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People’s life Indonesia in European colonial time

Oktober 25, 2015 | History

HistoryPeople’s life Indonesia in European colonial time – The purpose of founding VOC was to gain as much profit in trade as possible. For that purpose VOC had to compte with Arabic, Chinese and Indian merchants as well as other European tradesmen.

The regions controlled by VOC had to obey the agreements which certainly benefited VOC. VOC’s influence started to get implanted in the people, especially the racial circles. Christianity, schools that were founded by the colonial government and European customs such as going to parties and drinking alc*h*l began to influence social life, especially that of the aristocrats.

The monopoly of people’s economy by the VOC in Maluku showed a negative effect on the Indonesian economy. It became especially apparent when VOC applied ‘hongitochten’ and monopolistic policies which destroyed the economy of Banda. VOC’s policies put people who did international trade in difficult and finally made them lose their role completely.

Meanwhile, the regions controlled by the VOC, especially Java, which had a large population, were targeted as the places to gain profit. Java was producer of coffee and pepper, which were in great demand in the world market, whereas the demand for spices had started to decrease. The kings in Java could not freely determine their policies because they had to obey VOC’s rules.

Besides, people in coastal areas who usually built boats and did trade could not obtain enough profit anymore because of VOC’s strict control. Farmers were unable to enjoy large profits anymore since they had become yeomen who had to deliver most of the produce to VOC through the regents.

The regents and noble people were employed to mobilize people to grow crops which sold well in the world market. The main duty of these aristocrats was to force people to cooperate with VOC although the crops they had to grow were not profitable for them and could not be directly consumed after being harvested, unlike rice.

The actions of the regents and other aristocrats made people lose their trust in them because the noble people blackmailed and forced them in order to obtain large profits from VOC for themselves, while they left the people in misery.

The system of government practiced by VOC was indirect, in that it was not VOC but the regents and aristocrats who directly faced or ordered people. At the top of the governmental hierarchy were certainly VOC and the regents, below them were the district chiefs, and still below them were village chiefs who directly interacted with the people. They were the ones who gave orders to people after they got instructions from the regents or VOC.

This system of government was implemented because VOC did not have enough personnel to apply a direct system of government. On the other hand, they had to gain as much profits as possible, so they made use of the regents, district chief, village chiefs and other aristocrats to carry out their policy and plans. This system was backed up by VOC’s military to cope with people’s resistance.

The implementation of this system gave more authority to the regents and noble people. They became more authoritarian and they even felt they had the rights over people’s land, so they could collect taxes from the people.

People in rural areas were forced to deliver most of their harvests and do large-scale forced labor more and more agricultural land remain uncultivated and people’s even more miserable. In addition to having to pay tribute to VOC, people had also to submit their harvests to the regents ad aristocrats because they were considered as living on their land. As a result, their harvests had been just enough to survive and do forced labor.

Next article : Formation of colonial government in Indonesia

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