Document 20.2: Seeking Western Education
Q. Why was Roy opposed to the creation of this school?
• Instead of offering a curriculum that would transfer European learning to India, it would instead merely provide another outlet for learning ideas already current and available in India.
• The students would be taught grammatical niceties and metaphysical distinctions with no practical use or benefit to Indian society.
• It would do nothing to bring Western ideas to India and would instead contribute to keeping India in “darkness” concerning the useful European sciences.
Q. What does this letter reveal about Roy’s attitude toward Indian and European cultures?
• Ram Moham Roy saw Indian culture and learning as of little practical use in the modernization of India.
• By contrast, he saw the adoption of European culture and learning as essential for the modernization of India and the improvement of its population.
Q. What future did Roy imagine for India?
• Through the acquisition of European culture and learning, Ram Moham Roy saw an opportunity to improve the inhabitants of India.
• India would reach Western levels of education in Western arts and sciences through the generosity of Britain.
Q. How would you describe Roy’s attitude toward British colonial rule in India?
• Roy clearly sees British influence as a positive development.
• British colonial rule brings with it the opportunity for India to adopt modern Western learning.
• In both the introduction and conclusion he speaks of the benevolent nature of British rule and the generosity shown by the British toward their subjects in terms of increasing educational opportunities.
Document 20.3: The Indian Rebellion
Q. What grievances against British rule does this document disclose?
• The British government taxes landowners too highly; seizes and sells the estates of land holders; and ruins landowners by ruling against them in cases brought by common people.
• The British monopolize the trade in fine and valuable merchandise; tax merchants too heavily; and hear and act on cases against merchants by “worthless” men.
• They employ Indians in the civil service only in little-respected positions, with low pay, and with no manner of influence.
• The British ruin artisans by introducing manufactured goods into India.
• They are the enemies of both the Hindu and Muslim faiths.
Q. How does the proclamation imagine the future of India, should the rebellion succeed? How does this compare to Roy’s vision of India’s future in Document 20.2?
• The proclamation envisions lower taxes and greater respect for Indian landowners.
• It imagines the reestablishment of the right of Indian merchants to trade in whatever they wish and the institution of free, government-funded steam vessel and steam carriage conveyance.
• It see an Indian government completely run at all levels by Indian civil servants;
• It envisions a guaranteed market for artisan products from the king and the rich of India.
• Holy men will receive rent-free lands.
• Document 20.3 envisions a revival of Indian culture and society as the key to a better future, while Document 20.2 sees an adoption of European learning and culture as critical to a more prosperous future.
• Document 20.3 depicts the British as the key problem holding India back, whereas Document 20.2 sees greater British influence as the key to a better future for India.
Q. To what groups or classes of people was the proclamation directed? What classes were left out in the call to rebellion? Why might they have been omitted?
• The proclamation refers specifically to Hindu and Muslim chiefs, large landowners, merchants, civil servants in the British government, artisans, and learned persons.
• Groups left out of the call include peasants and the urban poor.
• This rebellion was conceived of as an elite reaction with an agenda that offered few benefits to peasants and the urban poor.
• The proclamation assumes that the peasants and urban poor would embrace the call of their leaders to participate in the rebellion.
• Students might note that the proclamation indicates, in both the section concerning landowners and the section concerning merchants, that commoners received favorable legal decisions in British courts, and so it is possible that the commoners might not support the rebellion but rather side with the British.
• Students might also speculate that in the caste system of India, the lower-caste peoples were seen as incapable of taking part in political activities or were not considered suitable allies for higher-caste groups.
Q. Does the proclamation represent the strength and authority of the Mughal Empire or its weakness and irrelevance?
• Students could argue that the strength and authority of the Mughal Empire is the idea around which the proclamation’s call to rebellion is framed. The proclamation appeals to a residual loyalty to the Mughal state among elite members of society.
• Student could also argue that the proclamation represents weakness and irrelevance because it makes clear that the British control the judicial, economic, and governmental institutions of India. Therefore, the Mughal state is not capable of offering protection to those who rally to its cause; instead, many are likely to lose their lives and property in the struggle.
