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Measuring colonial extraction: the East India Company’s rule and the Drain of Wealth (1757–1858)

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Published in Capitalism. 2021, vol. 2, no. 1, p. 154-195
Abstract This paper revisits the relationship between capitalism and colonialism by examining the case of British India under East India Company rule (1757-1858). The Marxist-nationalist historiography claims that colonialism generated a steady drain of wealth and that this drain was responsible for Indian famines, poverty, inequality, and economic retardation. I use the East India Company budgets to measure the extent of the wealth that was drained through three direct channels: oppressive land taxes, unproductive expenditures on the imperial army and civil administration, and the unrequited export of commodities from India to Britain. I conclude that available figures lend empirical support to the Marxist interpretation. There was a drain of wealth and its effects on the underdevelopment of former European colonies deserve further research.
Keywords IndiaColonialismDrain of wealthEast India CompanyMarxism
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NOGUES-MARCO, Pilar. Measuring colonial extraction: the East India Company’s rule and the Drain of Wealth (1757–1858). In: Capitalism, 2021, vol. 2, n° 1, p. 154-195. doi: 10.1353/cap.2021.0004 https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:149178

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Deposited on : 2021-02-15

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