The Knife of Sugar: British Imperialism in India

By: Laura Dunnagan

British imperialism in India could be considered as a good or bad thing, depending on who’s viewpoint a person takes. From the British viewpoint, imperialism seems mostly positive. The British now have colonies that can supply materials for them, so the British became interested in mercantilism. This mercantilism meant that Britain could get materials cheaply from their colonies and make them into something they could sell for a higher price, increasing their profit. It could be said that, because the British saw imperialism and mercantilism as a way to increase their profits, they were biased, but some Indians also saw imperialism as a good, prosperous thing for their country.  Romesh Dutt, an author from India, says that “Englishmen… have given the people of India the greatest human blessing- peace” (Doc 3). The British introduced Western education, modernized Indian views on science, life, and thought, improved their laws, and established courts of justice for India. The transportation was improved, the quality of life increased, many cities became industrialized, and means of communication were further developed. The British also put an end to many harsh Indian practices such as slavery and infanticide as well as increasing the value of their export trade. Because of the British relief work, “famines have…almost disappeared” according to J.A.R. Marriott (Doc 4). In these articles, there seems to be little bias, if any.

In contrast, many Indians felt that British imperialism was a bad thing. They felt the British raj was unjust. Mohandas Ghandi, a leader who fought for the independence of India, says that the English “[gave them] no responsibility in [their] own government” (Doc 6). Many native Indian industries, such as ship building, metalwork, and glass were destroyed for British industries because they may not have been as profitable or necessary for the British. Gandhi also says that the British “[took] away [their] money” and that they “[behaved] insolently towards [the Indians] and [disregarded their] feelings” (Doc 8). Gandhi became a major activist for the Indian Independence Movement, leading to Indian Independence in 1947. Although these articles are somewhat biased, the problems of imperialism could not be ignored. That being said, every problem seemed to come with some kind of benefit. Dadabhai Jaoroji, an Indian, describes it as “‘the knife of sugar’… there is no oppression, it is all smooth and sweet, but it is a knife, nevertheless” (Doc 2).

“Imperialism in India: An Evaluation.” Episcopal Collegiate School. 27 March 2012. Print.

Sulehria, Farooq. “Mahatma: The Fake Prophet.” Viewpoint. Photo. 28 Mar. 2012. <;.

This entry was written by ldunnagan4ecspress and published on March 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm. It’s filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “The Knife of Sugar: British Imperialism in India

  1. Pingback: British Imperialism in India « ECS Geography

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