The Victoria Memorial Hall in Kolkata, India—the largest monument to a monarch anywhere in the world, standing in 64 acres of gardens—was built between 1906 and 1921 by the British government and is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria, Empress of India from 1876 to 1901
The British instituted reforms, one of which challenged the Church. Believing that the religions and traditions of the millions of Muslims and Hindus were too deeply imbedded and resistant to “social change” and conversion to Christianity—which often resulted in violent protest and riot—the government made it official policy to prevent mission work. Evangelism continued nonetheless, as it had when the Company tried to prevent proselytizing.
A painting showing an open-air restaurant in Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan, opposite the Wazir Khan Mosque
Britain exported the industrial revolution to India, building railroads, canals, bridges, roads, and establishing telegraph communication across the subcontinent. Much of the cost of “infrastructure” was borne by the Indians themselves, but the upper echelons of control remained in the hands of Europeans. With the sixty-year boom in industry came agricultural change, both good and bad. Food-grains, tea, and cotton flowed into world markets. When parts of India suffered from famine and drought—as had been the case in the past and exacerbated by the export of food in the present, as had happened in Ireland—multitudes of small farmers lost their animals and land from disease and debt; peasants and city-dwellers alike died by the “tens of millions.” Recent historians claim that more than fifty million people died, and blame it all on British imperialism and control of transportation and export, arguments hotly disputed by the older historians of the period.
The Delhi Durbar elephant carriage of the Maharaja of Rewa during the Great Durbar of 1902-3, organized by the Viceroy Lord Curzon, and which was as much a celebration of British rule in India as a commemoration of the Coronation of Edward VII, Queen Victoria’s son and successor to the throne of Great Britain, and thus Emperor of India