Why was the British Raj founded

The colonization of India and the road to independence

Dharampal-Frick, Gita; Ludwig, Manju

In: Der Bürger im Staat, 59 (2009), No. 3-4. pp. 148-156. ISSN 0007-3121

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India's independence in 1947 was a key event of the 20th century and the beginning of the end of Europe's colonial empires. The colonization of India took place in several steps. It began in the 17th century with the bases established by the East India Company, which gave England the monopoly of trade in South Asia. The change from a base colony to a ruling colony broke with the historical development of the subcontinent and brought about a radical upheaval in political and social structures. The British legitimized their foreign rule with "Indian otherness". The Indian population became the mere object of colonial policy, which supposedly followed a benevolent reform policy. The British Raj comprised what is now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and was finally placed under the British Crown in 1857. The subcontinent was systematically "reformed" with the help of the legal and administrative apparatus and pressed the caste system into an even more rigid scheme. The collaboration with Indian elites - true to the strategy of domination of divide et impera - contributed to the marginalization of other groups. The Indian National Congress (INC), founded in 1885, is considered to be the origin of Indian independence efforts. Initially, the political efforts of the National Congress were carried out within the framework of the colonial order. Only Mahatma Gandhi was able to mobilize the broad population with his resistance movement against foreign rule and question the legitimacy of the British. India's independence was declared on August 15, 1947. The simultaneous founding of the Muslim state of Pakistan was experienced as a traumatic division of the subcontinent and resulted in ongoing conflicts. The colonial legacy - so the conclusion of Gita Dharampal-Frick and Manju Ludwig - casts its long shadow over many areas of Indian society, which is still shaped by the colonial constructs today.