The very first Hindi word to be added in the English dictionary was “loot” which refers to the spoils of war pillaged from an enemy. This first addition was made when the British ruled India and filled their bags with Indian riches.
Before the British established their stronghold in India, our country was known all around the world as “Golden Bird” or “Sone ki Chidiya”.
The disintegration of the Mughal Empire in the 18th CE brought both political and economic fragmentation of the country. It was during this time that the British made their cunning move and eventually began to colonize the country. It was this colonial rule that not only devastated the political and social fabric but also drew out the riches.
A company’s official John Sullivan observed in 1840,
‘Englishmen flourishes, acts like a sponge, drawing up riches from the banks of Ganges and squeezing them down upon the banks of Thames’.
Before the British came, India’s share of the world’s GDP was very significant.
Angus Maddison, a British economic historian observes that the contribution of India to world GDP declined from 24.4% to just 4.2% between 1700-1950. This is really a very dwindling figure.
It was not that the Indians during the colonial times did not understand it. It was apparent to everyone. The greatest contribution in making the common people realize the economic exploitation goes to Dadabhai Naoroji. He put forward the “Drain of Wealth” theory.
He described the drain of wealth as the major cause of Indian poverty. He said that the British were “bleeding India White”.
“By the end of the nineteenth century, India was Britain’s biggest source of revenue, the world’s biggest purchaser of British exports, and the source of highly paid employment for British civil servants and soldiers all at India’s own expense. Indians literally paid for their own oppression.”
― Shashi Tharoor, Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
And now the figures of how much the British drained our country would certainly blow everyone’s mind.
Writing in 1859, George Wingate estimated the drain at £4 million per annum for 17 years between 1835-1851.
V.I. Pavlov, professor of Economics at Moscow State University, estimated that in the 1930’s the British squeezed India of £130 million- £140 million in pure tribute.
He remarks that -“With this amount, India could annually construct 3 plants of Bhilai type each of which would exceed in capacity the country’s iron and steel industry in British period”.
Thus, it can be concluded that the exploitation of Britishers is beyond reparation. The Englishmen understood that India was the bird that could lay golden eggs for them. So, they drained our country so excessively that when they left in 1947, they left behind an economically impoverished country, suffering for centuries from poverty and exploitation.