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India to the test of British domination

From Baripedia


Among the initial conditions, what matters here is the structures in place. We must therefore begin by considering them: these are the socio-economic structures, pre-colonial structures, levels of general technical development at the time when colonisation begins.

What economic historians usually do is to draw on the numerous and multiplying works that have been done over the last two decades, consisting of going back in time, undertaking a retrospective national accounting exercise and asking what are the differences in per capita income between certain regions of Europe and Asia, including India.

There is an old disagreement dating back to Smith and Marx, today economic historians find themselves in two irreconcilable camps. This way of trying to draw a parallel between Asia, that is India and China, and Europe is based on the situation today, that is, that these Asian giants are on the verge of bridging the gaps.

If, on the other hand, we consider that there was initially, around the middle of the 18th century - early 19th century and that there was a certain parity, then these two great Asian countries experienced a kind of torpor and now they are regaining their past greatness.

There is a part of ideology: there are Eurocentrists who will never admit that a part of Asia was comparable to Europe in the second half of the 18th century and there are specialists on India and China.

Before tackling the case of India, we must emphasise its importance in Asia, on the other hand, it is in India that Vasco de Gama disembarked, it is where the first European sailors arrived by circumnavigating the Cape of Good Hope, it is also India that is the pivot or heart of the Portuguese trading empires, French, English and Dutch, and finally it is from India that England will extend its empire in Asia, but it is above all the demographic weight and its size in economic terms that are the best justifications to retain this case.

English India includes not only present-day India and Pakistan, but also Bangladesh and Burma. In 1913, it was 60% of the population of the colonial world and 75% of colonial Asia. In 1938, British India had 382 million inhabitants and 3 times more populated than sub-Saharan Africa: India retains its attribute of demographic giant, but it already had it.

The period considered will be between the XVIth century and the XVIIIth century: India is an economic power by its agricultural and industrial production as well as by the scale of its commercial actions. India has most probably the most complex and sophisticated economy.

Between the XVIth century and the XVIIIth century, the Indian subcontinent is under the domination of a Mughal empire, this empire is created in 1526 with the conquest of Northern India.

North India is first conquered by Genghis Khan and conquerors. The Mughal Empire, which reached its apogee between the 16th and early 18th centuries, had its most positive period when the empire enjoyed homogenous political unity. This period lasted from 1580 to 1740.

Expansion moghole en Inde.

The Mughal Empire lasted until 1856, but from the middle of the 18th century, this unity began to crumble. There is a slow process of disintegration, but formally, the empire continues to exist maintained by the British as a kind of scenery. It is in 1856 that it will be abolished.

Then comes the reconstitution from the middle of the 19th century of another empire under the aegis of the British colonizer, it is a new reunification.

Between the mid-nineteenth century and the mid-eighteenth century there is a century of transition being a constant in the history of the Indian subcontinent. There are periods during which there is an imperial unity that is crumbling, there is a relatively long phase during which the subcontinent is fragmented into different states.

It is necessary to wait until a new imperial edifice is put in place.

The Mughal Empire is a state of conquest dominated by a military oligarchy of foreign origin and Muslim faith reigning over a rural population is Hindu, it is an elite of high armed dignitaries that specialists of India call "nobility".

This elite is recruited primarily from among Muslim migrants who are Turks, Afghans, and then come from dignitaries of Indian origin.

These elites mainly collect property taxes. These feudal rulers form a cosmopolitan class, they were also foreigners to the country that the elders of Oxford or Cambridge, who would rule English India, would live in.

Thus, this map gives at a glance the coverage of the Mughal Empire in India at its peak.

India's level of pre-colonial development[edit | edit source]

We must consider the level of development from the end of the 16th century to the middle of the 18th century; by major economic sectors we mean agriculture and industry.

In both agriculture and industry, Mughal India is capable of performance, but this performance is achieved and there are limits.

Basically, there is in Mughal India, for the period under consideration, a balance reached high levels. In terms of agriculture and industry, India shows and demonstrates capabilities, rising to a level itself, but there is a difficulty in exceeding certain thresholds.

There is a cruising speed that is reached, but a higher level cannot be crossed. Indian agriculture is experiencing a boom in production and mainly in food-producing agriculture due to the rise of the Mughal administration: it undertakes land clearing, allows the cultivation of new land, there are efforts made in terms of irrigation by digging wells, by multiplying reservoirs allowing the establishment of framework conditions that allow an increase in agricultural production.

It should be noted that the Mughal administration has an interest in the development of agriculture, which it encourages. What allows the empire to subsist and grow is a tax on agricultural production and more precisely on agricultural surpluses, while at the same time there is a strengthening of the Mughal state's control over the peasant world.

The administration levies as a tax 30% to 50% of agricultural production.

There is a boom in production sufficient to feed a growing population. There is a sufficient increase in production to feed a growing population and a peasant economy that bears very heavy taxes.

How can we explain that despite high taxes, despite more and more mouths to feed, Indian agriculture is performing so well?[edit | edit source]

Until the end of the 18th century, there is the possibility for the farmers of the sub-continent to cultivate the best land thanks to the density of population that allows it, there are also the monsoon regimes allowing two harvests per year of wheat and rice raising the cereal yields.

Agricultural surpluses are large because farmers remain poor.

It is necessary to make the connection between the technical and cultural methods that increase agricultural production and production techniques that hardly change: until the end of the 19th century, methods and cultural practices hardly change.

It is the low peasant standard of living that explains the stagnation of agricultural production methods because when the poverty line is low, the risk induced by the adoption of new techniques is very great.

