Capitalist Property and the ‘Calamity of Season’

Rohan D’Souza

in Drowned and Dammed

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780195682175
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199082094 | DOI:
Capitalist Property and the ‘Calamity of Season’

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This chapter describes how the Mughal-Maratha agrarian order was comprehensively dismantled and replaced by the colonial zamindari tenure system. It also reviews how flood vulnerability became integral to colonial capitalist appropriation and the latter, in turn, hinged vitally on the British East India Company’s zamindari system. The British East India Company’s formal bureaucracy was oriented towards recognizing ownership, ascertaining the liabilities of property, and sought to assess rent on the presumed average productive capacity of the cultivated plot. Its introduction of the zamindari tenure or exclusive ownership produced an immediate rupture. For the Company, the need to impose a standardized rental instalment, based ideally on an assumed average output of the season’s crop, required land to be decisively insulated from the inevitable variability brought on by recurring hydraulic action. In effect, these changes changed the landscape from one that was flood dependent to one which became prone to seasonal calamities.

Keywords: zamindari tenure system; flood; East India Company; crop; agrarian order; colonial capitalist

Chapter.  18845 words. 

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