about radical changes in the composition of
other tropical commodities like raw cotton, indigo, tea, coffee, sugar and
food-grains. England wanted these industrial raw materials for her gradually
expanding manufacturing industries (as Industrial Revolution was gradually
taking place in England from 1750). In return, India was compelled to import
cheap manufactured goods like cloth produced in the factories at Lancashire.
Replacement of Mercantilism by Free Trade Policy Once England
attained industrial and military supremacy, instead of restrictive trade
practices of Mercantilism, it adopted the principle of free trade (i.e. duty-free
and unrestricted import and export trade). The principle of free trade began to
be enforced vigorously after the end of Nepoleonic Wars in 1815. Thus,
practically all restrictions on trade between England and India (including
restrictions on shipping) came to be removed by 1853. This gave a great
boost to trade between England and India. Thus, for the period 1854-59,
India’s annual exports rose to Rs. 22.2 crores and her annual imports to Rs.
15.37 crores. After 1840, some other momentous developments took place.
Sailing ships came to be gradually replaced by steamships after 1840. In
1869, the Suez Canal was opened and the sea-route between Europe and
India was practically halved. Also, laying down of submarine cables and the
spread of international postal facilities gave further impetus to international
trade. For long, India’s export and import trade was mostly with England; but
gradually, other nations also stepped in. The first to step in was Germany; by
the end of the 19th century, U.S.A. and Japan were also selling their
manufactured goods in Indian markets.
Impact on India After 1850, internal markets in India were also being
opened up. Railway and road-building programmes began to be undertaken in
the country after 1850. The Public Works Department established by Lord
Dalhousie started building modern roads in India during 1850s. The first
railway line was opened in India in 1853. This was soon to create a veritable
revolution in the country, opening up the interior markets as never before.
Railway construction, which started in India after 1853, also connected the
interior of the country with the port towns of Bombay and Calcutta, thus
facilitating movement of goods from the interior to port towns and from port
towns into the interior. Tolls that used to be imposed at various places on the
internal movement of goods, thus hampering their free and easy movements