professions constituted the middle class which became a very strong section
of the society. The most important effect of the British administration was the
end of the importance, social status and power of the former ruling classes
and the rise of new social divisions.
As an inevitable result of the establishment of British rule in India,
particularly as a result of close contact with European merchants and
missionaries, there was a great change in the social attitude and mentality of
the Indians. This change began from the second half of the 18th century and
continued all through the 19th century. The impact of Western education and
culture on Indian society continued to grow deeper and wider. The resultant
change began at first in Bengal and then spread to other parts of India.
In place of former social divisions new class divisions began to rise.
Despite differences in wealth, education and profession, people belonging to
different communities formed a new class which came to be known as the
middle class. The middle class in the West had brought about the end of
feudalism and the authority of the Church thereby establishing social,
economic and individual liberty and economic individualism and freedom of
competition. The Indian middle class had contributed to these fields in
appreciable measure though they did not succeed in equal measure. However,
in the spread of nationalism among the Indians and in winning freedom of the
country the contribution of the middle class was quite significant.
There were two factors that contributed to the rise of the middle class in
India, viz. (i) the end of the feudalistic mentality and behaviour due to the
abolition of the former ruling class, and (ii) rise of new land-owning,
mercantile and intellectual classes.
The rise of the middle class was also due to the trade commerce and
industrial activities of the Europeans in India. Naturally, Calcutta, Bombay
and Madras were the first to see the rise of the middle class.
These cities were the first to get the opportunity of Western education and
outlook as also the taste of Western city life. Merchants, industrial
entrepreneurs, capitalists, technologists and people who were experts in the
export and import trade first made Calcutta the centre of their activities.
Naturally of the three presidencies Calcutta had greatest importance.
Though the middle class emerged first in towns and cities, gradually this
class also began to grow in villages. As a result of the Permanent Settlement