The Indian Economy and the British Empire

David Washbrook

in India and the British Empire

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199259885
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744587 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series

The Indian Economy and the British Empire

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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The fate of the Indian economy under British rule has long been a battleground of historiography, with little agreed between historians either of interpretation or of fact. This partly reflects the difficulties of the sources, but also widely differing expectations, assumptions, and ‘counter-factual’ models. The chapter explores these expectations and assumptions and tries to set limits to the appropriate counterfactuals. It insists that concepts of ‘development’ be situated in their time-bound historical contexts and construed in relation to political and social, as well as narrowly economic, criteria. It then seeks to understand the colonial intervention not just as promoting or obstructing economic growth, but as affecting broader ways of life and of the material reproduction of society.

Keywords: development; drain of wealth; economy; famine; industrialization; military fiscalism; monopoly; taxation

Chapter.  12413 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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