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

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White Man's Burden

This essay looks at the colonies of western powers, especially India, and also the manner in which its history was written and is being rewritten. In the works of history written by colonial powers, the word, 'colony', did not figure. Also most works by colonial historians downplay landmark events. At the same time, readers remain unaware of the epochal events of 1858, when by a parliamentary enactment Britain created an all-powerful secretary of state, independent of the British Parliament, governing India in the name of the queen. This Act made the entire Indian top executive subordinate to the 'home government'. The new dispensation under the secretary of state, based in London, also decided on most matters pertaining to India. It is time scholars begin to think more on the period between August 2, 1858 when this Act came into force and August 15, 1947, when the country became independent.

Obituary : Colin Simmons

Colin Simmons, a reputed economist and economic historian, died last May at the peak of his academic career. He pursued a range of interests; especially the study of economic processes in the south Asian subcontinent.

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.

Revisiting the Exchange Standard, 1898-1913

Operations formed the core of the new standard. Curzon's unusual despatch of 1900 began it, permitting free sale of council bills, ostensibly for 'convenience of trade' (words the Chamberlain Commission wished to bury); really to get funds in London faster than accumulating coinage profits. We apprehend that with London's financial market recently internationalised, the India Office-Exchange Banks' tie-up gave them added power over disposition of India's exchange earnings. The Commission justified hurried transfer of large funds to London, for its 'present and prospective ends', using every possible means, some we reveal. All this impinged on a weak economy, precipitating ominous rise of prices, attracting notice of all, the viceroy included, and endangering the welfare of many millions, and perhaps storing up difficulties for the future. We shall turn to that in Part III.

Revisiting the Exchange Standard, 1898-1913

The exchange standard that emerged shortly after the long 14 months of deliberations of the Fowler Committee was styled by Keynes as a gold exchange standard, advocated by Lindsay. But he knew it was really not so. It consisted of a 16d token rupee, unlimited legal tender, freely coined and sold for council bills (or sovereigns, in India), no exchange reserve except coinage profits sent to London, and no legal convertibility of the rupee into sterling or gold, except at London's discretion. The crises of 1906-07 in the US affecting the Bank of England, then famines in India and slackening of world economy, revealed serious cracks. Yet Keynes persisted in shielding India Office.

London's Rejection of Lytton's 1878 Gold Standard Proposal

As silver fell vis-a-vis gold in the 1870s, to remit home charges in gold (on which "The very existence of the British Government in India depends", Lytton) became a problem, worsened by reduced capital inflow, and capital flight. So in 1878 Lytton proposed a gold standard, upvaluing, and making the rupee a token - unconventional and in parts flawed. Experts and the India Office rejected it rudely. This episode is revealed here for the first time, and examined. The historian of economic analysis will detect a likeness of Lytton's proposal with the exchange standard soon to be cobbled by London, and defended by Keynes in 1913.

Why and How, but What about How Much

'Why' and 'How', but What about 'How Much'?
Arun Banerji John Bullion's Empire: Britain's Gold Problem and India between the Wars by G Balachandran; Curzon Press, Surrey, England, 1996; pp 228 + Bibliography and Index. Price not indicated.

A Long Struggle to Escape from Old Ideas

' A Long Struggle to Escape from Old Ideas' Arun Banerji John Maynard Keynes, who died 50 years ago, strove relentlessly for some three decades to break out of the system of thought he had inherited and to found one which interpreted the industrial economies of the 1920s and the 1930s better and allowed them to be managed to serve wider interests.

Technology Transfer in the Raj

Technology Transfer in the Raj Arun Banerji Technology and the Raj: Western Technology and Technical Transfers to India edited by Roy Macleod and Deepak Kumar; Sage Publications, 1995; pp 325 plus bibliography and index, Rs 365 (hb).

Painful Transition

Painful Transition Arun Banerji Transition to Market: Studies in Fiscal Reform edited by Vito Tanzi; International Monetary Fund, Washington, DC, 1993; pp vix + 387 with index, $ 30.

Keynes s Indian Connection

Keynes's Indian Connection Arun Banerji Keynes and India: A Study in Economics and Biography by Anand Chandavarkar; Macmillan, London; pp xiii + 209, price not mentioned.


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