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Law and the Economy in Colonial India$
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Tirthankar Roy and Anand V. Swamy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226387642

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226387789.001.0001

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Landed Property: Security and Incentives

Landed Property: Security and Incentives

(p.27) Three Landed Property: Security and Incentives
Law and the Economy in Colonial India

Tirthankar Roy

Anand V. Swamy

University of Chicago Press

The Raj usually conducted its discussions on property rights in the language of economic theory: Secure and well-defined rights would best promote economic development. But in reality practical considerations dictated policy. At the outset the Raj’s main objective was to obtain sufficient land taxes – “proprietary” rights were assigned primarily with this goal in mind. The state acknowledged that others, besides the proprietor, might have customary rights, but it did not have the detailed local-level information to know what they were, nor the capacity to enforce them. So they were only paid lip-service. Over time the Raj responded to political pressures and incrementally provided some tenants in some regions protection from eviction and rent increases. But as the complexity of law increased so did ambiguity and conflict, which was also fueled by other stresses on the economy. Landlord-tenant conflicts escalated and spilled into courts, sometimes overwhelming them. None of this was good for economic growth.

Keywords:   property rights, customary rights, tenants, rent, eviction

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