Chatterji, Basudev., “Lancashire cotton trade and British policy in India, 1919-1939”, 1978, Ph.D. thesis, Cambridge, 28-1495 – from the abstract.


 In the later half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, India was a growing market for Britain/a most important industry - cotton textiles. In this period Lancashire influenced Indian tariff policy to such an extent and played such a central part in Indo-British economic relations that it has often been assumed that British interests in India were identical with those of Lancashire. During the inter-war years the decline in Lancashire's India trade was quite dramatic. This startling decline raises a number of important questions. The first problem is the cause of this decline. Since Lancashire's trade with India had flourished under a policy of 'free-trade', how far can its decline be attributed to changes in this policy? What was the official policy and how, far were Lancashire's interests capable of being reconciled with the interests of Britain in the larger imperial and Indian contexts? What were the constraints, both external and internal, under which the policy was formulated and put into operation? What vas the nature of the official relation­ship between London and Delhi after the Government of India Act of 1919?

Lancashire has traditionally been the symbol of British imperialism. In recent writings, she continues to dominate the arguments about the nature of British imperialism in India. The decline of her trade with India has been seen by many writers as the result of a fundamental change in the relationship between London and Delhi and in the fiscal policy of the Government of India, after 1919. In attempting to answer the questions we have posed above, this dissertation also tests the assumptions of these writings.

This dissertation argues that the 1919 Act and the Fiscal Autonomy Convention did not fundamentally altar the strategy of imperial policy in India. Rather they were an attempt to square the circle of Britain's dilemma after World War I. British policy attempted to reconcile a complex range of imperial interests with the overweaning need to keep India firmly within the Empire. Lancashire’s interests had to be accomodated within the larger construct of imperial aims and within the more specifically Indian construct of political and economic priorities. Throughout the inter-war period, Lancashire's economic and political importance did not wane; nor did the changes of 1919-20 in the formal relations between Britain and India entail a significant break in British policy as far as the Lancashire lobby was concerned. What did change was the modus operandi of Government's efforts to secure Lancashire's interests.

This dissertation examines the evolution and the operation of the new economic policy in India - the policy of 'discriminating protection' - as it affected Lancashire and the Indian cotton textile industry. The study pays more attention to ‘policy in operation’ than to ‘policy in declaration’. It examines policy in the context of the hierarchy of imperial interests and the growing constraints on the Government, whether in London or in Delhi. The main focus of the dissertation in on the minutiae of the official process, but it has been viewed as one that was constantly affected by forces emanating from the world outside the narrow circle of the official and the interest group concerned