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The British started settling in India at the beginning of the seventeenth century after the establishment of the British East India Company that dealt with spice trade. This was proceeding during two hundred years. However, in 1947, India finally gained its independence from the British rule and left the Indians to rule themselves and run their country. However, the Indians were confused on how they would rule themselves, because they had initially been treated as minorities for a long time. Even after, the Indians gained their independence and freedom from the British rule, remnants of the British colonial rule still infiltrated and affected the lives of Indians, even in the post colonial India. This is observed in many spheres of the Indians’ life including traditions, language, identity and later the sense of nationalism that the Indians felt after the departure of the British colonizers. This paper focuses on the effects of British colonialism in India on the social, cultural and economic development of the Indians. It depicts the feeling of inferiority that has all along enslaved many Indians, which they inherited from their colonizers.
Effects on Tradition
After colonization, the Indians largely felt the presence and effects that the English people had on them. They felt oppressed and with no freedom. This was because of the mistreatment they had received in their own country.These people were, therefore, filled with hatred for themselves and their traditional ways. According to them, the only way to free themselves fully was by learning and adopting English traditions. They pursued this with all their energies and even loathed their own traditions. This is shown in several instances.
During and after colonization, most of the Indians pretended to reject the way of life of the English people, but secretly admired them. They also explored opportunities to make money outside India, in developed nations like America and Britain. This is seen through the character, like Biju, who is an illegal immigrant in the US. He does odd jobs there like working in restaurants and selling hotdogs in fast food joints. Despite this, he would rather stay and work in the US than go back to India and get a decent job. He prefers to hold on to the little money he receives to going back home. This is further demonstrated, by the way, his people back at home admire what he is pursuing in America. They think that he is doing well just because he is working in the US. Biju's father, the cook, proudly speaks of him because he is in America.
We can further see the way many Indians struggle to leave India in order to go to America and Britain. This is because they all believe that their lives can be better there. We see the way Biju scrambles with other Indians to obtain his visa. He mentions to the officers in charge that he is civilized and, therefore, he merits receiving a passport. This shows the way these Indians viewed their traditional ways as being backward. To free themselves from the colonial oppression they had suffered, they preferred to abandon their traditions and embrace the new ways of the colonizers as a way of civilization hence freedom. To this extent, they viewed tradition as a tool for oppression. They abandoned traditions and pursued civilization so as to attain freedom.
Despite the fact that the judge was from a lower caste than his wife, he is allowed to marry her. This is because he is educated. This is totally against the Indian traditions. According to the Indian traditions, people could only marry from the same caste. This instance shows how education, as introduced by the English people, changes and affects the Indians’ traditional beliefs.
We also see the Harish-Harry family, an Indian family, which is living in America. They change their name from their traditional Indian name and adopt an English name. This can be viewed as a way of abandoning tradition and following new ways. A traditional name should give one identity as it reflects their origin in the society. This family chooses to alienate themselves from that by rejecting their original Indian name.
This is also demonstrated through the character and practices of the judge (grandfather). We are told by Gyan who had dinner with them on several occasions that they did not eat traditional Indian food. Instead, they ate English and American food. Gyan despises Sai and her family because of this. Gyan also feels that the way Sai gives herself to him easily is not Indian at all. According to him, she should have made things harder for him. He equally feels that he cannot have anything to do with her, because they belong to different classes. The Indian tradition does not allow such a union.
We can, therefore, see that even after independence, there are those who despised their traditional Indian ways like the judge and Sai. This is because they thought the Indian ways were backward. On the other hand, other Indians like Gyan preferred to hold onto their traditions as this was the only way through which they could identify themselves and free themselves from the oppression they had suffered under the British rule.
Effects on Language
The Indians adopted the English language as their main form of communication and national language. The missionaries who went to India during the early colonial days introduced this language. In addition, most of the educated Indians preferred to communicate in English. This was to portray their civilization level and also help them catch up with the English ways, which they all pursued passionately. For example, we are told that some of them like Lola’s daughter, Pixie, have a British accent, which sanitized elegance and, therefore, worked for the BBC. Her mother tells her never to look back at India and live in Britain for good. This is a demonstration of how some of the Indians failed to appreciate their origin and customs. They chose to speak their colonizer’s language and discard and even undermine their original language. This can be seen as a form of modernization.
The use of English language continued for a long time and caused many traditional Indian language dialects to be abandoned and even forgotten. This is still prevalent even today. Indians still use English language as their national and official language.
