Page 29 - Science India August 2022
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           Indian Railways
A Deceitful Largesse by the Colonial Power
This broad gauge steam locomotive, EM 922 (NWR), was built in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1907 and was used to haul passenger trains on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway and the North Western Railway in British India
The apologists of colonial rule have for long remained grateful for the gifts given by the British to India including the Railways, but nothing can be farther from the truth
 n Sonam Singh Subhedar
The railways have for long been viewed as one of the significant commitments by the British in India. It has been seen as the greatest example of India’s infrastructural de- velopment under colonial rule. Starting around 1850, it has for long been be- lieved to have fuelled the development of the Indian economy. Without doubt, it remains the mainstay of India’s trans- Image Courtesy: Shamim Mohamed/Wikimedia Commons portation system, and is also the greatest business supplier in present times.
In any case, in spite of the multitude of contributions of the railways, the justification of its launch in India is not without its share of malice. What was the requirement for presenting the rail- ways? What was the immediate impact
of railways on the economy? It definitely expanded the national income of the na- tion, yet did it build the life of individu- als? Were the approaches and charges good for those who were transporting raw materials for trade and export?
The answer to all these questions is this — in India, the British created railways for their own advantage. They needed to send out raw materials from inner parts of India to their nation and furthermore supply their manufactured products in the interior hinterland. In
this cycle, they needed to foster a rail route foundation in India. This could be easily proved by the fact that the ex- port of wheat grew 22-fold from 1867 to 1877 and, surprisingly, kept on de- veloping during the famine in 1876-78, showing an absence of sympathy toward the necessities of the ordinary citizens by
the British Government.
Governor General Lord Hardinge
argued in 1843 that the railways would be beneficial “to the commerce, govern- ment and military control of the coun- try”. From their very origin, the Indian railways were an instrument to exploit Indians and their wealth. The British made staggering amounts of money by financing the railways, where the gov- ernment guaranteed returns double of government stocks, paid entirely from Indian taxes. Finally, at the expense of the Indian taxpayers, the first commer- cial train in India ran between Bombay and Thane on 16 April 1853. It was dedicated to Lord Dalhousie, who had served as the Governor General of India from 1848 to 1856. The train had 14 carriages and carried 400 passengers. It had three locomotives named Sultan,

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