Political Economy History of Pakistan - Part-1


Definitions of Political Economy

During the time of Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, what was known as "political economy" evolved into economics as a discipline. Researchers in this field investigate the evolution of economic thought as it is framed by various political and social contexts, from its philosophical roots to the application and construction of methodologies and tools.

In the twentieth century, the neoclassical viewpoint evolved into "normal science," or textbook economics. The neoclassical approach came to be associated with economics in the same way that Newtonian mechanics came to be associated with physics. The process of normalizing economics, on the other hand, was one of constant intellectual and political ferment, deserving of a book on the political economy of economics. The Austrian and Cambridge wings of the mainstream neoclassical school debated the importance of markets and the role of the state. Fundamental criticisms of the paradigm's assumptions, concepts, conclusions, and engagement were leveled by institutional, Marxian, and corporatist approaches.

This conflict between normal science and ferment continues to exist. On the one hand, it appears that neoclassical economics has triumphed in academia and politics. Economics journals are primarily concerned with unsolved puzzles and relationships that necessitate mathematical fine-tuning within the neoclassical paradigm. Some of the discipline's brightest and most astute practitioners work as policy analysts and policymakers for government and corporate entities. Fundamental critiques of normal economic boundaries, on the other hand, continue to mount. Scholars educated in the field question the discipline's ability to explain even the narrow sphere known as the formal domain of economics.

"Economics" is derived from the Greek words oikos, which means "home," and nomos, which means "law." As a result, the term "economics" was first applied to household management, a viewpoint that was carried over into the work of classical political economy's founding influences, Scottish Enlightenment figures like Francis Hutcheson, and, most importantly, Adam Smith. The term "political" is derived from the Greek word "polos," which refers to the city-state, which was the fundamental unit of the political organization during the classical era. As a result of the control of family and political households, political economy arose.

Other interpretations emphasize how the field of economics has shrunk over time from what was once a broad discipline. Although the term "political economy" is still used, the discipline as it is now understood is not purely political: it is concerned with the industrial activities of individual men rather than interactions between the government and the governed, according to a standard economic dictionary from 1913. Anyway, without delving into a delegate debate on political economy, we arrive at our topic.

India's Pre-Colonial Economy

Moghul India had much to offer Western visitors. From Akbar's time to Shah Jehan's, the court was one of the most brilliant in the world. It was multicultural and religiously tolerant. Literature and painting flourished, and magnificent palaces and mosques could be found in Agra, Delhi, Fatehpur Sikri, and Lahore. The nobility resided in fortified castles complete with harems, gardens, fountains, and large retinues of slaves and servants. They had vast wardrobes filled with exquisite garments made of fine cotton and silk. To meet their demands, a variety of handicraft industries created high-quality cotton textiles, silks, jewelry, decorative swords, and weapons. These luxury industries arose in urban areas. During the Muslim period, the urban population was larger than it had been under Hindu rulers because caste restrictions had previously kept artisans out of towns. The majority of urban workers were Muslims. The primary market for these urban products was the domestic market, but a significant portion of luxury textiles was exported to Europe or South East Asia.

Other items exported included saltpetre (used in gunpowder), indigo, sugar, opium, and ginger. The Europeans had a difficult time finding products to trade for these Indian luxuries. They were able to export a few woollen goods and metals, but the only things the Indians really wanted in exchange and were worth the cost of transporting so far were precious metals. As a result, there was a steady flow of silver and gold to India, which absorbed a large portion of the bullion produced by the Spaniards in the New World. This phenomenon most impressed and perplexed Europeans in their dealings with India.

According to the testimony of European travellers, some of Moghul India's urban centres were larger than the largest cities in Europe at the time. The majority of the luxury handicraft trades were concentrated in cities, and there was a well-developed banking system for transferring funds from one part of India to another. Occupation in urban society was regulated by guild regulation and a hereditary caste structure, but occupational mobility was greater than in villages because town life was dominated by Muslims, or, in some commercial areas, by Europeans.

From the sixteenth century onwards, European traders dominated the export business. Previously, India traded textiles with East Africa, the Persian Gulf, Malaya, and Indonesia. The Europeans established new markets in Europe, West Africa, and the Philippines, and their trading companies established textile, indigo, and saltpetre production centres in Gujarat, Coromandel, and Bengal. For the first time, they introduced new dyeing and silk-winding techniques, as well as large-scale factory production. thirty years after the East India Company's conquest of Bengal.

The upper class's living standards were undoubtedly high during the Moghul period, and there were larger hordes of gold and precious stones than in Europe, but there is substantial evidence that the majority of the population fared worse than in Europe. The Moghul economy appears to have peaked during Akbar's reign (1556-1605) and then declined. At its peak, the per capita product could have been comparable to that of Elizabethan England. When India became a European colony in the mid-eighteenth century, there is little doubt that the economy was backward by West European standards, with a per capita product that was perhaps two-thirds that of England and France.

In a report to the Dutch East India Company summarising his seven years in Agra in 1620-7, Francisco Pelsaert wrote, "the rich in their great superfluity and absolute power, and the utter subjection and poverty of the common people—poverty so great and miserable that the life of the people can be depicted or accurately described only as the home of stark want and the dwelling place of bitte." .. a workman's children can follow no other occupation than that of their father, nor can they marry into any other caste... They have little knowledge of the taste of meat. In the evening, they eat a little khichri made of "green pulse" mixed with rice, cooked with water over a small fire until the moisture has evaporated, and eaten hot with butter; during the day, they munch on a little parched pulse or other grain, which they say suffices for their lean stomachs. Their homes are made of mud and have thatched roofs. There is little or no furniture... bedclothes are scanty, merely a sheet or two, serving both as under- and over-sheet; this is adequate in hot weather, but the bitter cold nights are miserable indeed.

Life expectancy was lower than in Europe, but fertility was higher because marriage was socially and religiously obligatory, and almost all girls married before puberty. Death rates were higher for a variety of reasons. Because of the reliance on the monsoon, agricultural output fluctuated more than in Europe, making famine more common. Health conditions had deteriorated, due in part to a poor diet and in part to other factors. The weather was oppressive. Tropical diseases coexisted with European ones. Because of Hindu taboos against killing rodents and insects, the bubonic plague lasted longer.

Although the Indian economy was the most complex and sophisticated that Europeans colonized, its productivity level was significantly lower than that of Western Europe at the time of the conquest in the mid-eighteenth century. Its relative backwardness was partly due to technological factors, but it was primarily due to institutional characteristics that prevented it from making the best use of its production capabilities. The parasitic state apparatus had a negative impact on agricultural production incentives, which was exacerbated by the effect of 'built-in depressants' within the village, where there was a further hierarchy of exploitation. The productive investment was insignificant, and the economy's savings were insignificant.

The productive investment was minimal, and the economy's savings were invested in precious metals, palaces, and tombs. The predatory nature of the state also had a negative impact on the productivity of the urban economy. In comparison to Western Europe, urban industry and trade had less protection against arbitrary state demands.  Continue

Reference: Class Structure and Economic Growth India and Pakistan since the Moghuls

Post a Comment


Zeeshan Ali said…
What were the underlying political conditions that caused this deterioration of economy, thought, and life style?
Research and Reviews| Finance, economics, reviews, analyses, banks, and political economy are among the topics. ...
Verification: 0a33a83c7e367e3b