was put to the deposing of princes, and greater
durbars, at which the new empress of India received the allegiance of the
hierarchies of traditional India through her viceroy, seemed to symbolise the
new conservatism of the regime.
Rapid Changes in Indian Society Yet, beneath the trappings of
conservatism, Indian society changed much more rapidly in the second half
of the 19th century than it had done in the first. The British had much more to
offer Indians. Imports of Western technology had been limited before the
Thereafter, a great railway system was constructed—28,000 miles of track
being laid by 1904—and major canal schemes were instituted that more than
doubled the area under irrigation in the last 20 years of the century.
The railways, the vastly increased capacity of steamships, and the opening of
the Suez Canal linked Indian farmers with world markets to a much greater
degree. A small, but significant minority of them could profit from such
opportunities to sell surplus crops and acquire additional land.
Some industries developed, notably Indian-owned textile manufacturing in
western India. The horrific scale of the famines of the 1880s and 1890s
showed how limited any economic growth had been, but the stagnation of the
early 19th century had been broken.
Universities, colleges and schools proliferated in the towns and cities, most of
them opened by Indian initiative. They did not produce replica English men
and women, as Macaulay had hoped, but Indians who were able to use
English in addition to their own languages, to master imported technologies
and methods of organisation and who were willing to adopt what they found
attractive in British culture.
The dominant intellectual movements cannot be called Westernisation. They
were revival or reform movements in Hinduism and Islam, and were the
development of cultures that found expression in Indian languages.
Within the constraints of a colonial order, a modern India was emerging by
the end of the 19th century. British rule of course, had an important role in
this process, but the country that was emerging fulfilled the aspirations of
Indians, rather than the colonial designs of what a modern India ought to be.