The End Of European Empire

Comments (0)
After the second world war in 1945 many European countries claimed their right on many African and Asia’s region i.e. their colonies. It is humorous to know that the countries which fought the second world war on the basis of democracy, they themselves were asserting for preserving colonial power.
Important points
Brittan had captured highest number of colonies like Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, Falkland, Gibraltar , Hong Kong, West Indies & India,
France was on second number, the areas it had included indo-china, Africa ,west indies, etc.,
After 1975 most colonial territories had gained independence.
Britain was very reluctant and slow in giving independence. It thought that it will give impendence to the respective colony when they feel they were prepared for it. Most of the countries decided to join the Britain commonwealth ( group of countries which were the colonies of Britain ) as a token of gratitude & it was the best option for protection against any possible future problem.
Nationalism was growing in many colonies which led to nationalist movement. The objective of these movements was to gain freedom from European power by overthrowing the current European government.
2. Disintegration of image:
Europeans were considered as the people having supremacy. People thought that it would be impossible to beat the Europeans. But during this period it was seen that Japan (an Asian Country) captured most of the South East Asia which belonged to the European power. It led to the disintegration of the supreme image of the Europeans.
3. Promise of Europeans:
European power promised the people of the Colony that they will grant freedom i.e. independence to the respective colonies soon after the war is over. This was mainly done to get the support of the people from the colonies.
In 1941 Atlantic charter was set out on American thinking how world should be organized after war.
a) nations should not expand by taking territory from other nations
b) all people have the right to choose the form of government
4. Awareness:
People from the colony who had gone to foreign countries were exposed to the liberal values of the modern societies. They understood the true feeling of independence in the foreign countries. So, after they came home, they started participating in the movements focused on gaining independence.
5. The war weakened the European states: 
Now all of their power was gone & their military was not so strong to hold on their empires. Due to the same reason, British were fully aware of the situation & hence they gave independence to India.
6. There was outside pressure on the colonial power to give freedom to their colonies.
America was pressurizing more. During the war president Roosevelt declared that the Atlantic charter was apply to all people. He pressurized the British government to give independence to India as soon as possible. America had three objectives for pressurizing European power to give up their colonies, which are: i) To stop the growing influence of Communism in these colonies. Ii) America knew that these independent countries would act as potential markets. Iii) Also America thought that it would be easy to increase its influence in the world by influencing these independent countries.
Britain’s West Indies possessions consisted of large pool of islands in the Caribbean sea. The largest were Jamaica, Trinidad and others included Grenada , St Vincent , Barbados , St Lucia, Antigua , the Seychelles and the Bahamas. Britain was prepared to give independence to all of them.
some islands were so small that it was hard to judge if they could economically survive alone.
British government was of the view that a federation of these islands would prove beneficial for them.
But it was seen that many of the islands where not ready to join this federation. Some wanted to remain under the British power and some had no idea about what to do.
Jamaica and Trinidad were themselves worried about that they can cope up with the problems of small islands.
Some islands thought that Jamaica and Trinidad are big countries in terms of demographic and economic . So it was natural of them to think that there would be dominance of Jamaica and Trinidad over the federation .
In spite of these problems British successfully created federation of West Indies in 1958.
But due to the inherent problems this federation never run successfully .
The withdrawal of Jamaica and Trinidad in 1961 from the federation completely paralysed it.
In 1962 Britain decided to take out the support of the federation and grant individual freedoms to the islands. It was done by the British. By 1983 mostly all of the West Indies was independent.
But soon these islands started to feel that economic progress is not feasible when they’re alone especially considering the amount of capital they had individually. So the islands who had protested against the federation, created Caribbean Free Trade Association in 1968.
This trade Association was later turned to Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) in 1973 to which all the islands joined.
In 1945 it was liberated from Japanese occupation. But there were two main problems present in Malaya before the British could withdraw
The main problem was that it consisted of nine states and each ruled by a sultan (their local king), two british settlements , Malacca and penang and Singapore. The population of Singapore was multi racial, mostly Malaya’s and Chinese and minority of Indians and Europeans. For giving independence it was decided to group the states and the settlements into the Federation of Malaya (1948). Except Singapore - it remained a separate colony. Each state had its own legislature for local affairs, the sultans retain some power but central government had full control.
2. Chinese intervention
The Chinese communist were in favor for the independent communist state instead of federation, which were led by Ching Peng who had played leading role in resistances to japans and they began violence against British for independent communist state. British decided to impose state of emergency in 1948, and at the end they dealt with communist successfully. But the emergency lasted up to 1960. British were persuaded to grant full independence in 1957 when Malaya was admitted to the common wealth.
In 1963, the Federation of Malaysia was set up. It was running well under the leadership of Tanku Abdula Rahman and its export was based on rubber & tin. In 1961 Tanku proposed that Singapore and the three other British colonies like North Borneo( Sabah), Brunei and Sarawak should join Malaya to form federation of Malaysia . Singapore decided to leave federation to become independent republic in 1965.
For giving independences to Cyprus the main problem in front of British government was that it had mixed population. 80 percent were Greek speaking Christians of orthodox church while the rest where Muslims of Turkish origins. The Greek Cypriotes wanted the island to unite with Greece but the Turkish were opposed to this. The situation was more inflamed by Churchill’s government by their plans of self government allowed the Cypriotes far less power than the labour had in mind.
Sir Anthony Eden , Churchill’s successor decided to drop the idea for independence for Cyprus. He was of the view that Cyprus was important as a military base and that would protect its interest in the middle east. He said that Cyprus will remain permanently with the British, even when Greek government had promised that Brittan can have military bases even after independence.
A terrorist campaign was launched against the British by General Grivas. It laid to the declaration of emergency in 1948.
In order to avoid a possible civil war Harold Macmillan (Eden’s successor) decided to compromise. But later in 1963 civil war broke out between Greeks and Turks. Turks occupied the north and Greeks equipped south. UN troops from that time are keeping peace between the two.
Verdict on decolonization
it is true that British handled decolonisation more properly than any other European power.
All Colonial countries didn’t have a happy ending.
Some gained while some lost.
Neocolonialism: new form of colonialism emerged after decolonization. It was called neocolonialism. It means virtually indirect control over the countries by use of capital and market forces. USA was particularly the practitioner of neocolonialism along with the Western European countries.
Most of the colonial countries were not prepared or badly prepared for independence. They had no industries or capital. Moreover there was a huge ethinic or some sort of differences present in the people of the colonies because of which they were not able to form stable governments after the European powers left them.
This led to the formation of autocratic rules & there started to emerge frequent civil wars.
In most cases, the governments which took over were run by the local political elite groups. There was no social revolution. It lead to more exploitation of the masses.
The western countries took out their support from such countries which were interested to bring pro-communist government in their country. They often responded by cutting off aid & destabilizing the government.
All the third world countries were very poor when they were given independence. Most of them relied on exports of one or two commodities and if the world prices for that particular product fell, it always lead to destabilizing of the government in that country.
Loans taken from abroad by these newly independent countries increased their debt. They always had to act according to the terms and conditions imposed by the developed country on them and often these conditions were exploitative of the developing country.
Practice Questions