chapter  8
11 Pages

Company raj and Indian society, 1757 to 1857

Re-invention and reform of tradition
WithSugata Bose, Ayesha Jalal

Indian society's negotiation of Western influences and pressures under company raj is a matter of wide disagreement between nineteenth-century writers and contemporary scholars, and also among modern historians of the subcontinent. The 1813 Charter Act, which ended the company's monopoly of trade in India, also provided freer access to Christian missionaries. Company raj redefined Indian forests as separate from the agricultural plains before launching a major onslaught on forests and forest peoples. The company's attempt to draw revenues and commodities from settled agriculture was resisted by zamindars and peasants alike. Some of the most stubborn resistance to company raj came from the tribal peoples. Indian society was astir throughout the period of colonial consolidation under the company state. The colonial information order now devalued knowledgeable people and communities in Indian society. The economic changes being shaped by the tussle between free traders and monopolists also had important knock-on effects on Indian society.