HIS1110 – Lecture 7
The Remaking of Nations
The English East India Company was chartered by the British government in 1600,
and given a charter to explore India. This was a private company. They did not start
exploring India until 1785, and in effect, they ruled it until 1857. They did
mismanage the government of India and there was a lot of anger in India in that
time. So the British government decided to take over in 1857. A secretary of state
for India was appointed in the British cabinet. A British governor general was
appointed at Carcata (Indian capital) and was assisted by a council of provisional
governors. Britain now controlled 3/5 of India. The remaining 2/5 was governed by
Indian princes under British protectorates. (A protectorate is a semi-sovereign
state). When you are fully sovereign you are independent, but they were not. These
Indian princes had autonomy, but not in foreign and economic affairs. The 3/5 and
2/5 was under British rule, some directly and others indirectly.
Governing India Was Difficult
- For one thing, there were various states, states with different interests
- There were several sects
- Several classes
- Rural and Urban weathers
- All of that was not easy when you have practically a sub-continent
- For one thing, the British had to take into consideration the reverence for
Hindu customs. The majority of Indians belonged to the Hindu faith. They
had to take, for example, that the Hindus believed that cows are sacred and
you cannot eat or kill them. This is something that the British did not realize
(safe-guard for religious customs)
- Different religious rights. There were Hindus but also a huge number of
- In 1750, when the East India Company started, you had 140 million people.
In 1850, you had 200 million people. We are having a demographic
explosion. In 1900, we have 330 million people. By 1945, we have 400
million people. In the year 2000, we have 1.2 billion people. This is called a
- This means that the standard of living remains low in India. A lot of poverty
existed in the country. The masses of people were inert and voiceless. They
- You did have, however, a mercantile class (merchants), and an aristocratic
group, but these were a minority. They were both rich, and it is from these
groups that grew a critical allonant of being ruled by outsiders. This smaller
class of middle class merchants and aristocrats thought, “why should we be
ruled by Britain?”
- Yet, during WWI, Indian princes and Indian subjects remained loyal to
Britain and helped them win the war. There were Indian regiments that went to Europe and fought with Britain against Germany. This has a two-edge
situation; you want to remain loyal, but also independent.
o In recognition to their loyalty, Britain gave them control of local
government (municipalities will increase hiring in the civil service)
o They wanted Indians to receive a larger share in jobs and local
o Nationalists were NOT satisfied. Britain continued to control the
police, the law courts (the judiciary), the army, foreign affairs
Although they gave them a certain share of power, they still
had significant influence
The Nationalists were not happy and opposition increased.
(1919) And in fact, there was major rioting in 1919
o In 1919, there was a massacre that took place in these rioting. It took
place in Amrista. The person who lead these nationalist movements
was Gandhi. He argued against violence. But of course, this passive
resistance did not take place. He argued that what we should do is
passively resist, to begin a movement of non-corporation (don’t buy
British goods) with Britain. Boycott their courts, laws and institutions
o Despite Gandhi’s injunctions against violence, rioting continued in
1920-21. AS a result, he was arrested in 1922 as an agitator, even
though he preached passive resistance.
o From his prison cell, he exhorted his followers to practice non-
corporation and passive resistance, (reminds us of Nelson Mandela
who also preached from prison)
o He was later released and he realized that Britain was not going to
grant further concessions from the one they gave (local government).
Throughout the 20s, this sort of situation continued where the
relations were tense.
o In 1930, he advocated complete independence for India. This
prompted his second arrest.
o Consider that the 1929 depression hit India, causing increased
suffering, increased unemployment, and labor unions were formed for
the first time. Communists controlled many of these unions.
- For the first time, we had an Indian Proletariat class (Marxist parties)
- It is the Proletariat class who were hoping they would take over
- In 1940, Britain decided to set up the Round Table Conference. They
decided at that point to bring about a new Government of India Act,
replacing the 1919 act, which gave them local government. It passed in 1935.
It was not put into operation until 1937.
- This time, they create a parliament, cabinet, and even considered giving them
dominion status. In a sense, it was what Canada was before 1931.
- The new act of 1935 created an Indian Federation composed of Indian states.
