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What was India like before there was any British rule and it was colonized? Was it united as a single country? Was it among the third world developing countries? What was its economic, social and scientific state?

"History is written by Victors/winners". The Britishers thought India was uncivilized and were teaching them the modern(western) way of life. Though we knew that they were in India because of the natural resources and the country being an important trade center. So, what were the pro's and con's of the British rule?

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This question appears to be a hypothetical "what if" question. –  American Luke Aug 8 '12 at 16:16
I am not aware of any widely respected allo-history dealing with this what-if. –  Samuel Russell Aug 9 '12 at 2:44
Edited the question to make it "historical, not hypothetical, and nominate it for reopening. –  Tom Au Aug 11 '12 at 0:52

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

There's no real way to definitivately answer this. It would be a good subject for speculative fiction.

I think what can be said is that it almost certianly would not have been one united country covering the whole subcontinent, as it (mostly) is now. I can say this because it was not one when the British arrived. Short of external conqest, it never really had been. It more resembled the political makeup of Europe, with lots of kingdoms of various sizes squabbling for power (and the Maratha's playing the role of the Holy Roman Empire).

The rest of the question reminds me strongly of the "What have the Romans ever done for us?" scene from Monty Python's Life of Brian. I'm of the opinion that the area would certainly be different, but probably not too horribly different. Not that it matters. European powers carved up the entire eastern hemisphere at that time, so sombody was going to get India. It was only a question of who.

I know as individual people, it isn't very productive to try to wish our past away. Setbacks, losses, and painful episodes are horrible, but they are the price of living. They make us wiser, hopefully more empathetic to others, and in a way stronger too. Perhaps the same goes for countries. So the easiest thing to say here is that, for good or bad, the British occupation made India what it is today.

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Some of us wouldn't be alive if not for that --example, parents who first met because two regions were first connected by trains. We are the sum of the history --therefore we can never regret it. –  Apoorv Khurasia Aug 9 '12 at 0:19
+1 for the part on HRE. –  Apoorv Khurasia Aug 9 '12 at 0:41
@TED : India was United and under one rule during Gupta Empire which was Golden age of India. It was later divided and had invasions but as an Region it was one, united India is not Legacy of British(as many British Historians state it to be). In fact Britishers left India in 1947 by dividing it into more than 450 Princely states whose unification was later done by Sardar Patel post Independence. –  Amandeep Jiddewar Nov 12 '13 at 12:01
@AmandeepJiddewar - Not true. Linked is a map of the Gupta Empire at its greatest extent. Notice that it controls almost none of the peninsular south except a fair bit of the eastern coast. –  T.E.D. Nov 12 '13 at 14:09

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