Social Scientist. v 3, no. 32 (March 1975) p. 23.


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Colonialization of the Indian Economy, I757 - <900

FOR all students of modern Indian history, the colonialization of the Indian economy under British rule must remain a theme of overriding importance. Here was the first, the classic capitalist power creating, and transforming, the largest colony in the world. Marx was greatly interested in this phenomenon, and called attention to the roles of^India as a source of primary accumulatiojn of capital and as a market for the industries of the colonizing po^er^j^Ie studied, too, the destructive and the regenera-tive^dHects of British rule upon the Indian economy.1 (1) Since then, and especially since R C Dutt's splendid two volumes ^Economic History at the beginning of the century, ^much lias been written on the subject. Monographs on the various regions and on individual aspects of economy and administration during the period liave naturally multiplied. There is, indeed, now a danger that the major strands may be overshadowed by the minutiae that detailed research always turns up. A recent debate3 did much to focus interest back on some of the important issues of the main theme; and this paper is written with the same intention.

An attempt is here made to offer (or, mostly, restate) a number of propositions about the process of colonialization of the Indian economy from 1757 to about 1900. I have a feeling that the different stages of colo' realization, each with its own specific feature^, need to be distinguished;



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