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Chettiar Moneylenders and Rural Credit in British Malaya


Nattukottai Chettiar moneylenders were a major source of investment capital in British Malaya during the nineteenth century. They gained notoriety when rural indebtedness became an issue in the 1920s and 1930s, but their significance went far beyond loans to small farmers. This article draws together archival material and recent research findings to describe how Chettiar moneylending evolved as firms broadened their business activities, and why an increasingly hostile political environment following the Japanese Occupation led the Chettiars to withdraw from Malaya.

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