British Empire
Living in the British empire - India
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Photograph of a railway bridge in India around 1900
(By permission of The British Library, OIOC B 21210)
  • This photograph shows a railway bridge built by the British in India in about 1900. To be accurate, it was designed by British engineers and built by Indian workers.
  • The British invested huge amounts of money into building railways in India. This was partly for military reasons. Railways made it easier to transport troops, and that made it easier to control a huge area like India. However, investment in railways also helped to develop agriculture, industry and communications in India.
  • Sources like this demonstrate that it is hard to make judgements about the empire in India. On the one hand, British investment built railways, and this allowed new industries like tobacco, coal and metals to develop. British rule also brought developments like increased amounts of irrigation - huge amounts of extra land became available for farming as a result of irrigation.
  • On the other hand, India did not experience rapid economic growth in the same way Britain did. The population did not rise dramatically. Many of its own industries, like the cloth industry, were destroyed by competition with Britain's industries.
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