The economic resurgence of South Asia in the last twenty years has revived interest in the history of the region. It has also led to a fresh look at theories of comparative history. Not long ago, economic historians used to ask why India ‘failed’ as a developing nation. Their answers looked at the legacy of colonialism or the legacy of culture. Today, rapid economic growth in the region renders such questions obsolete. We need to ask instead, what were the legacies of the past that could explain the dramatic growth rates in the region; and does the past explain why growth co-exists with poverty? The course will seek answers to these questions.
The course introduces the basic 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.