Social Scientist. v 1, no. 2 (Sept 1972) p. 78.


Graphics file for this page
ANGUS MADDISON, CLASS STRUCTURE AND ECONOMIC GROWTH: INDIA AND PAKISTAN SINGE THE MUGHULS George Alien and Unwin, London, 1971. pp 181 £1.75

IN the present work, Angus Maddison has set the ambitious aim of covering the entire economic development and the accompanying changes in class structure of the Hindustan sub-continent since the time of the Mughuls in just about 180 pages. The author has had the opportunity to observe the Indian conditions during his wide travels in this country. He was at one time associated with the Pakistan Planning Commission as adviser on social policy. Though he regrets that information on income distribution is too poor to warrant rigorous conclusions on the relation between the social structure and economic growth, yet he hopes to have put the contemporary problems in their historical perspective. The sections on economic growth have a clipped neatness about them and present highly complex data in simple, clear terms. But the analysis of the class structure especially that of the recent times, suffers from inadequacies.

The major conclusion of the work is that during all the three periods under scrutiny—the Moghul, the colonial and the post-independence period—the dead weight of class and caste structure has prevented the full realisation of the economic potential of the sub-continent. Regarding the results of the development in India and Pakistan since independence, the author's criticism coincides, in the main, with that of the left wing critics of the economic policies of the two countries. Admitting that in both the countries a modest growth in real income has taken place, Maddison says : "Unfortunately the material benefits of economic progress have not filtered down to the bottom half of the population. The degree of inequality has widend since independence. The overall effect of government action has been regressive in both countries. The system has had a negligible effect on income distribution, government expenditure has had a regressive impact, bureaucratic controls have favoured the rich, and land reforms and village uplift have done nothing for the bottom half of the rural population."

Maddison disagrees with nationalist historians like R G Dutt about the comparatively high level of productivity during the Mughul period. The backwardness of the Indian economy in that period is only partly attributed to technological factors. But the fundamental reason was the institutional structure in which the para3itic and predatory state apparatus had a dominent place. Maddison also takes issue with "Marxist and anti-British" historians (like R P Dutt and P ABaran) who are alleged to have exaggerated the size of the Indian plunder during the colonial period. On the other hand, he also disagrees with the Marxist assessment of the regenerating impact of the British ; "Marx's assessment of the



Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page