Abstract

Abstract:

This paper revisits the relationship between capitalism and colonialism by examining the case of British India under East India Company rule (1757–1858). The Marxist-nationalist historiography claims that colonialism generated a steady drain of wealth and that this drain was responsible for Indian famines, poverty, inequality, and economic retardation. I use the East India Company budgets to measure the extent of the wealth that was drained through three direct channels: oppressive land taxes, unproductive expenditures on the imperial army and civil administration, and the unrequited export of commodities from India to Britain. I conclude that available figures lend empirical support to the Marxist interpretation. There was a drain of wealth and its effects on the underdevelopment of former European colonies deserve further research.

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