Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

5 - Integrating an Indian Borderland a Study of Markets and Commodities in Colonial Western Himalayas

Friday, July 6
10:20 AM - 11:50 AM
Location: Silveroak I, Ground Floor

Himachal Pradesh is today widely acknowledged for significant improvements in its social indicators, rising to the top few among Indian states. Economically, its agricultural sector has made a smooth transition to commercialization, through horticulture and vegetable farming. Politically, Himachal Pradesh has also integrated well with the post-colonial nation and its state, not displaying any of the markers of disturbance as expressed in all three neighbouring states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Tibet .

This paper will attempt to provide a partial explanation for this by exploring the colonial antecedents and roots of its post-colonial success. The paper will draw on archival records to look at the manner in which forests, labor, land, primary products, and human beings were commodified in the period between the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. It will then trace the routes of circulation of these commodities  to understand how they altered the region's political economy.

It will conclude by trying to link these changes in the region's political economy during the colonial period to the fortunes--social as well as economic --of post-independence Himachal  Pradesh. It will try to substantiate the proposition that market integration was successful in this state even in the colonial period, relative to its Himalayan neighborhood and that this success had a direct correlation to its contemporary social and political achievements.   

Aniket Alam

International Institute for Information Technology, India

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