By Pallavi V. Das
This examine explores the confluence of economic system and ecology in British India, exhibiting that Britain initiated fiscal improvement techniques in India with a view to successfully extract assets from it. It seems to be in particular at how country railway development and wooded area conservation efforts took on a cyclical, nearly symbiotic relationship.
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Extra resources for Colonialism, Development, and the Environment: Railways and Deforestation in British India, 1860–1884
These sources yield much information about the impact of railways as a resource extraction project. Because the railways were under state control and supervision, and also because of the importance attached to them, the state maintained extensive and detailed records on them. As railway construction and operation became dependent on the forests, the state generated a lot of records on the forests, both before and after the formation of an Imperial Forest Department in India in 1865. The use of ofﬁcial documents has also enabled me to examine the state’s economic and ecological interventions.
The deforestation in turn threatened to stop the expansion and operation of the railways and therefore undermine the strategy of colonial exploitation. Because the state was actively involved in the promotion of railways it had to intervene to ensure that raw material and fuel supplies to the railways were maintained. This intervention took the form of implementation of forest conservation by the state. The state’s response to this was mediated by speciﬁc colonial actors such as scientists. Because these scientists acted within the structure of colonial relations, their inﬂuence on environmental, or more speciﬁcally, forest policy, was limited.
Because these scientists acted within the structure of colonial relations, their inﬂuence on environmental, or more speciﬁcally, forest policy, was limited. The colonial actors were able to inﬂuence forest policies only when their suggestions were in tune with the state’s long-term interest of continued resource extraction from the colony. Given their dominance, both in terms of the capital invested and in their impact on trade when compared to other public works, the railways make an excellent window for examining the nature of colonial state intervention in India’s economy and metropole-colony relations.
Colonialism, Development, and the Environment: Railways and Deforestation in British India, 1860–1884 by Pallavi V. Das