The Two Faces of Imperialism

B. R. Nanda

in Gandhi and his Critics

Published in print January 1994 | ISBN: 9780195633634
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199081332 | DOI:

Series: Oxford India Paperbacks

The Two Faces of Imperialism

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Some critics of Mahatma Gandhi ask whether it is fair to judge the British record in India by the massacre of Amritsar in 1919, which they think is an aberration. They also argue that British rule in India was just and beneficial, with most of those who served in the government of India having shown devotion to justice and welfare of the people. Indeed, British administration in India was not characterised by terrorism and brutality. The East India Company, for example, extended its rule over the Indian subcontinent by taking advantage of the weaknesses and rivalries of the Indian princes. However, the Indian rebellion of 1857 was a testament to the British’s vindictive and barbarous tendencies when challenged. In reality, British military policy in India was dominated by the idea of ‘division’ and ‘counterpoise’. Although some Indian patriots showed admiration for the British, they still saw the bad side of imperialism.

Keywords: British rule; imperialism; East India Company; British military policy

Chapter.  2651 words. 

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