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Law, State and Agrarian Society in Colonial India

  • D. A. Washbrook (a1)

Perhaps the most intransigent problem in the recent history of Indian society remains an adequate understanding of the processes of social change which took place under colonialism. As the continunig controversies within, as much as between, the traditions of modernization theory, Marxism, and the underdevelopment theory make plain, the Indian historical record is peculiarly difficult to grasp with conventional sociological concepts. In the study of Western European society, a focus on the evolution of legal ideas and institutions has proved a useful entry point to social history.The law may be seen to represent a set of general principles through which political authority and the state (however constituted) attempt to legitimize the social institutions and norms of conduct which they find valuable. As such, its history reflects the struggle in society to assume, control or resist this authority. Its study should help to reveal the nature of the forces involved in the struggle and to suggest the implications for social development of the way in which, at any one time, their struggle was resolved. The condition of the law may be seen to crystallize the condition of society. This, of course, could be said of any governing institution. But where the law becomes uniquely valuable is in that, because of its social function, the struggle around it is necessarily expressed in terms of general statements of principle rather than particular statements of private and discrete interest. At the most fundamental level, these principles demarcate the rules on which the contending parties seek to build their versions of society and provide useful clues to their wider, often undisclosed, positions.

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Versions of this paper were read to the Commonwealth History Seminar, University of Cambridge, March 1978 and to the annual conference of the Political Science Association, University of Warwick, April 1978. I am extremely grateful for subsequent help, advice and encouragement to Drs Anil Seal, Christopher Baker, Christopher Bayly, John Lonsdale, Tom Tomlinson and Robin Okey. Responsibility for any of the nonsenses, however, is entirely my own.

1For example, Tawney, R., The Agrarian Problem in the Sixteenth Century (London, 1912). More recently, Goody, J. (ed), Family and Inheritance (Cambridge, 1976);Thompson, E. P., Whigs and Hunters (London, 1975). The following essay does not necessarily pick up any of the themes raised in these works. The differing historical and historiographical contexts of Indian study make straight translation invalid. It merely also uses the law as a focus on society.

2 For example, Cohn, B. S., ‘From Indian Status to British Contract’, Journal of Economic History (XXI), 1961;Kumar, R., Western India in the Nineteenth Century (London, 1968), chs 3–4;Alavi, H., ‘India and the Colonial Mode of Production’, Socialist Register 1975 (London, 1975).

3 For example, Rudolph, S. and Rudolph, L., The Modernity of Tradition (Chicago, 1967), ch. 3;Cohn, B. S., ‘Structural Change in Indian Rural Society 1596–1885’, in Frykenberg, R. E. (ed.), Land Control and Social Structure in Indian History (Madison, 1969);Cohn, B. S., ‘Anthropological Notes on Disputes and Law in India’, American Anthropologist (LXVII), 1965;Breckenridge, C. A., ‘From Protector to Litigant’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (XIV), 1977;Cohn, B. S., ‘Some Notes on Law and Change in North India’, Economic Development and Cultural Change (VIII), 1959.

4 For example, Derrett, J. D. M., Religion, Law and Society in India (London, 1968);Whitcombe, E., Agrarian Conditions in Northern India (California, 1972), ch 5. It is perhaps unfair to challenge Derrett's legal history to provide explanations of colonial policy. But as we shall see, his suggestions that British conservatism with regard to family law flowed from a desire to avoid disruption and to save money may not be entirely adequate. Whitcombe's excellent analysis of the legal confusion of North India at the end of the nineteenth century is accompanied by no clear attempt to explain the phenomenon either in terms of colonial designs or in a context of pressures on the colonial authority. She appears to understand it as a product of administrative incompetence and the social distruption caused to Indian society by colonial land policy.

5Spear, P., A History of India (London, 1965), Vol. II, ch. 8;Furnivall, J., Colonial Policy and Practice (Cambridge, 1948).

6Derrett, Religion, chs 9, 12.

7Guhar, R., A Rule of Property For Bengal (Paris, 1963).

8Derrett, Religion, ch 8.

9A useful account is provided in S. and L. Rudolph, Modernity, ch. 3.

10Derrett, Religion, ch. 12.

11However, in the Punjab, which was annexed very late, de facto community custom provided the basis of personal law. Moreover, there always remained significant provincial disparities in the interpretation of the Hindu law. These, in part, reflected resistances thrown up by the differing customary conventions of the provinces. Within Hindu law, of course, there was room for caste custom but this was legitimated by scripture.

12Raychaudhuri, T., ‘Norms of Family Life and Personal Morality among the Bengali Hindu Elite, 1600–1850’, in Baumer, R. van M. (ed.), Aspects of Bengali History and Society (Hawaii, 1975). Raychaudhuri does not formally relate this reversion to the legal context, nor indeed to any context at all. But its timing coincides with the establishment of the Anglo-Indian Hindu law and reflects its norms.

13Leonard, K. I., Social History of an Indian Caste (California, 1978), chs 7, 10.

14For example, see L. C. Stout, ‘Hindu Law, Customary Law and Statutory Social Reform: The Hindu Widow Remarriage Act XV of 1856’, paper read at International Symposium on Imposed Law, University of Warwick, April 1978.

15B. S. Cohn, ‘From Indian Status’.

16Cohn's generalizations about the Anglo-Indian law seem very suspect. Status determined the body of personal law to which the individual was subject. As these bodies differed, the law cannot be said to have treated individuals on an equal basis. Moreover, personal law rights clearly interfered in certain types of contractual relations. Cohn's dichotomous frame of reference appears to derive from an over-zealous use of the tradition/modernity paradigm. Here, as perhaps universally, its eclecticism obscures more than it reveals.

17Derrett, Religion, ch. 12.

18Ibid. The precise terms of these restraints varied by provincial and caste custom and by legal school (Dayabhaga or Mitakshara). Also, seeMorley, W. H., An Analytical Digest of All the Reported Cases Decided in the Supreme Courts of Judicature in India (London, 1850), esp. pp. 3844; 478–87.

