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Corporate Capital in Colonial India: Genesis, Structure and Transformation

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Pages: 53 - 92

As I pointed out in Chapter 1, my aim in this work is to develop an historical analysis of the Indian corporate economy. In particular, I wish to assess to what extent the specificity of Indian corporate capitalism can be used to explain the lack of sustained industrial growth, a phenomena that seems to plague India even today. Broadly speaking, two sets of reasons have been considered in the mainstream literature on development, particularly in the context of liberalisation and structural adjustment: the problems of labour productivity and of firm-level or corporate profitability. My focus here will be the latter, i.e., the problem of corporate profitability. Specifically, I will try to assess whether and to what extent low corporate profitability may have hindered industrial development in India. In this chapter I will examine these questions in the context of the colonial period, spanning roughly the years between 1914–1947.

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