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

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Ideological Roots of the Permanent Settlement

Ideological Roots of the Permanent Settlement Amalendu Guha THE EIGHTEENTH century was still an age of imperialism of trade. As long as other European nations, remained mercantilist, Britain's Indian possessions in Adam Smith's view were necessary for ensuring free trade with the East. Yet he wrote of colonies as "a most unwholesome liability" for Britain's political economy of capitalism as such. Even a practical man like Warren Hastings, who had enthusiastically taken part in the expansion of -British dominion there, viewed the conqueror's task to be only "to improve the advantages of a temporary possession and protract that decay which sooner or later must end it" (p 159). In such a gloomy milieu, the post-1765 land revenue policy in Bengal drifted like a rudderless boat. It was empiricist and shortsighted, resulting in insecurity of property, oppression and famines. Philip Francis was not an expansionist like Hastings; he was "content with what we possess" (p 158) in Bengal. Yet his attitude differed significantly from that of Hastings; not in respect of just such trivialities, but otherwise. He wanted to play a positive role inasmuch as he aimed at achieving a 'permanence of dominion' and set upon himself the mission "to save this glorious empire" (pp 38 and 90).

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