Roy’s book provides not just the first systematic overview of natural disasters in Indian history, but an argument for a new discipline of the history of natural disasters..

George Adamson, Journal of Historical Geography.

Economic history of India
Seth Gobind Das, merchant-banker of Mathura, 1880. Gobind Das's family became famous (or infamous) for providing support to the Company's military command during the Indian mutiny

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An exploration of the destructive and regenerative effects of natural disasters.

Roy has performed an important task ..

B.R. Tomlinson, Economic History Review.

Roy’s narration is easy, like that of a storyteller. His analyses, free of jargon, are simple, clear and balanced. The result is remarkable – you can almost visualise the events as you read about them. .. many of the “lay” readers are going to enjoy reading the book.

Shubhajyoti Ray, Economic and Political Weekly.

The first systematic history of the Company written from the perspective of Indian history.

.. provides a timely antidote to [the] continuing and dangerous misreading of colonial Indian economic history.

Deepak Lal (University of California), Journal of Economic History


The theoretical models often applied to Indian economic history, and the ones that I had learnt as a student, assume that colonialism and globalization were the drivers of economic change in the 19th century, and that these forces impoverished India. My research finds a varied effect of colonialism and globalization on the economy of the region.


I believe that any credible account must explain the great contradiction of the economic history of the region: emergence of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras as Asia's foremost business cities, against the backdrop of a poor countryside that saw little change between 1770 and 1970. Marxist historians used to suggest that the prosperity of the cities had somehow happened at the cost of the village. I believe that the two things were unrelated. Exposure to the world economy, made possible by the East India Company and the British Empire, created a robust cosmopolitan capitalism in the three port cities. But the effect of that modernization did not spread far beyond these cities. For the peasants, agricultural workers, artisans, and small merchants, obstacles to betterment arose from high costs of trade and low yield of land, much more than from colonialism or globalization.


The desire to broaden the discourse on economic change led me into exploring geographical factors (resource endowments in traditional agriculture, natural disasters), institutional conditions (business community, colonial law, labour practices), and regional variations within South Asia in respect of these conditions.

Selected journal articles

Consumption of Cotton Cloth in India 1795-1940, Australian Economic History Review, 2012.

Indigo and Law in Colonial India, Economic History Review, 64(S1), 2011, 60-75.

Economic Conditions in Early Modern Bengal: A Contribution to the Divergence Debate, Journal of Economic History, 70(1), 2010, 179-194.

Factor Markets and the Narrative of Economic Change in South Asia, Continuity and Change, 24(1), 2009, 137–167.

The Guild in Modern South Asia, International Review of Social History, 53(S16), 2008, 95-120.

State, Society, and Market in the Aftermath of Natural Disasters in Colonial India: A Preliminary Exploration, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 45(2), 2008, 261-294.

A Delayed Revolution: Environment and Agrarian Change in India, Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 23(2), 2007, 239-250.

Economic History and Modern India: Redefining the Link, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 16(3), 2002, 109-30.

Price Movements in Early Twentieth Century India, Economic History Review, 48(2), 1995, 118-33.


Selected book-chapters

Economic History of India: Ending the Impasse. In Bharati Ray, ed., Different Types of History, New Delhi: Government of India and Pearson Longman, 2009.

 Economic and Political Weekly

    A Grand Synthesis, Review Article on Binay Bhushan Chaudhuri, Peasant History in Late-precolonial and Colonial India, 2009.

    Agrarian Crisis in Interwar India: Retrieving a Narrative, 2007.

    Economic History of India: An Endangered Discipline, 2004.

    Economic History and Postmodern Theory, 2003.


An Economic History of Early Modern India, London: Routledge, 2013.

Company of Kinsmen: Community and Enterprise in South Asian History 1700-1940, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010.

The Economic History of India, 1857-1947, Delhi: Oxford University Press, Third Edition, 2011.

       How to buy this book? See the India catalogue, the USA catalogue, or the UK catalogue.

.. provides a new framework of analysis

Bishnupriya Gupta (University of Warwick), Economic History Review

.. a very good place to begin .. research [on Indian economic history]

Susan Wolcott, Business History Review.

Authoritative economic history of India

Ramachandra Guha

.. a must-read for students ..

.. a first class work of new economic history.

Marcia Frost in Economic and Political Weekly


Bishnupriya Gupta (University of Warwick), Economic History Review

Natural Disasters and Indian History, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2011.