Document 20.4: The Credits and Debits of British Rule in India
Q. According to Naoroji, what are the chief advantages and drawbacks of British rule?
• the end of cultural practices like suttee, infanticide, and taboos concerning the remarriage of Hindu widows
• the reining in of thieves, murderers, and robbers
• charitable aid during times of famine
• education of men and women, although only partially complete, and its impact on moral and social evils
• resurrection of India’s own literature, modified and refined by the enlightenment of the West
• political peace and order
• the institution of freedom of speech and the liberty of the press
• higher political knowledge and aspirations
• improvement of government
• security of life and property
• freedom from the oppression of despotic rulers and devastation by war
• equality of justice between Indians, even if not always between Indians and Europeans
• the service of highly educated administrators
• loans for railways and irrigation
• development of valuable products
• increase in exports
• the establishment of a telegraph system
• a growing desire by the British to rule the country as if held in trust and with good intentions
• repeated breach of pledges to give the natives a fair and reasonable share in the higher administration of their own country
• the failure to give native Indians a greater voice in legislation and in the imposition and disbursement of taxes
• an utter disregard for the feelings and views of the natives
• oppressive taxes and inequitable financial relations between Britain and India
• the past and continued drain of resources from India to Britain
• the impoverishment of the poor in India
• failure to prevent famines
• an increase in exports without adequate compensation
• the loss of manufacturing industry and skills
Q. What is Naoroji seeking from Britain?
• Naoriji is seeking a better understanding of the imperial relationship from an Indian perspective.
• He wants a redress of some aspects of the system, including giving Indians a greater say in the creation of legislation, taxation, and the fulfillment of past broken pledges to place native Indians in important governmental positions.
• He also seeks an end to policies that drain Indian wealth for the benefit of Britain.
Q. How does Naoriji’s posture toward British rule compare to that of Ram Mohan Roy in Document 20.2 or the Azamgarh Proclamation in Document 20.3?
• Naoriji’s approach is closer to Ram Mohan Roy’s than to the Azamgarh Proclamation, although his selection shares features of both.
• In comparison to Ram Mohan Roy, he recognizes the benefits that British schools have brought to India, and largely supports Roy’s belief that Western cultural influences had a positive impact on India society.
• In comparison to the Azamgarh Proclamation, Naoriji identifies as abusive several British practices that the proclamation also highlights, including onerous taxation, a lack of native Indians in important governmental positions, and the impact of the British economic regime on Indian manufacturers.
Document 20.5: Gandhi on Modern Civilization
Q. What is Gandhi’s most fundamental criticism of British rule in India?
• British rule has brought modern Western civilization to India, undermining India’s civilization and potentially the well-being of the population by causing Indians to turn away from God in pursuit of worldly ambition.
• What appear to be Britain’s great gifts to India, like railways, have in fact impoverished India.
Q. What is the difference between his concept of “civilization” and that which he ascribes to the British?
• For Gandhi, civilization is “that mode of conduct which points out to man the path of duty” (p. 959) by which he means that through performance of duty and observance of morality humans master passions. Civilized people disdain luxuries and pleasures that in fact cause unhappiness; avoid a system of life-corroding competition; and base their actions on belief and religion.
• For Gandhi, Western civilization is immoral and irreligious. Westerners have defined civilization as technological advances and reliance on machinery. But in fact what Westerners call civilization is actually an enslavement to the temptation of money and the luxuries that money can buy.
Q. How does Gandhi reconcile the idea of India as a single nation with the obvious religious division between Hindus and Muslims?
• He refers to a shared morality and a shared religiosity without referring to a specific creed or belief system.
• He emphasizes the long-standing traditions of Indian civilization.
• He uses the idea of performance of duty as a moral act, which crosses religious boundaries in the Indian social system.
Q. What kind of future does Gandhi seek for his country?
• He sees a positive future as a beacon of civilization for the rest of the world as long as it successfully resists the temptations of Western “civilization.”
• He acknowledges the possibility of the collapse of Indian civilization if Western influences take root in India.
Q. What criticisms do you imagine that Gandhi met as he sought to introduce his ideas into India’s increasingly nationalist political life?
• He fails to define his ideas in terms that nationalists can engage with.
• He identifies Western civilization rather than British rule as the force most responsible for grinding down India.
• His ideas ran counter to those nationalist movements that promoted modernization or advocated overthrowing British rule so that India could pursue a path to greater wealth without British restrictions.
