Amitav Ghosh in Sea of Poppies published in 2008 looks back at the colonial period to show the social, cultural, economic and ecological devastation done by European intervention in South Asia. Ghosh states that the impelling policies of colonial powers alter the landscapes of the annexed bioregions and economically plunder the communities. The research paper focuses on Ghosh’s concern over the commodification of nature at the hands of British colonialists. Sea of Poppies is an account of the imposed opium monoculture in Bihar and Calcutta for the Chinese market responsible for the enormous wealth of Britain. As such it is made clear in the paper that colonizers have always imported and introduced cash crops in the annexed terrains by exterminating …show more content…
Keywords: Ecological Imperialism, Nature, Postcolonialism, Ecology, Ecosystem
Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh published in 2008 is set prior to the opium wars and details the nineteenth century opium trade and its effect on the lives of a group of ordinary people: a young widow, Deeti; an American sailor, Zachery Reid; a heroic untouchable, Kalua; a Chinese convict, Ah Fatt; a raja (landlord), Neel Rattan Halder; bilked by a ruthless British opium businessman, Mr. Burnham; Paulette, an orphan, daughter of a French botanist Pierre Lambert and others. Sea of Poppies is an account of the imposed opium monoculture in Bihar and Calcutta for the Chinese market responsible for the enormous wealth of Britain. It highlights how the fate of the human beings in this hinterland is written by poppy flowers and its entire ecosystem is entrapped by ecological imperialism. Imperialism not …show more content…
It throws light on the status quo of agriculture in India and emphasizes the environmental injustice caused to the land and to the people. Though unwilling, people are forced to adapt this new crop culture as Britishers would go from home to home, forcing cash advances on the farmers and their forged thumbprint. The farmers are unwilling but bound to such contracts because if they refuse, the British soldiers would hide the silver in their houses to prove them culprits and make them convicts to be transported beyond the seas as indentured servants. In addition, their refusal to oblige leads to forfeiture of their properties. The novel provides a vivid picture of the exploited farming class. Deeti maintains that earlier they lived in harmony with nature. She yearns for useful crops like wheat, dal and vegetables. These gestures of Deeti show a happy and symbiotic environment of the earlier times. She is aware of the curse posed by monoculture. According to her, during winters, fields used to be covered with wheat and after the spring harvest; the straw would be used for different purposes like fixing the hut roofs. She realizes that it has been seven years since roof of her hut was last hatched. She does not have money to buy a handful of straw. The Britishers have left the natives handicapped by raising the price of small accessories like straw. Being
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Opium came from opium poppy seeds, which were grown and sold under British ruling in India. The British East India Company developed a monopoly which took place in effectively growing opium and making profits and/or trading it with the Chinese in exchange for their premium good such as silk, porcelain, and tea. According to Memorials on the Legalization and Elimination of Opium by Xu Naiji and Yuan Yulin, they explained how the rise of opium prompted many debts and death around China. Opium became an addiction for many, from the poor to officials in government positions. Cutting off all access of trading opium would’ve started issues in the trading network, not just with Britain but with the Western countries as well. Instead of passing laws to completely ban opium, they reverted to only permitting the barbarian merchants to import opium to pay duty as a medication. This made it unacceptable for money to be involved with the product. According to Xu Naiji, smokers of opium were lazy, with no purpose in life and if they were caught smoking it, the only punishment was getting the opium confiscated. However, if any officer, scholar, or soldier were found smoking opium, the would be immediately dismissed from public employ. Yuan Yulin, a minister, believes that the expansion of opium is the government’s fault, being that they cannot decipher right from wrong; he thought it was unfair that prohibition of smoking opium only applied to the officers of the government, scholars, and military but not the common people. The British capitalized on the effects of opium, because many of China’s population were going to put forth their money, goods, etc. for
China and British perspectives on the opium trade were contradistinctive and ultimately became the foundations of the Opium Wars in 1839-42 and 1856-60. The clash of opinions were not based around the narcotic opium itself but stemmed from a misunderstanding of cultures, conflicting economic behaviours and different ethical ideologies.
Lalvani states that “... both nations benefited from the trade links that were firmly established in the 17th century and continued under the East India Company” (paragraph #10). However, because of the trade links established, cheap English fabric flooded the market, decreasing exports of Indian cloth and leading to loss of work, poverty, starvation, and even death as a result (document #5 & #6). The trade links led to the destabilization of the Indian economy and rendered Indians dependent on the British, losing the self-sufficiency they had before imperialism. In paragraph 17, Lalvani claims “the British also worked to preserve the environment and animals of India”. In reality, the growth of cash crops ruined Indian soil, only allowing them to grow the crops the British wanted.
Britain had taken an economic interest of India long ago in the 1600’s. India had quickly become the “Jewel of the Crown.” However as time went on, the British’s interest had developed India into a target for imperialism. In 1757, the British empire had won their battle and took control. The Englishmen had taken India’s power, caused them poverty, killed their environment, drove them into starvation, increased death rates, and wasted their time with ineffective education.