19Whitcombe, Agrarian Conditions, ch. 5.

20 Especially in Northern India, these forced sales of, essentially, revenue right were very considerable in the early nineteenth century. But it has long been questioned how far they necessarily involved the transfer of possession. Moreover, their incidence was declining in the second third of the century. See, Cohn, B. S., ‘Structural Change’; Stokes, E. T., The Peasant and the Raj (Cambridge, 1978), chs 1, 5. Of course, the lack of formal evidence of a ‘voluntary’ land market does not mean that one did not exist outside the regulation of the law. But, as we shall see, general conditions make it unlikely: except in densely populated, highly irrigated regions, land as a commodity had little value.

21 Especially in the towns, much litigation seems to have derived from inter-community disputes about rights to locate houses, conduct businesses, etc. In general, the law attempted to arbitrate these in the light of ‘traditional’ practice. But usually, this meant denying the innovatory group the right to compete with the established group. In a society in which caste and religious status were intimately bound up with economic activities, a preserved tradition was a strong barrier to market freedom. For an example from the earliest period of British rule, see Roche, P. A., ‘Caste and the British Merchant Government in Madras, 1639–1749’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (XII), 1975; for a later example, see Hardgrave, R. L., The Nadars of Tamilnad (California, 1969), ch. 3.

22The civil law was held to have no competence in the adjudication of taxation matters and subjects possessed no legal defence against inequitable state practices.

23 The role of caste and kinship in mercantile activities is explored in Bayly, C. A., ‘Indian Merchants in a Traditional Setting’ in Dewey, C. and Hopkins, A., The Imperial Impact (London,1978). Bayly also notes the existence of powerful supra-kinship mahajan organizations among the business community. These, however, seem to have played only a regulating and arbitrational role. They were not property holding corporations.

24See Spear, History, ch. 8.

25Metcalf, T., Land, Landlords and the British Raj (California, 1979), ch. 3; for South India, see ‘Proceedings of the Special Committee on the Permanent Settlement’, Madras Revenue Records, special series 1800–04, India Office Library, London.

26Stokes, E. T., The English Utilitarians and India (London, 1965), ch. 2.

27Morley, Analytical Digest, p. 450. The law also could insist on redistributing lands between shareholders. See D. Ludden, ‘Mirasidars and Government in Nineteenth Century Tinnevelly District’, paper read at Conference on Intermediate Political Linkages in South Asia, University of California, March 1978.

28In some provinces, the amount of land under inam tenure was enormous. In early nineteenth-century Madras, it varied across the districts at between about 12 and 40 per cent.

29It should be noted that, of course, the Anglo-Indian law notion of the ‘community’ was not necessarily the same as that of the régimes which it replaced nor that which its subjects easily recognized. In general, it excluded lineage and cross-caste neighbour-hood ties and included an expanded sense of family and caste obligation. We are not arguing that the law genuinely preserved ‘tradition’ but only that it protected institutions of supra-private right. Some of the problems in interpretating legal change, and indeed change under the raj, may be due to careless assumptions drawn from modernization theory that all British change, by definition, functioned towards the private and individual principles. For a discussion of these problems in the context of Punjabi society, see Kessinger, T. G., Vilyatpur 1848–1968 (California, 1974), chs 1, 6.

30Derrett, Religion, ch. 12; the law, of course, did permit privately earned property to be used at the individual's discretion and to be kept apart from ancestral property. But, in these circumstances, it is hard to see how much could be privately earned.

31Morley, Analytical Digest, p. 450.

32In most provinces, the first response of Indian society to ‘Company law’ was extremely positive. In fact, in Bengal it could only be described as prodigious. In 1813, 160, 313 original suits were instituted, of which only 62, 787 were contributed by Calcutta. See Minutes of Evidence taken before the Select Committee on the Affairs of the East India Company, Vol. IV, pp. 538–41. Parliamentary Papers (XII), 1832.

33 Zillah courts had their competences reduced to suits worth less than Rs 5000 and their numbers cut back. ibid., Appendices 2, 6.

34 See Norton, J. B., The Administration of Justice in South India (Madras, 1853).

35Ibid. The problem of enforcing decrees is raised in Cohn, ‘Structural Change’, and Musgrave, P. J., ‘Landlords and Lords of the Land’, Modern Asian Studies (VI), 1972, and ‘Rural Credit and Rural Society’, in Dewey and Hopkins, Impact.

36Norton, The Administration. This incompetence showed itself repeatedly in the use by the lower judiciary of British precedents, which were not admissible under the terms of the Anglo-Indian law. The appeal courts probably overturned more judgements for this ‘cardinal’ error than for anything else.

37As an example, the Sivaganga zamindari in Madras went into litigation in 1832 over a series of, admittedly complex, inheritance and debt suits, Judgement was finally delivered by the House of Lords in 1896. See Norton, The Administration, for a long list of débâcles.

38 Besides Norton, see Khan, P., Revelations of an Orderly (Benares, 1848).

39 See also, Norton, J. B., Reply to a Madras Civilian's Defence of the Mofussil Courts in India (London, 1853).

40 The extent of ‘informal’ arbitrational procedures in Indian society, to supplement the inadequacies of the Anglo-Indian law, remained enormous and provided the real institutional support to property right. This was true to a considerable degree even in urban metropolitan society. See Bayly, , ‘Traditional Merchants’; Dykes, J., Salem: an Indian Collectorate (London, 1853). In the countryside, it was even more true and various types of authority, ranging from dominant caste panchayats to paternalistic zamindar, lineage leader, local notable and village officer justice were available.

