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Old June 21st, 2010, 03:31 PM   #1

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India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


Why was it so called? It implies that India was a source of wealth that would enrich the homeland.

Did the British not spend more money governing/occupying the country than the raw materials which were extracted?
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Old June 21st, 2010, 03:42 PM   #2

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Re: India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


It wasn't only raw materials that attracted British investment in India, there was also the issue of security and prestige. The Russians had to be checked at some point.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 04:51 PM   #3

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Re: India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


The British involvement in India began with Bombay the Dowry of Catherine of Braganza when she married Charles II as this was a Portuguese territory first. Their first interests were in trade.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 05:28 PM   #4

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Re: India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


In the 17th century the Moghul Empire was one of the great empires in history and second only to China in global power. European ambassadors couldn't even secure an audience with high up officials, let alone monarchs, had little the Indians saw as worth to trade and were seen as poor barbarians.

In the 18th century, Maharatta India had surpassed China as the richest and most powerful country on earth, but was divided. France and Britiain annexed it piecemeal then went to war in their colonies there. This non-famous conflict being the most import ever fought between the two countries.

In the 19th century Britain controlled the global opium trade from India and managed to steal tea from China and plant it in India creating the global tea trade, generating huge wealth. Up till then India had been a coffee grower and Britain trading at a deficit with China.

By the turn of the 20th century India generated more wealth than the whole of the rest of the empire combined. In fact the wealth generated in India rivalled the wealth generated by Britain. Also it was a captive market to buy British goods. The British economy being so uncompetitive and undercut by cheap third world bootleggers and sweat shops such as the US that it needed a captive trade bloc (the Empire) to trade with to even be able to sell its goods.
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Old June 21st, 2010, 11:25 PM   #5

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Re: India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


Quote:
Originally Posted by avon View Post
It wasn't only raw materials that attracted British investment in India, there was also the issue of security and prestige. The Russians had to be checked at some point.

I am not well versed in the "Great Game", was Russia that much of a threat in central asia?
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 12:58 AM   #6

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Re: India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


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Originally Posted by okamido View Post
I am not well versed in the "Great Game", was Russia that much of a threat in central asia?
As they marched deeper and deeper into Central Asia, they came closer to India, so yes, they were seen as that much of a threat.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 03:31 AM   #7

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Re: India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


Toltec summed it up pretty aptly- India was the financial engine of the empire- especially when it came to procuring raw materials and skilled workers( existence of various trading guilds since the Nanda empire and long imperial beurocracy meant that Indians, in general, were sufficiently skilled in various industries and finances to be a source of cheap skilled labor).

It should also be noted that Indian soldiers and food resources went a long way towards the military history of the British empire in the 19th and early 20th century.
Indian soldiers - numerically and strategically- played a key role in the British empire. Especially, the bulk of the empire's military consumption came from India - while the equipment and resources were made in Britain and elsewhere, most of the raw materials- especially food rations of the soldiers- came from India.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 03:36 AM   #8

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Re: India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


Quote:
Originally Posted by okamido View Post
I am not well versed in the "Great Game", was Russia that much of a threat in central asia?
Indeed, Russia was seen as a serious challenger to India in the latter half of 19th century.

The British had barely held the nation after the 1857 mutiny and were left with a huge swath of land, essentially from Indus to Burma, where their tactical, strategic and security capabilities against an European land power, like Imperial Russia, was highly limited.

This threat was made very real with the active Russian Imperial policy of expansionism into a warm-water port. The Ottoman and Qajar-Afsharid dynasty of Iran held sufficient power for expansion through middle east not being viable for Russia. As such, with its subjugation of Central Asia with relative ease led to a genuine concern of Russia breaking through into warm waters via Afghanistan-Pakistan area.
The British acted with this long term strategic issue in mind and gradually expanded control over Baluchistan, NWFP(Which was a part of Afghanistan from mid 1700s to late 1800s) areas while holding dominating treaties with the king of Afghanistan.
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 05:34 AM   #9

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Re: India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord_of_Gauda View Post
India was the financial engine of the empire
How so? Can anyone answer if more money was spent governing India (paying for soldiers, governors etc) than India gave back in the form of tea and cotton?

My (uninformed) inclination was that the private companies (East India Company) made profits from trading with India (tea, opium etc) but when the British Government took control of India after the Sepoy Rebellion, it became a financial drain on Britain. Is there any truth to that?
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Old June 22nd, 2010, 05:38 AM   #10

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Re: India - The Jewel in the Crown of the British Empire?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord_of_Gauda View Post
Toltec summed it up pretty aptly- India was the financial engine of the empire- especially when it came to procuring raw materials and skilled workers( existence of various trading guilds since the Nanda empire and long imperial beurocracy meant that Indians, in general, were sufficiently skilled in various industries and finances to be a source of cheap skilled labor).

It should also be noted that Indian soldiers and food resources went a long way towards the military history of the British empire in the 19th and early 20th century.
Indian soldiers - numerically and strategically- played a key role in the British empire. Especially, the bulk of the empire's military consumption came from India - while the equipment and resources were made in Britain and elsewhere, most of the raw materials- especially food rations of the soldiers- came from India.

I have heard it called by some writers as the British/Indian Empire.
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