Changing Profile of The Frontier Bengal
The present volume is not only a chronological record of historical events that decided the political fate, but also the economic history of a trubulent region which the author rightly defines as the South-West Bengal of the eighteenth century. Its territorial jurisdiction began to fluctuate with the addition and deletion of territories as a consequence of internecine fudes between the native chiefs and the alien rulers and also to suit for the latter’s administrative convenience. The period selected by the author for his study starts from 1751, the year of the Treaty between Alivardi Khan and Raghuji Bhonsle I of Nagpur, and extends up to 1833, the year of the passing of Charter Act and that of the dismemberment of the district of Jungle Mahals and of the ruthless suppressions of the sporadic agrarian revolts in the region. This is the period of transition which rang out the outdated feudal agrarian revolts in the region. This is the period of transition which rang out the outdated feudal agrarian economy in the eastern India and heralded the dawn of a capitalist economy in the mid-nineteenth century, noted for the building up of factories and rail roads and associated phenomenon of the steam age in India. Within the eighty years the frontier line of the Bengal Presidency has been continuously extended like the ‘Wild West’ of America till the second half of the eighteenth century. In the course of his patient and persevering research, the author had to face acute paucity of authentic historical literature. He felt groping in the dark specially while searching statistical data regarding the general economic condition of the region which is an outstanding feature of this volume. The early British rule in the Jungle Mahals witnessed a momentous change in the life of the people who, content with their culture and political life were looked down upon as criminals by the officials of the East India Company. The turbulent jungle chiefs were dealt with in a hostile manner by demolishing their strongholds, disbanding their local militia and overpowering their military might. During the period covered by the author’s study, there were revolts of the jungle zamindars in 1765-73, the bloody Chuar Revolt of 1798-99, Khurda revolt of 1817, Ganga Narayan Hangama and the Kol Rebellion of 1833, Sonthal rebellion of 1856 (a year, before the famous Sepoy Mutiny) and the revolt of Surendra Sai of Sambalpur throughout the middle of the 19th Century. Besides describing the significance of the Peasant Resistance Movements (1799-1833), the author also describes creeping degeneration of cotton textile industry, the crisis in the agrarian economy, the growth and decline of silk industry, the fraudulent business practice of Company’s officials and above all the monopoly of salt trade and salt manufacture during this period. It is a unique book of its kind covering both the chronological as well as economic history of the period and should be a ‘must’ not only for libraries in the country and abroad but should also be the proud possession of all private book-shelves.
Born in 1932 Prof. Binod S. Das passed B.A. with Honours in 1953, M.A. in History from Presidency College in 1955 and LL.B from Calcutta University in 1957. He was the first to receive D.Phil. In Arts from the Burdwan University in 1966 on the "Early British Rule in South West Bengal Presidency (1760-1803)" and D.Litt. in History from Ranchi University in 1978 on "Economic History of Orissa (1805-1833)". He is the author of books like Civil Rebellian in Frontier Bengal (1973), Jungle Mahal O Medinipurer Gana Biksov (in Bengali, 1968) and Economic History of Orissa (1978) and many research papers. He served Midnapur College as Head of the Department of History upto 1970, the History faculty of Sambalpur University and in 1975 joined the Department of Humanities, Indian Insitute of Technology, Kharagpur. At present under the financial aid of Indian Council of Historical Research he is working on Economic History of Frontier Bengal (1833-1885) and A Comparative History of the Emergence of a Scientific Community in India and United States in the late Nineteenth Century.
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