41 Cohn, ‘Some Notes’ and ‘Anthropological Notes’. The view that there was (is) a ‘problem’ in the way that Indians litigate and that it derives from the peculiarity of their culture in relation to that reflected in the law, which Cohn assumes without demonstrating, was shared by the British bureaucracy who had their own reasons for not wanting to be subjected to extensive checks from the judiciary. Cohn, and a number of other legal sociologists, appear to have ‘objectified’ colonial prejudices into the bases of social scientific problematics. For alternative views on the sources of Indian litigation, see Kidder, R. L., ‘Courts and Conflict in an Indian City’, Journal of Commonwealth Political Studies (XI), 1973; O. Mendelsohn, ‘The Pathology of the Indian Legal System’, Modern Asian Studies (forthcoming). There are two further difficulties with the Cohn ‘dualistic’ conception of the law, not merely for the Company period but generally. It assumes without demonstraing that the law is not extensively used for prevarication and harassment in the ‘West’ and that nineteenth-century British law, which provided the Western part of the Indian experience, was itself devoid of status-based, non-contractual notions of obligation. Neither assumption seems sound.

42By 1829, the Bengal courts were trying to hear upwards of 190,000 cases a year worth Rs 6 crores in property values. Minutes of Evidence … Select Committee (1832), Apps 2, 6. The expansion never slowed down, and reached proportions of some three-quarters of a million cases a year a century later. Bengal, however, was always exceptional in having, as a result of the Permanent Settlement, no real revenue administration to provide alternative channels between government and society. One suspects that the general view of Indian society as exceptionally litigious derives, in part, from a tendency to read the whole of India in the light of Bengal's peculiar problems. This certainly is the case in J. Furnivall, Colonial Policy.

43Report from the Select Committee on Indian Territories, Appendix, P.P. (X) 1852, pp. 608–95.

44This is suggested both by the fact that the heaviest centres of litigation by far were the courts of the major metropolitian centres rather than the small, semi-rural district towns and by the large participation within them of the ‘higher level’ financial community involved in the finance of government and trade.

45 This raises questions, which can hardly be tackled here, as to the character of pre-British state systems. The issue has been much clouded by the analytical conventions of structural-functional anthropology and the political interests of Nationalists which, together, once presented a picture of rural harmony and equilibrium. Much recent work, however, has begun to challenge these images, at least for the eighteenth century. By the ‘ancien régime’, the author means a state system strongly influenced by Islamic traditions of political centralization, extracting considerable quantities of surplus from the agrarian base and, in the eighteenth century if not earlier, undergoing a commercialization of its institutional forms. His reading derives from such sources as Habib, I., The Agrarian System of Mughal India (Bombay, 1962);Perlin, F., ‘Of White Whale and Countrymen’, Journal of Peasant Studies (V), 1978; D. Singh, ‘The Role of the Mahajan in the Rural Economy of E. Rajasthan during the 18th Century’, Social Scientist, 1974;Calkins, P., ‘The Formation of a Regionally Oriented Ruling Group in Bengal, 1700–1740’, Journal of Asian Studies (XXIX), 1970;Leonard, K., ‘The Hyderabad Political System and its Participants’, Journal of Asian Studies (XXX), 1971;Mukhia, H., ‘Illegal Extortions in … Eighteenth Century Eastern Rahasthan’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (XIV), 1977; Stokes, Peasant, ch. 3;Richards, J. F., Mughal Administration in Golconda (Oxford, 1975), chs 2, 8.

46 See, for example, Chaudhuri, B. B., ‘The Land Market in Eastern India 1793–1940’, I and II, Indian Economic and Social History Review (XII), 1975.

47Obviously, the actual fertility of the soil and its irrigation context played a role in determining land's relative economic value. I mean here the relative value of the ‘social’ property right created in it.

48For an interesting discussion of the role of revenue shields in the pre-British period, see Stokes, Peasant, ch. 2.

49Through ‘loom’ and ‘moturpha’ taxes.

50 For North India, see Bayly, C. A., The Local Roots of Indian Politics (Oxford, 1975), ch. 3.

51 For the coercion involved in the indigo system, see Guhar, R., ‘Neel Darpan: the Image of a Peasant Revolt in a Liberal Mirror,’ Journal of Peasant Studies (II), 1975.

52For example, until the 1840s in most provinces, civil engineering and public works were departments of the military. The first two generations of Company raj represented a military occupation.

53 This was most obviously true of the early ryotwari settlements, see Mukherjee, N., The Ryotwari System in Madras (Calcutta, 1962), chs 3, 5, 10; but, by implication, it was also true of the heavy settlements initially laid on zamindars.

54 In part by recognizing such relations as valid by tradition, in part by doing nothing to disturb the authority of those who commanded labour, in part by commanding labour itself on a caste differential basis and, occasionally, by re-inforcing the authority of ‘masters’. For accounts of dependent agrarian relations, see Kumar, D., Land and Caste in South India (Cambridge, 1965);Hjelje, B., ‘Slavery and Agricultural Bondage in the Nineteenth Century’, Scandinavian Economic History Review (XV) 1967.Breman, J., Patronage and Exploitation (California, 1975), ch. 4.

55Especially in areas where labour shortage was acute. See D. Kumar, Land, ch. 5; also report of Collector of Bellary in ‘General Report of the Board of Revenue’, Madras Revenue Proceedings Nos 1345–46, 4 January 1821, I.O.L.; Breman, Patronage, p. 63.

56 Collector of Bellary, ibid.; for the continuing possibilities of physical movement to avoid revenue exactions in Western India, see Stokes, English Utilitarians, ch. 2.

57 An excellent account of the pragmatism of settlement practice is contained in Rosselli, J., ‘Theory and Practice in North India’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (VIII), 1971; also see R. E. Frykenberg, ‘Village Strength in South India’, Frykenberg, Land Control.

58See Perlin, ‘White Whale’; Stokes, Peasant, chs 2, 3; B. Stein, ‘Integration of the Agrarian System of South India’, in Frykenberg, Land Control, for Vijayanagar and Muslim periods.

