Compare the effects of the coming of the railways in different countries in the world.

“Railroads are more than tracks and trains; they are a whole new way of life, the forerunners of a new civilization”, writes Headrick, D. R. in his work, 'The Railroads of India'. This statement can well be understood if we study the inception of railways in Britain, a colonizer nation and India, a colonised country. Though the motives for the establishment in the two nations were different, its impact on the economy, society and polity was immense for both the categories of nations.
The establishment of railways in England was initiated to support the increasing demands of industrialisation in the country. Railways could link the factories and mines to the ports, thus facilitating the quick transport of raw materials to the industries and finished goods from the industries to the ports for export. Carrying of bulky goods was no more a problem with the railways coming to function.  Other than just transporting goods, railways also served to achieve the following benefits for Britain:

1) The 'railway mania' of the 19th century provided employment opportunities for many. Every aspect of the railways such as production of parts of the engines and bogeys, the laying down of tracks and efficient running and maintenance of the railways generated employment for the population.

2) The railway links helped in bringing new varieties of products to the market, thus increasing the variety of available goods and commodities for its population. Fish became a staple diet for maximum population, with the connection of the coastal areas being established to the cities and towns.

3) With the tremendous success and profit earned in the railway sector, more people started investing in stocks of the railways. This gave a further boost to the British economy.

4) The thick network of railways helped to connect different parts of the country, which made the movement of labour easier. People could now move out to other parts of the country in search of jobs.

5) One of the most important aspects of the development of railways in England was that it served to establish the strong pedestal of colonialism for England. The railway lines helped to bring the cheap raw materials of the colonised countries to the industries and send the complete textiles from the textiles to the port for export to the colonies.

Now that we have seen how the railways benefitted Britain, we shift our attention to the impact of railways in India, a colony of Britain. The construction of railways in India was started by the British in the 19th century to facilitate the export of raw materials and create a ready market for British goods. Construction of railways in India was aimed for the economic advancement of England and not India.
Several western thinkers believed that the railways could bring Industrial Revolution to India but nothing of that sort took place. It rather facilitated further drain of Indian resources and provided no better opportunities for natives.
The following points will provide a glimpse of the scenario:

1) Indians hardly had any shares of the railways as they could be traded only in London. According to the available data, only 500 out of 50000 shareholders of Indian rail road were Indians. This proves that railways did not provide any economic boost for India.

2) There were hardly any Indian workers who were involved in the railway construction process. Engineers, foremen and other skilled workers were all brought in from England. The salaries, medical expenses and other allowances of these officers were borne by India.

3) Unlike in England, railways in India did not foster industrialisation. All necessary raw materials like iron goods, rolling stocks, locomotives, etc were imported from Britain. At times, even coal was imported from Britain.

Even though the railways catered to British interests, it was a boon in disguise for India. It enabled to connect different parts of the country. National newspapers could now be transported to different parts of the country, making possible the spread of nationalist fervour quickly. The railway bogies, where people of different groups had to sit together, broke the stereotypes of castes and classes.

Thus, we can conclude that the impact of railways was very different for the colonial power and the colonised nation. On one hand, where it helped in placing Britain as a superpower on the global front, on the other hand, it made India an economy more dependent on England.

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