People’s History of India series # 25 – Indian Economy under Early British Rule: 1757–1857

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Indian Economy under Early British Rule cover

Irfan Habib

December 2013

9.5 x 6.25 inches
xii+128 pages
ISBN: 978-93-82381-28-0
Rs 280

This volume in the People’s History of India series fills a void in the current literature in modern Indian economic history, which lacks a general account of Indian economy in the first century of British rule (1757–1857). R.C.Dutt’s classic Economic History is now over a hundred years old. The present monograph takes account of both the research and controversies that have taken place since R.C. Dutt’s time, and seeks to present a coherent description of the changes in Indian economy brought about by the pressure for tribute, the British land settlements and the triumph of free trade. In order to set these changes in a proper perspective, it begins by furnishing a survey of pre-colonial economic conditions (in the earlier part of the eighteenth century).A notable feature of the book is its constant reference to how aspects of Indian economy were seen and interpreted by contemporary observers.  This is accomplished partly by a rich collection of extracts from the sources. There are also special notes on current interpretations of eighteenth-century history, the nature of tribute or drain of wealth from India to England, and the scope and problems of historical demography. There are bibliographical notes and a very helpful index. The book constantly keeps in view the needs of the general reader as well as the student. Anyone seeking to understand the major underpinnings of our colonial economy would find in this book much new insight and information.

Irfan Habib, Professor Emeritus at the Aligarh Muslim University, is the author of The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 1556–1707(1963; revised edition 1999),An Atlas of the Mughal Empire (1982), Essays in Indian History: Towards a Marxist Perception(1995), Medieval India: The Study of a Civilization (2007), Economic History of Medieval India,1200–1500 (with collaborators,2011) and Atlas of Ancient Indian History (with Faiz Habib, 2012).He has co-edited The Cambridge Economic History of India, Vol. I, UNESCO’s History of Humanity, Vols. 4 and 5, and UNESCO’s History of Central Asia, Vol.5. He is the General Editor of the People’s History of India, and has authored seven volumes and co-authored two volumes in the series.


The Destruction of Hyderabad

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A.G. Noorani

November 2013

9.5 x 6.25 inches
412 pages
ISBN: 978-93-82381-24-2
Rs 875

The story of the fall of Hyderabad State has been told a good many times. Told mostly by the  court historians’ of Indian nationalism, this study seeks to revise the official historical account of the ‘police action’ (1948) led by the Indian army against the forces and government of the Nizam of Hyderabad. The Destruction of Hyderabad provides a detailed record of the diplomatic exchanges between the Government of India and the Government of Hyderabad during the British Raj, and after partition and independence in 1947, based on archival sources in Hyderabad which remain largely unexplored by scholars. The author has unearthed contemporary diplomatic correspondence, the Sunderlal Committee report on the massacre of Hyderabad’s Muslim population during and after the ‘police action’ (since suppressed by the Indian state), and a wealth of memoirs and first-hand accounts of the clandestine workings of territorial nationalism in its bleakest and most shameful hour. The author brings to light the largely ignored and fateful intervention of M.A. Jinnah in the destruction of Hyderabad, both while he was President of the Muslim League and after he became Governor General of Pakistan. He also addresses the communal leanings of Sardar Patel and his hand-picked Agent-General K.M. Munshi in shaping Hyderabad’s fate. The book is dedicated to the ‘other’ Hyderabad: a culturally syncretic state, a tolerant society, and a rich composite culture which communal forces in India found alien. A.G. Noorani is an Advocate, Supreme Court of India, and a leading constitutional expert and political commentator. He is a regular columnist for Frontline and the author of numerous books, including The Kashmir Dispute 1947–2012, in two volumes (2013); Islam, South Asia and the Cold War (2012); Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir (2011); Jinnah and Tilak: Comrades in the Freedom Struggle (2010); India–China Boundary Problem 1846–1947: History and Diplomacy (2010); Indian Political Trials 1775–1947 (2006); Constitutional Questions and Citizens’ Rights (2006); The Muslims of India: A Documentary Record (editor, 2003); Islam and Jihad: Prejudice versus Reality (2003); and The Babri Masjid Question 1528–2003: ‘A Matter of National Honour’, in two volumes (2003). A third volume of The Babri Masjid Question is forthcoming from Tulika Books.

