Under the colonial regime, basic infrastructure such as railways, ports, water transport, posts and telegraphs did develop. However, the real motive behind this development was not to provide basic amenities to the people but to subserve various colonial interests. Roads constructed in India prior to the advent of the British rule were not fit for modern transport. The roads that were built primarily served the purposes of mobilising the army within India and drawing out raw materials from the countryside to the nearest railway station or the port to send these to far away England or other lucrative foreign destinations. There always remained an acute shortage of all weather roads to reach out to the rural areas during the rainy season. Naturally, therefore, people mostly living in these areas suffered grievously during natural calamities and famines.
       The British introduced the railways in India in 1850 and it is considered as one of their most important contributions. The railways affected the structure of the Indian economy in two important ways. On the one hand it enabled people to undertake long distance travel and thereby break geographical and cultural barriers while, on the other hand, it fostered commercialisation of Indian agriculture which adversely affected the self-sufficiency of the village economies in India. The volume of India’s exports undoubtedly expanded but its benefits rarely accured to the Indian people. The social benefits, which the Indian people gained owing to the introduction of the railways, were thus outweighed by the country’s huge economic loss.
       Along with the development of roads and railways, the colonial dispensation also took measures for developing the inland trade and sea lanes. However, these measures were far from satisfactory. The inland waterways, at times, also proved uneconomical as in the case of the Coast Canal on the Orissa coast. Through the canal was built at a huge cost to the government exchequer, yet, it failed to compete with the railways, which soon traversed and region running parallel to the canal, and had to be ultimately abandoned. The introduction of the expensive system of electric telegraph in India, similarly, served the purpose of maintaining law and order. The postal services, on the other hand, despite serving a useful public purpose, remained all through inadequate.   

 Read the above paragraph carefully and write the answers of the following questions in comments section to improve your comprehensive ability.

1.    How the railways affected the structure of the Indian economy?

2.  What was the main motive of British rulers behind infrastructure development in India?

3.    What is the reason for economic loss even after the development of railways in India?

4.    Why the inland waterways proved to be uneconomical?

5.    Why did the postal services remain inadequate?

6. What objectives did the British intend to achieve through their policies of infrastructure development in India?

Glossary :

1.  Advent – The arrival of a notable person , things, event.

2.  Lucrative – Producing a great deal of profit.

3.  Grievously – In a Grievous (very serious or severe) manner.

4.   Fostered – Encourage or promotes the development of something.

5.   Amenities – A desirable or useful feature or facility of a building or place.

Sneha Chavan
(Team Supravi)