Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Colonialism and Decolonization

GS Paper 1

Syllabus: History of the world, Colonization, Decolonization


Source: The Hindu

Direction: This article throws light on Colonialism, Decolonization and its remains on the previous colonies. It may be useful for Essays and modern history-related questions in CSE.

Context: In an Editorial, the writer discussed the ghost of colonial legacy.


To colonize is to settle in, and take control of, land outside your own borders. E.g. the British colonized India for over 200 years. Colonization was motivated by economics. European powers sought to expand their markets and acquire raw materials overseas.

What is Decolonization?

Decolonization is a process by which colonies become independent of the colonizing country. Decolonization occurred in response to independence movements in colonized territories when European powers determined that the benefits of maintaining colonies were not worth the costs.


Difference between Colonialism and Imperialism:

  • Colonialism: The term colony comes from the Latin word colonus, meaning farmer. The practice of colonialism usually involved the transfer of population to a new territory, where the arrivals lived as permanent settlers while maintaining political allegiance to their country of origin.
  • Imperialism: On the other hand, ‘Imperialism’ comes from the Latin term imperium, meaning to command.  Thus, the term imperialism implies that one country exercises power over another, whether through settlement, sovereignty, or indirect mechanisms of control.


  • Colonisation was experienced differently across regions, classes and castes. That is a prime reason why de-colonisation remains so elusive.

Colonial Legacy in India:


  • Removal of English is a big draw among political parties which promise to exorcise India’s mind, body and soul from the ghost of colonialism.
  • Majoritarian nationalism has picked up English as a de-colonisation plank.
  • Jotibarao Phule’s appreciation of English education was grounded in its potential to wipe out discrimination against the lower castes.


Public Policy:

  • Colonial public policy assumed that average citizens are docile and ignorant, and that it is the state’s job to enlighten — and not just serve — them.
  • It has become a lot louder in the digital age, without making much of an impact on the everyday reality of the citizenry.



Colonised societies suffered similar consequences, such as the drainage of wealth and the emergence of a state apparatus that the common people found difficult to identify with. Their fear of the state and the state’s distrust of the citizen ought to be the prime agenda for anyone pursuing de-colonisation.

Insta links:

Mains Link:

Q. Write a short note on the decolonization process in Africa. (10M)