A Rule Of Property For Bengal :An Essay on the Idea of Permanent Settlement
Ranajit Guha
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Permanent Black

“. . . a pioneering work on the intellectual origins
of [the Permanent Settlement]”—Holden Furber (1964)

The infamous Permanent Settlement of Bengal in the eighteenth century was the most disputed step in the agrarian field ever taken in India under British rule. Why did it happen? Written with uncommon elegance, Ranajit Guha’s classic study—a pioneering work in Indian intellectual history—provides the answers by looking at the ideas and thinking of the policy-makers who radically changed the way in which India was taxed and ruled.

Guha considers why European ideas about capitalism in farming and methods of revenue collection were thrust upon a colonial society. He shows that British administrators such as Lord Cornwallis and Philip Francis were far more considerably influenced by the French Physiocrats than by Indian conditions on the ground. He elaborates on the philosophical antecedents of the Settlement in the works of Alexander Dow, Henry Pattullo, and Philip Francis, outlining the contradictions between their views and those of Warren Hastings.

This third, attractively re-set, edition of a seminal work that has been in print since 1963 includes two new essays by Partha Chatterjee and Rudrangshu Mukherjee. Together, they position this book within Indian historiography and reveal precisely why it remains indispensable for anyone involved in thinking seriously about colonial rule and the making of modern South Asia.

Ranajit Guha is probably the most globally influential Indian historian of the past fifty years. Best known as the founding father of Subaltern Studies, his several acclaimed books include The Small Voice of History (Permanent Black, 2009). Renowned at various times as a critical figure in the academic worlds of Calcutta, Sussex, Canberra, and New York, Mr Guha lives for the moment on the fringes of Vienna.

Obituary | Published in the Economic & Political Weekly, New Delhi, 8 July 2023.
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