The second half of the eighteenth century in Rajasthan was a period of continuous armed conflicts with consequent weakening of the state structure. This perceptive study seeks to examine the growth of agrarian economy in Eastern Rajasthan in the background of prevalent anarchy, laxity in administration and extortionist demands of revenue officials and dominant classes.
It analyses such developments as related to the production system, movement of prices and revenue rates, the pattern of agrarian relations in terms of ecology, the nature of administrative control and the state of rural society. The study also focuses on the stratification in the village society, its impact on the form of production, the working of the land revenue system particularly the relationship between demand and actual realisation, distribution of resources among different constituents of rural society, the nature of inherent contradictions in rural social structure, the authority system in the villages and the role played by the panchayats in containing conflicts therein.
For a proper analysis of economic development in India during s period, it is necessary to look to regional dimensions of these developments - contradictory at times. Using hitherto untapped archival sources and with a fresh focus the study admirably does that, in addition to supplementing earlier studies which have hitherto remained largely confined to eastern India.
Dilbagh Singh did his Ph.D. from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and then taught at the same university at the Centre for Historical Studies. He has published several articles in learned journals.
This book is based on my Ph.D. thesis submitted at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in 1975. In the course of my subsequent visits to the Rajasthan State Archives, Bikaner, I was able to unearth a great deal of new evidence which has been incorporated in the book. This evidence has helped me look at certain features of agrarian economy and rural society from a different perspective.
The present study is meant to provide a new focus on the economic development in India during the second half of the eighteenth century supplementing earlier studies which have hitherto remained largely confined to Eastern India. It is clear that in order to understand various developments sometimes contradictory, in the complex second half of the eighteenth century in India, it is necessary to look into regional dimensions of these developments. In this respect, in addition to Bengal it is only in Rajasthan and Maharashtra that we have documents which enable us to analyse such dimensions of development as relate to agrarian economy, trade, movement of prices etc. Even though the second half of the eighteenth century in Rajasthan is a period of continuous armed conflicts leading to the weakening of the state structure, the region's crucial link with the productive centres of the Gangetic valley on the one hand and the coastal ports of Gujarat on the other gave it an importance far beyond what the productive resources of the region itself could ensure.
I owe a deep sense of gratitude to my teacher Professor Satish Chandra for initiating me into this study and his ungrudging guidance at all stages both in the preparation of the thesis as well as its transformation into a book.
I am also grateful to Professor S. Nurul Hasan and Professor Irfan Habib for their critical evaluation of my thesis and valuable suggest-ions for revising it.
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