59In the turbulence of the early days of, especially, ryotwari settlement, claims sometimes were made that an egalitarian settlement had been made, and occasionally enthusiastic Collectors responded to the claim. However, the élitism of even this, the most direct, form of settlement can be seen in such statements as: ‘It never was intended that the Ryotware [sic] settlement should go lower than the landholders and Meerassidars; it never could have been meant that their cultivating sub-tenants should be immediately included in the engagements with the Circar.’ ‘General Report … 1820’, MRP Nos 1441–47 January 1821, IOL.

60This never was, and never had been static, and it is no part of the case for continuity outlined here that groups currently possessing land did not suffer under the British. There is evidence, especially from North India, that a few ‘resident’ cultivating groups were dispossessed. Metcalf, Land, ch. 3; Stokes, Peasant, chs 3, 6, 7. But the process dispossessing them derived from the politico-revenue system in ways which were not new to British rule. Once again perhaps our judgement of colonial novelty has been made difficult by assumptions about a prior stasis.

61If the penalty for failing to meet British demands was loss of revenue rights and offices, the penalty for failing to protect local subsistence and security needs was migration and occasionally revolt.

62Even the Company admitted that, prior to the 1820s, its revenue demands had been exorbitant and had created chaos. In most provinces, it thereafter set about lowering and regularizing payments. However, from the late 1820s to the 1850s, most parts of India underwent a serious depression in grain prices and the Company's cash demands may not, in the end, have been much lower in real terms although expanded cultivation helped them to be met.

63 For example, Derrett, Religion, chs 8, 9; Frykenberg, R. E., Guntur District 1788–1848 (Oxford, 1965), conclusion.

64 See, for example, Metcalf, T., The Aftermath of Revolt (Princeton, 1965), chs 1, 2.

65Especially in Bengal.

66As in South India, articulated by such civilians as J. H. Nelson. See Derrett, Religion, ch. 9.

67 For example, among some of the Rajput warrior clans of North India. See Fox, R. G., Kin, Clan, Raja and Rule (California, 1971), chs 3, 5; Stokes, Peasant, ch. 3.

68In both Bengal and North India, for example, the social composition of revenue rights' holders showed some tendency to move from a basis in the ‘warrior’ to the ‘mercantile’ and ‘bureaucratic’ élites. Sales for default and occasional bureaucratic purges also moved individuals around.

69See Rosselli, ‘Theory’.

70See ‘Special Commission on Permanent Settlement’.

71 For example, see ibid.; also ‘General Report … 1820’, passim.

72 See Goody, J., Production and Reproduction (Cambridge, 1976).

73 For comments on the growth of tax-farming and state commercialization in the eighteenth century, see Furber, H., John Company at Work (Harvard, 1948), chs 6–8; Calkins, ‘The Formation’; Perlin, ‘White Whale’. In some regions, commercial principles had penetrated the revenue system down to the village level and village offices and rights to share in dominant community assets were bought and sold. See also Ludden, ‘Mirasidars’.

74Derrett, Religion, chs 9, 12.

75The relative freedom of European businessmen, compared to the restraints on Indian entrepreneurship, created a species of legal ‘dualism’ not essentially dissimilar to that to be found in Dutch Indonesia or, later, in colonial Africa.

76For example, by the later nineteenth century, the number of suits instituted in Madras and U.P. was running at an annual average of over 200,000. See Reports on the Administration of Civil Justice by the various provincial governments, annual series. Bengal, by this time, had broken through the 600,000 a year barrier.

77Details of the changes are contained in the Reports on … Civil Justice 18621865.

78The point of crisis, of course, was reached at different times in different places. Bengal may have reached its own limits as early as 1860; parts of Southern India continued to expand to the 1920s. As with all the generalizations in this essay, this one is a loose aggregate hiding many local variations. But the turn of the century has been noted as a watershed in the history of North, Central and parts of South India. See D. Kumar, Land; Stokes, Peasant, ch. 11;Neale, W., Economic Change in Rural India (Yale, 1962), ch. 8;Ray, R., ‘The Crisis of Bengal Agriculture’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (X), 1973.

79 These figures refer to gross income from taxation not gross government revenues. Finance and Revenue Account of the Government of India for the year 1880–81 (Calcutta, 1882), pp. 45;ibid., 1921–22, pp. 3–4.

80The average assessment per acre of cultivated land (regardless of type) rose only from Rs 1.7 to Rs 2.1. Grain prices rose by at least an average of 120 to 180 percent, depending on type; and much land was converted from the low-yielding dry grains to high-value cotton and groundnut. See Reports on the Settlement of the Land Revenue in the Districts of the Madras Presidency, Annual series.

81That is to say, entrepreneurial in the commodity and export trades, where indigenous banking capital did most of the local spadework for both the state and British business. There was, of course, no expectation of an active industrial role.

82 See Tawney, Agrarian Problem; also Harding, A., A Social History of English Law (London, 1966), chs 11, 12.

83This was the ostensible purpose of the various Rent Recovery Acts of the 1860s.

84Derrett, Religion, ch. 12; on the individualization of ‘community’ mirasi rights in the period 1862–77, see Ludden, ‘Mirasidars’; on Punjab, see Kessinger, Vilyatpur, chs 1, 6.

85Whitcombe, Agrarian Conditions, ch. 5.

87 In South India, for example, this was the principal purpose of the Inam Commission, which completed its work in 1869. See A Collection of Papers relating to the Inam Settlement of the Madras Presidency (Madras, 1906).

88From 1864, the Anglo-Indian law ‘assumed’ its knowledge of Hindu ethics to be adequate and dismissed its pandits. Interpretation thus became fixed. Derrett, Religion, ch. 9.

89 See my The Emergence of Provincial Politics (Cambridge, 1976), ch. 5.

90On the widening of precedents in family and caste law, see Derrett, Religion, ch. 12; also Hardgrave, The Nadars, ch. 3.

