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Ascertaining Living Standards in Erstwhile Mysore, Southern India, from Francis Buchanan's Journey of 1800-01: An Empirical Contribution to the Great Divergence Debate

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India's position in the Great Divergence debate has remained tentative due to scanty data availability for the medieval and early modern periods. In the years 1800-01, Dr. Francis Buchanan conducted one of the first agricultural surveys in the erstwhile state of Mysore and its adjoining regions. His Journey contains a wealth of information, both quantitative and qualitative, which has not been studied systematically so far. This paper brings together the information scattered throughout his report to construct an aggregate welfare ratio in order to ascertain the overall living standard in Mysore at the turn of the nineteenth century, the eve of colonial intervention in the state. The results from this study have interesting and important implications for the Great Divergence debate. La place de l'Inde dans le débat sur la Grande Divergence est encore incertaine en raison de la rareté des données disponibles pour le Moyen Âge et le début de l'époque moderne. Dans les années 1800-'01, Francis Buchanan mena l'une des premières enquêtes agricoles dans l'ancien Etat de Mysore et les contrées avoisinantes. Son Voyage contient de nombreuses données relatives à cette région, tant quantitatives que qualitatives, qui n'ont jamais fait l'objet d'études systématiques. Cet article réunit les informations disponibles dans son rapport afin de restituer un taux global de bien-être. Il s'agit de déterminer le niveau de vie moyen au Mysore au tournant du XIXe siècle, à l'aube de l'intervention coloniale dans cet Etat. Les résultats de cette étude ont des implications importantes pour le débat sur la Grande Divergence.

Affiliations: 1: Foundation to Aid Industrial Recovery, Bangalore, India


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