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A History of British India

Explore the storied era of British-ruled India, the dissolution of Britain's empire, and the forging of independent India and Pakistan.
A History of British India is rated 3.8 out of 5 by 86.
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Rated 1 out of 5 by from The bail that drowned history It’s clear that the lecturer just wants to shake his fist and tell us what to think without ever giving a chance to reflect and analyze. Nor is he trying to do it himself, always jumping to ‘bad bad English’ empty repetition. After listening to multiple courses, including a lot of pro-Indian anti-colonial authors, I have to admit that this one is just the worst. There is very low information density, no causality and a very barebones story represented in this course. He has trivialized the rich and complex multinational subcontinent to the level of cartoons. As for the constant beating down on the Brits - there is so much more to tell there to prove how the takeover had long term negative consequences - yet his bale drowned his own point to the extent where I simply can’t trust the obviously colored input. Go to a different course, read some textbooks. This course is just a waste of time.
Date published: 2024-07-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Original and engaging course This an original and interesting course, covering material about British Indian history which is not often addressed in colonial history. The lecturer is engaging and the course shows how the British started as a trading company, and almost accidentally became an imperial power. The impacts of colonialism on caste, religion and national identify are all addressed. And the lead up to independence and partition is covered in detail. A very good course.
Date published: 2024-02-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Provides an entirely new perspective. Provides an entirely new perspective on the benefits and detriments to a civilization overtaken by colonialism. While Britain plundered the riches of India without compunction, it must be admitted that today's populous is greatly benefited by the education, values and language that has allowed them to succeed in the forefront of today's economic world.
Date published: 2023-05-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Professor's bias ruins course After watching the first few lectures, it is clear that this course is presented through the biased view of the lecturer, where the Indians were always superior to the British, and the British did nothing but wrong in India. A one-sided history course like this is worse than no history course at all.
Date published: 2023-02-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Pretty good Applies too much modern "morals" to history. Not well balanced...the British are portrayed as only evil. He needs to crack a thesaurus and find some synonyms for "crucial".
Date published: 2023-01-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Mostly biased and misses important social history Others have commented on the professor's blatant bias against the British. I suspect he might have enjoyed giving his lectures even more if he could have referred to the "English" rather than the the "British"; he did slip up at least once in that respect. There was little reference to the development of Indian English language, hardly addressing how important it was for communication between different parts of India, and how its distinctive pronunciation and use of language developed. Also unaddressed is the entrepreneurial nature of many Indians, how even before the British arrived, they had prospered outside of India as traders, and how they took full advantage of the British Empire's holdings to establish themselves all over the world as extremely successful citizens of many countries. (sometimes to the point of local resentment unfortunately, it might be added, e.g.the actions of Idi Amin) The professor often seems to see Indians only as victims of a cruel overlord, rather than a vibrant people, fully capable of taking advantage of what the British Empire offered in terms of education and opportunities. This is a shame, because the professor appears to be quite knowledgeable about India, as the few times he is not browbeating the British , he can be fascinating about pre-British Indian history, and about the more purely Indian events leading up to partition.
Date published: 2022-06-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Great Topic, Stuffy Delivery The topic is very interesting which helps get you through the pedantic and not very thorough presentation. For example, he mentions several times that the economic activity in India was strong before the British got there, but there is no discussion who was buying what from whom. A strong economy, fine. What about a few details. If find that the lecture series that this company produces are quite uneven. You just have to find what suits your needs.
Date published: 2022-04-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Time well spent! The professor provided a lot of detailed information. At first, it was a bit of a challenge to adjust to his style and pace since I wasn't very familiar with India's history, but that quickly changed. It was very informative and I learned a lot. Time well spent!
Date published: 2022-02-12
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The 200 years of Britain's colonial rule of India was a time of seminal transformation and change-for India, for Britain, and for the world. In A History of British India, explore how the British took power in India, built a massive economic machine, and ruled until India's 1947 independence. You'll relive a crucial era in international relations, one with deep and lasting implications for our contemporary world.


Hayden J. Bellenoit

The human experience is inevitably complex and defies any simple question, category, solution, theory, or understanding.