91See Stokes, Peasant, ch. 9; Neale, Economic Change, ch 6, 7.

92These had not been totally separate before but the incidence of cultivators' dispossession as a result of changes in revenue right seems to have been small and unusual. In the years c. 18401880, however, it is noticeable that sales of intra-village lands for revenue default took place on a larger scale and that zamindars also were ‘selling’ the lease rights of defaulting tenants. Sometimes these lands fell into the hands of non-members of the agrarian community (such as moneylenders) who had revenue rights earlier.

93See, for examples, Report on … Civil Justice in Punjab, 18681869, and annually through the 1870s. This was also practice in Madras.

94As a result of the Deccan Agriculturists' Relief Act of 1879.

95 See Barrier, N. G., The Punjab Alienation of Land Bill of 1900 (Duke, 1966); also Stokes, Peasant, ch. 11.

96Yang, A., ‘An Institutional Shelter’, Modern Asian Studies (XIII), 1979.

97Such petitions were the main business of the various Landholders' Associations. It is clear that some large zamindars, contrary to their general image of feudal sloth, did try to run their estates on profit-maximizing lines and to invest in production and commerce. See Musgrave, ‘Landlords’, pp. 274–5; Stokes, Peasant, ch. 8;Kolf, D., ‘A Study of Land Transfers in Mau Tahsil, Jhansi District’, Chaudhuri, K. and Dewey, C. (eds), Economy and Society (Delhi, 1979).

98A leading Nattukottai Chetty gave the character of the legal system as the prime reason why his community preferred to work in South East Asia. Madras Provincial Banking Enquiry Committee. Evidence, IV, p. 243. Under rare favourable conditions ‘banias’ showed themselves capable of undertaking active development roles. See Stokes, Peasant, ch. 11, Kolf, ‘A Study’.

99Especially in the wake of the Punjab Land Alienation Act.

100Many writers, including this one, have discussed the modernization of administration in the later nineteenth century. It was, however, a process initially confined to the nature of the state's own bureaucracy. Reflecting perhaps a continued antipathy to the rule of law, the executive did very little to centralize judicial authority or, critically, to re-build the police until much later.

101See Reports on … Civil Justice for the various provinces. In Madras, as an example, the average waiting time for a suit to be heard was 9–13 months, during which, if it were a debt-suit, interest could accumulate only at the rate of 6¼ per cent per annum, which was derisory in terms of the market rate of interest. Then, of course, the appeals procedure could begin. At all times, about two thirds of petitions for the execution of decrees were classified as wholly or partially infructuous.

102 The continuing ‘diffusion’ of effective authority in late nineteenth-century North Indian society is the subject of Musgrave, ‘Landlords’ and ‘Rural Credit’ and also, ‘Social Power and Social Change in the United Provinces 1860–1920’, Chaudhuri, and Dewey, (eds), Economy and Society.

103The general failure of zamindars and other rentier proprietors to maintain, let alone improve, irrigation works was the cause of endless complaint in this period. As an example, see Land Revenue Madras, 19041905, ‘Report on Chingleput’.

104For reasons of analytical convenience, it is going to be supposed that a sharp break can be made between members of the agrarian community, involved closely in the processes of production, and members of a metropolitan community who were distinguishable from the agrarian base and lived (whether capitalistically or feudalistically) on the profits of rent, revenue and commerce. The author is only too aware of the difficulties involved in applying this ‘break’ to reality where, certainly in densely populated and irrigated zones, ‘metropolitan’ groups such as mirasidars, petty Rajput landholders and Brahmin service families held village lands. None the less, he feels that the distinction serves some purpose in highlighting differences in the social and economic constraints on the uses of capital among groups located differently in the social structure.

105Metcalf, Land, chs 11, 12. Among petty landholding ‘service’ groups, investment in education was another use for agricultural profits.

106For the extreme ‘risk-context’ of North Indian banking and mercantile operations, see C. A. Bayly, ‘Old style Merchants and Risk’, paper read at conference on risk in South Asian social and economic history, University of Pennsylvania, 1977.

107 For examples, see my ‘Country Politics: Madras 1880–1930’, Modern Asian Studies (VII), 1973; D. Hardiman, ‘The Crisis of the Lesser Patidars’, Low, D. A. (ed.), The Congress and the Raj (London, 1977); N. Charlesworth, ‘Rich Peasants and Poor Peasants in Late Nineteenth-Century Maharashtra’, Dewey and Hopkins, Impact; Banaji, J., ‘Capitalist Domination and the Small Peasantry,’ Economic and Political Weekly (August), 1977.

108On risk-aversion in the context of Punjabi farming, see Kessinger, Vilyalpur, chs 4, 6. Needless to say, as a function both of the size of profits and the degree of risk, propensity to invest (as in wells) varied considerably with the particularities of agrarian conditions. In, for example, the cotton-belt of South India, a combination of particularly wealthy and large landholders together with a profitability in cotton hardly to be equalled by local grain production promoted an expansion of well investment on a considerable scale. In the ‘wheat frontier’ of the C.P., a similar scale of borrowings and investments was in evidence. Both of these cases, however, seem exceptional.

109Kessinger, T. G., ‘The Peasant Farm in North India 1848–1968’, Explorations in Economic History (XII), 1975.

110 For example, see my Provincial Politics, pp. 74–8. On the general influence of the need for grain storage against famine, see McAlpin, M.. ‘The Effects of Markets on Rural Income Distribution in Nineteenth-Century India’, Explorations in Economic History (XII), 1975.

111Once more, of course, the degree to which these ‘restraints’ operated was a function of the local agrarian structure and its precise market context. These structures and contexts were given to wide variation and in some areas they permitted considerable agricultural expansion. But it remained quantitative expansion within the existing mode of labour-intensive, small-scale, family-organized production.

