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Northern India in the Late Nineteenth Century: Quality of Life- 1860s-1870s (Set of 3 Parts)

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Item Code: NAZ361
Publisher: Manohar Publishers And Distributors
Author: Amiya Kumar Bagchi and Arun Bandopadhyay
Language: English
Edition: 2020
ISBN: 9788194352143
Pages: 1714
Other Details 10.00 X 7.50 inch
Weight 3.32 kg
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Book Description

I have great pleasure in placing before the reading public the first fruits of the enterprise, Volume 1, Part 1 (A, B & C) of Documents on Economic History of British Rule in India, Northern India in the Late Nineteenth Century: Quality of Life. The background of this project, originated in the declared objective of the ICHR in its Memorandum of Association (MoA) of 1972: ICHR is ‘to undertake the compilation and publication of the source material such as would facilitate historical research and historical writings’.

Earlier, between 2005 and 2011 under the series Documents on Economic History of British Rule in india, Eastern and Southern India in the Late Nineteenth Century, Professor Amiya Kumar Bagchi and Professor Arun Bandopadhyay have already completed volumes on Eastern India and Southern India.

In the year 2011, the Editors proposed to the ICHR that in the second phase of the project Northern and Western India should also be taken up by the ICHR in collaboration with the Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata (IDSK).

Accordingly, in 2012 the Council decided to continue the project to complete the work on Northern and Western India. The work was commenced in March 2013. The editors then took up the project of collecting materials for the study of economic history of Northern India during the nineteenth century. I am glad that the Volume 1, Part I (A, B & C) is going to the press.

I am also thankful to the editors who have pointed out in their Introduction the highlights of the present collection of documents. I need to add only a few words about the reasons why this collection may be considered valuable.

The bulk of documents are from 1860s-1870s. The documents included in this volume are from Official and Non-official Archival records e.g. annual administrative reports; land revenuc settlement records; forest reports; income tax reports; public health records; education department files; famine reports; pre-census reports; census reports; public health reports; public works records; jail records, etc. These documents basically deal with agriculture, irrigation, health, mortality, female infanticide and daily life of common people of northern India. I think by adding such.

documents, this volume justifies the newly added aspect ‘Quality of Life’ in the title of the project.

We look forward to the early publication of the subsequent volumes in this series. I thank and congratulate Professor Amiya Kumar Bagchi, the General Editor; Professor Arun Bandopadhyay, the Editor and Dr. Ramakrishna Chatterjee, Coordinator of the series for having completed this volume.


As in the case of the earlier volumes of Documents on the Economic History of British Rule in India, 1858-1947, in the present part of the volume on Northern India in the late nineteenth century (Volume I, Part I: 1860s-1870s), economic history is treated here in the broadest sense of the collection of information bearing on the quality of life of ordinary Indians. Northern India covers the North-Western Provinces (hereafter NWP) and the Province of Oudh (till 1877, after which it was merged with the NWP), but excludes Punjab, whose documentation will be taken up as a separate project. The NWP and Oudh included both mahalwari and talukdari or Temporary Settlement systems, and there is a rich, if scattered, documentation of agricultural operations, agricultural implements, material conditions of agricultural classes, health and education, production of cash crops and food grains, distribution of waste lands, livestock and their conditions, forests and reclamation of forest lands, population change, scarcity and famine.

An income tax was introduced in the first budget of James Wilson, the first Finance Member of the Viceroy’s Council. But it proved disappointing, partly because of the complicated forms Indians had to fill up, and partly because the results proved disappointing in terms of the revenue yielded. There was also opposition (led by C.E. Trevelyan, the Governor of Madras Presidency), from civil servants who knew India better than Wilson. The tax was withdrawn after 1865. The current volume documents its working in NWP during those six years.

Another interesting set of documents included in this volume relates to systems of school education, and the social conflicts and aspirations they reveal in terms of caste and community (documents D5.1-D5.4). Some information on the horrific practice of female infanticide has also been included (D8.3). As in other parts of British India, NWP also suffered several famines (D4.1-1D4.4). Sixteen documents relate to the exiguous arrangements in NWP (D6.1-D6.16).This section forms an important feature of our documentation on Northern India, reflecting on the daily life of the people as part of the studies of quality of life in the late nineteenth century.

The British government wanted to use and reserve forests for generating revenue through sale of timber and for facilitating the use of forest products by the British-controlled railway companies, and for creating ‘canal plantations’ accounts of the revenue realized from reserve forests were rigorously kept for each separate division. The British government treated the Indian empire as a financial proposition, even after the assumption of direct rule of the empire by the British Parliament. Hence in D8.1 we also get a comparative analysis of the movements of revenue since 1857.

As in the case of the other volumes, the editors have incurred a large debt to the Research Associate Dr Debraj Chakrabarti, and Research Assistants Sri Sayan Das, Smt Panchali Nandi and Smt Raktima Dasgupta and to the staff of the Institute of Development Studies, Kolkata for the successful completion of this part of the volume. They are also grateful to Professor Achin Chakrabarti, Director, IDSK to have taken a keen interest in the Project and particularly to Dr Ramkrishna Chatterjee, who has coordinated and monitored the progress of the project in a systematic manner. I also personally thank Professor Arun Bandopadhyay, the coeditor, to supervise research for the volume and contribute a suitable introduction to it.

Finally, we remain enormously grateful to the Indian Council of Historical Research, whose financial assistance was critical for the project. Prof. Arvind P. Jamkhedkar, Chairman, Prof. Y. Sudarshan Rao, former Chairman and Prof. K. Ratnam, Member-Secretary of the Council have always helped us with their advice and official action whenever we have sought them. We would also like to thank Dr Rajesh Kumar for co- ordinating the project on ICHR’s behalf and Ms Meena Chakravorty for patiently copy-editing the manuscript before publication. We express our enormous gratitude for their kindness.

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