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Financing the Raj


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This book explores the financial relationship between the Indian government, as represented by the India Office, and the City of London during the period of direct British rule. The universally accepted view is that the Office acted in the interests of the City and to the detriment of India. Financing the Raj disputes this conclusion. It argues that India was a constituent part of the City, contributing to and benefitting from its operation through the formation of close symbiotic and trust relationships, the exchange of gifts, the recycling of funds, and, perhaps most significantly, the support of the gold standard.
The book examines the Office's activities from a British and practical perspective. In the first part, the issue and sale/purchase on the London market of Indian government debt is explored. Next, the author discusses the purchase of silver and the 'scandal' of 1912, when the award of a major contract to the family firm of the Under Secretary of State for India led to accusations of cronyism and fraud. The finance of Indian trade, the management of exchange rates and the transfer from India to London of the money needed to meet the Indian government's UK commitments are then investigated. The book concludes with an analysis of the Office's investment role and its management of the three cash reserves held in the capital.
Financing the Raj overturns many myths, demonstrating that those involved in Indian finance did work in the best interests of India and were well aware of the close interrelationship between Indian finance, the City of London and the wider British economy. It will be of interest both to historians of empire and historians of finance.

DAVID SUNDERLAND is Reader in Business History at the University of Greenwich and the author of four monographs and numerous articles on the economic history of London, British Imperialism and nineteenth-century social capital. He is also Series and Collection editor of Pickering & Chatto's Britain and Africa series of source monographs.


One cannot fail to be impressed by the amount of archival research that has gone into producing this volume, nor the sheer amount of detail that Sunderland has managed to fit into a relatively small number of pages. HISTORY

Makes the nances of the Raj more transparent, and sheds new light on the economics of the British Empire in India. BUSINESS HISTORY

A detailed research monograph that describes and analyzes the operations of the India Office in its relationships with the City of London's capital, money, and bullion markets. Those with an interest in those subjects should read it. BUSINESS HISTORY REVIEW

A valuable addition to the administrative history of the British Empire and its gentlemanly arm in the City. It will be the first reference for anyone interested in the Raj's financial operations in London and a source of leads for those wishing to set India's experience in a wider context. Most importantly, Sunderland shows what kept the complex mechanisms of Indian finance in the City in motion and ultimately made them tick. REVIEWS IN HISTORY


First Published: 21 Feb 2013
13 Digit ISBN: 9781843837954
Pages: 256
Size: 23.4 x 15.6
Binding: Hardback
Imprint: Boydell Press

Details updated on 04 Jan 2016


  • 1  Introduction
  • 2  The Issue of Government Loans: Purpose, Location of Issue and Purchasers
  • 3  The Issue of Government Loans: Demand
  • 4  The Issue of Government Loans: Yields, Assets and Repatriation
  • 5  Other London Debt
  • 6  The Purchase of Silver and Other Currency Activities
  • 7  The Finance of Indian Trade
  • 8  Council Bills: Purpose and Nature
  • 9  Council Bills: Price
  • 10  Indian Government Difficulties in Cashing Bills and Other Methods of Remittance
  • 11  Gold Standard and Paper Currency Reserves
  • 12  Home Balances
  • 13  Conclusion
  • 14  Appendix 1: The Recyling of Funds
  • 15  Appendix 2: Finance of Indian Trade
  • 16  Bibliography

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