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Law and Long-Term Economic ChangeA Eurasian Perspective$
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Debin Ma and Jan Luiten van Zanden

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804772730

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804772730.001.0001

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Land and Law in Colonial India

Land and Law in Colonial India

(p.138) Chapter Seven Land and Law in Colonial India
Law and Long-Term Economic Change
Anand V. Swamy
Stanford University Press

This chapter examines the evolution of policies by the Indian colonial state toward property rights in land. Initially, the fiscal imperative predominated: it tried to identify the “owners” of land who could be in charge of collecting the land tax within the existing institutional framework. Indian realities were more complex, however, and the zamindars, the elite identified as the owners of the new property rights, did not play the progressive role they were supposed to. This led to the development of alternative institutional schemes, supported by the growth of the colonial bureaucracy. After the 1857 mutiny, colonial perceptions of what was required changed fundamentally, and the protection of the rights of the peasantry increasingly became the focus of administrative concerns.

Keywords:   Indian colonial state, land rights, zamindars, colonial bureaucracy, 1857 mutiny

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