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T.C.A. Raghavan

By V.C. Bhutani
Sterling Publishers, New Delhi, 1976, xiv plus 191, 50.00

VOLUME II NUMBER 5 September-October 1977

This book is a revised version of the author’s doctoral thesis, submitted to the University of Delhi. Being basically an expository account of Curzon’s treatment of the administrative problems of Indian agriculture, the sub-title is a misnomer. The Indian land economy does not figure much in this study. We are informed in the preface that the author steers clear of ‘Marxism, nationalism and economic and sociologi­cal determinism,’ as, ‘ideology warps the understanding of man and incapaci­tates him in the habit of inquiry.’ Also while it is granted that economic and sociological theories can be aids to the study of history, the author’s conviction follows, that ‘it is not imperative to use them as tools.’ After going through the mainly descriptive account of govern­mental policy one cannot help wishing that greater use of economic and sociolo­gical theories had been made to place in proper perspective, and give a better un­derstanding of the agricultural policies of the Raj during the turn of the cen­tury. The book is an account of the deve­lopment of government policy in areas such as revenue assessment and collec­tion, rural indebtedness, credit, land alie­nation and famine relief. The author has relied on private papers and government correspondence to demonstrate the at­tempts of the government to find solu­tions for agricultural impoverishment which could otherwise have grave politi­cal consequences. Most of the efforts in this direction were only half successes because the crucial issue remained land revenue which accounted for the largest single item of the income of government and constituted the heaviest burden on the people. Without fundamental chan­ges in the assessment and collection of revenue, no long term relief could result for the peasantry in most areas of the country. It was not possible for the Raj to surrender its source of income, and hence no appreciable improvement in the condition of the masses, could be hoped for. The account in this study is interest­ing in that it provides a picture of go­vernmental policy at a crucial period of modern Indian history. Curzon’s Vicero­yalty coincided with, and was in many ways a direct provocation to the growth of the nationalist movement. The Cong­ress had taken the first slow steps to transform itself from a debating club into a mass organization. The importance of this political ferment was ...

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