Dr. Lalvani claims that “India’s success as the world largest democracy”(paragraph 7). The British made the Indians pay unfair taxes even when they had no money or struggling to get food and eat to survive. The Indians economy had a negative impact because of the manipulation of the cloth market and forced production of cash crops. Although Lalvani claims that “both nations benefited from trade links, the British wouldn’t let Indians make their own cloth to make clothes; thereby, manipulating the cloth market”(paragraph 10) The Indians started to buy the clothes from the British because it was so cheap that everyone started buying it instead of Indian cloth, ultimately putting people out of work and have no money for food. “However, by the imposition taxes in Indian they made fabric and a flood of cheap fabric that didn’t cost so much”(document
The aim of this investigation is to find the extent to which the British and Chinese trade of opium into China caused the corruption and eventual downfall of the Qing dynasty. The main body of this investigation focuses on the corruption and failure of the Chinese government in controlling British incursions, which caused its citizens to rebel and thus began the downfall of the Qing Dynasty. The introductions of opium to China and the effects it had on China will be assessed in accordance to origin, value, purpose, and limitation. The British and Chinese trade in relation to opium and its role of corruption in the Qing Dynasty will be analyzed also.
The British citizens had started buying lots of Chinese tea, which the British government needed to find a way to balance because they were buying more resources than selling. To solve their deficit, Britain, attempted trading with China, however the Chinese were very cautious about trading with Western Countries. The Emperor felt that trading with the British could be destabilizing to the country, so he set aside certain ports for foreign trade only. At the time, China had a self-sustaining economy and did not need to trade with other countries, however, Britain did have one thing that the Chinese people wanted, opium. The demand for opium in China began to increase and so did the piracy and smuggling, so the Emperor prohibited opium in 1729. These restrictions angered the British and they demanded that they were changed, however, the Emperor stood firm. To get around the restrictions the British began selling opium in Calcutta, India, which is the closest part of India to China. The opium proved to be very good quality, so it was very high in demand and most people bought it. The use of opium among Chinese people had become very common and many people became addicts even though it was still illegal. In 1839, 5.639 million lbs./year of opium was being imported in, the Emperor order Commissioner Lin Zexu, to end the opium trade. Commissioner Zexu was very successful and retrieved 3 million lbs. Of opium, which took about 23 days to destroy. The British government was outraged by Commissioner Zexu’s actions and immediately sent in military
Britain became the vast and mighty Empire upon which the sun never set through the development and use of what is, in modern terms, referred to as Imperialism. The British approach to the colonization of India came out of: the European, specifically British, superiority mindset; the practical approach of attaining resources in return for modernization and “guardianship”; and the solidification of Britain as the world’s dominating force. Britain’s use of Imperialism, as a necessity to maintain its Empire, acted as the catalyst of the Indian Rebellion.
Many ask what ecological imperialism is. The book defines ecological imperialism as a term historian’s use for the sweeping environmental changes European and other imperialist introduced in regions they colonized. Two empire’s that positive advantages two the era of ecological imperialism were the Aztec Empire of Mexico and the Inca Empire of Peru. Even though these Empires strived during their era’s they had several conditions that led to their weaknesses.
Imperialism takes place when a strong country takes over a weaker country. When this happens, it affects the imperialized country positively yet also negatively. When India was imperialized by Britain, the British rule represented some progress but mostly dominance. Britain helped build railroads and schools in India to try to modernize the country. However, Britain forced Indians to grow cash crops instead of food which later led India to a famine.
The Opium Wars were a series of three wars between the Chinese and the British; primarily fought in regard to the illegal trade of opium in China during the 19th century. They manifested the conflicting natures of both nations and demonstrated China’s misconceptions of its own superiority. The Opium Wars resulted in the humiliating defeat of the Chinese to a country they considered to be “barbarians”.
Opium- an addictive drug originally used as a painkiller. It is obtained from the unripe seeds of the opium poppy and can be made into substances that a person can smoke causing relaxation, alleviated anxiety, and a state of euphoria. Continued use of the drug also induces deterioration to the mind and body of a person eventually causing death. The substance was therefore stated illegal in China during the late 18th Century yet consistently smuggled into the country via British merchant ships. As the Chinese placed more restrictions on trade in an effort to abolish the importation of opium, the battle against the drug raged on until war was unavoidable between England and China. It is this war that lasted from 1839-1842
The East India Company was a British joint-stock company establish on the 31st of December, 1600 under the original name ‘The Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies.’ Over the next hundreds of years the Company set a sail attempting to find riches in trade on their journeys to these new lands. They found value in crops such as indigo, salt, cotton, silk, opium and other cash crops that the barren land of Europe lacked. This would be the company that would set sail to the land of India and dominate its soil from the middle of 1700’s to the middle of the 1800’s.
The story of “Rikki-tikki-tavi” directly describes the English present in India and also the idea of domestication. The story “The White Seal,” exemplifies how India’s resources were taken and the brutality of the natives being forced from their homes by the British. Imperialistic ideas are visible throughout the novel as
The colonization of India and the immense transfer of wealth that moved from the latter to Britain were vital to the success of the British Empire. In fact, the Viceroy of British India in 1894 called India “the pivot of our Empire …” I examine the effects of the Industrial Revolution on the subcontinent. Besides highlighting the fact that without cheap labor and raw materials from India, the modernization of Britain during this era would have been highly unlikely, I will show how colonial policy led to the privation and death of millions of natives. I conclude that while India undoubtedly benefited from British colonial rule, the negatives for the subject population far outweighed the positives.