History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 2006: Q.5 (b)
Q.5 (b) “Colonies are like fruits which cling to the tree only till they ripen.” Comment.
A powerful nation may form an empire by conquering lands and peoples who are weak and on a lower level of development, or by establishing colonies of emigrants in foreign lands. But these dependent people may themselves grow in strength sufficiently to assert their independence from the colonising power.
The whole of Asia, Africa, Americas and Australia were converted into colonies of important European powers. The colonization of such vast continents and many countries of the world were facilitated by economic and socio-cultural backwardness of the colonies. The European powers’ new spirit of adventure and technological superiority aided them conquering colonies. The colonial powers hidden their economic and strategic interests by giving the slogan that they were on a civilizing mission.
However, the colonial powers despite their technological and military superiority could not prevent forces of modernization from creeping into colonies. The chief agency of modernization became the flow of ideas. Once modern education was introduced in the colonies, the people there got familiar with the ideas of liberty, equality, nationalism and democracy. This enabled them to closely scrutinizing the economic and administrative policies of colonial powers. They began to understand the true exploiting essence of colonial rule. Further, the socio-economic reform movements instilled a new spirit of self confidence and self assurance among the people of colonies. This led to rise of nationalism in colonies.
Once the national movements for liberation took the organised form in the colonies, it was just a matter of time before the colonial rule was uprooted from its roots. The rise of organized national movement under the influence of modern ideas of the west constitutes the ripening of colonies politically after which they won their independence from the mother colonial country.
Its early example can be seen when the empire built during 16th and 17th century fell apart. Thus France lost her colonies in North America. The Spanish colonies in South and Central America achieved independence and Brazil freed herself from Portugal. England too lost her colonies in North America.
After France had lost colonies in North America, Turgot (finance minister under Louis XVI) had said: “Colonies are like fruits which cling to the tree only till they ripen.” He had predicted that as soon as America can take care of herself, she would break away from Britain.
After the Second World War, many Asian and African countries got independence after colonial people became politically mature. When France was resisting Algerian independence in early 1960s, US President John F kenedy had requested France to grant independence by reminding France about Turgot’s statement.