Infrastructure in India during British Rule - All you need to know

Infrastructure meaning

Infrastructure can be referred to as the basic physical operations of a nation or a business such as communication, transportation, water, sewage, etc. This operation can be a highly expensive investment and an important aspect of the economic development of a country.

Infrastructure in India

During the colonial period in India, the basic infrastructure such as water transport, railways, posts and telegraphs, and ports were developed, but to serve the colonial interest rather than serving the common people. Roads constructed were not fit for modern India, could not connect rural areas, and the shortage of well-constructed roads, especially in the rainy season, was the drawback.

However, in the year 1850, the introduction of the railways was one of the most important contributions by the British. This initiative transformed the Indian economy in two ways. One, it led people to travel long distances and break the geographical barrier, and second, it commercialised Indian agriculture that adversely influenced the self-sufficiency of the village economies in India.

With the development of railways and roads, the colonial regulation also took steps for the improvement of the sea lanes and inland trade. However, for the postal services, though it was useful assistance for the society, it remained insufficient.

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Solved Questions

Q.1. What objectives did British intend to achieve through their policies of infrastructure development in India? (NCERT)


Briefly discuss the various reasons for the development of infrastructure by the British government.

(A) Explanation During British rule, there was some infrastructural development in areas such as railways, ports, water transport, posts, and telegraphs.

However, the motive behind this development was simply to foster the colonial interest of the British government.

    They were never interested in the growth of the Indian economy.

(B) Reasons for the development of infrastructure
1. Railways


Railways were developed to move finished goods physically from Britain to different interior parts of colonial India.

Britishers wanted to widen the size of the market for their goods.

2. Roads


Roads were developed to mobilise the British Army within India.

Roads were developed to facilitate the transportation of raw materials from different parts of the country to the nearest railway station or to the port to send it to Britain.

3. Ports Ports were developed to export raw materials and import finished goods from Britain.
4. Communication


Posts and telegraphs were developed to maintain law and order.

 The expensive system of the electric telegraph in India was developed to enhance administrative efficiency.


Q.2. What were the positive signs in railways under the British rule? What was the motive of constructing railways by the British government?
(A) Explanation British rulers introduced railways in India in 1850.

    Railway began its operations in 1853.

(B) Positive signs in the railway under the British rule i. Cheap and rapid movement of people from one place to another

ii. Increased commercialisation of Indian agriculture

iii. Development of India’s industrial sector due to the expansion of railways


iv. Increased volume of export (but it did not give many advantages to Indian people)

(C) Motives for constructing railways i. To have effective control and administration over the Indian territory

ii. To earn profit through foreign trade by linking major ports with railways

iii. Profitable investment in India


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Q.3. Discuss any positive contributions by the British in India? Discuss.


What were the positive contributions made by the British rule in India?

(a) Explanation Britishers misused India in various ways.

However, there were many instances where the motives initiated by the British rule yielded positive effects.

    Their exploitative policies and programs also had some positive impacts in India.

(b) Following are some of the positive impacts:
(1) Commercial agriculture It changed the outlook of the farmers.

    Farming proved to be a profitable venture rather than merely a means of subsistence.

(2) Spread of railways and roadways     It opened up new opportunities for social and economic growth.


(3) Expanding means of transport It helped as a support system to combat the spread of famines.

    Food supplies could be rushed to the drought-hit areas.

(4) Transition from a barter system to a monetary system The economy shifted from a barter system to a monetary system.

    It facilitated the division of labour, specialisation, and large-scale production.

(5) Administration The British Raj in India left a legacy of an effective and efficient system of administration.

    It served as a ready reckoner for our politicians and economic planners.

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