ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Polity, Policy, and the Economy of Salt in Manipur circa 1826–1947

While the traditional production of spherical flat salt chunks through the evaporation of saline water from salt wells dates back to the ancient history of Manipur, notions of salt monopolies and salt as a revenue source evolved during the colonial period in Manipur. The British became involved in local politics and took control of the fiscal policy of the state. Under them, the quantum of salt produced reduced, and salt production itself became more expensive. This paper studies how British business practices, and, later on, an uninterested state government, caused the self-reliant salt economy to become a dependent one.

Past Continuous

In the early 20th century, when K M Munshi was making a name for himself in the literary and cultural sphere of Gujarat, he was both intervening in and departing from the past. Curating elements of the past that suited his equally curated modernity, Munshi exemplifies many connections that become evident of Gujarat in the subsequent years. In this paper, we ask: “What was Munshi’s past?” In other words, whom was he responding to from the 19th century? The period of our inquiry in Munshi’s life is the one that witnessed the famous Patan trilogy. The questions are situated in both cultural history and literature.

Chugging into Unfamiliar Stations

Tracks of Change: Railways and Everyday Life in Colonial India by Ritika Prasad; New Delhi: Cambridge University Press, 2015; pp ix+315, Rs 795, hardback.

Elephant Hunting in Late 19th Century North-East India

This paper explores the interaction between state and society in the management of the elephant as a strategic natural resource in late 19th century north-east India. The management of strategic natural resources aided the British in the task of empire-building. Protective legislation laid down the broad parameters within which a regime of control could function efficiently and effectively. Yet control over various strategic natural resources was far from being â??directâ?? in the complete sense of the word; rather it was contested, often in subtle ways, and negotiated at different levels. Micro-level history of the kind this paper has sought to depict serves to highlight the intricate character of natural resource control by the colonial state.

Representations of Empire

Colonial India and the Making of Empire Cinema: Image, Ideology and Identity by Prem Chowdhry; Vistaar Publications, New Delhi, 2001; pp 294, Rs 450.

Revisiting the Exchange Standard, 1898-1913

So far in this essay on Revisiting the Exchange Standard we have examined the views and pronouncements of the authorities in relation to facts, economic principles, and other reliable views. This has often yielded a more objective account. This part - on Prices, is different. There is the government resolution on the enquiry into prices, and the views of a government statistician and a few economists of some repute, down to 2001; two of them just did not confront the problem. They also stumbled, strangely, on the basic promises of the new standard, and on the unique structure and management of India's external accounts when this has long ceased to be a mystique. Coyajee wrote in 1930, evincing no regard for hard data. Keynes and Austin Chamberlain buried the issue of Prices, by their stony silence. We shall make some amends in Part IV, to view these matters analytically, and in a longer term perspective.

Mode of Labour Control in Colonial India

From the late 19th century onwards, managing agency firms acquired a firm control of most cotton, jute and other mills as well as tea gardens and local mines, while looking at processes of labour control in the Bengal jute mills, the coalfields of Bengal and Bihar and the cotton mills of Bombay and Ahmedabad, this paper probes deeper into the dichotomy that prevailed as industrial capitalism first set up roots in India, for while policy decisions relating to wages, technology, etc, was vested in the managing agency system, disciplining of labour took place at the shop floor and in workers' neighbourhoods. Further, these middlemen, jobbers and agents came to exert overweening influence in the 'culture of coercion' that was thus established.

The Other Side of Foreign Investment by Imperial Powers

In the era of the rise of industrial capitalism and its development in western Europe and the USA the transfer of part of the income from the major colonies played a critical part in boosting investment in western Europe and allowing enormous amounts of investment to be directed towards sustenance of the mass migration of Europeans to overseas colonies such as the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa. However, the size and even the direction of the flow of surpluses have been obscured by the usual methods of calculating the value of foreign trade from the mercantilist era down to the present. The author's recalculation of the surplus extracted by Britain from India and Burma demystifies the astonishment expressed by most commentators about the very large proportion British foreign investemnt formed of its GDP and the apparently perverse desire of the British to retain an empire which was less profitable than, say, investment in the USA. The realisation of the enormous surplus was an integral part of the mechanism by which the white-settled colonies were populated and equipped and therefore could not be treated as a substitute for that process.

Conceptualising Popular Culture

The sphere of cultural studies, as it has developed in India, has viewed the 'popular' in terms of mass-mediated forms - cinema and art. Its relative silence on caste-based cultural forms or forms that contested caste is surprising, since several of these forms had contested the claims of national culture and national identity. While these caste-based cultural practices with their roots in the social and material conditions of the dalits and bahujans have long been marginalised by bourgeois forms of art and entertainment, the category of the popular lives on and continues to relate to everyday lives, struggles and labour of different classes, castes and gender. This paper looks at caste-based forms of cultural labour such as the lavani and the powada as grounds on which cultural and political struggles are worked out and argue that struggles over cultural meanings are inseparable from struggles of survival.

Politics of Leisure in Colonial India

It is possible to read in 'Lagaan' not only evidence of Indian resistance to British imperialism but in the filmic and imaginative mode, a commentary on the evolution and development of cricket in colonial India and an attempt to recover, in fiction, some of the lost history of the game.

Religious Reform and Cultural Revivalism

 Gurus and Their Followers edited by Anthony Copley; Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2000; pp XXII + 235, Rs 475.
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