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By proclaiming the Permanent Settlement in 1793, the British hoped to promote a prosperous capitalist agriculture of the kind that had developed in England. The act renounced for all time the state's right to raise the assessment already made upon landowners and thus sought to establish a system of property that was, in the British view, necessary for the creation of a stable government. Guha traces the origins of the Permanent Settlement to the anti-feudal ideas of Phillip Francis and the critique of feudalism provided by physiocratic thought, the precursor of political economy. The central question the book asks is how the Permanent Settlement, founded in anti-feudalism and grafted onto India by the most advanced capitalist power of the day became instrumental in the development of a neo-feudal organization of landed property and in the absorption and reproduction of precapitalist elements in a colonial regime.
Guha's examination of the British attempt to mold Bengal to the contours of its own society without an understanding of the traditions and obligations upon which the Indian agrarian system was based is a truly pioneering work. The implications of A Rule of Property for Bengal remain rich for the current discussions from the postcolonialist perspective on the meaning of modernity and enlightenment.
|Preface to Second Edition|
|Preface to First Edition|
|Ch. II||Early Departures, 1769-1772||11|
|Ch. III||The Personality and Politics of Philip Francis||58|
|Ch. IV||The Plan of 1776||91|
|Ch. V||The Progress of the Doctrine||170|
|Ch. VI||First Doubts||201|
|Appendix : 'Of the Territorial Revenues: Under what Title and in what Manner are they to be collected?'||218|