By I. Iqbal

This ebook demonstrates how the dynamics of agrarian prosperity or decline, communal conflicts, poverty and famine should be understood extra satisfactorily from an environmental viewpoint in addition to discussions of states coercion and renowned resistance, marketplace forces and dependency, or contested cultures and recognition.

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Additional info for The Bengal Delta: Ecology, State and Social Change, 1840-1943

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A nominal rent or no rent was payable for the first year and the rent increased progressively with the development of cultivation. The rights of under-tenants in the alluvial lands were defined under Regulation XI of 1825, and in the subsequent regulations of 1847 and 1858 these rights were reasserted. 46 There were two ecological peculiarities of chars and diaras which also favoured ordinary cultivators. com - licensed to Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromsoe - PalgraveConnect - 2011-03-05 28 zamindars, they were not compensated by being granted lands formed through alluvial accretions.

Com - licensed to Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromsoe - PalgraveConnect - 2011-03-05 Introduction 11 The Bengal Delta as far as eastern Bengal is concerned, I would argue that the region offered a broader space for ‘anomaly’ until about the turn of the twentieth century when the colonial state began to be more knowledgeable about the interior of the countryside. An uncomfortable fall in state income, caused by the decline of Bengal indigenous industries and the introduction of the Permanent Settlement as well as growing criticism of the company’s role in the occurrence of the famine of 1770 and subsequent deterioration in economic and social well-being, forced the East India Company to take a fresh look at the highly fluid chars and forests of eastern Bengal for the purposes both of generating revenue and mitigating peasant unrest.

For the next two centuries, from the work of contemporary figures such as James Mill and Ram Mohun Roy, these debates seem to have informed two strands of historiography of colonial Bengal. On the one hand, a large number of studies – looking at their subject from a variety of points of view: Marxist, nationalist and imperialist – trace the Permanent Settlement’s mechanism, operation and impact on agrarian society and economy. 1 Between the ‘idea’ of the Permanent Settlement and its perceived practical operations, there has been little focus on its limits in spatial terms.

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