In other words, the surpluses generated by the agricultural surplus are substantial. Here we have an economy covering a continent that is able to generate substantial agricultural surpluses, but they are generated without changing agricultural tools or farming methods: these surpluses are not the result of an agricultural revolution.

There is an adaptation of the supply of agricultural products to demand, the population is growing, there is an increase in demand and agriculture is managing to satisfy it, but the adaptation of this supply of agricultural products is achieved through an immense quantitative effort without changing farming methods or new tools.

This is a feat on the one hand, agriculture is capable of feeding a growing population, agriculture generates sufficient surpluses for the heavy Mughal taxation to take place, but this is achieved through extensive growth.

Why, before the British conquest, India did not have an industrial revolution?[edit | edit source]

With the industry, there is also something similar to the level of limits, one could describe the Indian industry as being resistant to machinery.

If there is an incentive in England to mechanize, it does not exist in the Indian subcontinent.

It is worth recalling certain characteristics which underline the importance of India's manufacturing industry: in the 19th century it had the world's leading cotton industry, so that by the middle of the 18th century textiles accounted for more than half of the subcontinent's exports.

In the nineteenth century, during the first phase of British rule, the composition of India's exports would bear little resemblance to that of the mid-18th century when more than half of India's exports were manufactured goods.

==Why doesn't India have an Industrial Revolution?

There's a whole series of impediments including the technology used and the fact that there's no incentive in India to mechanize.

The caste system is a system that kills individual initiative and prohibits social mobility by imposing a strict division of labour. If society was compartmentalized into several groups, that would be an obstacle to industrial and economic progress.

Most professions remain open, yet only the exercise of certain trades that touch upon what is impure touches upon strictly established rules.

The caste system is also accused of denying individuals and groups any possibility of movement. The caste system sets a hierarchical ladder, but sometimes the caste system opens up.

Castes may break up into several groups, or when the economy improves, some members of a caste who take advantage of a better economic situation, in search of a better social status, begin to adopt practices characteristic of higher castes.

This process may have given rise to new castes in the industrial sector, i.e. a given caste may change its craft specialization.

This openness, mobility and change within this system is particularly visible when there is a boom in an economy or a sector of an economy. In the 18th century, textile activities recorded a boom, but such transformations and such possibilities of passage are noted.

Basically, the flexibility of the system exists and appears in certain circumstances.

With the caste system, we are in the presence of a local institution.

Each institution has several facets, the caste system allows the development of networks within which there is a solidarity that protects the groups and especially their heritage, protecting the accumulation of capital, very often market capital in this case. This heritage can be threatened by the prince and the potentates who seek to get their hands on it. To protect themselves from such threats, castes can protect their heritage through solidarity networks.

In the absence of an efficient banking system, caste networks facilitate the mobilization of large amounts of capital.

Family structures in Mughal India are seen as a supposed obstacle to natural mobility. In the West, the nuclear family appears early and is imposed; in India, on the other hand, there is the system of large families.

But here, again with this institution, there is the dark side and the light side: several authors have rejected the accusation against these family structures, i.e. the large families, stressing that it rather favours commercial and industrial development than hinders it.

The institutional system is presented as sometimes hostile to development and sometimes favourable.

While norms of caste and large family membership can create exclusion and deprive some groups of the potential benefits of growth, these same norms can also generate mechanisms of trust between individuals to overcome market failures and access to capital.

The caste system has been perceived differently since India's independence, especially in the West. India became independent in 1947. If we look only at the first forty years after independence, it is possible to argue that India is constrained, is hampered by brakes: the caste system, then, will be seen through its flaws.

On the other hand, if we take the last thirty years of India's economic growth, which are much better, then India's relatively good economic results will highlight the positive aspects of this system, namely the solidarity of networks.

The caste system is not a convincing explanatory factor.

What limits India's industrial potential is the tools used and their rudimentary nature, as Indian craftsmen make their products that are appreciated on foreign markets.

The great dexterity of the craftsmen must be recognized, their ingenuity, the tasks are highly specialized, but in the end, until the middle of the 19th century, India remained attached to traditional methods, to animal and human energy.

This attachment is explained less by technical factors than by reasons of mechanized costs than by the large, cheap and expert labour force.

This explains why the incentive to mechanize exists in England, but not in India.

In England, from the beginning of the XVIIth century, the key to success, the strength of penetration of these products on foreign markets, is due to the fact that there is a gap in Indian wages: during the first half of the XVIIIth century, English labour is said to be at least 5 times more expensive than that of the subcontinent.

Comment se fait-il que cette production indienne puisse concurrencer la production textile des autres entités ?[edit | edit source]

La production textile, notamment des cotonnades en Inde, pour le marché intérieur et pour l’exportation est assurée par des artisans pour la plupart dispersés dans une multitude de villages qui travaillent soit pour leur compte soit le plus souvent pour celui de marchands selon un système d’avance et de contraintes ressemblant au Verlag system.

Le niveau des salaires est bas et le travail est pénible, mais les artisans indiens parviennent grâce à leur dextérité et leur haut degré de spécialisation à répondre à l’énorme montée de la demande au XVIIème siècle et au XVIIIème siècle tout en offrant une production de qualité et à bon marché.

Ce secteur parvient à répondre à une demande en hausse venant de l’intérieur et de l’extérieur.

Ces marchés concurrencent et l’Angleterre va réagir.

