India: The British In India
The British in India
Now, how (and why) did the British come to control this land? To understand that, we must first go back to the Age of Exploration, during which many of Europe’s royal powers sent expeditions around the world in search of lucrative trade routes and territories rich in natural resources. In 1600, reigning British monarch Queen Elizabeth I granted permission to the British East India Companya to establish trade relations in India.
The British East India Company soon became the prominent power in India, ousting Portuguese, Dutch, and French trade interests in the region. By the 1800s, the Company had gained a monopoly over commodities such as tea, spices, silk, and cotton. The British East India Company built its own private military, using local Indians as “sepoys,” or paid militiamen, to help establish order and control across India.
After India gained its independence on August 15, 1947, a common sentiment grew to replace the British names of cities and landmarks, particularly as the Indian people carved out a new national identity. For example, Victoria Terminus, the major railway station in Mumbai which was named after Britain’s Queen Victoria, was renamed Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in 1996.
Mumbai is a colorful mix of old and new, East and West, British past and Indian present. I’m eager to learn more.