Law and the economy in colonial India

Roy, Tirthankar, author

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  • Creator Tirthankar Roy and Anand V. Swamy
  • Format Books
  • Contributors
  • Publication Chicago ; London : The University of Chicago Press, 2016. ©2016
  • Series
  • Physical Details
    • xii, 240 pages : illustrations, map ; 24 cm
  • ISBNs 022638764X, 9780226387642, 9780226387789
  • OCLC ocn931861053


  • Since the economic reforms of the 1990s, India's economy has grown rapidly. To sustain growth and foreign investment over the long run requires a well-developed legal infrastructure for conducting business, including cheap and reliable contract enforcement and secure property rights. But it's widely acknowledged that India's legal infrastructure is in urgent need of reform, plagued by problems, including slow enforcement of contracts and land laws that differ from state to state. How has this situation arisen, and what can boost business confidence and encourage long-run economic growth? Tirthankar Roy and Anand V. Swamy trace the beginnings of the current Indian legal system to the years of British colonial rule. They show how India inherited an elaborate legal system from the British colonial administration, which incorporated elements from both British Common Law and indigenous institutions. In the case of property law, especially as it applied to agricultural land, indigenous laws and local political expediency were more influential in law-making than concepts borrowed from European legal theory. Conversely, with commercial law, there was considerable borrowing from Europe.


  • Includes bibliographical references and index.


  • The process of legislation, 1772-1857 -- Landed property : security and incentives -- Landed property and credit -- Succession of property : joint versus individual right -- Labor law : from "slavery" to trade union -- Contract : late Westernization -- Corporate law : flawed Westernization -- The burden of procedures
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