112We are beginning to become aware of how far the state apparatus of the ancien régime and early Company rule had not merely extracted surplus but also invested in the means of production through takkavi, irrigation and political production. For examples, see Stokes, Peasant, ch. 3.

113 For a classic statement, see R. and Ray, R., ‘The Dynamics of Continuity in Rural Bengal’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (X), 1973; also, by implication for the colonial period, H. Alavi, ‘India and the Colonial Mode of Production’, Socialist Register 1975.

114 See Ray, R., Industrialization in India (New Delhi, 1979), ch. 1.

115For examples, see Stokes, Peasant, ch. 11; Hardiman, ‘The Crisis’.

116 The rate of increase in British cotton textile exports to India slowed noticeably from the 1890s. S. B. Saul has seen 1890 as the critical turning-point in the old British-dominated, colony-orientated pattern of world trade. Saul, S. B., Studies in British Overseas Trade 1870–1914 (Liverpool, 1960), ch. 5.

117 From about 4 per cent in 1900 to 2.5 per cent by 1939. The fall was steady and not merely a reflection of the depression of the early 1930s. See Tomlinson, B. R., The Political Economy of the Raj (London, 1979), ch. 2.

118See Committee of Imperial Defence, Minutes, 11 June 1903 and 5 August 1903, Cabinet Papers (CAB 2/1), Public Record Office, London.

119 See R. and Ray, R., ‘Zamindars and Jotedars: A Study of Rural Politics in Bengal,’ Modern Asian Studies (IX), 1975.

120Robinson, F. C. R., Separatism Among Indian Muslims (Cambridge, 1974), ch. 2.

121As has been argued for Western India by R. Kumar, Western India, ch. 6; Charlesworth, ‘Rich Peasants.’

122The Nattukottai Chetties provide the clearest example. By the late 1920s, their overseas assets were thought to be Rs 60 crores. But Western Indian financiers were active in the opening up of East Africa and in the Natal sugar production economy.

123For the currency problems of 19071908, see Tomlinson, Political Economy, ch. 1.

124Binnys of Madras, for example, went into cotton textile production; Parrys of Madras increased their hold on the alcohol distillation industry; in Calcutta, firms such as Andrew Yule speeded up their diversification into industries such as coal.

125See, for example, Metcalf, Aftermath, chs 4–6; Barrier, The Alienation; Whitcombe, Agrarian Conditions, chs 4, 6.

126 For example, see Charlesworth, N., ‘The Myth of the Deccan Riots of 1875’, Modern Asian Studies (VI), 1972; Stokes, Peasant, ch. 11; Musgrave, ‘Social Power’.

127Whitcombe, Agrarian Conditions, chs 4, 6; Metcalf, Aftermath, chs 4–6; R. Kumar, Western India, ch. 5.

128There seems to have been no revenue problem, for example, in the Namada valley during the wheat boom. See Stokes, Peasant, ch. 11.

129C. Dewey, ‘The Rise of the Martial Castes: Changes in the Composition of the Indian Army, 1878-1914’, paper read at conference on Social Stratification in India, University of Leicester, April 1977.

130 For the police in South India, see Arnold, D., ‘The Armed Police and Colonial Rule in South India’, Modern Asian Studies (XI), 1977; also my Provincial Politics, ch 2.

131See Papers on Inam.

132See my Provincial Politics, ch. 1.

133Especially by Musgrave, ‘landlords’ and ‘Rural Credit’; also Charlesworth, ‘Myth’.

134By this I mean an expansion beyond the confines of the ‘middle-man’ commodity trades, where it was confined, to the bases of production.

135Ewing, H. A., ‘The Indian Civil Service 1919–42. Some Aspects of British Control in India’, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Cambridge, 1980.

136 These sentiments seem to have been particularly strong in North India, where the feudal ‘Oudh’ policy was influential in the U.P. Secretariat and the more peasant orientated ‘Punjab’ school held sway farther West. For discussions of the civilian mentality, see Musgrave, ‘Social Power’; Dewey, C., ‘Images of the Village Community,’ Modern Asian Studies (VI), 1972; Metcalf, Aftermath, chs 4, 5.

137 See Barrier, The Alienation; Broomfield, J., Elite Politics in a Plural Society (California, 1969);Johnson, G., Provincial Politics and Indian Nationalism (Cambridge, 1973).

138 The question of the real benefits to advanced capitalist economies of impoverished colonial satellites was raised by Lichteim, G., Imperialism (London, 1961).

139 This, at least, seems agreed by all the juxtaposed theorists of the colonial Indian economy. See Bagchi, A. K., Private Investment in India 1900-1939 (Cambridge, 1972); and a review of this by Morris, M. D., ‘Private Industrial Investment in the Indian Sub-continent 1900-39Modern Asian Studies (VIII), 1974.

140R. Ray recently has argued that the colonial economy was not underutilizing supply factors to its existing demand capacity. Ray, Industrialization, ch. 3.

141For discussions of the ‘long’ political process of which the0000000000 . law was but a part, see Whitcombe, Agrarian Conditions, ch. 5.

142 See Dhanagare, D. N., Agrarian Movements and Gandhian Politics (Agra, 1975);Siddiqi, M. H., ‘The Peasant Movement in Pratabgrah 1920Indian Economic and Social History Review (IX), 1972;Crawley, W. F., ‘Kisan Sabhas and Agrarian Revolt in the United Provinces,’ Modern Asian Studies (V), 1971.

143For examples, see my Provincial Politics, ch. 4; in Bombay, under the terms of the Deccan Agriculturists' Relief Act (1879), village officials had been empowered to arbitrate in debt suits; in Punjab, the courts had long encouraged the use of appointed arbitrators, see Civil Law (Punjab), for example 18681869.

144Baker, C. J., ‘Madras Headmen’, in Chaudhuri, and Dewey, , Economy.

145See Whitcombe, Agrarian Conditions, ch. for U. P.; revenue courts for the Permanently Settled estates reached Madras in 1908.

