The Economic History of South Asia, 1600-2000

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Tirthankar Roy SAR 6.16


This course is available on the BSc in Economic History, BSc in Economic History with Economics and BSc in Economics and Economic History. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

South Asia is one of the fastest growing economies of the world. The region is also home to nearly one-third of the world's poorest people. How did this paradoxical mix between the creation of wealth and persistence of poverty come into being? Does economic history suggest an answer? The course introduces the stylized facts and major debates in the economic history of modern South Asia. It considers the legacies of empires and developmental states, globalizations of the past and the present times, and the role of indigenous institutions and resource endowments. The course begins with a discussion of empires and markets before European colonial rule began, with special reference to maritime trade and craft production, in which the European East India companies were interested in. For the colonial period, the major theme is the transformation engendered by colonialism and international economic integration. In the sixty years since the end of colonial rule, developmental states tried to overcome the obstacles to growth as the economists interpreted them. The course considers how successful they were in meeting the aim, and why they were limitedly successful.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of lectures and 1 hour of classes in the ST.

There will be a reading week in Week 6 of MT and LT.

Formative coursework

Students are expected to write three essays or equivalent pieces of written work.

Indicative reading

1. Dietmar Rothermund, An Economic History of India (1993)

2. B.R. Tomlinson, The Economy of Modern India (2013)

3. Tirthankar Roy, The Economic History of India 1757-2010 (2011)

4. G. Balachandran, ed., India and the World Economy 1850-1950 (2003)

5. Latika Chaudhary and others, eds., A New Economic History of Colonial India (2016)

6. P.J. Marshall, ed., The Eighteenth Century in Indian History (2004)


Exam (100%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.

Teachers' comment

Survey questions on feedback to students may be non-informative because assessed work comes later in the term than the survey.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2015/16: 14

Average class size 2015/16: 14

Capped 2015/16: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information