Imperialism In Burma Essay

2044 words - 8 pages

Burma: a country of exceptional beauty, abundant natural resources, valuable minerals, fertile soil, and one of the healthiest climates in the tropics. Britain desired these features, so they imperialized the whole country in 1885 and imposed colonial rule throughout Burma. Imperialism is… The British benefit and hurt the country in many ways, completely changing the country forever. Western imperialism in Burma was more costly than beneficial; even though the British improved and modernized education, transportation, and daily life, they also destroyed the economy, culture, and religion, ultimately causing more harm than good by dividing the country, killing many natives, and scarring the country forever.
The British greatly weakened politics in Burma. When the British invaded Burma, troops burned down villages and suppressed dissent with mass executions. British colonial rule used the principle of ‘divide and rule.’ ‘Divide and rule’ divided the country into separate areas based on nationality. The colonial administration relied heavily on Indian bureaucrats to impose their interests. The British ended Burma’s monarchy and sent their king Thibaw into exile because he provoked a dispute with a British timber company. Britain wanted control of Burma to protect its possessions in India and to gain a land route to China. The British incorporated Burma into India, and Burma became known as ‘Further India.’ The British imposed colonial rule in 1886; the Burmese heartland was administrated by direct rule, the hill areas (Shan states, Karen states, tribal groups in Kachin, Chin, and Naga hills) retained traditional leadership under British supervision, and racial minorities had limited autonomy. The British invaded Burma to take everything they wanted; everything. Every choice the colonial government made was in their interest, with no regard to the natives. Yet, the British claimed to have come to Burma to solve its problems. The government’s lack of care and cruel rule caused much suffering among the natives, who were very desperate to end British rule.
The British made some improvements while they controlled the government; or so it seemed. The British stressed the benefits of education, replacing the traditional monastic system with formal Western style schooling. The British attempted to bridge the gap between old and new Burma by calling for reform of traditional Buddhist beliefs and practices. Rangoon University was founded in 1920 and a new urban elite evolved. Students were taught English and had more opportunities with better schooling. The colonial government built roads, river steamers, railways, hospitals, improved urban sanitation, brought electricity to Rangoon, and redesigned the capital (Rangoon) on a grid system. Transportation developed rapidly, and a railway was built through the entire Irrawaddy valley. Trade increased and became more efficient with the improvement of transportation. Some diseases became less common,...

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