The Incorporation of India: The Tata Business Firm Between Empire and Nation, ca. 1860-1970
Raianu, Mircea Constantin
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CitationRaianu, Mircea Constantin. 2017. The Incorporation of India: The Tata Business Firm Between Empire and Nation, ca. 1860-1970. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation examines how and why one single corporation, Tata, acquired exceptional influence on economic and political life in modern India. It does so by charting the expansion of Tata from one of many merchant families, making their fortunes in the cotton and opium trades across the Indian Ocean in the mid-nineteenth century, to the commanding heights of the Indian national economy, with diverse interests in steel, hydroelectricity, chemicals, and aviation by the time of independence in 1947. In parallel, Tata-funded institutions served as conduits for transnational technology and knowledge flows, notably in the realms of engineering, social science, medicine, and atomic research. My analysis shows that private corporations like Tata played a crucial, autonomous role in the construction of national economies – at times acting like a state themselves, at other times in direct opposition to state aims. I argue that Tata’s distinct nation-building role was made possible by three principal factors: extraterritorial financial connections, especially with East Asia and the United States; quasi-sovereign control over land, labor and natural resources within India; and networks of scientific and technical expertise cultivated through strategic philanthropy. In the context of postcolonial development, these converging forms of material and knowledge infrastructure took on heightened significance, but also generated lasting contradictions between the state and private capital across the key temporal divides of decolonization and market liberalization. The dissertation draws on public and private archives in the UK, US, and India, and makes use of the near-complete business records of the Tata firm. Blending economic, cultural, legal, and intellectual history, it primarily contributes to the historiographies of modern South Asia and global capitalism.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:41141253
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