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This chapter asks three questions about the British state in India. Why was it poor? How did fiscal capacity matter? What was colonial about the colonial fiscal state? The chapter shows that the poverty of the state had owed to reliance on land revenue. Although reforms in property rights in land delivered a boost to the revenues between 1800 and 1860, the effect wore off. The puzzle is, British India had relatively easy access to the London money market, but reduced its reliance on debt from the last quarter of the nineteenth century. The chapter suggests that the restrained use of debt was a response to the nationalist attack on the ‘drain.’ Weak state capacity did not affect business adversely, but limited the ability of the state to transform a resource-poor agriculture. British India shared with many other colonial territories some of these features; the politics of the public debt made the Indian story somewhat distinct.
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Indian classical music was in transition. Most readings of the transition stress the choices of the professional musicians, as these musicians and the institutions in which they functioned were caught up in political and economic movements such as nationalism and commercialization. This article studies a different type of transition: when a small-town professional group with a strong associational culture became musicians. This second process, standing in contrast to the received narratives, suggests novel lessons in the history of urban cultures during a time of change.