The British in India

December 6, 2013 | | 1 Comment

Imperialism in India began as an attempt to merely trade with the Mughal Empire.  After several failed attempts to open up trade in India, King James I of England sent Sir Thomas Roe to the court of the Mughal emperor. Roe soon was able to have the British East India Company to be allowed to establish operations throughout India (The Scramble for Empire: South and East Asia).

In the early 1700s, the Mughal Empire fell into decline. Sensing their opportunity, the British East India Company quickly seized control over the entire subcontinent of India.  India enjoyed some gains from British rule. It’s rail system was the third largest in the world and the British help make the economy more modern. However, many farmers and villages lost their ability to feed themselves because they were made to grow cash crops. Many peoples died when famines struck. By the mid-1800s, many Indians felt growing resentment. The British East India Company created Sepoys (large native armies). In 1857, the soldiers revolted when they received bullets with pig and beef fat on it. They were enraged because they had to bite into the package in order to get to the bullet. Pigs and cows cannot be consumed according to their religion. Another factor contributing to the revolt was that the aristocratic class of the soldiers felt that the British were encroaching on them. The East India Company needed a year and British troops in order to put it down. The Indians lost the revolt because of their own religious divisions. Muslims and Hindus did not trust each other (European Imperialism Tightens Its Grip).

After the revolt, the British government took direct control of British India. Queen Victoria was named Empress of India in 1877 in response to this revolt.  British law forced India to supply tea, indigo, coffee, and cotton. India was considered to be the Crown Jewel of the British Empire due to the immense wealth the British gained due to their power in India. India essentially made the British Empire rich and powerful. British rule in India became known as “the Raj”. The Raj was the bureaucracy of India. Indians soon resented their treatment at the hands of the government. They formed a group called the Indian National Congress. They began to push the British to make changes. This is the early start of Indian nationalism (European Imperialism Tightens its Grip).

Written by: Megan Flaherty


This image shows what the British Empire ruled as India.




A documentary on the British Raj.


bhuvannn. “The British Raj-Parts 1 & 2: Vedic TV” Web. 4

December 2013.


McNamara, Robert. “Map of Hindostan, or British India.” Web. 4

December 2013.

“ The Age of Imperialism.” World History: McDougal-Littlell(1999). Mr.

                    Wilson’s Web World. Web. 4 December 2013.

Modified from:

“European Imperialism Tightens its Grip.” Western Civilization II Guides.

UMW. Blog. 4 December 2013.

“The Scramble for Empire: South and East Asia.” Western Civilization II

              Guides. UMW. Blog. 4 December 2013.





1 Comment so far

  1.    Bhaskar Menon on December 7, 2013 6:27 am

    It is grossly wrong to say “In the early 1700s, the Mughal Empire fell into decline. Sensing their opportunity, the British East India Company quickly seized control over the entire subcontinent of India.”

    From 1757, when the East India Company took control of Bengal, it took well over a century before the British controlled about 3/5th of India. The rest of the country remained independent kingdoms with treaty relationships with Britain.

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