In the light of the great divergence debate, the economic history of Asian countries has attracted increased attention in the past decade. This article brings early modern Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) into the discourse, providing new quantitative evidence on wages, prices, demography and occupations from the Dutch East India Company archives. It is shown that throughout the eighteenth century, Ceylonese living standards were around subsistence level, lower than in Europe, and, until 1760, China.

Burdwan district, with its advantageous position in transportation network and good resource endowments, spontaneously responded to the commercialisation of agriculture. Rice received considerable commercial importance in the second half of the nineteenth century. It found access to new markets within and outside Bengal and consequently rice trade flourished. Rice trade was carried on regularly in an organised way in Burdwan and expanded considerably from the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

This article examines the making of a modern colonial city through the rhetoric of ‘improvement’ and ‘progress’ in relation to water. The reference is to the history of water in the city of Delhi and what may be called ‘the first science of environment’ in a colonial urban context, with a focus not so much on the ‘extent’ of water supply and drainage, and its (in)adequacy in the colonial city, as on concerns around the ‘(im)purity’ of water, narratives of pollution, technologies of purity and the transformations they effected in a colonial context.

Through a case study on the Tata Iron and Steel Company, this article aims to clarify how a large-scale Indian industrial enterprise developed its business strategy in order to expand suitable sales networks in the 1920s, when the consumption pattern of steel changed drastically.

The article explores the link between international economic integration and technological capability in colonial India. The example of the iron industry shows that many new ideas and skills flowed into India from Europe, but not all met with commercial success. The essay suggests a reason why.

How did South Asian societies rebuild their economies following natural disasters?

The colonial dispensation in north Bihar believed that the rivers of the flood plains needed to be controlled. The zamindar became the pivot around which the implementation of these flood control efforts revolved. Along with the railways and roads, the uncontrolled manner in which many zamindary embankments were built led to a deterioration in the flood situation.

The present work examines the changing notion of wastelands and contested rights over it in
Assam in the last 200 years. As the East India Company gradually became aware of this
region, they expressed their serious interest in the wastelands. The initial intervention took
place with the discovery of tea plants in Assam, and the Company administration began to
lease out such lands to the European planters. During the 1830s and 1870s, a significant
amount of such lands was transferred to the planters. It was from the 1870s that the newly

Forest histories have more often than not remained aloof from more broad-based economic histories of agrarian communities. As a result, narratives of the forest economy have focused almost entirely on the process offorest settlement. This article focuses on regional processes of territorialisation associated with revenue and forest settlement in the context of the Kolli Hills.

This article is a history of the last stage of the global smallpox eradication programme, christened in India as the National Smallpox Eradication Programme (NSEP).