Working Lives & Worker Militancy

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Edited by Ravi Ahuja

October 2013

9.5 x 6.25 inches
xviii + 330 pages
ISBN: 978-93-82381-21-1
Rs 675

In contemporary India, work for wages expands substantially as a mode of subsistence, while ‘labour’, at the same time, suffers a dramatic depreciation as a political force and as a target of state policy. This is a reversal of an earlier, little understood process that originated in the late colonial period but fully unfolded only in the years of Nehruvian rule. The six essays of this volume reconstruct this now marginalized political history of an ‘age of labour’ from various angles using previously inaccessible police records, rare autobiographical documents and other neglected material. They examine how political conflict, militancy and trade union activism were rooted in the everyday lives of construction workers and artisans, of ‘untouchable’ tanners and sweepers, of seafarers, railway staff and factory labourers, throughout the late colonial period. They analyse how transformed politics of caste intersected with the late colonial upsurge of labour politics. They reassess the complex relationships of nationalist mobilizations and labour movements, of elite politicians and an emergent group of ‘organic’ worker-intellectuals and proletarian militants. They provide meticulous reconstructions of how incidents of labour protest unfolded in India’s varied industrial spaces. They argue, in sum, for a reappraisal of Indian labour history as an eventful politi­cal history. The volume is rounded off by the political memoirs of Bashir Ahmed Bakhtiar tracing his metamorpho­sis from militant worker to trade union leader. The memoirs, originally published in Urdu, are made available in English translation for the first time and provided with a detailed introduction.

Ravi Ahuja is Professor of Modern Indian History at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttin­gen, Germany. He works on various problems of social history, including labour, urbanism, infrastructure and war.

Table of Contents
Aditya SarkarThe City, Its Streets, and Its Workers: The Plague Crisis in Bombay, 1896–98
Shahana BhattacharyaRotting Hides and Runaway Labour: Labour Control and Workers’ Resistance in the Indian Leather Industry, c. 1860–1960
Ravi AhujaA Freedom Still Enmeshed in Servitude: The Unruly ‘Lascars’ of the SS City of Manila or, a Micro-History of the ‘Free Labour’ Problem
Ahmad AzharThe Rowlatt Satyagraha and the Railway Strike of 1920: Radical Developments in the Language of Plebeian Protest in Colonial Punjab
Tanika Sarkar‘Dirty Work, Filthy Caste’: Calcutta Scavengers in the 1920s
Anna Sailer‘Various Paths Are Today Opened’: The Bengal Jute Mill Strike of 1929 as a Historical Event
Ahmad AzharThe Making of a ‘Genuine Trade Unionist’: An Introduction to Bashir Ahmed Bakhtiar’s Memoirs
Bashir Ahmed BakhtiarThe Labour Movement and Me

Cover photograph by Margaret Bourke-White. © Time & Life Pictures / Getty Images.

The picture was taken during a meeting of the Tannery Workers’ Union of Tiruchirappalli between 1946 and 1948, and was first published in Halfway to Freedom: A Report on the New India in the Words and Photographs of Mar­garet Bourke-White (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1949). Most tannery workers in this region were Adidravi­das and children comprised a considerable proportion. The union was supported and influenced by communists. Demands included a minimum wage, extra pay for overtime, a weekly day off and a dearness allowance. However, more far-reaching issues such as health insurance were also discussed at the meeting. (See also the essay by Shahana Bhattacharya in this volume.)

The Kashmir Dispute 1947-2012 – 2 volumes

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The Kashmir Dispute Cover Vol. 1The Kashmir Dispute Cover Vol. 2

A.G. Noorani

Volume 1

9.5 x 6.25 inches
x + 294 pages
ISBN: 987-93-82381-15-0
Rs 500

Volume 2

9.5 x 6.25 inches
x + 838 pages
ISBN: 987-93-82381-16-7
Rs 1500

The Kashmir Dispute 1947–2012 is a book in two volumes which traces the complex history of the long-standing dispute, and the political discontent and dissent surrounding it – relating especially to the question of the accession of the state of Jammu & Kashmir to the Union of India.

Volume 1 comprises a critical and insightful introduction by the author based on recently published material, as well as a selection of both archival and contemporary documents, which highlight some important episodes in the history of the formation of the state of Jammu & Kashmir and provide a background to the current political reality. Volume 2 is a collection of the author’s articles published over the last five decades in various dailies, journals and books. Divided thematically into seven sections – namely, The Indo–Pak Dispute, The Internal Dimension, Pakistan-Administered Kashmir, Russian Views on Kashmir and the Bomb, Foreign Models, and The Endgame – it provides an important perspective to the issues that are raised.

Through these two volumes, the author successfully brings to light many hitherto unknown or forgotten issues and facts relating to the troubled history of this state, supporting his arguments with a rigour that the readers are sure to appreciate.

A.G. Noorani is an Advocate, Supreme Court of India, and a leading constitutional expert and political commentator. He is a regular columnist for Frontline and the author of numerous books, including Islam, South Asia and the Cold War (2012), Article 370: A Constitutional History of Jammu and Kashmir (2011), Jinnah and Tilak: Comrades in the Freedom Struggle (2010), India–China Boundary Problem 1846–1947: History and Diplomacy (2010),Indian Political Trials 1775–1947 (2006), Constitutional Questions and Citizens’ Rights (2006), The Muslims of India: A Documentary Record (editor, 2003), Islam and Jihad: Prejudice versus Reality(2003), and The Babri Masjid Question 1528–2003: ‘A Matter of National Honour’, in two volumes (2003).