- Not everyone joined. The princes were invited to join this federation
- Indians joined Britain again in 1939 to help fight Germany
- Governing India was very complex Obstacles in India (that make it difficult to govern India)
The first obstacle was diversity and sectarianism. It’s a very diverse country,
we don’t think of India as one.
- In form, India, in 1935, was a self-governing dominion, but in fact, it was a
confusing, complex structured state. We nearly had 400 million people. The
400 million people mirrored the diversity and indicated that there was no
unity. Why? Because you have seven distinct languages with at least 24
- You have opposing religious faiths. The Hindus – the bulk – who have the cast
system. You have the Muslims who are divided into two groups (Shia and
Sunnis who are always in conflict). There were also Sikhs, Parsees, Buddhists,
Christian (Catholic and Protestant)
- This means that there is neither racial, linguistic, cultural, religious,
- When India became independent in 1937, English became the official
language, and in each state, everything was set up in English and the local
The complex administrative structure
- British India contained at least half of the Indian Peninsula and was divided
in 17 provinces. Each province had its own legislature and parliament. Some
were administered by commissioners or depute commissioners.
- In reality, the structure was a real mosaic. There were 230 districts where
you govern the 17 states.
- The princes (the 2/5 of India) had their own and kept inviting them into the
federation, but otherwise, princes ruled separately
- The Maharajahs/Rajahs
- They were an obstacles because they were indirectly ruled by India
- They had self-governance
- These Maharajahs were independent rulers in a certain way. Not fully
independent, but were separate rulers. They were despots, who ruled
directly, they had no parliaments, a prince would rule their own state
- They hesitated to join the federation because they felt that they might
lose/compromise some of their sovereignty
- In 1939, 50 of them refused to join the federation
In the Second World War, India remained orderly but restive and the demand for
independence grew. After the war, the British labor government decided to grant
India its independence in 1947, allowing parts of India to separate from India and
become Pakistan. India, with British consent, decided that it would be split. The
man who led the idea of the Two State Solution (can’t have Muslims governed by
Hindus) was the father of Pakistan, Ali Jinnah. He established the Muslim League,
and from the beginning fought for the independence of Muslims. There was a lot of movements that some Muslims had to relocate, but by 1947, both of them became
Mahatma Gandhi was somewhat disappointed because he felt that India should be
one. He was the leader of the Congress Party, which rules India today. He stands for
the saintly/holy man. He was a very simple man, who never had anything elaborate,
and was assassinated in 1948.
- From 1840-1900, China was exposed to armed intrusion in what was
referred to as the Celestial Empire
- There was armed intrusion, mostly by Europeans
- This started with the Unequal Contest during the Opium
- In 1856, Britain and France jointly attacked China and won an extension of
the profitable Opium traffic
- In 1856, Russia compelled the Chinese to seed a coastal province on the
Asiatic mainland where the Russians founded the city of Vladivostok.
- This became a base for the Russian navy
- What was taking place between 1840 and 1900 was the spoliation of China.
Nations were taking spoils from China. It was difficult to arrest this
spoliation. At one point, a non-European state decided to get into the game,
- In 1895, Japan took over Formosa (Taiwan) and Korea (which was under
- The German's followed as well, and took some Chinese ports
- There was strong resentment in China, arousing the Chinese people
- In 1900, a patriotic group known as Capital, the Society of the Harmonious
Fists (The Boxers)
o They lead attacks against Europeans, murdering some and demanding
o They called them the Foreign Devours
o Britain, France, Germany, the US, and Japan intervene and forced
China to pay compensation and do what was needed to repair the
damages to the European interests
- The Chinese were beaten by the Europeans at this time
- This meant for the Chinese people that they needed new leadership to lead
them out of this depression
- A particular individual, a philosopher named Dr. Sun Yat Sen appeared on the
- By 1912, he succeeded in removing the emperor of China (they felt that the
emperor was corrupt, unable to act, allowed the spoliation of China) and
proclaimed China to become a republic
- This was lead by Dr. Sun Yat Sen, the founder of the nationalist party, the
Kuomintang, and elected him as the president of the Republic of China
They set up three principles 1. National Independence
a. Remove Europeans who encroached on the territory
2. Democratic Government
3. Economic Security
- There was chaos and turmoil following the revolution. European presence
was not yet settled, and it was not easy to bring about these three principles.
The successor of