Indigenous and colonial origins of comparative economic development
The case of colonial India and Africa
in History, historians and development policy

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.


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