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Decolonization

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  1. Introduction
  2. Review
  3. Conclusion

India was Britain's first colony to be decolonized, in 1947, for a multitude of reasons. First of all, Britain had promised India, before the war began a transfer of power, to make the sub-continent more independent. Furthermore, Britain had already started an ?Indianization? of the army and civil service: once the British withdrew, the Indians would have enough experience to effectively run their own country. It had even started its own tariff system, making it economically independent from Great-Britain. Secondly, by 1945, Britain was in debt to India: the subcontinent was not keeping its role as an economic asset to England, but was becoming an economic liability.

Finally, the Second World War had a negative impact on English and Indian relations. To be able to keep up with the cost of the war, financially and humanly, the British had to mobilize India's resources, reinforcing Indian nationalism. Additionally, the extremely high cost of the war left England broke. The idea of war was inconceivable for most of the British, and the current government, the Labor Party, was ideologically committed to decolonization.

However, keeping India meant sending more troops to calm Indian nationalism and the heightening tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims. India was thus the first to be decolonized because it was becoming increasingly independent, nationalism was heightening and because it was not serving its purpose of an economic and strategic asset.

[...] Moreover, even though Britain had lost the political influence it had before the war, it was still the world's third largest power. Finally, other factors, especially a change in the international climate decolonization, also played a part in British decolonization. By 1958, France had already offered decolonization to most of its African colonies. The new superpower, the United States, was resolutely anti-colonial, and the British were also starting to support decolonization. Another important factor is the rise to power of British Prime Minister Harold MacMillan, who was able to see that keeping the empire [...]


[...] The Second World War, and its economical and political consequences, also contributed to launching the decolonization process in the British Empire. Britain was politically and economically much weaker and less influent than before the war and was thus finding it much harder to maintain its empire. Like many other European countries, its economy had only survived thanks to a large loan by the US. Coupled with the high cost of maintaining its colonies, the Empire was seen as a futile expense, which added to the desire to decolonize. [...]

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