U.S. Naval Academy
Hayden J. Bellenoit is an Associate Professor of History at the U.S. Naval Academy. After graduating summa cum laude in History and Economics from Wheaton College, he attended Oxford University, where he completed his master of studies in Historical Research and his doctor of philosophy in Modern History, focusing on late colonial India. While studying at Oxford, Dr. Bellenoit spent a year in India conducting research in Delhi, Lucknow, and Allahabad. At the Naval Academy, Dr. Bellenoit offered the academy's first courses on the history of India from 1700 to the present, the history of Islam and the origins of jihad in South Asia, the history of Pakistan, the premodern history of Asia, and the history of the Mughal Empire. Dr. Bellenoit has researched and published extensively on modern Indian religious, social, and cultural history. His first book was Missionary Education and Empire in Late Colonial India, 1860-1920. He also has had peer-reviewed articles published in journals and edited volumes, including "Education, Missionaries and the Indian Nation, c. 1880-1920" and "Missionary Education, Religion and Knowledge in India, c. 1880-1915." Dr. Bellenoit's second book is The Formation of the Colonial State in India: Scribes, Paper and Taxes, 1760-1860. He is also a life member of Cambridge University's Clare Hall.

By This Professor

A History of British India
A History of British India


Introduction to India

01: Introduction to India

Delve into core aspects of Indian culture that provide a rich background for the story of British rule. Grasp the key precepts of Hinduism, and the notions of dharma, karma, and samsara. Study the caste system, the features of Indian families and marriages, and explore how society and religion shape politics in India.

33 min
The Mughal Empire in 18th-Century India

02: The Mughal Empire in 18th-Century India

Examine the monumental empire of the Mughals, the Islamic rulers of India. Investigate how the Mughals governed through military skill, administrative brilliance, and religious tolerance. Look at the state of Indian society in the 18th century, and how changes in Mughal politics and economics laid the foundation for the British conquest of India.

33 min
Indian and British Economic Interests

03: Indian and British Economic Interests

Here, explore further how the Indian subcontinent drifted toward colonialism. Observe how the "regionalization" of the Mughal Empire compromised the emperors' ability to govern. Take account of India's prominence within the broader global economy, and chart the rise of powerful banking families who played a critical role in the emergence of British rule.

32 min
British Expansion in India (1757-1820)

04: British Expansion in India (1757-1820)

Witness how the English East India Company, a trading organization, expanded its early footing in Bengal. Study the Company's extraordinary transformation, through military conquests, from a merchant venture into a political entity. Finally, follow the Company's expansion into other regions, employing the Mughal revenue system to tax India's agrarian countryside.

29 min
Knowing the Country: British Orientalism

05: Knowing the Country: British Orientalism

Learn how British scholars and administrators pursued knowledge of Indian culture, and how the early British colonials adapted to living within Indian society. Grasp the ways in which British romanticizing of India and misunderstanding of traditional customs had major consequences for colonial policy and the well-being of the Indian populace.

31 min
Race, Gender, and Culture (1750-1850)

06: Race, Gender, and Culture (1750-1850)

The opening up of India gave rise to a discourse on race that became central to the colonial relationship. Study British racial paradigms in Company-ruled India, which emphasized differences between Indians and the British to "justify" colonial rule. Also explore the British notion of masculinity and how it bolstered their self-perception as colonial masters.

31 min
The Age of Reform (1830-1850)

07: The Age of Reform (1830-1850)

Contemporary currents of thought in England affected the ways in which India was governed. Learn how utilitarianism and Christian evangelicalism undergirded attempts by the British to educate and "reform" India. Track the major changes in the economic relationship between Britain and India that contributed to the Great Uprising of 1857....

30 min
The Great Uprising (1857-1858)

08: The Great Uprising (1857-1858)

Study the accumulation of religious, economic, and political grievances against the East India Company that set the stage for the Great Uprising of 1857. Then witness the outbreak and bloody unfolding of the Uprising itself. Observe how the "mutiny" changed British attitudes toward India, and the way Britain governed it under the Raj....

28 min
Economics and Society under the Raj

09: Economics and Society under the Raj

Examine the nature of the colonial economy, and trace economic decisions by the British that constrained the livelihoods of artisans and peasants. Assess the Raj's fiscal policy, which privileged British interests over public works. Observe how these policies affected the lives of millions who toiled to produce the wealth of the Raj....

30 min
Caste and Tribal Identity under Colonialism

10: Caste and Tribal Identity under Colonialism

As a social institution, caste changed markedly under British colonial rule. First, examine how the British encountered caste and tried to understand it. Then see how caste became significantly linked with the colonial tax revenue system. Take account of the ways in which caste distinctions became more prominent, codified, and pervasive under colonialism....

29 min
The Nationalization of Hinduism (1870-1900)

11: The Nationalization of Hinduism (1870-1900)

Discover how the broader traditions of Hinduism were affected by the colonial experience. Examine the theological assault on Hinduism by European Christian missionaries, and the responses of high-caste Hindus. Look at important Hindu reform movements, which sought to modernize Hinduism, and grasp how key currents of reformist thinking linked Hinduism with Indian nationhood....

