Ananya Rammohun – Arthaneetibid, Rajneetibid O Yuganayak
Author: Murari Ghosh;
Year of Publication – September 1998
Progressive Publishers, 37A, College Street, Kolkata – 700073
Starline Press, 19/H/H Goabagan Street, Kolkata – 700073
Laser Compose: Subhodh Press, 6 Dalimtala Lane, Kolkata – 700006
by Sudakshina Kundu
There have been extensive discussions on the multitalented contributions of Raja Rammohun Roy in the fields of Religious, Social and Academic reforms. However, his well considered opinions on Economic and Administrative reforms that were far ahead of his times, have not yet received their due importance. The book under review – “Ananyo Rammohun – Arthaneetibid, Rajneetibid O Yuganayak” by Shri Murari Ghosh, published by Progressive Publishers, is a wonderful insight into his independent and well considered views on economic and political issues of his motherland in the global perspective. His opinions were well ventilated through his many articles and magazines that he had published over a span of nearly twenty years in different languages that could reach to wider audience. He published in Bengali, English and Persians and his views were well known even to the world at large. His views were well accepted by a section of the intellectuals in the West and he was invited as a witness to the meeting of the Select Committee of the British Parliament in the year 1833AD. He was visiting England at the time.
He had often been criticised by many intellectuals on his opinions on the “Permanent Settlement Act’ and ‘European settlement in India”. These Misconceptions have been cleared in this 48 page-long book which is very lucid in its analyses in spite of its brevity.
There was an allegation that Raja Rammohun Roy supported the Permanent Settlement Act that brought unprecedented miseries on the farmers. Rammohun was in fact very critical of the Permanent Settlement Act that empowered the landlord classes, empowering them to extort from their tenants without any restriction. He spoke at length about the helplessness of the farmers under the present system and insisted that this Act should be extended for the farmers as well so that their tax burden would not be arbitrarily increased by their landlords but fixed at a much affordable amount. He advocated that the tax for the farmers be decided after due consideration was given to their circumstances and abilities. He requested for lowering of such taxes so that the burden on the farmers would be greatly lessened enabling them to improve upon their circumstances. The possible loss of revenue could be compensated by imposing taxes on luxury goods as the consumers of luxury items were financially better off than the farmers.
The other criticism levelled against Rammohun was that he favoured the settlement of Europeans in India which amounted to his support of imperialism. In reality, Rammohun was concerned about the drainage of the wealth from India to the West. The Company imposed heavy taxes on the Indians to sustain administrative expenses. Initially the trading companies procured their products from the Indian market by paying in silver imported from abroad. This helped the Indian market by increasing its wealth. But with increase in trade new laws were enforced that prevented export of silver currency. Instead procurement from India was done through Indian currency. The trading houses even had the freedom to mint money. Indian currency started draining in purchasing goods from the foreign markets, funding the wars efforts of England and bearing administrative expenses. The Officers amassed unprecedented wealth which they took back with them on retirement. This led to drainage of Indian capital impoverishing this country.
Rammohun’s prescription to plug this drainage was two folds. He recommended that Indians be appointed to the administrative posts as this would be less expensive than their English counterparts. Further, the drainage of Indian currency that was taken away by the English officers on retirement would stop if they were allowed to settle down in India. Rammohun expected them to invest their funds in development of land and agriculture and this would be beneficial to the local farmers who would learn advanced cropping methods from the west.
This book exhaustively discusses these lesser known facts and casts light on many unknown references and sources of information. The book is an eye opener in many ways than one and deserves to be read. It is in Bengali..