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By Sugata Bose

This learn attracts on a number of historiographical ways to discover a subject imperative to all discussions of the colonial economic system in India. Bose considers such questions as why peasants borrowed, how credits intruded into peasants' lives and remodeled their global, how we could so much usefully represent the connection among peasants and usurers, and the way borrowers understand their collectors.

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Extra info for Credit, Markets and the Agrarian Economy of Colonial India

Sample text

80When it is remembered that land revenue averages oftly Rs i per cultivated acre against Rs 46 in the case of debt, anci that in interest alone the cultivator has every year to pay nearly three times the whole land revenue of the province, the only grom;id for surprise is that anyone should ever have considered it a serious cause of debt. fall in ,prices. The position now is not so clear. In certain tra,cts, which include all the canal colonies, land revenue no longer bears· th~ E;Xtre~ely modest ratio to income that it did throughout the Punjab little more than a year ago.

Prices then soared in both, land doubled or trebled in value, the standard 36 See Irvine, op. , p. 113. 37 Nicholson, op. , i, 48. , i, 42. Nourse, op. , pp'. 720-1. 40 Carver, op. , p. 275. 41 Carver, SelectedReadingsin Rural Economics,pp. 939-42. 39 38 / CREDIT, MARKETS AND THE AGRARIAN ECONOMY of living rose, and debt greatly increased. No better instance could be given of the close correspondence between even remote countries in their rural problems. EFFECT OF HIGH PRICES The expansion in credit that followed th~ rise in the value of land is undoubtedly the main factor in the increase of debt, but the high prices which came with the-Great War also had something to do with it.

Subsistence loans. These provide important clues for understanding the secrets of the domination exercised by creditors and the apparent willingness to accept the hegemonic appearances that came with subordination on the part of debtors. There is a danger of over-emphasizing the public displays and public discursive affirmations of the power of moneylenders and ignoring the one crucial area where their power sprang from the ability to be inscrutable. This was the sphere of keeping written accounts of debt.

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