By Angus Maddison
This ebook was once first released in 1971.
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Extra resources for Asia: Class Structure and Economic Growth: India and Pakistan Since the Moghuls
India thus offered highly-paid careers to an appreciable portion of the British middle and upper classes (particularly for its peripheral members from Scotland and Ireland). 3 They stamped out infanticide and ritual burning of widows (sati). They abolished slavery and eliminated dacoits (religious thugs) from the highways. They legalized the remarriage of widows and allowed Hindu converts to Christianity to lay claim to their share of joint family property. They took steps to introduce a penal code (the code was actually introduced in 1861) based on British law, which helped inculcate some ideas of equality.
3 Other means of improving economic status became more frequent under British rule and the beginning of modern economic growth. See F. G. Bailey, Caste and the Economic Frontier, Manchester University Press, 1957, who gives examples of castes in Orissa whose economic status was changed by entrepreneurship as distillers, and who subsequently improved their caste status. 26 THE MOGHUL ECONOMY AND SOCIETY of quitting a village to farm surplus land which was generally available elsewhere, one would have expected the social structure within villages to be fairly egalitarian.
It succeeded in imposing sanctions which held village society together for millennia, and it offered economic conditions and social status which were tolerable for the majority of inhabitants. The strength of village society was that it avoided extreme polarization of economic interests, and gave a portion of the community some stake in the economy, and an inferior group it could look down upon. Untouchables had a sub-human position, but the barrier of pollution prevented them making common cause with the lower grades of caste Hindus, and they were too debilitated and too small a minority to stage a successful rebellion.