A People’s History of India 6 – Post-Mauryan India – 200 BC – AD 300

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Post-Mauryan India

Irfan Habib

December 2012

9.5 x 6.25 inches
xii + 148 pages
ISBN: 978-93-82381-11-2
Rs 320

Post-Mauryan India, 200 BC AD 300: A Political and Economic History, as part of the People’s History of India series, deals with the five hundred years that, in the political sphere, are associated with the dominance of Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Kushans and Satavahanas. The volume also offers a detailed survey of the economy of the period, which saw important changes, in craft production as well as overseas trade. (The changes in the caste system and cultural life during this long period will be treated in a separate volume.) A special feature of the present volume is that the information contained is based on fully updated material. As with other volumes of the series, translations of select inscriptions and extracts from texts are appended to each chapter. There are special notes (by way of technical aids) on the Puranas, the Shangam texts and Kushan chronology; and on Numismatics and elementary concepts of Economics. In addition, there are seven maps and twenty-four illustrations, being mainly reproductions of coins and sculpture.

The book should be of use to both the general reader and the student, in that it covers topics that a people’s history should especially deal with, namely, factors affecting the lives of ordinary people, and also those that history textbooks are normally concerned with.

Irfan Habib, Professor Emeritus at the Aligarh Muslim University, is the author of The Agrarian System of Mughal India, 15561707(1963; revised edition 1999), An Atlas of the Mughal Empire (1982), Essays

In Indian History: Towards a Marxist Perception (1995), Medieval India: The Study of a Civilization (2007), Economic History of Medieval India, 12001500 (with collaborators) (2011) and Atlas of Ancient Indian History (with Faiz Habib) (2012). He is the General Editor of the People’s History of India series, and has authored six volumes and co-authored two volumes in the series. He has co-edited The Cambridge Economic History of India, Vol. I (1982), UNESCO’sHistory of Humanity, Vols. 4 and 5, and UNESCO’s History of Central Asia, Vol. 5.

Planter Raj to Swaraj – Freedom Struggle and Electoral Politics in Assam 1826–1947

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Amalendu Guha

First published in 1977
Revised edition, Tulika Books, 2006
Reprint, Tulika Books, 2012

9.5 x 6.25 inches
xxviii+336 pages
ISBN: 978-81-89487-98-0
Rs 725

This is a re-issue of Amalendu Guha’s influential work on Assam and the Northeast, 30 years after its original publication, with a new Introduction by the author. Guha’s anlysis extends from Assam in 1826, the year of the British annexation, to the post-independence conditions in 1950.

The peculiar features of the region’s plantation economy; the imperialism of opium cultivation; the problems of a stready influx of immigrants and the backlash of a local linguistic chauvinism; peasants’ and workers’ struggles; the evolution of the ryot sabhas, the Congress, trade unions and later of the Communist Party – such are the themes that have received attention in this book, alongside an analysis of legislative and administrative processes.
The narrative is structured chronologically within an integrated Marxist framework of historical perspective, and is based on a wide range of primary sources.

Amalendu Guha is an eminent historian whose work covers twentieth-century Afghanistan, medieval Assam and from the saga of the early Parsi capitalists to tribal unrest in post-colonial Northeast India. Trained as an economist, Guha has taught at Darrang College, Tezpur, the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune and the Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi. He has been Professor of History at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and a member of both the Indian Council of Social Science Research and the Indian Council of Historical Research.

Everyday Lives, Everyday Histories – Beyond the Kings and Brahmanas of ‘Ancient’ India

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Uma Chakravarti

Jan 2006

9.5 x 6.25 inches
ISBN: 81-89487-04-3
Rs. 595

The volume of essays moves the historiography of ancient India in the service of a history of the present.  The cultural onslaught of a brahmanical saffron culture within popular discourse, and the fight against entrenched class and caste interests led by women, dalits and other marginalized groups, frame this battle for ‘ancient’ India.  Through an in-depth analysis of myths and original sources, the author provides novel grounds for contesting the foundations of such charged concepts as ‘nation’, ‘civilization’ and ‘womanly honour’.  Reading against the grain of canonical sources, she presents a distinctive reading of lesser known Buddhist Pali texts, the Jataka stories, and even contemporary texts like the television serials Chanakya and Ramayana, to demonstrate the stratifications in early Indian society.

The book brings to life several crucial concepts and categories that make possible a sensitive delineation of social alienation, class antagonism and gendered violence in ancient Indian society.  The everyday lives and histories of dasas, karmakaras, ‘a’grihinis, bhaktins and gahapatis provide an understanding of ancient India away from the cliched invocations of ideal kings, brahmanas and pativratas.

Uma Chakravarti taught history at Miranda House College, University of Delhi.  Her publications include Delhi Riots:  Three Days in the Life of a Nation (joint editor, 1987), The Social Dimensions of Early Buddhism (1987), Rewriting History: The Life and Times of Pandita Ramabai (1998), From Myths to Markets:  Essays on Gender (joint editor, 1999) and Gendering Caste:  Through a Feminist Lens (2003).