32 min
Indian Muslim Identity and Colonial Rule

12: Indian Muslim Identity and Colonial Rule

Indian Islam underwent profound shifts under colonial rule. Investigate how the British codifying of Islamic law changed Indian Muslims' communal identity. See how the advent of English language and education, and the Indian census, distanced Muslims from Hindus. Lastly, assess how the Deobandi reform movement reinvented Indian Islam to ensure its survival....

31 min
The Late-19th-Century British Raj

13: The Late-19th-Century British Raj

Study British racial attitudes toward Indians in the late 19th century and how these conceptions were manifested in the way India was governed. Learn about the officials who administrated the Raj, the Indian Civil Service, and the modernization of India. Grasp how all of these elements reflect the mindset of the British Raj....

30 min
Princely States and Royalist Relationships

14: Princely States and Royalist Relationships

India's princely states played a crucial role in maintaining British power. Examine the history of the princely kingdoms, and why they remained separate from British-controlled territory. Follow how the British cultivated ties of loyalty with Indian princes and exerted "indirect rule." Explore the contradiction of a modernizing British Raj that supported feudal princes....

30 min
Indian Nationalism and the Freedom Struggle

15: Indian Nationalism and the Freedom Struggle

Analyze how a new generation of English-educated Indians spearheaded Indian nationalism. Trace the emergence of the Indian National Congress, which initially represented moderate nationalists, and observe how repressive British policies sowed anticolonial sentiment. Witness the strengthening of nationalist fervor, as it erupted into political extremism and violence in the early 20th century....

32 min
The Great War and Its Impact on India

16: The Great War and Its Impact on India

Examine the severe effects of the First World War on India's economy. Learn how both moderate and radical nationalists responded to the war to press for concessions and independence. Explore strains in the colonial relationship exposed by the war that made India ripe for the emergence of Mohandas Gandhi....

30 min
Gandhi's Moral-Political Philosophy

17: Gandhi's Moral-Political Philosophy

Investigate Gandhi's early life and how he became a nationalist leader. Study the elements of his political philosophy, the political tools of ahimsa (no harm) and satyagraha (force of truth), and the forces of modernity and British rule that Gandhi critiqued. Finally, examine the 1919 event that thrust him onto the national stage....

30 min
The Noncooperation Movement

18: The Noncooperation Movement

Observe how Gandhi reorganized the Indian National Congress into a mass political machine, as witnessed in the Noncooperation Movement, where Indians boycotted the British on a national scale. Note how these actions and others exposed moral faults in the Raj, and track the Raj's counterstrategies that attempted to marginalize those nationalists seeking independence....

32 min
Indian Muslim Politics between the Wars

19: Indian Muslim Politics between the Wars

Indian Muslim identity began to change in important ways in the 20th century. Study the impact on Indian Muslims of the First World War, and the resulting Muslim Khalifat Movement, which opposed Britain's war aims against the Ottoman Caliphate. See how Hindu/Muslim religious-political rivalries gave birth to the idea of Pakistan....

30 min
The Civil Disobedience Campaign

20: The Civil Disobedience Campaign

Now examine the "second round" of Indian nationalist action against the British Raj. Witness the effects on India of the global economic depression after 1929, which triggered the Civil Disobedience Campaign, a massive boycotting of British goods, services, and institutions. Assess the Raj's countertactic of extending constitutional concessions to stem nationalist agitation....

33 min
Britain and Its Empire in the 1940s

21: Britain and Its Empire in the 1940s

Witness how Britain's wartime mobilization alienated the Indian National Congress and took a horrific toll on the Indian poor. Study the resulting Quit India Movement, the largest uprising against the British since 1857, and the events of the war's aftermath that set the stage for the end of 200 years of colonial rule....

31 min
The Raj on Its Knees (1945-1947)

22: The Raj on Its Knees (1945-1947)

Investigate the increasing levels of dissent, mutiny, and agrarian suffering and unrest that followed World War II. Chart the astonishing rise of the Muslim League after 1940, its presence in the negotiations for independence, and the League's actions in key provinces that sparked terrible communal violence in the Raj's final days....

30 min
A Split India: Negotiating Independence

23: A Split India: Negotiating Independence

Examine the factors in Britain's decision to "quit" India. Take account of the final negotiations between the National Congress, the Muslim League, and the British, noting the contrasting visions of an independent India held by the Congress and the League. Grasp how Hindu-Muslim violence affected the ultimate partition of India and Pakistan....

31 min
Reflections on Postcolonial India

24: Reflections on Postcolonial India

Learn about the harrowing events following Partition, which saw widespread killings and the largest displacement of human populations in history. Assess what the events of 1947 meant for the Indian National Congress, Pakistanis, and the British. Finally, reflect on the lasting legacy of the British Raj and its rule of India....

31 min