Impact of British on Indian Society


Impact of British on Indian Society!

The British government, Christian missions and English education were three main sources of British impact on Indian society.

The British government replaced the indigenous systems of adminis­tration and governance.


The missions made efforts to convert Indians to Christianity. British educationists tried to spread education to bring about a change in the outlook of the indigenous population.

The British community in India also had an influence on the people in different parts of the country. The port towns and coastal areas were more affected, at least in the beginning of the British Raj. The emergence of a national consciousness, the reali­sation of the value of organisation and of the importance of agitation led to the formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885.


K.M. Panikkar notes that “the most notable achievement of British rule was the unification of India”. This was done unconsciously by the British in the interest of the Indian people. They were interested in spreading and consolidating their rule throughout the country. The same argument can be made about the introduction of western education, means of transport, communication, technology and judiciary.

Y. Singh (1973) observes that “the contact of the Indian (Hindu) tradition with the West was of a different and radical sociological significance … Historically, it was a contact between a pre-modern and a modernizing cultural system”.

The western tradition had “the scientific and technological world-view based on rationalism, equality and freedom”. Consequently, the Indian tradition, which already had a sort of ‘breakdown’, became further open, liberal, equalitarian and humanistic.

The western (British) tradition posed a serious challenge to the Indian tradition. Hierarchy, the principle of social ranking based on birth in a particular caste group, and holism, the ‘organic’ interdependence between different caste groups, based on norms relating to perfor­mances of the assigned functions and duties by various groups, were considerably affected by the western tradition.

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