Chapter 5 – Modern India: Rise of the west and its impact on India and India in the 18th Century: Economy, Society & Culture

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The history of our country can safely be divided into ancient, medieval and modern periods. The ancient period started long ago, as long as humans have lived on earth.

Rise of the West and Its Impact on India

  • From 1450 onwards, three important developments had changed the shape of Europe

    • The invention of printing press

    • The beginning and the spread of the Renaissance and the Reformation movements

    • The discovery of new trade routes

  • Some European countries, the Portuguese and then the Dutch, the French and finally the British entered into a race to control the trade from India.

  • The Britishers came to India for making profits through trade. Slowly they gained political and economic control of the country.

  • India had become an excellent consumer of British goods and a rich supplier of raw materials by the year A.D.

India in the 18Th Century: Economy, Society & Culture

  • India in the 18th century was a picture of many contrasts and contradictions.

  • Economically agriculture was the main occupation of the people. Since the rulers were constantly at war, they did no have the time to improve agricultural conditions of the land.

  • Foreign trade was flourishing under the Mughals. India imported pearls, raw silk, wool, dates, dried fruits from the Persian Gulf region; coffee, gold, drugs and honey from Arabia; tea, and silk came to India from China; luxury goods were also brought in from Tibet, Singapore, Indonesian Islands, Africa & Europe.

  • In the field of Science that India, which was so advanced, has by now neglected her mathematics and Sciences. They remained ignorant of the advances made in the field of science by the west.

Social Conditions

  • By the turn of the century, the condition of women had title to be happy about. The birth of a girl child was considered to be unfortunate.

  • Perpetual widowhood was the injunction of the society, especially amongst the upper castes.

  • Inter-caste marriages were not allowed. Even the prevailing social system did not permit a person from a lower caste to eat with a person of a higher caste.

  • The condition of Muslim women was much the same. They faced immense hardship due to the practice of purdah, polygamy, lack of education and rights to property.

Social & Religious Reforms

  • Christian priests came to India along with the employees of the East India Company to perform their religious rituals at the time of baptism, marriage, burials and church service.

  • But these priests soon started preaching Christianity to the non-Christian employees of the company as well.

  • It was these missionaries, who also started the printing press and magazines for disseminating Christian precepts and literature.

  • English education was introduced which had a great impact on the society and economy of India.

  • Though the purpose of introducing English education was to fulfil British political and administrative needs, it opened the windows for Indians to the west.

  • They imbibed new ideas of liberalism, rationalism, democracy, equality and freedom.

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