We examine the evolution of fishing rights in colonial Bengal through a series of cases heard at the Calcutta High Court in the 1880s and culminating in the passage of legislation in 1889. We posit an implicit relational contract between the colonizing British and the landowning class in colonial Bengal as a way to understand the concurrent evolution of fishing rights and institutions of governance in the region. The system of incentives created by this contract determined the development of fishing rights at a crucial moment in the history of colonial Bengal and, more broadly, became a primary mechanism of institutional change in the region. The analysis also shows the Calcutta High Court to have acted, albeit in vain, as a truly independent judiciary.
Macchi, a Muslim caste of fishermen, from Tashrih al-aqvam (1825)
Friday, February 22, 2019
Fishing rights and colonial government
Shourya Sen and Richard Adelstein recently posted "Fishing Rights and Colonial Government: Institutional Development in the Bengal Presidency". The abstract: