An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India

An Era of Darkness: Exploitation of resource by British Empire in India

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This article is extracted from the book ‘AN ERA OF DARKNESS’. In which the whole resource drainage of India by British is covered.

East India Company in her prime time, collected the maximum possible assets from India by means of all possible tactics, such as imposing duties, bribery, force payments, criminal ways and many more.

Extraction, taxation and diamonds

India was treated as a cash cow; revenues that flowed into London’s treasury were described by the Earl of Chatham as ‘the redemption of a nation, a kind gift from heaven.’

The British extracted from India approximately 18,000,000 Euro between 1765 to 1815 each year. Wrote by a French ambassador to London, ‘there are few kings in Europe richer than the directors of the English East India Company.’ Directors used to exploits at the mass level, that on return they directly goes to the British parliament.

‘Tax defaulter were confined in cages, and exposed to the burning sun as punishment; fathers sold their children to meet the inflation.’ Unpaid taxes meant being tortured to pay up, and the unpaid masses land being confiscated by British.

Corruption, though not unknown in India, plumbed new depth under British, especially since the Company exacted payments from Indians beyond what they could effort, and the rest had to be obtained by bribery, robbery and even murder. All these means of crime can be found in large cities of India and Pakistan, inherited from British. The ruling class of Pakistan and India is almost still following the same path of British rascals, and exploiting the resource of public.

Colonialists like Robert Clive, on his first return to England from India, Clive took home 234,000 Euro from his Indian exploits. 23 million pounds in today’s money, making him one of the richest men in Europe. Clive deputed back to India in 1765 and gone after two more years of exploitation, corruption and crime to England with a fortune estimated 400,000 (40 million pounds today). Clive explained his crime in his own words: ‘an opulent city lay at my mercy; its richest bankers bid against each other for my smiles; I walked through vaults which were thrown open to me alone, piled on either hand with gold and jewels. When I think of the marvellous riches of that country, and the comparatively small part which I took away, I am astonished at my own moderation. And the British had the gall to call him ‘Clive of India.’

Pakistan and India still having the same sickness in society, influential sick minded people are same as Clive of 18 century. We inherited all dirt’s of British which they showered upon us during their ruling tenure, and we are still going down and down instead of learning from the mistakes and challenges of the past.

Revenue collection and the drain of resource

British ran three major types of revenue systems in India:

  1. Zamindari; mostly in eastern India and third of the Madras presidency.
  2. Raiyatwari; Mostly in south part of the north.
  3. Mahalwari; In western India.

British introduced permanent settlement of the land revenue in 1793 as part of the zamindari system. Under this act, the Indian cultivators and farmers were charged not on the same pattern of traditional basis of a share of crops produced but the percentage of the rent paid on their land. This system meant that if the former’s crop failed, he would still not be exempted from paying taxes.

F.J. Shore, testified before the House of Commons in 1857: ‘the fundamental principle of the English has been to make the whole Indian nation subservient, in every possible way, to the interest and benefits of themselves. They have been taxed to the utmost limit; every successive province, as it has fallen into our possession, has been made a field for higher exaction; and it has always been our boast how greatly we have raised the revenue above that which the native rulers were able to extort.’

Marquess of Salisbury Secretary of state for india in the 1860s and 1870s said, ‘As India is to be bled, the lancet should be directed to those parts where blood is congested, rather than to those which are already feeble for the want of it.’ The blood, of course, was money and its congestion offered greater sources of revenue than the feeble areas.


Shashi Tharoor is a member of the Indian Parliament from the Thiruvananthapuram constituency in Kerala. He previously served as the United Nations Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information and as the Indian Minister of State for External Affairs.
He is also a prolific author, columnist, journalist and a human rights advocate.

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