Posted on: 11 August 2015

Colonial India - British versus Indian Views of Development
By Bipan Chandra

Two divergent theories of economic development were evolved by the British and Indians during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The two had divergent, rival perceptions of the nature of economic changes taking place in colonial India. While according to the British, India was undergoing the process of rapid economic development, the Indians came to hold that India was economically underdeveloping. They argued that India's economic backwardness was not a carry-over from its precolonial past but a consequence of the colonialization of the Indian economy. They therefore set out to analyze the nature, the economic mechanism, and the basic features of British colonialism in India. Consequently, the measures that the British and Indians suggested for overcoming India's economic backwardness were also different from and often in opposition to each other. The measures suggested by the Indians would have cut at the very roots of colonialism. During the 1930's and 1940's, both the British and Indians continued to function within the framework evolved in the nineteenth century, except that the Indians evolved another feature-commitment to planning, the public sector, and social justice.

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Fort William, Calcutta - c.1731
by Samuel Scott and George Lambert

In the foreground are a number of English vessels. Behind is seen the river face of the Fort with battlements enclosing Government House.

Collection: British Library

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