Topic – Part of static series under the heading – “Modern Indian History”
1) Railway development in India provides an interesting instance of private enterprise at public risk. Comment.(250 words)
Key demand of the question
The question expects us to first explain explain the statement in question which is that risk was unevenly shared between private and public sector in railway construction. It also expects us to comment on the purpose for which railway construction was undertaken and whether railway construction was a part of policy of British to drain India of its wealth by allowing it to be constructed by private enterprise at public risk.
Comment – When you are asked to comment, you have to pick main points and give your ‘opinion’ on them based on evidences or arguments stemming from your wide reading. Your opinion may be for or against, but you must back your argument with evidences.
Structure of the answer
Introduction – Explain that Lord Dalhousie took the decision to construct railways in India.
- Explain what it meant by the statement in question
- Cost borne by Indians and profit reaped by British
- 5% guaranteed interest on British capital investment
- Award of free land with 99 year’s lease etc
- Highlight that the railways primarily served British needs through points such as no linkages of Indian markets, freight charges, transfer of technology remained limited to low technology areas etc
- Discuss the unintended benefits of railways for India
Conclusion – Comment on whether the public investment made in railways did benefit the people of India or it benefitted British capitalist and was another form of economic drain.