À partir du dernier tiers du XVIIème siècle les textiles indiens débarquent et les premières réactions se manifestent comme des protestations au sein de producteurs britanniques, des émeutes, une première augmentation des droits de douane sur les tissus asiatiques, mais aussi des votes du parlement dont l’un qui date de 1700 est une loi de prohibition interdisant l’utilisation ou le port de tout tissu d’Asie.

Pour se protéger, il faut dans un premier temps élever les barrières douanières, mais cela ne suffit pas, alors le parlement vote des lois prohibitives, et c’est à l’abri de telles barrières hautement dressées que l’Angleterre dans le cadre de la révolution industrielle et en réaction à l’arrivée de tissus asiatiques se mécanise.

Les Anglais mettent au point des machines qui économisent de la main-d’œuvre trop chère. En Inde, les régions productrices ne manquent pas de bras, les salaires ne quittent pas leur niveau plancher, la demande croissante des marchés extérieurs peut être satisfaite de nouveau par simple extension du système en place. La réponse est un effort quantitatif ; dans ses propres bornes l’Inde du XVIIIème respire et agit avec naturel, force et succès, pour autant elle n’est pas à la veille d’enfanter un capitalisme.

Il y a une agriculture traditionnelle de hauts rendements, il y a également un monde complexe et sophistiqué d’industries, de négoces et de crédits. L’économie de l’Inde, entre le XVIème et la première moitié du XVIIIème siècle, est capable de s’ajuster à l’expansion d’un marché intérieur et d’une demande extérieure géographiquement très diversifiée.

Comme indiqué, elle atteint une vitesse de croisière, mais reste à l’intérieur de certaines limites : l’explication de ces limites doit être recherchée du côté relativement bas des salaires, principale entrave à l’évolution vers le machinisme.

Apparaît cette image de l’Inde qui n’est pas monocolore, au XVIIIème siècle l’Inde est le premier exportateur d’articles manufacturiers et du monde, mais qui accuse un retard sur le plan technologique, dans l’industrie. L’Inde est dépassée par l’Europe occidentale et la Chine, les textiles indiens de renommée mondiale sont produits avec des machines d’une simplicité déroutante pour les observateurs étranges.

Les navires indiens qui parcourent les mers le font sans l’aide des instruments nautiques à l’usage à l’époque. L’Inde ne brille pas par ses techniques, par l’utilisation du charbon, ni par ses moulins à vents, etc.

Il faut se débarrasser de quelque chose façonné depuis Montesquieu, à savoir une image qui colle à la peau de l’Empire moghol, soit le despotisme d’un empire oriental à bout de souffle.

Nous allons voir qu’il ne s’agit évidemment pas de cela, puisque, tant que l’Empire moghol s’est développé en maintenant une unité politique homogène, tant que l’empire a pu rester unifié, consistant, on enregistre au niveau de l’agriculture et de l’industrie de bonnes performances ce qui amène, soit dit en passant, des arguments aux historiens que certaines grandes régions de l’Inde tiennent la comparaison avec les régions dynamiques de l’Europe.

À partir de 1739, qui est l’année censée clôturer la période d’unité impériale moghole est la mort du dernier grand empereur moghol, celui qui était à la tête d’un empire qui avait une cohérence, dès alors, les choses commencent à se déliter, à se défaire, la période des États successeurs débute.

Cette phase de transition était porteuse de quelque chose et la colonisation britannique va venir remettre en cause et bloque quelque chose qui pouvait déboucher sur on ne sait quoi.

Les avis sur le XVIIIème siècle sont partagés, en revanche, en ce qui concerne le XIXème, il y a un assez bon consensus des spécialistes.

Deux grandes phases peuvent être considérées :

Si l’on considère la phase de l’Empire moghol durant son unité impériale, à peu près jusqu’au début du XVIIIème siècles, les forces apparaissent, il y a aussi des faiblesses. Certains auteurs considèrent une faiblesse qu’il faut écarter comme n’étant pas un argument convaincant.

La faiblesse de l‘Inde serait celle des grands empires asiatiques centraux. Depuis l’Europe, il y a une grande tradition qui consiste à dénoncer les travers du despotisme oriental, c’est une manière au fond détournée de justifier la colonisation britannique.

Le système qui est en place est imposant, il s’impose par le gigantisme de sa taille. La Cour moghole est reconnue comme étant brillante, les produits d’exportations comme les Indiennes et les textiles sont d’une grande finesse, mais tout cela étant reconnu, l’accent est mis sur un ensemble qui serait perverti et miné par les travers des élites : ce qui est dénoncé est le luxe tapageur des moghols.

En dénonçant ce luxe, on dénonce également le luxe en place qui serait un luxe extractif, pillant les richesses ; « des serviteurs et des courtisans par milliers, des vêtements extravagants, des bijoux, des harems et des ménageries, des bataillons entiers de gardes du corps, le seul moyen de payer tout ce luxe est le pillage systématique […] que le roi Soleil aurait peut être trouvé excessif, ce gaspillage »[7].

Lorsque l'on fait des comparaisons, il faut retenir la disproportion de l’Inde qui est gigantesque par rapport à la France de Louis XIV ou bien l’Angleterre de George Ier. L’Inde est 7 fois plus peuplée que le royaume de France et plus de 30 fois l’Angleterre de George Ier, autrement dit, les habits des moghols ne sont pas taillés à la grandeur des monarques européens, l’Inde est aussi vaste que l’Europe sans la Russie.

