Decolonization Of The British Empire Essay

1975 words - 8 pages

3. DecolonisationAnalysing all the sources, discuss what was the most important factor in Britain's imperial decline?Decolonisation is the process in which a colony becomes independent or when they are granted independence. Arguably, the British imperial decline began in 1918, just after World War 1 came to a close and continued up until as recently as 1980, when Zimbabwe was released. What is so unusual about British decolonisation is that no empire has emerged to replace the one that fell. This essay will look at the process of decolonisation and analyse the contributing factors in the British imperial decline. At the beginning of the twentieth century, there would be no sense of ...view middle of the document...

To the more extreme right, there was no such thing as genuine politics in Ireland, only "flagrant disloyalty." In 1921, a ceasefire was called and a treaty was put in place that declared Ireland a self-governing nation of the British Commonwealth. Source 2 depicts a man doing the splits between a Republic and Dominion privileges. After Ireland was declared as an independent nation, many historians argued whether she was in fact a Republic in her own right or if she was a nation with dominion privileges. The source indicates that the British thought that giving Ireland Independence was not going to be an easy task. As well as Ireland, India was one of the first to establish independence movement within the empire. One of the biggest factors, in imperial decline, was the subsequent loss of India. Within the British Empire, India was seen as the crown jewel. According to Churchill, the possession of India made the difference from being first world power or a third. She was important in empire security - India provided men for military service - and was almost crucial in British trade and investment. By 1930, Churchill believed that an independent India was not going to happen anytime soon. He argued that the loss of India would devastate the empire to an extent where the empire was no longer in existence. However, in 1947, India did become independent. Gandhi was a major influence in this process, with years of peaceful protests that the empire found hard to answer to. One could not use force against a peaceful campaign as it would damage her international reputation. The extract from Primary source 4, argues that in the fight for independence, Gandhi would "retain in his heart of hearts a reverence for asceticism." The source goes on to say that Gandhi's peaceful movement was a key moment in the fight for independence and that the basis of the peace movement originally came from the ancient Hindu doctrine. Gandhi never held political office as a matter of choice. Furthermore, the extract argues that Gandhi's fasting and his opposition to violence heavily influenced Britain's partition of India. He believed that the best way to resist British tyranny was civil disobedience, which was founded upon ahimsa and began to boycott British foreign goods and products. This damaged the British Empire as India was her biggest export; to suddenly have this taken away would potentially damage her economy. "The means may be likened to a seed, the end to a tree," he wrote in 1909, "and there is just the same inviolable connection between the means and the end as there is between the seed and the tree. . . We reap exactly as we sow." In August 1947, India was granted independence and two separate nations of Pakistan and India were formed. Many historians such as Kent argue that the loss of India at the very least coincided with the loss of the British Empire. Kent notes that 'the possession and subsequent loss of a colonial empire has been conflated with the loss...

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