The looting of India

Sidharth Moirangthem *

"The sun never sets on the British Empire because even God couldn't trust the English on the dark"

India's share of the world economy was 23 per cent before Britain arrived on the shore of India. But by the time the British left India, it down to below 4 per cent. It was simply because India had been governed for centuries for the benefits of Britain. Britain's rise for 200 years was financed by its depredations in India.

The drain of wealth began with the British East India Company, incorporated by the Royal Charter from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I in 1600 to trade in silk, spices and other profitable Indian commodities. Before 1600, the Indian economy was primarily a rural economy, but Indian farmers and artisans produced goods in bulk to meet the demands of Indians and European buyers especially Britain.

There had been a great demand for muslin silk from Bengal and silk from Bengal and Banaras. By this the British East India Company considered India as a cash cow. In the furtherance of its trade, the company established outpost or factories along the coast, mainly in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras. On other hand they also started personnel trade by military means. Later a commercial business quickly became business of conquest.

In 1757, under the command of Robert Clive, the company won a famous victory in Plassey over a ruling Nawab, Siraj-ud-Daula of Bengal. It also marked the beginning of the political dominance of the British in India. Robert was soon able to transfer the princely sum of 2.5 million (present day- 250 million pound) to the Company's coffer in England as the spoils of conquest.

On his first return to England Clive took home 234,000 from his Indian exploits (present day- 23 million pound). He also became one of the richest persons in Europe. Clive and his followers bought their 'rotten boroughs 'in England with the proceeds of their loot in India while taking the Hindi word "loot" into their dictionary as well as their habits.

The Company conquered a number of independent or autonomous states and imposed executive authority. Governors-General were appointed from London to regulate the country's trade and collection of taxes. Governor General like Lord Dalhousie annexed a quarter of a million square miles of territory from Indian rulers, by means of the Doctrine of Lapse and other policy of annexation.

The company reshaped all the systems like social, economic, political, education, means of transport and communication etc. The railways and roads were built to serve the British interests but not for the local people.

The revolt of 1857 led to the takeover of British domains by the Crown in the following years. Britain's Industrial Revolution was built on the destruction of India's profitable manufacturing industries. The British systematically set about destroying India's textile manufacturing and exports, substituting Indian textiles by British ones manufactured in England.

Ironically, the British used Indian raw materials to teed their mills at Manchester, Lancashire etc. and exported the finished products back to India. Prior to the arrival of the British to the Indian textile industry was more creative, innovative and productive; exports boomed, but when the British traders took power, everything changed.

The British stopped paying for textiles and silk in pounds brought from Britain preferring to pay from revenues extracted from Bengal. As a means to destroy India's textile industry, they imposed tariffs, taxes and duties on the handloom and handicraft products. Later weavers of India became beggars and India was transformed from being a world famous exporter of finished cloths to an importer of British textiles.

India could hardly impose retaliatory tariffs on British goods, since the British controlled the ports and the trade, and decided the terms of trade to their own advantage. India had enjoyed a 25 per cent share of the global trade in textile in the early eighteenth century, but it was destroyed by the British rule. India still grew cotton, but mainly to send to Britain in a lower rate.

This led to the loss of the farmers. India's share of world manufacturing exports fell from 27 per cent to 2 per cent under the British rule. Under the British, the share of industry in India's GDP was only 3.8 per cent in 1913 and at its peaked reach 7.5 per cent when the British left in 1947.

Taxation became a favourite form of exactions for the British. In my opinion it was not a real system of taxation but it was "a form of looting" labelled as taxation. By the end of nineteenth century India was already Britain's cash cow; the revenues that flowed into London's treasury were described bv the Earl of Chatham as "a kind of gift from heaven".

The British extracted from India approximately 18,000,000 each year between 1765 and 1815. To have a large extraction they practiced many unkind and unjust activities. Unpaid taxes meant being tortured to pay up. The British extracted payments from Indians beyond what they could afford, and the rest had to be obtained by bribery, robbery and even murder.

The fundamental principle of the English had been to make the whole Indian nation subservient, in every possible way, to the interests and benefits of themselves. They took money from the native rulers to give them protection from their enemies. All the taxes and the surplus revenues were sent to the Home government in London.

Since India consistently exported more than she imported in the second half of the nineteenth century. and early twentieth century, Britain used India's trade surplus to finance her own trade deficit with the rest of the world, to pay her exports to India, and for capital repayment in London. This represented a massive drain of India's wealth. The 'permanent settlement' proved repressive for the Indian economy and all but destroyed Indian agriculture.

