Impact of British on Indian Railway and Literature- History Guide for Class 8

Impact of British on Indian Railway and Literature- History Guide for Class 8

Information about Impact of British on Indian Railway and Literature


Impact of British on Indian Railway and Literature


Class 8


Class 8 History

Topics Covered

  • Railways under British Rule
  • British impact on Indian Painting, Literature and Architecture

Railways under British Rule

Railways were introduced in India for the benefit of the British administration, political control and trade. But railways brought many changes in the lives of Indians. People from different parts of India came in close contact. This communication brought about an awareness against social evils, need of education and freedom from foreign exploitation.

Indian Railways made a beginning on April 6, 1853 when the very first train ran over a stretch of 21 miles from Bombay to Thane. It consisted of 14 railway carriages and 400 guests. 

The British introduced railways for the following aspects:
  • Commercial advantage: Railways collected raw material from fields and mines and sent them to the ports to be transported to England to feed the British industries.
  • Political aspect: Railways safeguarded the British possessions in different parts of India to enable quick movement of armed forces and administrative convenience.
  • Defence aspect: Most importantly, the railways helped the British Defence Forces in India to counter the military attacks of other imperialist countries, who were trying to expand their influence. 
  • Investment of Surplus Income: Railways opened new area where investments earned huge profits.

The Kalka Mail from Howrah to Kalka was introduced to make the annual migration of British officials, their families, servants and clerks from the then imperial capital at Calcutta to the summer capital in Shimla. From Kalka, there is still a narrow gauge to Shimla that passes through 103 tunnels (only 102 tunnels are operational now).

There was a lot of opposition against the introduction of railways in India. It offended the people of higher castes as people from all castes had to sit together. Moreover, Indians were not allowed to travel in first class. It was reserved for Europeans. But in any case, railways provided many avenues of profit making for the British. 

British impact on Indian Painting, Literature and Architecture

The art, architecture, painting, literature, poetry, drama, novels and even Indian religion and philosophy were greatly influenced by the western contact.

Many English painters arrived here in search of princely patronage and to please the rich British society. Such paintings had themes of Indian royal courts, flora and fauna. Indian painters also changed their selection of themes and medium of painting. The eminent Indian painters like Raja Ravi Varma, Abanindranath Thakur, Jamini Roy, etc., were greatly influenced by the Western style of painting.

Many huge architectural wonders were built in the port city of Madras. Many churches were constructed in English style with artistic carvings. The Governor of Madras gave the city a colonial look with bunglows and banquet halls to suit the British liking for official evening functions. In Bombay city also, churches, town halls, railway stations and many other structures were constructed that resembled famous buildings in England.

The British influenced Indian literature also. The scholars at the Fort William College in Calcutta translated the ancient texts, wrote grammars, compiled dictionaries and collected manuscripts in English. Not only the original literature, even the translations highlighted the greatness of the British.

The great literary figures like Rabindranath Tagore, Aurobindo Ghosh, Sarojini Naidu, Mulk Raj Anand, R.K. Narayanan, etc., were influenced by the English pattern of writing.
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