Cette différence d’échelle va s’effondrer avec l’émiettement de l’Empire moghol à partir du dernier tiers du XVIIIème siècle, on sort de la phase de l’unité impériale. Commence alors la phase de l’Inde des États successeurs, entre les années 1740 et 1810, des États successeurs tout en continuant à se déclarer de légitimité impériale vont se marginaliser.

C’est une phase de transition entre un empire unifié moghol et l’Empire britannique des indes.

Cette période dure à peu près 8 ans et pendant laquelle l’Inde navigue entre deux empires unifiés. Cette phase de transition est controversée puisque les auteurs sont en désaccord entre eux afin d’expliquer les raisons de ce déclin.

Plusieurs explications ont été proposées :

D’abord, il y aurait la décadence renvoyant à la déliquescence d’un empire perverti par son despotisme qui est la décadence de la classe politique dirigeante musulmane, ainsi il y aurait la révolte d’une majorité hindoue contre la trop longue domination musulmane : la paysannerie indienne qui est hindoue dans sa grande majorité serait surexploitée par la noblesse musulmane.

Lorsque cela sent le roussi, il y a des intermédiaires qui se détournent comme de riches banquiers hindous qui se détourneraient de la dynastie régnante pour se mettre au service de potentats provinciaux ou au service de compagnies européennes comme l’East India Company. Il y aurait donc un détournement des richesses du centre vers les périphéries, les banquiers sentant le vent tourner, vont se détourner de la dynastie régnante en alimentant en capitaux des dirigeants locaux ou des firmes privées occidentales.

Aujourd’hui, la thèse retenue est celle d’un essoufflement moghol, mais sur fond de croissance économique rapide. Dans cette thèse, l’essoufflement aurait lieu au centre, mais dans les périphéries il y aurait une croissance économique. Il n’y aurait pas une décadence économique générale, mais avec la perte de l’unité impériale, on assisterait à une passation des pouvoirs et surtout d’une passation de richesses aux régions, ce qui était à l’empereur et aux administrations centrales revient aux dirigeants régionaux.

Au long du XVIIIème, un nombre d’États successeurs acquiert une autonomie politique s’enrichissant. Cette autonomie politique et cet enrichissement des provinces aggraveraient les forces centrifuges, c’est-à-dire contribuèrent à fragmenter encore plus l’empire qui perd son unité.

Dans ce nouveau contexte d’instabilité politique, certaines régions s’en tirent mieux que d’autres.

Les provinces occidentales sont plus touchées que d’autres par les conflits et les troubles si bien que les centres de gravité économique se déplacent vers l’est du continent, autrement dit, les zones déprimées sont Delhi et Surat.

Les zones déprimées voient des groupes d’artisans et des hommes d’affaires les quitter, emmener leurs compétences et leurs capitaux vers les nouveaux pôles de croissance tels que le Bengale. À l’occasion, les groupes d’artisans, les gens d’affaires, les acteurs économiques dynamiques sont attirés par des monarques locaux qui les protègent afin de les dissuader d’enrichir leurs rivaux.

Dans certaines régions telles que le Bengale, artisans et banquiers semblent atteindre dans cette période le sommet de leur richesse.

What would this new redistribution of the cards have led to if not for the intrusion of European market capitalism into the subcontinent? Would the context of political fragmentation have sufficed for the newly dynamic regions to overturn old balances?[edit | edit source]

The comparison with Europe becomes more relevant because we are comparing regions, basically, Bengal is as large and populated as European entities such as France, England and the Netherlands.

There is greater unanimity around the following observation: in the 19th century and especially in the second half of the 20th century, the colonizer deformed the internal structures, but did not destroy them according to the colonizer's own interests.

So there will be a change. India will be given the role of exporter of raw products such as opium and tea, of raw materials such as cotton, and India will see a large part of its industrial fabric destroyed.

Extroversion and deindustrialization[edit | edit source]

Extroversion suggests that there is export agriculture and deindustrialization.

Until the 1830s, most of the Indian subcontinent was considered to fall into British hands. There are two major changes:

First an intensification of trade, suggesting that before colonization, trade was on a relatively small scale. Colonization led to an intensification of trade relations between the colony and its metropolis.

The second transformation is the structure of trade that changes, it is the structure by product, there are two trading partners. Until the conquest phase ends, there is a range of products sold from India to Britain, in return Britain exports to India a range of products that will transform.

Prior to colonial penetration, there was little trade between the two entities at the level of trade intensification, and this trade was marked by an imbalance. Until the end of the 18th century, Europe had little to offer Asia, with the result that British imports from India were much larger than British exports to India, which were five times smaller.

How do the British and the Europeans do in a situation of imbalance?[edit | edit source]

This is characterized.

They go looking for something in Asia that is spices and textiles, but in return they have little to offer.

On the one hand, they are going to use precious metals from America like silver, but especially gold in the 18th century, and on the other hand, they are going to look for products in China that will be used to compensate for the low attractiveness of European products.

The sustained expansion of trade began in the 1770s - 1780s, and from 1770 to 1813, the volume of British exports to India increased 52-fold, while British imports from the subcontinent increased 32-fold. Behind these figures there is something that changes, but that will appear later. In Britain and England in particular, there is the Industrial Revolution.

The second change is the product change in trade. Until 1813, Great Britain sold India a reduced range of manufactured goods, in return for which it bought spices and textiles called Indian women, which had a great power of penetration in foreign markets.

To understand what was happening in the eighteenth century we must go back in time, there was an incentive in England to mechanize, but not in India; this was going to bring about the changes.

