Britain and the Nationalist Challenge in India 1900-1919

  • Created by: kaysha
  • Created on: 05-04-13 21:22

Living in the Raj, 1900:

Caste System:

Indians are born into different classes in society known as 'castes'. The highest of these castes was 'Brahmen', the lowest was the untouchables. Even though the untouchables were looked down upon, they were also a integral part of society, as they did the jobs that none of the other castes would do, making them just as essential to society as the Brahmens.


Majority of the people in India in the 1900s were Hindus, making up around 70% of the population. The biggest minority were the Muslims, who made up another 20% of the population. Other than a few places in the North-West and Hyderabad (which had once been the stronghold of the Mughal Empire), the Muslims were more likely to be found in the peasant class. Sikhs and Christians were the two other sizable minorities in India.

The Importance of India to Britain:

Britain owed a lot of it's influence to India - it was, in 1900 the biggest empire, owing to it's "jewel in the British crown". One of the reasons that India was so important to the British was due to the financial gain. It was a significant provider of raw materials to Britain, and was very important in British trade. This trade was helped greatly by the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, allowing British ships easier access to India - lowering the time and cost of transport to and from the sub-continent. India was also desirable due to the size of it's army, and created many jobs for British men.

Life for the British in India:

After the mutiny in 1857, the British segregated themselves from the Indians, and created a seperate society. The officials and lawyers and their families all lived in the big cities in great eighteenth-century houses that were once owned by the East India Company. They were surrounded by an army of Indian servants to cook and clean and look after the children until they were old enough to travel back to England to be schooled (Ayahs). The most prominent of these cities was Calcutta - the administrative capital of British India, where the British could live out a lavish lifestyle. Even those too poor to buy a big home lived in bungalows surro=ounded by a group of servants.
In the hot season, those that could afford it, or couldn't return to England went up to live in Simla, where the temperature was much cooler and the British could enjoy themselves, having balls and playing sports in the secluded foothills.
However, some people, such as missionaries, led a much less lavish life, living among the Indian people, and were seen as suspect by the British. Anglo-Indians were just as suspect, and were not accepted by the British nor the Indians.

How was India governed in the 1900s?

The Structure of Indian Government:

The Viceroy was the personal representative of the monarch, and was a political appointment and was so important to the British


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