146 See Rothermund, S., Government, Landlord and Peasant in India (Wiesbaden, 1978).

147Henningham, S., ‘The Social Setting of the Champaran Satyagraha,’ Indian Economic and Social History Review (XIII), 1976.

148Hardiman, D., ‘Peasant Agitation in Kheda District, Gujarat 1917–34,’ unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Sussex, 1977.

149Tinker, H., A New System of Slavery (London, 1974), pp. 279–80; also my Provincial Politics, ch. 7.

150Arnold, D., ‘Looting, Grain Riots and Government Policy in South India 1918,’ Past and Present (84), 1979.

151Gordon, A. D. D., Businessmen and Politics (New Delhi, 1978), ch. 3.

152Baker, C. J., The Politics of South India (Cambridge, 1976), ch. 3;Tomlinson, B. R., The Indian National Congress and the Raj (London, 1976), ch. 3.

153The precise legal understanding of dependent labour relations is difficult to assess. At times, it seems to have stressed the rule of the market but at times the rule of some species of custom. For an interesting case, see Kessinger, Vilyalpur.

154See, for examples, Arnold, ‘Armed Police’.

155 See Report of the Indian Taxation Enquiry Committee 1924–25 (Government of India, 1925), Vol. 1.

156Ibid. For example, about 15–20 per cent of state revenues came from the abkari excise which fell mainly on the cheap liquor drunk by the lower classes.

157 See Darling, M., The Punjab Peasant in Prosperity and Debt (Oxford, 1925), ch. 7.

158Robert, B. L., ‘Agricultural Co-operatives in Madras 1893–1937,’ Indian Economic and Social History Review (XVI), 1979.

159For examples, see my ‘Country Politics’; also Tomlinson, Political Economy, ch. 2.

160Especially sugar.

161Baker, Politics, ch. 3.

162In Madras by the mid-1930s, for example, local boards and municipalities were handling 44 per cent of all government expenditure. Baker, Politics, ch. 2.

163See my Provincial Politics, ch. 4.

164It seems generally agreed by many writers that this period was critical in the weakening of ‘traditional’ labour relations, although explanations differ. See, for example, Breman, Patronage, ch. 5. Less often considered, however, are the political conditions which would permit what for many dependent labourers amounted to a considerable deterioration in, at least, their security and, frequently, their standard of living.

165 See Mukherji, M., ‘National Income,’ Singh, V. B. (ed.), The Economic History of India (Bombay, 1965).

166 See Baker, Politics, ch. 3; Pandey, G., The Congress in Uttar Pradesh 1926–34 (New Delhi, 1978), ch. 6.

167Arnold, ‘Armed Police’.

168 For a discussion of the continuity between ‘local’ panchayati and higher judicial tribunals, see Galanter, M., ‘The Aborted Restoration of Indigenous Law in India,’ Comparative Studies in Society and History (XIV), 1972.

169 Tomlinson, Political Economy, ch. 2; Markovits, C., ‘Indian Business and Nationalist Politics 1931–39’, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Cambridge University, 1978; Gordon, Businessmen, passim;Chandavarkar, R., ‘Between Work and Politics’, followship dissertation, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1979, chs 1, 2.

170 Tomlinson, Political Economy, ch. 2; Timberg, T., ‘Three Types of Marwari Firm’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (IX), 1973; Baker, Politics, ch. 3.

171Chandavarkar, ‘Between Work’, chs 1, 2.

172Tomlinson, Political Economy, ch. 2.

173Chandavarkar, ‘Between Work’, chs 1, 2.

174 Although the bases of its statistics have been challenged, Blyn, G., Agricultural Trends in India 1891–1947 (Philadelphia, 1966), remains the most comprehensive survey of grain production in the inter-war period.

175 Sugar acreage expanded by about 20 per cent in the 1930s. The other area of significant growth was groundnut which was coming to be used as a cheap source of vegetable oil. See Narain, D., Impact of Price Movements on Areas Under Selected Crops in India, 1900–1939 (Cambridge, 1965). The failure of agriculture to respond to industrialization in the inter-war period naturally raises questions about how far agricultrual stagnation previously had been the product of lack of industrialization.

176Especially raw cotton which was coming in large quantities from East Africa.

177 There was no significant shift in the sectoral balance of the workforce across the period. See Krishnamurty, J., ‘The Distribution of the Indian Working Force 1901–51’, Chaudhuri, and Dewey, , Economy.

178See Tomlinson, Political Economy.

179For examples, Pandey, The Congress, chs 2, 6; G. McDonald, ‘Unity on Trial.’ D. A. Low, Congress.

180Pinson, K. S., Modern Germany (Toronto, 1954), chs 1, 6.

181The family farm model of production made famous by Chayanov and held in, for example, Kessinger, Vilyatpur, chs 3–5, to underlie Punjabi farming may imply too much decision-making independence to be widely applicable to other regions. Nonetheless, it seems true that, within different contexts of decision-making, the family remained the principal unit of labour organization and, in the absence of a fully articulated food-market, tried to provide a large part of its own subsistence needs. This appears to have held true generally until at least the early 1960s. See Dasgupta, B. ( et al. ), Village Society and Labour Use (Delhi, 1977).

182Mazumdar, D., ‘Labour Supply in Early Industrialization,’ Economic History Review (XXVI), 1973; on rural/urban wage differentials see Chakravarty, L., ‘Emergence of an Industrial Labour Force in a Dual Economy,’ Indian Economic and Social History Review (XV), 1978.

183 Recently, the point has been strongly disputed by Omvedt, G., ‘Migration in Colonial India’, Journal of Peasant Studies (VII), 1980. But the statistics she herself provides are not so easily dismissed. The sum of Rs 10.7 crores reportedly remitted to six North Bihari districts between 1915 and 1920 is very striking. In Gorakhpur by the 1890s, remittances through the post office alone came to more than the total land revenue demand of the district. I am grateful to Dr Peter Musgrave for this information.

