Wednesday, April 18, 2012

harm done to colonies due to imperialism

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Imperialism started in the latter part of the nineteenth century, which was triggered by the Industrial Revolution. Ever since the Industrial Revolution has started, competition among European countries has increased. In order to be the strongest among the rest of the countries, a nation had to be able to adapt to the new era and to be able to compete for survival, otherwise it was viewed as the weak and would eventually be defeated by the others. Mother countries such as Britain, France, and Germany began to develop new interests for the places which met their desires. Such desires included a dependable source for raw materials, and a large army to protect its possessions and the country itself. If all of these desires were met, higher standards of living could also be obtained, as well as prestige and the continuous prosperity of the mother country. Nations began to seek places which had a good geographical location and plenty of natural resources. Once they discovered these areas, they made them their colonies. By having colonies, a large army could be established to protect the mother country and its investments; raw materials could be transported from the colonies to the mother country and thus increased production. Imperialism benefited some aspects of the colonies, but was harmful in other aspects. Some colonies gained benefits such as better transportation as a result of new built roads and railways; better education for the people in the colony as schools were built; better shelters as new houses were built to replace mud huts (in the colonies in Africa in this case) (Mitchner & Tuffs. 17. P.17). However, not all the things that happened were beneficial. As a mother country came into power and took control of a colony, the colony could lose what she originally had, such as control over her own issues. After investigating the benefits gained and the harm done to the colonies, the evidence shows that the harm done due to imperialism outweighed the benefits. For example, as India became one of Britain’s colonies, the lives of the Indians were in the hands of the British and they no longer had control over their own affairs (History of India, n.d.). Britain took advantages of India as much as possible and at all cost. People who lived in the colonies of Africa were forced to adapt to a new culture, thus losing their identity (History of Africa, n.d.). Therefore, imperialism was not beneficial to the colonies for the most part.


India was one of Britain’s colonies. The main reason for having India as a colony was because it had the raw materials that Britain needed to help its industrial growth. The British law forced India to supply raw materials such as tea, indigo, coffee, and silk, they also forced India to change from growing wheat to growing cotton to help Britain’s own economy (History of India, n.d.). As all the materials that Britain wanted were provided by India, profits were made mostly by the British and the Indian manufacturing was forced out of business. This shows the lack of consideration for the Indians on Britain’s part. They did not care about the economy of India and they only cared about the economy of Britain. Everything that the British did was for the their own good and did not think of the consequences to their actions. Imperialism was not beneficial to the colonies when most of what they had to run the economy was taken away. It was bad enough that the British destroyed the local Indian businesses, but they also made the Indians pay taxes. Since the British had control over the Indian government, the people in India could not do anything to change their own taxation system. One third of India’s annual revenue was spent in Britain for Britain’s own benefit and the people in India had no choice but to stand aside and let it happen. As local businesses in India were out and the people in India were taxed at the same time, it was not surprising that food shortages started to occur in India, which caused the death of over 0 million Indians (History of India, n.d.). As a result of British imperialism, harmful things were done to the Indians. Not only did the British deprive the Indians from having control over their own government and local affairs, the British drained money from India and did whatever it took to benefit herself only. The British took advantage of the fact that the Indians were defenceless against them.


Although the British who settled in India made it seem like they were trying to improve the lives of all Indians by giving them the western civilization and providing education, not all of the people in India had the same privilege. In 181, only the Indian elites were taught how to read, which was only 10 percent of the total population, and the other 0 percent of the people remained as illiterates (History of India, n.d.). The result of imperialism was not as beneficial to the people in India as the British made it seem, in a way, they provided education to Indian elites in an attempt to make them have the same beliefs and values as the British, since those privileged Indians were most likely going to become leaders in the future. By providing education to these people, Britain could make eventually English become the dominant language in India, so that the multi-lingualism of the Indian culture would slowly fade away. The attempt to change culture did not only happen to the Indians, but to most colonies in Africa as well. After the Berlin Conference in 1885, most parts in Africa were claimed by Britain, France, and Germany, the people in the colonies also had to adapt to western’s way of life even when they already had their own culture (History of Africa, n.d.). Imperialism caused the people in the colonies to lose their unique way of life. The construction done in Congo by Belgium is also an example that shows a mother country did certain things to benefit herself. Belgium built new railways and roads because they needed new routes to transported the raw materials taken from the colonies, such as gold, ivory, diamonds, etc, as efficiently as possible to increase the production and the number of trades that could be made (Mitchner & Tuffs. 17. P.185). Belgium made it seem like the constructions were done to make the conditions in the Congo better, but actually, they only benefited themselves as the new routes increased the amount of trade made, which helped Belgium’s economy. Congo, however, did not benefit from the new form of transportation as she did not get a share of the wealth. It was Belgium who benefited from it.


Invading foreign countries was how imperialism worked, as this was the only way to colonize a place. Britain usually ended up getting the colony that she aimed for, which was a gain for her, but the process of seizing the colony was usually not pretty. An example would be Britain’s invasion in Zululand in 1877 (Mitchner & Tuffs. 17. P.188). The Zulus had no choice but to fight the modern army of Britain when they invaded, and as a result of that, most of them were killed and their own nation was divided into occupied districts. This did not only happen to the Zulus, but to the Boers who died in the Boer War too. In the Boer War, the British troops were supported by the troops from Australia, Canada and other parts of the British Empire, thus they overpowered the Boers. Because of this war, over 7000 men and 8,000 innocent women and children died (Mitchner & Tuffs. 17. P.18-10). In the history of imperialism, some colonies were stripped of culture, others were stripped of materials and money, but nothing could be worse than being killed by the mother countries that invaded their land.


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In conclusion, imperialism was not beneficial to its colonies for the most part, although sometimes the mother countries made it appear otherwise. It seemed like new facilities such as new buildings and roads built to improve the living conditions in the colonies, but in reality, the mother countries were only attempting to benefit themselves so they could become wealthier. They also did things without considering what could happen to their colonies, such as taking materials from them and creating larger industries than the ones that the colonies have, which resulted the closures of the colonies’ businesses. The culture of the people who originally lived in the colony has been invaded as imperialist nations took control and attempted to spread their western ideas. The result of that was the loss of identity for the people. Not only that, they were always being treated as second-class citizens in their own country due to the cultural differences between the mother country and the colonies. Worse of all, the innocents were killed in the process of claiming a colony.





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