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Deindustrialisation and the Drain Theory: The Contours of Economic Degradation in British India

Gadre, Animesh (2021): Deindustrialisation and the Drain Theory: The Contours of Economic Degradation in British India.

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Abstract

Given the lively debate on the consequences of British colonialism on the Indian economy in the realms of contemporary politics and academia, this paper attempts to trace the development of the economic history of India since the 18th century with a distinct focus on the drain theory of wealth and the question of deindustrialisation. It examines a diverse set of academic publications on this subject and compares the evidence shown by a wide range of authors to arrive at possible conclusions. It is found that the composition of the drain theory of wealth was critically questioned by scholars both home and abroad, and its set of core suppo- sitions remain unsubstantiated. On the other hand, the evidence for the deindustrialisation hypothesis is found to be significant, at least for the regions of Gangetic Bihar and Bengal, during the early 19th century.

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