The deindustrialization of India by the East India Company
According to a YouGov poll in 2016, 43 percent of British citizens thought the existence of the British Empire was a “good thing,” while only 19 percent disagreed. It’s a myth that British imperialism benefited one of its richest colonies, India, when on the contrary it drained all its wealth and resources just like colonizers do.
The British East India Company made its sneaky entry through the Indian port of Surat in 1608. Originally the company started with a group of merchants trying to seek a monopoly over trade operations in the East Indies. In 1615, Thomas Row one of the members approached the ruling Mughal emperor Jehangir to gain permission to open the first factory in Surat.
Slowly as they expanded their trade operations, the British started forming colonies. Penetrating deep into Indian politics, the imperialists took advantage of the infighting between the ruling royalty in different states, pitting one against the other by taking sides and offering protection.
To monitor the activities of the company, the British government installed the first governor general of India, Warren Hastings, who laid the administrative foundation for subsequent British consolidation. The East India Act of 1784 was passed to dissolve the monopoly of the East India Company and put the British government in charge. After the Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857, the British government assumed full control, dissolving the trading company.
Imperial rule destroyed India’s local hand loom industry to fund its own industrialization. India became one of the major cotton exporters to the U.K. The raw materials from India were taken to the U.K. and the finished products were sent back to Indian markets and other parts of the world, leaving the Indian handloom industry in shambles and taking jobs away from local weavers.
India, that was one of the major exporters of finished products became an importer of British goods as its world share of exports fell from 27 percent to 2 percent. India was once referred to as “Sone ki Chidiya” or “The Golden Bird” before the British looters drained all its wealth. At the beginning of the 18th century, India’s share of the world economy was 23 percent, as large as all of Europe put together, but by the time the British were kicked out of India in 1947, it had dropped to less than 4 percent, according to the BBC.