The Impact of the West
During the nineteenth century innovation that is so much a part of Indian life today became more apparent and waged a losing war against tradition. The impact of the West could be clearly seen in the beginnings of industrialization, adjustments of Hinduism to Christianity, and the organization of political nationalism.
The railroad revolutionized inland travel and commercial transport in India. For several years in the early 1840’s the notion of building railways in India was discussed. In 1844 an Anglo-Indian promoter published a pamphlet indicating how Indian railways would benefit the country and share-holders. The Indian government was in favor of his idea and so he returned to England to campaign for his project.
In August of 1849 the first stage of Indian railway construction was underway with contracts from the East India Company and the Great Indian peninsular companies. The first train ever seen in India started with passengers from Bombay on November 18, 1852. It was an impressive symbol of the West. By making it possible to transfer grain, the railways helped with the periodic famines that had terrorized India for centuries.. The railways also stimulated the output of coal and other minerals because there was an efficient and rapid way to transport material and so the demands for such items increased. The railway is still used today to transport passengers, raw materials, and mail.
The Indian iron and steel industry was not of significant size until the stimulus of the First World War. The founder of the Indian steel industry was a Parsee Janshed Tata, who imported European experts to build pioneer plants in Bengal and Bihar. In 1907 after his death, his sons established the Tata Iron and Steel Company with Indian capital.
Tata Iron and Steel is now a major company in the Indian stock market. It has expanded from just selling iron and steel to almost anything on the market. It is one of the major companies that was established by an Indian who used western ideas.
The modern Indian textile industry got a much earlier start. The first successful mill was established in Bombay in 1853. Most of the major expansion waited until the last quarter of the century. Tata’s famous "Empress Mill" at Nagpur began production in 1887, and was followed by the erection of mills in other parts of India.
Bombay became the center of the cotton textile industry due to its proximity to supplies of raw cotton. The industry was financed and controlled largely by Indians, including a considerable number of Parsees. The British who once exploited India because of textiles could not do that anymore because of the newly built textiles mills.
The British helped India to move into the modern era. They gave the Indians a solid foundation and the discipline needed, but at the same time the British were chipping away at the Indian culture. The once small community environment was growing and cities were emerging. The present India was in its embryonic stage.