This chapter posits the heterogeneous origins of comparative economic development, as opposed to their 'colonial origins'. It considers the case of India and Africa, in the nineteenth century. The central Punjab has been the model for the more prosperous parts of the agrarian economy in both India and Pakistan. The chapter describes the nature of the institutions that seem to have contributed to successful and economic development in the longer term despite the existence of an extractive state. Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James Robinson (AJR) argue that there is a strong positive correlation between disease regimes successful European settlement, the generation of 'good' institutions and contemporary wealth. The chapter argues that historical evidence would help us to refine and develop AJR's term 'colonial origins' of comparative development and that pre-colonial and indigenous societal 'capabilities' or 'capacities' in Amartya Sen's sense need to be brought into the equation.
This chapter considers the role of expatriate British liberals, radicals and socialists in India over the long term, while also briefly considering comparable figures in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. There are many studies of the development of anti-colonial thought amongst domestic British political theorists, such as J.S. Mill and Herbert Spencer. But the focus of this discussion lies on British and Eurasian public figures who lived in subject territories for some time and engaged in a constructive dialogue with Asian anti-colonialists. The chapter moves from the 1820s and 1830s, when radicals opposed the “despotism” of the East India Company, along with the first generation of Indian liberal spokesmen, through the age of the early Indian National Congress, which was supported by figures such as A.O. Hume and William Wedderburn, to the role of socialist and even revolutionary British radicals in the 1930s and 1840s. No clear line of political and economic thought united these men and women. For example, in the early days, many British radicals supported free-trade and European colonization; a century later, their successors vehemently opposed both. Instead, the chapter suggests that it was their religious, aesthetic and even sexual unorthodoxy, which characterized activists in this tradition. Their significance lies in the manner in which they helped both to perpetuate empire by empowering modest reforms in government and used imperial infrastructures to advance their critique of colonial rule, a critique they came to co-author with both Asian nationalists and liberal economists.
The substantive and methodological contributions of professional historians to development policy debates was marginal, whether because of the dominance of economists or the inability of historians to contribute. There are broadly three ways in which history matters for development policy. These include insistence on the methodological principles of respect for context, process and difference; history is a resource of critical and reflective self-awareness about the nature of the discipline of development itself; and history brings a particular kind of perspective to development problems . After establishing the key issues, this book explores the broad theme of the institutional origins of economic development, focusing on the cases of nineteenth-century India and Africa. It demonstrates that scholarship on the origins of industrialisation in England in the late eighteenth century suggests a gestation reaching back to a period during which a series of social institutional innovations were pioneered and extended to most citizens of England. The book examines a paradox in China where an emphasis on human welfare characterized the rule of the eighteenth-century Qing dynasty, and has been demonstrated in modern-day China's emphasis on health and education. It provides a discussion on the history of the relationship between ideology and policy in public health, sanitation in India's modern history and the poor health of Native Americans. The book unpacks the origins of public education, with a focus on the emergency of mass literacy in Victorian England and excavates the processes by which colonial education was indigenized throughout South-East Asia.