February 25, 2024

HPAS/Allied Mains 2022 Answer Writing Challenge Day 287: Model Answer

Question: Discuss the impact of World War-1 on India. (8 marks/120 words)

Answer.

The Indian national movement, and the country’s socio-economic development did not take place in isolation. World War I linked India to global events in profound ways with far-reaching consequences, which were as follows:

Political Impact

  • In India, the return of Punjabi soldiers after the end of the war also aroused political activity against colonial rule in that province, which became the spark for further wider protests. Punjab which supplied a large proportion of the troops turned into an epicenter of nationalism after the war.
  • There was a surge of nationalism and rise of mass civil disobedience when the Montagu-Chelmsford Reforms’ failed to deliver on the expectation of home rule that had led to popular support for the British war effort.
  • As the war dragged on, casualties mounted and recruitment methods grew more coercive, resentment grew to fuel nationalism.

Social Impact

  • Between 1911 and 1921,literacy rates increased significantly in heavily recruited communities. This effect is strongest for men of military age, which is consistent with the notion that soldiers learned to read and write on their foreign campaigns.
  • Respect for particular communities who participated in the war grew in the society.
  • The huge number of non-combatants were also recruited from India- such as nurses, doctors etc. leaving Indian society deprived of essential services in a situation where such skills were already scarce in India.

Economic Impact

  • There was a sharp increase in demand for Indian goods in Britain as production capabilities in Britain itself were diverted to the war effort.
  • Industrial prices nearly doubled in the six years after 1914. Accelerating prices benefitted Indian industry.
  • Farm prices rose as well, but at a slower pace than industrial prices. The internal terms of trade(ratio of export prices to import prices) moved against agriculture. This trend continued for most of the next few decades, and especially during the collapse in global commodity prices during the Great Depression.
  • Demand for food supplies, particularly cereals, led to rampant food inflation.
  • Exports of cash crops like jute suffered due to the loss of the European market. Meanwhile, rising military demand for jute products compensated for the decline in civilian demand with jute mills in Bengal establishing monopolies; skewed income distribution grew even more so.
  • The drain on the Indian economy in the form of cash, kind and loans to the British government came to about 367 million pounds.
  • Domestic manufacturing sectors such as cotton benefited from the decline in British goods that had dominated the pre-war market.
  • The steel sector benefited as well. For instance, the ailing Tata steel mills were handed a lifeline in the form of a contract to supply rails to the Mesopotamian campaign.
  • British investment was rerouted to the UK, creating opportunities for Indian capital. In short, the war economy boosted Indian capitalism in some ways at least.

 

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