Effects on Identity
The British colonizers initiated the loss of the Indian identity. This emerged from the way the undermined Indians’ culture, practices and beliefs. They overlooked them and put their own English ways into practice. This caused the Indian ways to fade, and the result was that many Indians preferred to identify themselves with the English ways.
There is a total loss of identity among many people, who prefer to follow the English way of life, while those who practiced the previous Indian ways were despised. This is seen, in characters, like the judge in several instances. For example, when the judge had gone to study abroad, we are told he became obsessed with bathing off his Indian smell. He wanted to separate and alienate himself from his original Indian ways. When he returned to India from studying, he totally despises his Indian wife whom he finds to be backward. We also see this from the house he lives in at Kalimpong. We are told that many other houses at Kalimpong were built in an English design. They preferred not to live in houses which were built in traditional Indian design. This demonstrated the desire to have a British identity.
Loss of identity is also seen in American Indians who moved to the US to establish themselves there. They prefer not to associate themselves with anything Indian. For example, when Biju was working as a delivery guy in a restaurant, in America, he met educated Indian ladies. He overhears them saying that they would never marry a decent Indian boy. Instead, they preferred educated non Indians. This demonstrates their desire to alienate themselves from their Indian origin. It is essential to point out that formal education was introduced to the Indian society by the British colonizers who wanted to modernize the Indian society. However, these resulted in the educated Indians like the judge who preferred to identify themselves with the ways of the British and undermined their traditional Indian ways, hence, loss of their own identity. Because of this, we are told that these Indians are filled with much hatred of their own ways and practices. They are bitter because of the pain and discrimination they went through in the English country. Despite this, they prefer to maintain the new English ways and abandon all their Indian ways and Identity in the name of modernization.
Through the character of Lola, we see her desire to identify herself with the English ways by her wardrobe choice. We are told she owns a collection of Marks and Spencer outfit. She also thinks that Naipal is strange and backward. This is because he is still stuck in the Indian ways. According to her, following the Indian ways is the lack of freedom and progression. She prides in her daughter who works with BBC, an English reporting company.
Effects of Colonialism
Even after India attained independence, they still fought among themselves. This was all in an effort to do away with any oppression that they felt. For example, the Gorkha tribe continually fought for land and freedom. This was just a way of expressing themselves after the oppression that they had received for a long time being a British colony. The British introduced many things in India during their time there. This ranged from development to oppression of the Indians. The English missionaries introduced formal education, where the Indians were taught how to write, speak and read English language. There was also construction of roads and rails. This improved transportation in India, which enhanced trade. They also introduced improved agricultural practices in India. This increased agricultural output hence food availability and further expansion of agricultural trade. They also introduced improved technology and science that enhanced globalization in India. This led to growth of India’s economy and expansion of trade. These developments are still felt up to date, and, they have been used as a basis for further development. However, despite all these positive impacts, the Indians still felt oppressed as they were not allowed to rule in their own country. Instead, they were ruled by foreigners.
After independence, the Gorkhas become violent to other Indian tribes that are a minority. This was because of the oppression that they suffered at the mercy of the British colonizers. They do this to relieve the tension and stress that they have suffered under the rule of the British Empire. This results to a political turmoil in India that scares the Indian citizens like the cook. When the cook talks to his son Biju, we see that the whole community thinks Biju can save them, because he is in America. They believe that being there gives one power. This gives Biju a burden for his father and his society and he thinks about going back home.
However, despite many desires people had to be civilized by following the ways of the British, we see firsthand experience in Biju’s life about the negative effects this might have. After living and working in America for some time, Biju realizes the emptiness that he felt on the inside. He realized that the new ways were more enslaving than he thought before. He is filled with betrayal for his family and guilt because of his actions. He preferred to go back home. He missed the old days of his childhood in India and realized that this was the life he wanted for himself and his children. He, therefore, decides to go back to India where his father lives. On the other hand, people like the judge, still believe that India is such a backward country and it would be better not to live there. He was rejected by his family for not being an Indian man.
In conclusion, we can see that the effects of the British colonial rule were continually felt in India for quite some time even after the colonizers left. This is observed from the way the Indians behave, their practices and beliefs. Most of them abandon their traditional way of life and struggle to copy the English ways as a way of civilization. This raises conflicts among themselves and tribal clashes arise. All these happen, because the Indians had no idea what their real identity was and strived to achieve it. The only way they thought to be worth to appropriate was through violence. This triggers a series of events as they strive to be independent.
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