184For the declining share of the social product represented by agricultural wages, see Mukherji, ‘National Income’. The chief problem may have been one of underemployment, for casual agricultural labour frequently was employed only seasonally.

185 For examples, see Dore, R. P., ‘Land Reform and Japan's Economic Development’, Developing Economics (III), 1965;Willets, H., ‘The Agrarian Problem’, Katkov, G. (ed.), Russia Enters The Twentieth Century (London, 1973).

186Especially in the 1930s, see Baker, Politics, ch. 3.

187For the problems of cotton, see Gordon, Businessmen, ch. 3.

188Chandavarkar, ‘Between Work’, chs 1, 2.

189See Report(s) on the Administration of the Police in the Madras Presidency (Annual Series), especially 19291939.

190The classic statement of the anti-middleman thesis is the Report of the Royal Commission on Agriculture in India (HMSO, 1928).

191 For Bengal, see Gallagher, J., ‘Congress in Decline’, Modern Asian Studies (VII), 1973; for the agrarian roots of the Punjab Unionist Party, see Talbot, I. A., ‘The 1946 Punjab Elections’, Modern Asian Studies (XIV), 1980; for Madras, see Baker, Politics, chs 2,4.

192However, beneath the epiphenomenon of the dyarchic landlord governments, the process consolidating the position of the upper level of village tenants' landholders seems to have continued in U.P. as elsewhere. See Stokes, Peasant, ch. 9.

193Most of the Congress provincial governments of 19371939, for example, discussed further improvements in indebtedness and tenancy legislation although their brief period in office seldom allowed them to achieve much.

194In the upper echelons of the agrarian community, this showed itself less in ‘labour’ than in investment in urban and urban-related undertakings. For examples, see Baker, Politics, ch. 3; Tomlinson, Political Economy, ch. 2. Also, there was drift towards education and the professions, see my ‘Country Politics’. In less hierarchic communities, however, even some of the more substantial farming families were now sending scions to labour elsewhere. See Kessinger, ‘Family Farm’.

195Baker, Politics, ch. 3; Pandey, Congress, ch. 6.

196 For an analysis of the post-independence political economy, which stresses this ‘contradiction’ see Patnaik, P., ‘Imperialism and the Growth of Indian Capitalism’, Owen, R. and Sutcliffe, R. B. (eds), Studies in the Theory of Imperialism (London, 1972).

197This is implicit in, for example, Cohn, ‘Notes’ and ‘Anthropological Notes’; and, for the period to 1885, in ‘Structural Change’.

198Metcalf, Aftermath, chs. 4–6.

199This is not a distinction which the author finds meaningful but it is one stressed in much of the social history informed by American cultural anthropology. As far as the author is concerned, the raj was part of the same social field as its subjects.

200This point is borne out in innumerable anthropological studies of the village context. For example, Kessinger, Vilyatpur, ch. 2.

201Rudolphs, Modernity, ch. 1.

202Brass, P., ‘The Politics of Ayurvedic Education’, Rudolph, S. and Rudolph, L., Education and Politics in India (Cambridge, Mass., 1972).

203Galanter, M., ‘The Aborted Restoration of Indigenous Law in India’, Comparative Studies in Society and History (XIV), 1972.

204See Frank, A. G., ‘The Development of Underdevelopment’, Monthly Review (1966); as early as the 1820s, the fate of Indian cash crops such as indigo involved the fortunes of London finance houses, see Bayly, C. A., ‘The Age of Hiatus’, Philips, C. and Wainwright, M. (eds), Indian Society and the Beginnings of Modernization (London, 1976).

205Paglin, M., ‘Surplus Agricultural Labour and Development’, American Economic Review (LV), 1965.

206See Kessinger, Vilyatpur, ch. 2; Leonard, Social History, chs. 7, 10.

207Fox, R. G., ‘The Avatars of Indian Research’, Comparative Studies in Society and History (XII), 1970.

208Rudolphs, Modernity, ch. 1.

209 For an extended critique of the principles of modernization theory, see Bendix, R., ‘Tradition and Modernity Reconsidered’, Comparative Studies in Society and History (IX), 1967; D. Tipps, ‘Modernization Theory and the Study of National Societies’, ibid. (XV), 1973; L. Shiner, ‘Tradition/Modernity: An Ideal Type Gone Astray’, ibid. (XVII), 1975.

210As in Banaji, ‘Capitalist Domination’.

211See, for example, Habib, Agrarian System.

212 See Kumar, D., ‘Landownership and Inequality in Madras Presidency’, Indian Economic and Social History Review (XII), 1975; Charlesworth, ‘Rich Peasant’; Stokes, Peasant, ch. 9.

213Kessinger, ‘Family Farm’. The strongest evidence of replacement comes from those areas in which, while land had been owned by locally resident village families, it had been leased out to sharecroppers. Here, the economic conditions of the 1930s seem to have started a trend which continued in response to land reform legislation after independence and in which the sharecroppers were evicted to be replaced by hired labour. But this represents a particular rather than a general case.

214Omvedt, ‘Migration’. Omvedt specifies only colonial instruments organizing labour for migration but not forcing it out in the first place nor deliberately preventing it from earning its living in other ways. of course, this was because the colonial state did not need such instruments, as ‘natural’ conditions did its work for it. But this alters the meaning of the case.

215 See Chaudhuri, K. N., ‘India's International Economy in the Nineteenth Century’, Modern Asian Studies (II), 1968.

216For the market stimulation caused by European cotton purchasing agents, see Banaji, ‘Small Peasantry’; also Tomlinson, Political Economy, ch. 1.

217McAlpin, M., ‘The Impact of Railroads on Agriculture in India’, unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1973.

218For example, Alavi, ‘Colonial Mode’.

219Bagchi, Private Industrial Investment.

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