From the 1860s onwards, the cotton industry became mechanised and considerably increased its productivity. At the beginning of the 19th century, in order to realize the extent of these gains, an English worker in a mechanized spinning mill produced 10 to 14 times as many rows per hour as an Indian craftsman.

Mechanization is mass production: production is increased. By doing so, productivity gains are reaped, and as soon as the cost price is reduced, this yarn and fabric becomes very cheap, but in order to continue along this path, two things are needed, namely new external markets and sources of supply of raw materials, i.e. raw cotton.

The progress of mechanisation was achieved in Great Britain with a hardening throughout the 18th century of protectionist measures which enabled Great Britain to take away from India the title of the first textile supplier in the world.

There is therefore, allowing us to understand the break-up of 1813, at a certain point in time, a reversal of the situation. This moment can be dated very accurately to 1786, which was the first shipment to India of cotton fabrics made in Manchester.

The reversal is complete when protectionist Britain succeeds in opening up India to its cheap manufactured goods. From the very end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century, Great Britain appeared as the first colonizing power under the influence of industrial lobbies and traders doing everything possible to ensure that British textile products entered India and were not taxed above a certain threshold.

For this, the Manchester lobby had to obtain the abolition of the East India Company's commercial monopoly dating from 1813, which the old lady had held since 1600.

From 1813 onwards, trade between Great Britain became free in a situation where the balance of power was reversed to the advantage of the metropolis. This opened the door to English textiles which, because they rivaled Indian textiles, now invaded the subcontinent, hence the radical change in the structure of trade between the metropolis and its colony.

In a few decades and following an economic evolution that takes place on one side, but not on the other, the balance of power is reversed, and India becomes from an exporter of manufactured products to an importer.

Exports of English cottons will explode: in 1814, one year after the abolition of the East India Company's trade monopoly, exports are a little less than one million, in 1820 about 2 million, in 1850, 1875 million meters or 6.4 meters per inhabitant, in other words almost all the local needs.

Under these conditions, the Indian textile industry is unable to compete with manufactured products at low cost price: it is deindustrialization.

Specialists propose rates expressed as a percentage of deindustrialization: for the textile industry, they range from 60% to 80%, for others from 80% to 95%. It is a virtual destruction of the existing textile production apparatus.

In the steel industry, the rate of deindustrialization is close to 100%. This deindustrialization phenomenon is a brutal one, since in less than half a century there has been an industrial dropout.

In order to remain within the framework of the change in product structure, the share of manufactured exports, which in the 18th century constituted a significant fraction of India's total exports up to more than 50%, fell to around 10% already in 1830.

The role played by industrialists in the Manchester area in this development needs to be reviewed, and it is particularly the industrialists in Lancashire who are exerting pressure. This pressure is all the more decisive in that it is supported by tariff measures: the first success is the abolition of the East India Company's trading monopoly, the second success is to play on tariffs. London is going to impose duties on Indian products competing with those from Manchester, the duties that Indian products have to pay at the British border are 70% to 80%.

For Indian textiles, the import duty on the British market is 70% to 80%, whereas British textiles pay only 3.5% for yarns and 5% for fabrics on entry into India. These tariff provisions remained in force from 1835 to 1882.

In Western Europe, these duties were between 20% and 30% and in the United States between 30% and 50%. Any attempt to do so would come up against the powerful Manchester lobby.

Why, at one point, British administrators in India were willing to waive entry fees?[edit | edit source]

Because tariffs are one of the sources of revenue.

The budget of British India depends on property tax and customs duties. In order to balance India's budget, the British administrators on the spot, one of the solutions that is proposed is to increase the duties which are ridiculously low and systematically, the traders, Manchester and Liverpool are opposed.

Britain, as a colonial power, is playing on its privilege of sovereignty and defending the interests of national manufacturing groups. There are also productivity gains from mechanization, which explains why British goods compete victoriously.

From foreign trade, at the level of merchandise trade, one can move on to India's internal economic activities.

Deindustrialization is going to be challenged by the growth of export crops, it's a change in the product structure. From the 1830s onwards, India began to export more and more raw materials and commodities. Basically, one could say that the British colonizer lowered India's status by confining it to the role of supplier of raw products and raw materials. Raw cotton is the most important and important raw material for the British textile industry.

Great Britain has a concern. At a time when it is becoming industrialized, it must diversify its export markets, diversify its import markets and diversify its sources of supply.

The production of raw cotton in India is going to take shape thanks to two events in the XIXth century which is the war engaged by the United States against England which takes place in 1812 - 1813, these hostilities stop the exports of raw cotton from the south of the United States being the main supplier of the British spinning mills since the 1790s. Then came the American Civil War, which caused the price of cotton on the world market to quadruple between 1869 and 1874. Growing cotton becomes interesting.

From then on, India was able to fill in the temporary gaps, as it were.

Throughout the 19th century and much of the inter-war period, cotton became one of India's main exports. There is also tea, the jute used to make packing bags.

Cotton is produced in central India, jute in the Strait of Bengal. One particular product is opium produced in central India and exported even earlier, whereas tea and jute were exported late in the 19th century. The export of opium dates back to the end of the 17th century.

This culture is supported by the East India Company, Indian opium is used as a currency of exchange with the Chinese. Opium is exported to China in exchange for manufactured silk, porcelain, tea or spices.

During the first part of the 19th century, opium was India's leading export product.

There is a whole range of new export products that form a cash crop. There are two types of players with the reappearance of the second group of players.

The first group of players are the British firms that play an important role in the development of these export crops, but these firms operate in conjunction with a layer of Indian middlemen who provide the financing and marketing of the crops.

