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Title: Manufacture at the colonial frontier : iron and salt production experiments in the East Indies, 1765-1858
Author: Mishra, Yogesh Ram
ISNI:       0000 0004 2716 7660
Awarding Body: Imperial College London
Current Institution: Imperial College London
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis discusses the fate of British East India Company’s attempts to industrialise iron and salt production in India in 1765-1858. Standard histories of these early manufacturing ventures tell stories either of decline in a flourishing indigenous industry or of the governments’ failures to modernise traditional sectors of commodity production. However, these accounts present simplistic portrayals of the Company’s Indian organisation, the local manufacturing milieu, and of iron and salt production and processing technologies. Crucially, they downplay conflicts among various departments of the Company’s Indian edifice, and divisions within the local social organisation of manufacture. The fact that the fiscal policy of the Company governments significantly influenced both manufacturing and market structure in the period is also overlooked. This thesis, by contrast, decouples the actions of the Indian governments from London’s thoughts and prescriptions. It then analyses the implications of the fragmented and evolving colonial edifice for the local industries of iron and salt. Being sensitive to the social, political and geographical differentiation in the colonial landscape, this work focuses on the iron and salt production at the social and geographical ‘frontiers’. It argues that the Company arrived at workable production arrangements in India through experiments in technology and colonial governance, while also discovering effective ways to govern the local manufacturing population. The experiment-based understanding developed in this work will make the messy and unpredictable development of these large-scale iron and salt enterprises comprehensible. Simultaneously, it will cast light on the critical inputs of hitherto unexamined factors such as pre-colonial production relations and the technological uncertainties inherent in the development of various manufactories. These findings will revise our understanding of the ways in which colonial policy was linked to industrialising attempts on the one hand, and technological change on the other.
Supervisor: Warwick, Andrew ; Woods, Abigail Sponsor: Hans Rausing Endowment ; Imperial College Hardship Fund ; Institute of Historical Research ; Churches Together UK
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral