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Title: The Princely States v British India : fiscal history, public policy and development in modern India
Author: Strachey, Antonia
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 9916
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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This dissertation examines how direct versus indirect rule shaped late colonial India through government finance. Fiscal policy has hitherto been overlooked in the literature on Indian economic history. This thesis considers how revenues were raised and spent in the Princely States compared with British India, and the welfare outcomes associated with these fiscal decisions. Part One examines the fiscal framework through the neglected public accounts. The key finding is that while the systems of taxation were broadly similar in both types of administration, patterns of public expenditure were dramatically different. The large Princely States spent more public revenue on social expenditure. This was made possible by lower proportionate expenditure on security and defence. Part one charts these trends empirically and unearths political and institutional reasons for the differences in fiscal policy between directly and indirectly ruled India. Part Two examines welfare. The study goes beyond previous anthropometric scholarship by assessing the impact of institutions and policies on biological living standards, deploying a new database of adult male heights in South India. Puzzlingly, heights were slightly lower in the Princely States, traditionally lauded for being more responsive to the needs of their populations, especially those of low status. The resolution to the conundrum is found in poorer initial conditions, and caste dynamics. Higher social expenditure and reduced height inequality occurred simultaneously in the States from the 1910s, suggesting policies directed at low status groups within the Princely States may have been successful. I also examine the consequences of Britain's policy of constructing an extensive rail network across the country. Importantly, the impact of railways differed by caste. Railways were good for High Caste groups, and bad for low status Dalit and Tribal groups. This suggests that railways served to reinforce the existing caste distinctions in access to resources and net nutrition.
Supervisor: Oxley, Deborah Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Economic history ; Indian History ; Fiscal History ; War ; India ; Tax