The export crops are produced by the local peasantry, with intermediaries involved in financing and marketing.

The development of export agriculture is in the interests of the large commercial firms in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, and these firms invest little but make a lot. The development of export agriculture is favoured by the Indian middle class and there are loan sharks and merchants.

These middlemen will go as far as diversifying and expanding production with the creation of cotton seedling plantations, but also jute pressing. They acquire an important place in the export trade and thus engage in a process of capitalist accumulation.

The development of an export agriculture thus favours, on the one hand, the growth of an Indian commercial and financial capitalism closely linked to British interests.

These classes are going to play an important role in the process of reindustrialization that is taking place quite rapidly, that is to say that there is the capacity of this colony to recover and to set up a modern industrial apparatus financed by the indigenous middlemen who have accumulated as intermediaries of capital in international trade.

The expansion of cash crops is to India's benefit, but has a negative impact on the expansion of food crops because the development of export crops removes from food crops a fraction of the good land, reducing the opportunities for growth in food production at a time when the amount of land cultivated per rural asset is shrinking.

Until the early nineteenth century, there was still fertile land to cultivate, but as the nineteenth century and the inter-war period progressed, the area of cultivated land per rural asset shrank. By the end of the 19th century, almost all good land was under cultivation.

What would it have taken for food agriculture to develop?[edit | edit source]

The development of food agriculture is all the more important because in the second half of the 19th century, India was hit by several major famines. One cannot help but make the connection: the expansion of export crops took away land from food agriculture at a time when India was hit by great famines.

Between 1875 and 1900, there were 18 great famines causing the deaths of 18 million people. By way of comparison, during the first half of the 19th century, "only" two major famines were recorded causing the deaths of about 2 million people.

Indian agriculture is known to be dependent on climatic variations: in the face of these great famines, the question arises as to how to combat them?[edit | edit source]

The British colonial government had the choice to develop food crops by investing in irrigation works or to build a vast railway network: the colonial government would give priority to the construction of a vast railway network costing up to 6 times more than for irrigation.

It is likely that the colonial administration was unaware of the problems of Indian agriculture, but it is likely that the expansion of Indian food agriculture could have been ensured if a greater share of public and private funds had been directed towards financing irrigation, which explains the negative evolution of per capita food production in India.

Between the second half of the nineteenth century and the inter-war period, the situation was very worrying, since per capita food production was declining and progress in irrigation contributed mainly to the expansion of export agriculture.

The peasant who had to pay for the right to water had to switch from cereals to more profitable crops.

Between 1853 and 1914, 55,000 kilometres of railways were built, making India's network the first in Asia and the entire colonial world. However, this Indian network has many shortcomings. The first defect is the choice of the route, which is based on strategic and military considerations, but the main problem is the second defect, which is the configuration of the network, which favours international trade at the expense of trade between Indian regions. The lines are built from major inland ports whose function is to facilitate the shipment of exports and the flow of imports.

The third shortcoming is that the construction of the huge Indian network does not use locally manufactured equipment, it uses only British equipment such as rails, machinery and even personnel creating a demand which does not have any spillover and knock-on effects on the local steel industry.

The colonial administration made a dubious choice, the construction of the railway had, in spite of the defects noted, the advantage of decompartmentalizing the sub-continent and made it possible to fight the great famines of the second half of the 19th century.

At the time when the railway network was being built, there was no development of the local steel industry. This concomitance, i.e. the effects induced by the construction of the railway network, would have had an impact on the steel industry.

One of the shortcomings of the railway network is that it benefits international trade much more than internal economic integration.

If we look at the configuration of the rail network in Western Europe or North America, it appears that these networks promote economic integration, i.e. link regions together.

Scope and limits of reindustrialization[edit | edit source]

Gandhi and Nehru in 1942.

Jawaharlal Nehru, Prime Minister of India from 1947 to 1964, is considered by Gandhi as his heir: "one of the most remarkable features of English domination in India and that the greatest evils it inflicted on this people externally take on the appearance of heavenly blessings such as the railway, the telegraph, the telephone, and the radio. All these were welcome, all these were necessary, and we are very grateful to England for bringing them to us, but we must not forget that the object was the tightening of administrative burdens and the conquest of new markets for English industry.

India is failing to establish what economists call income effects.

Reindustrialization efforts date from 1850 - 1860. The capacity of an entity like India in a colonial situation, i.e. in a situation where the country does not have a margin of labour. In such a hostile situation, there is the possibility and the capacity to undertake counter-current efforts, i.e. recovery.

In the face of deindustrialization, India reveals this capacity to recover and to embark on this effort of reindustrialization.

The route followed in order for a steel industry to emerge in India is to remember the date of 1875 with the creation of a company that will very quickly close in 1879 is called the Bengal Iron and Steal. It is not a success because the colonial state refuses him orders and loans, there is a hostility on the part of the British colonizer towards this first attempt. We must not fall into Manichaeism with the bad colonizer preventing the good Indian industrialist. It is actually London that is preventing such an attempt.

It was set up in the last third of the 19th century when the monopoly of the East India Company disappeared and India became directly managed by London.

There is the colonial administration, the men on the spot having a certain sensitivity. The body in London and the Secretariat of State for India, on the spot there is a governor general then from 1858 it becomes a viceroy who governs from Calcutta until the seat is transferred to Delhi.

Lord Ripon by George Frederic Watts.