The Ryotwari settlement and Mahalwari settlement of taxation had the additional feature of abolishing all private property. And many other acts were imposed which led to the abolishment of the century old tradition and ties.

Not only textile industries but they also destroyed the shipping and the shipbuilding industries of India. Before the British East India Company arrived, Bengal, Masulipatnam, Surat and the Malabar ports had a thriving shipbuilding industry. The British were unalterably opposed to India developing its own steel industry. Jamsedji Tata tried to set up India's first modern steel mill in the face of implacable British hostility, but he was successful to set up the modern steel mill.

By the end of the nineteenth century, India was Britain's biggest source of revenue. At the same time the British had a standing army of 325,000 men, two third of which was paid by Indian taxes. There were also disparities between the European and Indian soldiers in terms of ranks and promotions.

During the Great Depression, the Indian agriculture collapsed and there were no buyers, but the Indian agriculturists were not provided with remission of taxes. Cruelly, the British decided to restrict India's money supply, fearing that the devaluation of Indian currency would cause losses to the British from a corresponding decline on sterling of their assets in India.

So the Britain insisted that the Indian rupee stay fixed at 1 shilling six pence, and obliged the Indian government to take notes and coins out of circulation to keep the exchange rate high. The total amount of cash in circulation in the Indian economy fell from some 5 billion rupees in 1929 to 4 billion rupees in 1930 and as low as 3 billion rupees in 1938. India was starved but their currency stayed high and the values of British assets in India were protected.

When we talk about the British aid to India, it was about 0.4 per cent of India's GDP but the government of India actually spent more on fertilizer subsidies which might be an inappropriate matter of that argument. If India's GDP went down because it 'missed the bus' of industrialization, it was because the British threw Indians under the wheels.

Many of the today's problems in the country including the persistence of poverty, too much dependence on agriculture, racial and ethnical tensions etc. are the gifts of the Raj, the legacy of the British colonial rule in India.

