An Economic History of India: From Pre-Colonial Times to 1991

An Economic History of India: From Pre-Colonial Times to 1991

An Economic History of India: From Pre-Colonial Times to 1991

An Economic History of India: From Pre-Colonial Times to 1991

Synopsis

This compact synthesis describes the economic history of India from the Moghul invasions, through the East India Company and colonialism to the twentieth century. Much has been written on the Indian economy, but this is the first major attempt to present India's economic history as a process. Rothermund places the development of agriculture and industry in political context and discusses currency and monetary policies, which are of central importance in all periods of Indian history.In this paperback edition the chapters covering the 'Green Revolution' and the Industrial Recession, and Population Growth and Economic Development, have been rewritten to bring the book totally up-to-date.

Excerpt

India’s economic history is like a fascinating drama: an ancient peasant culture was subjected to a regime of military feudalism, which achieved its greatest success under the Great Mughals. The Mughal agrarian state and its revenue base were then captured by the East India Company. This capitalist organisation was engrafted on the agrarian state. In this way a parasitical symbiosis was established which benefited the alien usurpers and paralysed the host, who survived under conditions of a low-level equilibrium. In the twentieth century India came under the influence of the world market to an increasing extent. The First World War, the Great Depression and the Second World War made a strong impact on India. As there was no national government, these external influences remained unchecked by any national economic policy and India was fully subjected to them. Throughout the period, the vagaries of the monsoon played their fateful role, as India depended almost exclusively on rain-fed agriculture. The independent republic emphasised irrigation and industrial production so as to escape from this fate. After some progress was made, a serious drought proved to be a severe setback. In subsequent years, the Indian economy grew only at a moderate rate, just enough to support the growing population, which will be about one billion by the end of the present century. A recent upswing in industrial growth and surplus production of the major foodgrains seems to usher in a brighter future, but many problems have still to be solved.

The interpretation of India’s economic history has always given rise to lively debates. In the nineteenth century, Indian nationalists like Dadabhai Naoroji, Mahadev Govind Ranade and Romesh Chunder Dutt discussed the economic consequences of British rule. Karl Marx also commented on the British impact on India. To him, the British appeared to be the executors of the predetermined course of world history: they were breaking the crust of tradition and subjected India to capitalism. Nationalist and Marxist economic historians have made further contributions to these debates. British authors have often tended to highlight the positive aspects of British rule in India (law and administration, infrastructure, etc.) and have denied or ignored the negative aspects. In recent years, the predominance of nationalist and Marxist opinions in India have provided a challenge to Western scholars, who have based their

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