A People’s History of India 25

Indian Economy Under Early British Rule 1757 -1857

Irfan Habib

This volume in the People’s History of India series fills a void in the current literature in modern Indian economic history, which lacks a general account of Indian economy in the first century of British rule (1757–1857). R.C. Dutt’s classic Economic History is now over a hundred years old. The present monograph takes account of both the research and controversies that have taken place since R.C. Dutt’s time, and seeks to present a coherent description of the changes in Indian economy brought about by the pressure for tribute, the British land settlements and the triumph of free trade. In order to set these changes in a proper perspective, it begins by furnishing a survey of pre-colonial economic conditions (in the earlier part of the eighteenth century). A notable feature of the book is its constant reference to how aspects of Indian economy were seen and interpreted by contemporary observers. This is accomplished partly by a rich collection of extracts from the sources. There are also special notes on current interpretations of eighteenth-century history, the nature of tribute or drain of wealth from India to England, and the scope and problems of historical demography. There are bibliographical notes and a very helpful index.

The book constantly keeps in view the needs of the general reader as well as the student. Anyone seeking to understand the major underpinnings of our colonial economy would find in this book much new insight and information.


Irfan Habib

Irfan Habib is Professor Emeritus of History at the Aligarh Muslim University. He is the author of The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556–1707 (1963, revised edition 1999), An Atlas of the Mughal Empire (1982), Essays in Indian History: Towards a Marxist Perception (1995), Medieval India: The Study of a Civilization (2007), Economic History of Medieval India, 1200–1500 (with collaborators, 2011) and Atlas of Ancient Indian History (with Faiz Habib, 2012). He has co-edited The Cambridge Economic History of India, Vol. I, UNESCO’s History of Humanity, Vols. 4 and 5, and UNESCO’s History of Central Asia, Vol. 5. He is the General Editor of the People’s History of India series. He has published two monographs on modern Indian economic history and a study of certain aspects of the National Movement.

Other books by Irfan Habib