It is a two-headed power, it is not uncommon for the two powers to disagree, especially from 1880 to 1884 when a viceroy arrives in Delhi, Lord Ripon, doing everything to encourage the creation of a modern local steel industry, but London is against it.

From the last third of the 19th century until independence, there was a period of benevolent despotism and during this phase it was not uncommon for London and Delhi to diverge on the social policy to be pursued in India. London always wins when there is divergence.

The adjective benevolent refers to the action of viceroys sensitive to the interests of India and its inhabitants called the natives. The Secretary of State, on the other hand, sitting in London, is influenced not by the situation in the subcontinent, not by the fate of the people, but by the government, parliament, interest groups and the business community; he is the defender of British interests.

It is therefore a delicate balance, it is not a colonial order that blocks everything, local economic actors have the possibility of using this margin.

The situation in India is a delicate balance that already appears in the expression of benevolent despotism. It is the balance between modernization and safeguarding the traditional structures of the other.

Another balance is the guarantee of profits for British investment and, on the other hand, taking into account the living conditions of the local population, which includes the concern to admit Indians into the administration.

It is always the London point of view that prevails. It was only belatedly that the British authorities agreed to give a helping hand: there was a balance of power between the secretariat in London and the viceroyalty in Delhi, leading to the very end of the 19th century in 1907 - 1908, when a local and modern steel industry was finally reconstituted with British aid.

Jamsetji Tata

All the capital is Indian, there are Western equipment and experts, especially German and American, but here the revival of the Indian steel industry owes a lot to Jamshedi Tata and the Parsi community. Tata is a captain of industry and founder of a dynasty.

It is a merchant community residing in Bombay, the Parsi are its intermediaries, those who advance money, who process raw cotton, jute on the spot, those who market, who allow British commercial firms to ship its products and sell them on the world market. They accumulate and accumulate, and at the time when things can be done they invest, which is basically the allocation of commercial capital in the industry. The parsis come from a Persian province called Fars, the parsis are not going to be Islamized and refuse Islamization. In doing so, from the beginning of the 7th century, they are persecuted, their religion is Zoroastrianism.

They live in the south of Persia and are already enterprising, they do not want to become Muslims, that is why they leave for India. The Parsis emigrated in the 7th century in order to regroup around Bombay.

Tata was born in 1839 and died in 1904 is the one who founded the industrial dynasty, he is the great figure of reindustrialization in India, founder of the Tata group. He immediately saw the benefit he could derive from the existence in eastern India of rich iron deposits close to coal mines, designing an integrated steel industry for the country.

At the time of his death, he did not see his project realized, but his sons did in 1907 by creating the Tata Iron and Steal Company, whose entire capital was subscribed by 8000 Indian shareholders in three weeks. As early as 1908, work began on building the factory and in 1913, the first Indian steel was cast.

The colonial power agrees to buy a certain quantity of iron and steel now produced locally as long as it is not more expensive than imported iron and steel, but this is a limit to reindustrialization in this sector of the steel industry. There is this discrepancy: it is a missed opportunity.

The local Indian steel industry is being reborn, but could have developed much more if there had not been this gap. Basically, Indian iron and steel came out of the workshops on the eve of the First World War when the railway network was completed and put in place in 1853 and the early 1910s.

The Indian steel industry did not benefit from the spillover effects of the construction of the railway network.

We find the same situation with regard to the revival of the Indian textile industry, which dates back to the 1850s and was confirmed in the 1880s. The revival began in cotton spinning soon followed by weaving without the intervention of foreign capital and with few foreign technicians.

The countries that industrialised in Europe late in the process had several characteristics of their own, including the fact that they industrialised with the help and appeal of foreign investors.

India's reindustrialization can be considered late, but the peculiarity is that the investments are "indigenous".

Despite competition from Lancashire's powerful textile industry, despite a discriminatory tariff policy, the Indian industry was able to revive and maintain itself thanks to several favourable factors which, on the eve of the Second World War, ensured more than 80% of intermediate cotton consumption.

  • What are these favourable factors?

The boom in opium and cotton exports made the fortunes of merchant families who reinvested their capital in modern industrial units. This is a facilitating element, there are the financial resources on the spot.

Profit rates are high, in the order of 20%. There is also a comparative advantage, whereas European countries have to import raw cotton and have to worry about diversifying their sources of supply, India has the raw material on the spot saving on transport costs.

Secondly, there is a difference in wage levels: at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, unit labour costs were 75% and 50% lower respectively in the Bombay region than in Lancashire.

The British business community never gives up, the successful reindustrialization in spite of the hindrances of the colonial administration which lasts, the reindustrialization in the textile industry begins in the 1860s, is consolidated in the 1880s, but in 1894, the colonial administration will increase the customs duties because there is a need for revenue. Customs duties were raised to 5% on textile imports.

Immediately, the Manchester lobby demanded the creation of a 5% domestic compensation tax on locally produced products. The standard in terms of customs duties then in force is 30% to 50% making the tax on locally produced textiles derisory. This tax would not be withdrawn until 1925.

The record is mixed because there are opportunities that are going to be missed. Basically, these are opportunities that have been seized elsewhere in countries that have autonomy, sovereignty and a large labour pool facilitating positive spillover effects on the ground.

The achievements are the building of a powerful cotton industry capable of covering the bulk of the country's fabric needs, but this development is taking place at the expense of craftsmen, since fewer jobs are being created in the factories and fewer jobs are being created for craftsmen who have to give up their trades.