Visual Sources Essay Questions
Visual Source 20.1: Prelude to the Scramble
Q. What images of Africa are suggested by this board game? Notice carefully the landscape, the animals, and the activities in which people are engaged.
• The board game offers an image of Africa as exotic, full of wild animals and tropical plants not seen in Europe, and as a land of beautiful scenery.
• It suggests that Africa is a land of many different ethnic groups, and is only partially settled.
• It suggests that Africa has economic potential, as indicated by the plantation in the lower left section of the board.
• Africa is a land being conquered by Europeans, as represented by their ships and the soldiers discharging their rifles in the upper right part of the board.
Q. How does the game depict European activities in Africa?
• Europeans are depicted on ships off the coasts of both East and West Africa.
• They are seen trading with Africans in the lower left portion of the board.
• In the upper right portion of the board, Europeans are firing upon Africans.
Q. What might be the meaning of the large sun arising at the top of the image?
• The large sun indicates that a new age of European engagement in Africa is dawning.
• Since the game represents the growing interest in the Christian missionary enterprise in Africa, the sun may symbolize the arrival of Christianity in the region.
Q. What nineteenth-century realities are missing from this portrayal of Africa?
• the substantial cities and states of Africa
• the presence of Islam in many regions of Africa
• the competition between European nations for influence in Africa
• the slave trade
Visual Source 20.2: Conquest and Competition
Q. How does the artist portray Marchand? How might a British artist have portrayed him?
• Marchand is portrayed in a heroic light, as an intrepid explorer and leader.
• A British artist might have portrayed him as an ambitious usurper seeking to challenge British claims to territory; as an armed invader of British territories; as the man that the British intimidated into acknowledging British claims along the Nile; or perhaps as an intrepid explorer whose success led to him wandering beyond French territory.
Q. What does this visual source suggest about the role of violence in the “scramble for Africa”?
• The picture depicts heavily armed men on the expedition actively using their weapons; one of the men has died. This implies that Marchand had to use considerable violence to stake his claims to territory for the French.
Q. Notice the large number of African troops among Marchand’s forces. What does that suggest about the process of colonial conquest? Why might Africans have agreed to fight on behalf of a European colonial power?
• The large number of African troops suggest that colonial conquest was accomplished in part by using the resources of the empire and by the participation of Africans.
• Africans might have fought on behalf of a European colonial power for personal gain; in alliance with Europeans against other African enemies; because the Europeans forced them to fight on their behalf; or out of loyalty to a European empire.
Q. How do you understand the fallen soldier lying between Marchand’s legs?
• The fallen soldier may symbolize the dangers that Marchand faced on his mission, or may represent the cost of empire building.
Visual Source 20.3: From the Cape to Cairo
Q. Is this famous image criticizing or celebrating Rhodes’s Cape-to-Cairo dream? Explain your reasoning.
• A student could make the case that it is celebrating Rhodes, as his larger than life figure could be interpreted as confident and showing the way to British success; as portraying him as an intrepid adventurer with rifle; as portraying him as a colossus, the original being one of the ancient wonders of the world;
• as portraying him as a visionary represented by the telegraph line that he holds.
• Students could argue that the image criticizes Rhodes, depicting him as a larger-than-life figure with his head literally in the clouds, symbolizing the impossibility of his vision.
• Africa below his feet shows the huge distance between Cairo and the Cape; if the artist had intended it to look less daunting, he could have outlined current British imperial holdings between the two points.
• The image describes Rhodes as a colossus, comparing him to the original Colossus of Rhodes which toppled over in antiquity.
Q. What does this visual source suggest about the purpose of the Cape-to-Cairo scheme and the means to achieve it? Notice the telegraph wire in Rhodes’s hands and the rifle on his shoulder.
• It suggests that the purpose of the scheme was to improve communications between British imperial holdings in Africa, and to bring them technology and perhaps increased commerce.
• In terms of means to achieve it, Rhodes’s rifle implies the use of force, and the telegraph wire implies the use of modern technologies.
Q. How did the artist portray the African continent? What does the absence of African people suggest? How does this visual source compare to Visual Source 20.1?
