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Chapter 1: Structural Change
At one level, colonialism simply means the establishment of rule by one country over another. In the modern period, Western colonialism has had the greatest impact.
India’s past has been marked by the entry of numerous groups of people at different times who have established their rule over different parts of what constitutes modern India today.
The impact of colonial rule is distinguishable from all other earlier rules because the changes it
brought in were far-reaching and deep.
History is full of examples of the annexation of foreign territory and the domination of weaker by stronger powers. Nevertheless, there is a vital difference between the empire-building of pre-capitalist times and that of capitalist times.
Apart from outright pillage, the pre-capitalist conquerors benefited from their domination by exacting a continuous flow of tribute. On the whole, they did not interfere with the economic base.
They simply took the tribute that was skimmed off the economic surplus that was produced traditionally in the subjugated areas. (Alavi and Shanin, 1982)
In contrast, British colonialism which was based on a capitalist system directly interfered to ensure the greatest profit and benefit to British capitalism.
Every policy was geared towards the strengthening and expansion of British capitalism.
For instance, it changed the very laws of the land. It changed not just land ownership laws but decided even what crops ought to be grown and what ought not to be.
It meddled with the manufacturing sector. It altered the way the production and distribution of goods took place. It entered the forests. It cleared trees and started tea plantations.
It brought in Forest Acts that changed the lives of pastoralists. They were prevented from entering many forests that had earlier provided valuable forage for their cattle. The box carries a brief account of the impact of colonial forest policy in North-East India.
Colonialism also led to the considerable movement of people. It led to the movement of people from one part to another within India.
For instance, people from present-day Jharkhand moved to Assam to work on the tea plantations.
A newly emerging middle class particularly from the British Presidency regions of Bengal and Madras moved as government employees and professionals like doctors and lawyers moved to different parts of the country.
People were carted in ships from India to work in other colonized lands in distant Asia, Africa, and the Americas. Many died on their way. Most could never return. Today many of their descendants are known as people of Indian origin.
To facilitate the smooth functioning of its rule, colonialism introduced a wide array of changes in every sphere, be it legal or cultural, or architectural.
Colonialism was a story apart in the very scale and intensity of the changes that it brought about. Some of these changes were deliberate while some took place in an unintended fashion.
For example, we saw how western education was introduced to create Indians who would manage British colonialism. Instead, it led to the growth of nationalist and anti-colonial consciousness.
This magnitude and depth of the structural changes that colonialism unleashed can be better grasped if we try and understand some basic features of capitalism.
Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production are privately owned and organized to accumulate profits within a market system.
(We have already discussed the capitalist market in the first book – Indian Society.) Capitalism in the west emerged out of a complex process of European exploration of the rest of the world, its plunder of wealth and resources, the unprecedented growth of science and technology, its harnessing to industries and agriculture.
What marked capitalism from the very beginning was its dynamism, its potential to grow, expand, innovate, and use technology and labor in a way best assured to ensure the greatest profit.
What marked it too was its global nature. Western colonialism was inextricably connected to the growth of western capitalism.
This had a lasting impact on the way capitalism developed in a colonized country like India. In the next section on industrialization and urbanization we see how colonialism led to very distinct patterns.
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NCERT Solutions Class 12 Sociology Chapter 1 Structural Change
1. How has colonialism impacted our lives? You can either focus on one aspect like culture or politics or treat them together.
Ans. • British colonialism which was based on capitalism directly interfered to ensure the greatest profit and benefit to British capitalism.
•Every policy was geared towards the strengthening and expansion of British capitalism.
•It changed the law of land as:
(a)It changed not just land ownership laws but decided even what crops would be grown and what ought not to be.
(b)It altered the way production and distribution of goods take place.
(c)It started interfering with the manufacturing sector.
(d)It started occupying forests and cleared trees and started plantations.
(e)Colonialism introduced the forest acts that changed the lives of tribals/ pastoralists.
(f) It also led to movements of people from one part to another in India which ultimately lead to the growth of nationalist and anti colonial awareness in the Indian masses.
Colonialism affected our lives culturally, politically, and more or less combined the two.
Due to mobility and exposure to modem western thoughts, people started thinking about freedom, liberty, and human rights which provided the basis for India’s freedom movement.
Colonialism also had significant social influences e.g. Indian society particularly the emerging middle class was gradually changed i.e. their lifestyle, eating habits, languages, and clothing.
The political impact of colonialism on Indian society was significant our national movement, the political system, the parliamentary, and legal system, the constitution, the education system, the police traffic rules by and large the whole political structure changed due to the colonial impact.
2. Industrialisation and urbanization are linked processes. Discuss.
Ans. • Industrialisation refers to the emergence of machine production, based on the use of inanimate power resources like steam or electricity.
•A prime feature of industrial societies is that a large number of people are employed in factories, offices or shops rather than in agriculture.
•Over 90% of people are living in cities and towns where most jobs are to be found and new job opportunities are created e.g. in Britain the first society to undergo industrialization was also the earliest to move from being rural to an urban community.
•During the British period industrialisation in some regions had led to decline of old urban centers.
•The process of urbanization during the colonial period caused decline of earlier urban centres and the emergence of new colonial cities e.g. cities like Surat and Masulipatnam lost their charm and Bombay and Madras emerged as important cities.
•When manufacturing units boomed in Britain, traditional export of cotton and silk manufacturers of India declined because they could not compete with Manchester.
•At the end of the 19th century, with the development of mechanized factory industrialization, few towns became heavily populated.
•Other than eastern India where British penetration was earliest and deepest, survived much more longer e.g. village crafts in the interior could survive. They were affected only with the spread of railways.
•The government of India after Independence played a significant role in protecting and promoting industrialization.
•Because recent policies related to liberalization and globalization led to the vast expansion of cities.
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NCERT Class 12 Sociology Textbook Chapter 1 Structural Change With Answer PDF Free Download