Sabyasachi Bhattacharya’s work, of which the book under review is a translation, was a critical and analytical study of the economic history of British administration in India during 1858-72. The country had just witnessed the sepoy mutiny that heralded the freedom movement.

In his scholarly analysis, Bhattacharya observes that, under the British, economic policy was centralised. All financial decisions were taken by the bureaucrats, and the officials of the chambers of commerce and trade associations wielded enormous influence. There was much confusion in the way the tax and revenue settlements were handled, revealed a scientific study.

Other striking developments the author highlights include: the government's introduction of octroi and other levies on house, road and education, causing disaffection among the people and its failed attempt to decentralise finances and the skewed security policy related to the railways, hampering overall progress.

The author records how the expenditure on military and the judicial system kept on increasing and the taxes on cotton, and salt hit the common man hard. Salt tax replaced the tax on income, and farming was severely affected by the tax on land. Drawing heavily from the official records, the author throws light on the flip side of financial management during that period. By translating the work, Rajapurohita has made it accessible to the Kannada-knowing public.

BHARATADALLI BRITISHARA ARTHIKA VYAVASTHE: Translation of Sabyasachi Bhattacharya's Financial Foundations of British Raj; by Jayatirtha Rajapurohita; Pub. by Indian Council of Historical Research, New Delhi, and Pourastya Prakashana, Tiptur. Rs. 300.


Chugging along on the wheels of changeJuly 16, 2012

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