* Sidharth Moirangthem wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was posted on May 06, 2017.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Final: Hazari/Tombi Polo #1 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival 2017- Events Schedule
  • #TB hotspot cannot be on blindspot
  • United Metal 3.0 @Imphal
  • My name is Kom, Mary Kom
  • Swachch Bharath Swasth Bharath
  • Sangai Festival 2017- Online booking site
  • The Killing Fields (2013-17) :: Timeline
  • For every causes, there is a reason
  • Moibung Khunou -near khurkhul :: Gallery
  • Miss Kut #4 :: Gallery
  • On the Naga Framework Agreement
  • Media Challenge: Glance from hills #1
  • GIS day at NIT Manipur
  • Pangal Leader Mohammed Hanif Shah
  • NPF questions Speaker convening meet
  • Painting Exhibition by Babli Das (Tripura)
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Looking out for possible measures
  • Manipur Sangai Festival 2016 #7 : Ooba
  • Cultural Program @ MCA :: Gallery
  • Parihal, Nimshimphy, Neilianthang: eMing
  • Ningol ChakKouba @MBC #3 :: Gallery
  • Oh dear Daddy, see I a Native Proud: Poem
  • Buddha's metta and karuna #3
  • Narendra Modi will never play Nehru
  • Photo Caption Contest by
  • General Call to All Former NPF Leaders
  • Penguin Readathon & Book Gifting
  • ENNG opposes inclusion of TCL..
  • Report alarm for Arunachal
  • Loktak witness drastic fall in migratory birds
  • Lecture on 'Rohingya Resettlement'
  • 'Weaves of Ching-tam' @London :: Gallery
  • Opening: Jadonang Football #1 :: Gallery
  • Robert's Weaves of valley & hills at London
  • Remembering boy..felled by fake encounter
  • Reorganisation of North Eastern Council #1
  • Sangai Photo Awards 2017 : Contest
  • Meeyam meekup nahum singna leibiyu
  • HighWays : Govt. needs seriousness
  • Singcha Wuya Won @Kamjong #4 :: Gallery
  • SDG Consultation: NE :: Gallery
  • North East Fashion Week #1 :: Gallery
  • Distribution Patterns of the Asian Eye
  • Sustainable Development Goal Consultation
  • Wrangle in Mapithel dam: Legal perspective
  • In the Slums of Heaven :: Poem
  • Wreath Laying Ceremony for AR Martyrs
  • Time to take a bow, Robert
  • Create jobs for NE to stop trafficking
  • March: Mera Houchongba #4:: Gallery
  • Sin-Lang Fest @DM College #2 :: Gallery
  • Sangai Festival: Ideas for a change
  • A shadowy dreamer :: Poem
  • Winter - A blessing in disguise for us ...
  • Course in Nanotechnology at NEHU
  • Pamel : Serene Natural Hub, near Lamlai
  • Vacancy at YVU Financial Services, Thoubal
  • System Operators @PR Enterprise, Khurai
  • Just by showing concern will not change..
  • Food Stall @Phayeng #2 :: Gallery
  • Miss Kut #3 :: Gallery
  • The moment :: Poem
  • Board exams decoded
  • 3rd NE Fashion at Itanagar: Day 2
  • Conference : North East in Globalized Era
  • NE-IAS launched to support Startup India
  • Painting Competition on Conservation
  • Ramkung Pamei is new MHJU Chief
  • Charuangc 2017: Rongmeis in Delhi & NCR
  • Priyogopal (Senior Artist)- Photo :: eRang
  • Kabui Dance @Jadonang Football:: Gallery
  • Fashion @NE Festival, Delhi :: Gallery
  • Deviance and Corruption in Kangleipak
  • Applied health research is vital to #endTB
  • 3rd NE Fashion at Itanagar: Day 1
  • Tri-nation Motorcycle Rally reach Imphal
  • Traffic woes continues
  • Kwatha festival #1 :: Gallery
  • Kokkhum Festival #1 :: Gallery
  • Special Rapporteur on Human Rights
  • The threat to balkanize Manipur
  • Cry of a Dying River - 6 :: Poem
  • Biological based integrated Congress grass
  • 3rd Audition of Fagi Unplugged
  • Sadar Hills District Demand: News Timeline
  • Of clean environment
  • Paonam Lily (Archery) Reception :: Gallery
  • North East Fest @ Delhi :: Gallery
  • Girls Football- Nov 4 #2 :: Gallery
  • IBSD, India & VITO, Belgium signed MOU
  • First angioplasty for in-stent restenosis
  • RIST Popular Talk-33: Quantum Hall states
  • Commonwealth alumni event of NE
  • Lecture on The Rohingya Conundrum
  • Tri-National Motorcycle Rally
  • 3rd North East Fashion Week at Itanagar
  • ILP Nov 30 deadline: Why not only for valley
  • Expected changes, do we see ?
  • Festival of Raas Leela #2 :: Gallery
  • Sin-Lang Fest @DM College #1 :: Gallery
  • Hari Uthan- Kang Chingba #2 :: Gallery
  • Code of silence: Concealing gender justice
  • God Rules Over All :: Poem
  • Five day 'Flower Show' at Ukhrul
  • Go birding to honour Bird Man of India
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Uphul Waiphul and Leikhom Leinang
  • A reminder to Central Govt.
  • Assam, Manipur bid to better ties
  • Ningol Chak-Kouba @Pune :: Gallery
  • Miss Kut #2 :: Gallery
  • Meitei Pictographic Writings :: Book Review
  • Careers related to mental health
  • Beauty & Money for a purpose
  • Human rights infractions in Mapithel Dam
  • AMAND Ningol Chakouba at Pune : Report
