Colonialism, Landlords, and Public Goods Provision in India: A Controlled Comparative Analysis

2018-07-10T04:41:41Z (GMT) by Ajay Verghese

What is the impact of colonialism on public goods provision? This article examines India, once the world’s largest colony. While recent studies of the Indian case are divided, they overwhelmingly rely on econometric approaches. This article uses qualitative evidence to provide an important complementary perspective. Using controlled comparisons of the princely state of Travancore with the neighbouring provinces of Malabar and Tirunelveli, I find that colonialism generated less social welfare because British officials empowered landlords. Notably, this occurred despite Malabar and Tirunelveli instituting ryotwari (cultivator-based) land tenure. British rule in India may have promoted landlordism irrespective of land tenure policy.