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Cheesman, David (1980) Rural Power and Debt in Sind in the Late Nineteenth Century, 1865-1901. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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The thesis investigates the exercise and distribution of power in rural Sind in the late nineteenth century. Waderos (great Muslim landholders) dominated the countryside. Their strength derived partly from their landed wealth and partly from their hold over the landless labourers who worked their estates. The Waderos co-operated with the British authorities and their influence over the agricultural population was crucial to the smooth functioning of the local administration. In the second half of the century, however, British officials reported that many Waderos were seriously in debt to Hindu banias (traders and moneylenders); they feared that their estates might pass to their creditors. Banias could not replace Waderos as the leaders of rural society because, being Hindus, they could not command the respect of the predominantly Muslim agriculturists. Government therefore took steps to protect the landed magnates of Sind and preserve the traditional social hierarchy. The available evidence doeS not in fact confirm that Waderos' estates were disintegrating on a large scale. Smallholders were as seriously affected by indebtedness but, until 1901, it was only the Waderos who received help from Government. The new century began with the Waderos firmly entrenched in power, openly championed by the British. The first chapter sets the scene by describing the country, the people and their means of subsistence. The next two chapters look at the organisation of the great estates and the rural power structure: Chapter 2 concentrates on the haris, the landless labourers who cultivated the Waderos' lands, while Chapter 3 discusses the ways in which Waderos' wielded their authority, and considers their importance to the administration. Chapter 4 questions whether or not the great estates were breaking up and examines the significance of the British settlement system. Chapters 5 and 6 are concerned with debt: its causes, its effects and the attempts made to relieve it; Chapter 5 includes an analysis of the bania's operations.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:20

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