  • Chef Required at Kakching
  • NHPC Raising day at Loktak Power Station
  • Mary Kom enter Asian Ch'ships final
  • Of ST demand, ILP, peace talk
  • For elderly people
  • Prof. Nongmaithem Tombi Singh : A Profile
  • Hazari/ Tombi Polo Tournament #2:: Gallery
  • U-17 Footballer honored by Guv :: Gallery
  • Just in favour of nocturnal life
  • Dance of Fire Flies at Autumn :: Poem
  • North East Festival bids farewell
  • Protest over Naga pact
  • Agenda of Govt spelt out at DBC, Maram
  • Nurturing the future
  • Ningol Chak-Kouba @Delhi #2:: Gallery
  • NE Fashion Weekend @Delhi #1 :: Gallery
  • History will not forgive us
  • A girl :: Poem
  • Pre-merger political party struggle
  • JRF wanted at NIT Silchar
  • Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party
  • Welcome to Southern Nagalim greeting
  • March: Mera Houchongba #3:: Gallery
  • Girls Football- Nov 4 #1:: Gallery
  • Taxi- raising Air Pollution in Ukhrul
  • Back to basics to #endTB: Do it right
  • Man with Flower's Life :: Poem
  • Skill development training with MUDA
  • Quiz Competition at NE Festival
  • Free cataract operation at Loktak
  • Traffic control- still a flop show
  • Pui Thangamliu -Photos #1 :: eRang
  • NH7 Weekender [28 October] :: Gallery
  • Surjalal: Fellow of American Physical Society
  • Ithai Barrage for Irrigation: Beautiful Promise
  • NE Festival 2017 starts off
  • The Sun & the Cloud :: Poem
  • Land encroachment at Lamka College
  • Salesian College Grabs UK Project
  • Nagaland CM met Rajnath reg. Naga issue
  • Ranked 5th in women safety: stereotyping?
  • Prime focus
  • Miss Kut #1 :: Gallery
  • Hari Uthan- Kang Chingba #1 :: Gallery
  • Kangujam Chinglensana (Hockey) feted
  • reach the tipping point for childhood TB?
  • A round of applause for N Biren, CM..
  • Link Research with Education for NE
  • Culture is beyond Religion: Najma Heptulla
  • Vacancies @ Chirag Estate, Gurgaon
  • Defection of some party workers : NPCC
  • ST for Meiteis: Final say rests with Delhi
  • Understanding responsibility
  • Chavang Kut @Tengnoupal :: Gallery
  • Sub-Junior Girls Football #2:: Gallery
  • A crusade for a greener Manipur
  • Tourist Guide as career option #2
  • 'Govt working for inclusive development'
  • Namsai gets Buddha relic from Thailand
  • 5th NE Festival at Delhi: Program Schedule
  • 20th Asian Charter for Human Rights: Video
  • National Unity Day at Ukhrul
  • NPF MLA present at all parties meet
  • Of three Ws and Politics
  • Ningol Chak-Kouba @Delhi #1:: Gallery
  • Happy Kut Wishes :: e-pao Flash
  • Let's be racist
  • 3rd Ningol Chakouba, Delhi : A Report
  • Dr. Rahejuddin Sheikh : Best Director Award
  • I Am In You To Feel Myself :: Poem
  • Conference: North East in Globalized Era
  • Seeking contributions : Library Centre
  • RGU Celebrated National Unity Day
  • Run for Unity organized by AR
  • Of traffic chaos and mad rush
  • What if Pan Naga Hoho is final settlement
  • Chothe: Shabu Hong Rein :: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • IT Employment Devlp Course :: Gallery
  • NH7 Weekender [27 October] :: Gallery
  • Red Light Area in Manipur ?
  • IT Enabled Employment Skill Development
  • Football in India needs encouragement
  • Indo-Naga Peace Process :: Articles
  • Meeting on Hornbill Festival 2017
  • Territorial integrity : No to separate admin
  • A confusing solution, if happens
  • Hazari/ Tombi Polo Tournament #1:: Gallery
  • Candle light for Belinda Morse :: Gallery
  • Hills are Better
  • Wedding :: Poem
  • Candle lighting in memory of Belinda Morse
  • NH7 Weekender: 2nd Day Report : 28 Oct
  • RGU launched Clean and Green Campus
  • Territorial integrity: All party meet sans NPF
  • Exhibition of Pottery Crafts #2 :: Gallery
  • Phayeng Cultural programme :: Gallery
  • Khongjom War Memorial #3 :: 360 ° View
  • Ichangi Laidhi #1 :: eRang
  • Ningol Chakkouba by Paomee:: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba @Kolkata :: Gallery
  • Tourism Day @ Phayeng #1 :: Gallery
  • Ningol Chakkouba @Sikkim :: Gallery
  • Ningol to her mapam lamdam :: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2018 : Download it
  • Mera Men Tongba :: Gallery
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Kh Ninthoinganba
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Thounaojam Jeakson
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Nongdamba Naorem
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Dheeraj Moirangthem
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Amarjit Kiyam (Captain)
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Thangjam Boris
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Wangjam Suresh
  • FIFA U-17 Profile :: Md Shahjahan
  • Featured Photo for 2017 #4 :: Gallery
  • Old Manipuri Movie #1 :: eRang Classic
  • Landscape of Manipur #7: Wallpaper