on social contacts became harder to enforce as members of different castes mingled increasing. By the end of British rule, Indian society began to break down into a westernized class system. A rising strong middle class with a heightened sense

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