The iron and steel industry is a success, but it is starting too late at the time when the railway network is being built and has already been largely built, which deprives the local iron and steel industry of a market. The external effects on the British steel industry were felt: from 1865 to 1941, 700 locomotives were produced in India while 12,000 were imported from Great Britain.

The development of the textile industry was not accompanied by a textile machinery manufacturing industry.

It is necessary to recall the extension of export crops, deindustrialization, the obstacles to reindustrialization, this particular colonial situation that hinders, hinders. From a certain point in the 19th century, there is the emergence of an inteligencia constituting the nationalist movement.

Indian nationalism was born in the 1870s - 1880s, that's very early. It is an inteligencia made up of mixed intellectuals, they went to the school of the colonizer, but kept their identity.

The "bleeding" theory and the "capabilities" approach[edit | edit source]

Naoroji in 1892.

Naoroji (1825 - 1917) is the most illustrious of the Indian nationalist movement. Like all members of the early nationalists, he knew the language of the colonizer, sat in the House of Commons, published in periodicals, and was a wealthy merchant who denounced the harmful effects of colonization.

Naoroji is a proponent of Drain Theory: if the impact of colonization is negative, it is because the British colonizer is pumping out the wealth, it is the idea of an income transfer.

This transfer of income has two consequences: on the one hand it impoverishes India and on the other hand it enriches Great Britain, hence widening the gap between the metropolis and the subcontinent, this drainage is defined as a transfer of wealth in the form of wages, profits, interest and taxes, it is a unilateral transfer without compensation from the colony to the metropolis which would represent, in Naoroji's eyes, a loss of income for India that would be large enough to explain its economic backwardness.

Naoroji denounces India's economic backwardness during the colonial phase. On the other hand, this transfer is a source of capital accumulation for Great Britain in order to support its rapid industrialization.

There are still attempts to calculate this transfer of income. According to statistical series, the differences in GDP per capita between the United Kingdom and India went from 3.2 in 1820 to 11.2 in 1950 at the time of independence.

Studies of male height indicate a decline in living standards in the second half of the 19th century, which continued until the late 1930s.

If we change our perspective, we have to recognize that the pre-colonial structures that we have said have limits and that during the colonization phase are crumbling, these pre-colonial structures were maintained because they have a capacity for resilience.

There is also an inability on the part of the colonizer to follow through on what he presents as his transformative mission. The British colonizer is not going to change from top to bottom given the consistency of these structures.

There is an ability of these structures to resist, but there is also an inability of the colonizer to carry out his transformative mission.

First of all, the role of the business elites is crucial to the economic success of contemporary India, there is an element of continuity. The majority of these elites descend from an indigenous class of merchants and money changers that pre-existed British rule and survived it.

Many members of this economic elite were responsible for the revival of the textile and iron and steel industries in the second half of the 19th century. This reindustrialization of India, which overcame the inference and hostility of British business circles, was carried out with very little intervention from Western capital and technicians.

The Tata Group is led by a descendant of the founder, and is made up of nearly 50 different units present in the traditional manufacturing branches, but also in the automobile, aeronautics, IT, hotel and cosmetics industries.

The other success story is that of Lakshmi Mittal from the Mawari group, which has become the world's largest steel producer.

There are therefore internal persistence such as the survival under the colonial regime of large sections of Indian business networks due to the seniority of their expertise and their network of implantation. As early as the 14th century, they mastered the system of double accounting and were able to make capital travel beyond the subcontinent, their social organization makes it possible to square this network.

The Indian merchant elites manage to maintain themselves, because the colonial state is not hegemonic and did not dominate all sectors of the Indian economy, it does not have the means to do so. In order to save money, the colonial state conceded economic, military, legal, educational and even political powers, a situation that left a margin of labour to Indian corporations and local networks woven by landowners, caste associations and other groups that emerged during this transitional phase between the 1740s and the 1810s when India was navigating between the end of the Mughal Empire and the beginning of British domination.

Some regions fared better than others, in the eras of prosperity, especially in Bengal, merchants and bankers became richer and supported the creation of schools, training centres and media outlets, thus playing an important role in the development of 19th century India's capabilities.

The capacities of Indian society were strengthened during the colonial period with the foundation of clubs and associations, first by the British anxious to westernize the local elites, but these local elites appropriated these associations against the colonial order.

Naoroji is going to westernize in order to seize the weapons of criticism.

At the end of the 19th century, India thus had a sophisticated range of civil society bodies dedicated to the production and dissemination of information, public education, social reform and political contestation. This is perhaps not unrelated to the emergence in India of what is perhaps the largest democracy in the world.

In 1955, after Independence, Nehru made a speech at the Bandung Conference that gave birth to the non-aligned movement: "British rule was only a parenthesis ... our country has many cultures, some of which are more than 5,000 years old ... British power exercised cruel power, but finally looked at the bottom of things, this period meant only a temporary interruption of our history, India was reborn from its humiliation and proudly resumed the ancestral course of its history".

That is why relations between India and the United Kingdom are so good today. In the case of Algeria, the history between France and Algeria is anything but peaceful since there was a will to destroy what was in place.

Annexes[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Etemad Bouda - SSP UNIL
  2. Bouda Etemad (auteur de Empires illusoires) - Babelio
  3. Publications de Bouda Etemad | Cairn.info
  4. Bouda Etemad | Armand Colin
  5. Bouda Etemad - Data BNF
  6. Bouda Etemad - BiblioMonde
  7. , P. Kennedy, Naissance et déclin des grandes puissances : Transformations économiques et conflits militaires entre 1500 et 2000, Paris, Payot, 1991, p.42