• The artist depicts Africa as a geographic space without any hint of human habitation or the existence of indigenous African states. All of Africa, including the Sahara, is illustrated in a green tone, implying its fertility and richness.
• The absence of people implies that Africa was not occupied or developed, nor did other people have a preexisting claim on the land; it was therefore open for settlement by Europeans.
• Visual Source 20.1 depicts African villages and resources more explicitly, and emphasizes Africa’s exotic nature. It also presents both the geographic region of Africans and African peoples, whereas Visual Source 20.3 depicts Africa only as a geographic region.
Q. Scholars have sometimes argued that the scramble for Africa was driven less by concrete economic interests than by emotional, even romantic, notions of national grandeur and personal adventure. In what ways do Visual Sources 20.2 and 20.3 support or challenge this interpretation?
• In support of this interpretation, both images depict a heroic figure portrayed as larger than life, a style likely to stir emotions.
• The flag in Visual Source 20.2 depicts Marchand’s efforts in terms of national interests. The image also offers no indication of the economic advantage accrued from Marchand’s expedition.
• To challenge this interpretation, students could point out that in Visual Source 20.3 national grandeur is not explicitly evoked. Also, the telegraph wire might symbolize the concrete economic advantages to the undertaking.
Visual Source 20.4: A French Critique of the Boer War
Q. How does this image depict Rhodes and Chamberlain? What motives are implied for British actions in South Africa?
• Rhodes is depicted as the henchman doing the bloody work of British imperial expansion.
• Chamberlain is portrayed turning away from Rhodes, probably representing the British government’s efforts to sanction Rhodes’s activities without publicly acknowledging them.
Q. How does this portrayal of Cecil Rhodes differ from that in Visual Source 20.3?
• In Visual Source 20.3 Rhodes is portrayed
as a larger-than-life visionary who sought to
bring Britain’s African possessions together; in Visual Source 20.4 he is portrayed as a sinister character carrying an assassin’s knife and standing on the body of a Boer, representing the less heroic side of securing his grand plan for British imperial Africa.
Q. Given extensive French conquests in Africa, how might British observers have responded to this cartoon?
• British observers might find the French depiction hypocritical given French colonial policy; this hypocrisy is especially evident when the image is compared to Marchand’s heroic depiction in Visual Source 20.2.
Q. Notice that the victim in this case is white, a Boer descendant of Dutch settlers, who had been in South Africa since 1652. What difference might this have made in the French willingness to criticize their British rivals?
• The scramble for Africa had occurred without open war between European powers, but this attack on other European settlers ran counter to the spirit of the partition to that point.
• Displacing Europeans who had fully settled and developed the land was different from displacing Africans, who Europeans believed were wasting resources by not developing them.
Visual Source 20.5: The Ethiopian Exception
Q. How does this painting represent Ethiopian triumph in the battle?
• The painting depicts the triumph of a powerful army with modern armaments, whose victory was the result of the protection of Saint George.
Q. What features of the painting might help explain that improbable victory, at least to Ethiopian observers? How does the artist portray the resources available to each side?
• Features that help explain the victory include the presence of Saint George and the Ethiopian troops’ possession of modern armaments.
• The number of troops is relatively even, but the Ethiopians possess more cavalry as well as skirmishers armed with swords who appear to have successfully attacked a machine gun. The Italians possess more heavy weapons, including canon and machine guns.
Q. How did the Ethiopian painter depict the Italian enemy? Keep in mind that Ethiopian artists generally portrayed the forces of good in full face, while the wicked or evil were shown in profile.
• The Italians are depicted in profile, in massed ranks with canon and machine guns, with officers on horseback behind the massed ranks of infantry.
Q. How do you imagine the news of the Battle of Adowa was received elsewhere in Africa and among peoples of African descent in the Americas? What might this painting have meant to Ethiopians in the wake of Mussolini’s invasion of their country during the 1930s?
• The news was likely received with pride by other Africans contending with European encroachment on their territories. It may have given other African peoples hope that resistance to European power was possible. In the Americas it may have brought a sense of pride in African descent.
• The memory of Adowa likely gave Ethiopians the confidence that they could defeat Mussolini’s forces as they had done with Italian forces in 1896. It gave them a useful rallying point to inspire resistance to the Italians.
Using the Evidence Questions