Financing India's Imperial Railways, 1875ű1914

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2011-09-01
  • Publisher: Pickering & Chatto Ltd

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If there is one part of the British Empire with its reputation still largely intact it is the Indian railways. However, the balance sheet of Indian railways has been skewed over time to exaggerate its benefits and minimize its shortcomings. The costs to India in spending scarce resources on railways in preference to irrigation, sanitation and education have been immense. Sitting at the heart of the raj's project to ‘improve' India, the construction of railways began as a ‘liberal' experiment in 1853, its aims: to promote trade and commerce, to distribute food to famine-stricken regions, and to facilitate the movement of troops. Rather than being a paean to free trade, however, the money came from taxes levied on the native tax-base who were sparsely represented politically, and financiers who held a disproportionate influence over Imperial decision-makers in London. Furthermore, the new markets created by exports of Indian foodstuffs priced these out of the reach of many local people. Sweeney's study focuses in on what was the largest investment project of the British Empire and debunks prevailing ideas about the British Indian experience.

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