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India: 16th to 19th Century

He persuaded the king to allow the British to set up a factory at Surat in Gujarat. Starting with that single factory, the English rose to become the rulers of India within just one hundred years.

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From ancient times, the wealth of India and her natural resources have attracted many explorers and conquerors. Alexander the great, king of Greece, opened up four land and sea routes between Greece and India. After his departure, traders and travelers continued to use the routes. Much later settlers from other European countries came to live near the port cities of India. They exported spices, silk and other goods from India to their own land.

In 1615, an Englishman named sir Thomas Roe came to the court of the emperor Jehangir. He persuaded the king to allow the British to set up a factory at Surat in Gujarat. Starting with that single factory, the English rose to become the rulers of India within just one hundred years.

After arrival of Sir Thomas Roe, more Englishmen came to India to trade and live here. They settled in the coastal areas from where they exported goods to Europe. They formed the East India Company for this purpose. The East India Company wanted to obtain the maximum profit, so they forced Indian farmers and traders to sell their goods at very low prices even when they were clearly unprofitable. Indian cotton was bought at very low prices and sent to cotton mills in England to be made into cloth, the cloth was sent back to India sold at high prices. Slowly the British established a regular system of exploitation. All sections of the people were discontented.

By the end of the 19th century the British were ruling the whole country. The growth of British power in India coincided with industrial development in Britain. So India’s natural resources were taken away to fuel British industrial progress. Taxes were high and collection was made even during the worst famines. India handicrafts collapsed in face of the cheap, machine made products from England.

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