British East India Company 2
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As the Company grew, it began to modernize production methods in India. Importing new technologies and production methods, the Company ensured that massive quantities of cheaply made goods could be produced, thus allowing for more products to be sold and for profits to increase. However, this modernization severely harmed Indian craft industries, since they could not produce commodities in the quantity, or at the low cost, as could the Company.
By 1757, the Company had expanded to a point where they effectively governed the Indian subcontinent. The Mughal government, weakened by a series of wars, was powerless to stop the Company and eventually came to govern only one city: Delhi. The Company, having a firm hold over the entire nation, worked to modernize the entirety of India.
In order to do this, the Company built numerous factories throughout India in order to mass produce cheap goods. They also built a series of railroads in order to facilitate fast, efficient transport of raw materials and goods throughout the nation and abroad. In the process, though, native craft industries were further weakened and almost disappeared entirely.
Unfortunately, Company rule in India was marred by constant turmoil and instability - unstable economic conditions created equally unstable job markets and high unemployment rates. This, combined with a series of famines in the late 19th century, severely weakened the Indian economy and helped to foment discontent within the Indian population, eventually leading to the Indian Rebellion of 1857.
The rebellion spread throughout India and, although it was put down by the Company in 1858, it proved to be the final nail in the Company’s coffin. Seeing the rebellion and the poor economic state of India as indicative of the Company’s inability to effectively govern the subcontinent, the British government seized control of India and moved it under the direct rule of the British crown, thus transforming it into an official colony of the British empire.
In becoming a colony, India soon became the empire’s most prized possession. Its ability to provide the empire with massive quantities of cheap raw materials helped to fuel the British industrial revolution, and so it greatly contributed to British economic growth during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, British exploitation would continue to weaken India economically, and would sow the seeds of the Indian independence movement.
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