Monthly Archives: March 2007

“Beth” in the Simla Hills

This is a seminar paper which I did in Jan-May 1994 as part of my course requirements for the MA in Modern Indian History at the Jawaharlal Nehru University. It is my first foray into researching the history of the Western Himalayas.

Unfortunately the version which survives with me is without footnotes. There were, if memory serves me right, more than a 100 footnotes to this paper, for which I spent a week in the Himachal Pradesh State archives as well as many days in the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library.

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“Beth” in the Shimla Hills.


Unfree labour was central to agricultural production in pre-colonial India. Under colonial impact, these forms of unfree labour, while retaining their outward form, were radically changed in content. In medieval times, the subjects of the king were never `free’ as in the modern sense and all social classes and groups were linked to each other vertically and horizontally in ties of bondage, dependence and patronage. Under colonialism these ties got removed from their socio – economic context of origin and existence, and functioned differently in the new environment. It would be an attempt of this paper to see how and what changes were brought about in the institution of `Beth‘ – forced labour of unfree lower castes – in the Simla Hills under the impact of British rule. Continue reading


Environmental Economics

This is a review of (published in 2000 in The Indian Review of Books)

Environmental Economics, edited by Ulaganathan Sankar, Oxford University Press (Readers in Economics), New Delhi, 2001, pp.viii + 469, Rs. 595 (hardback). Continue reading

Natural Premises

This is a book review of Chetan Singh’s Natural Premises: Ecology and Peasant Life in the Western Himalayas 1800 – 1950, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla and Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1998, pp. 252 + xx. It was published in the Institute of Advanced Studies bimonthly magazine Summerhill in 1999. Continue reading

Preface to Book

This is the preface of Becoming India: Western Himalayas during British Rule, my book, being published by Foundation Books, New Delhi (the Indian arm of Cambridge University Press). It is based on a reworked version of my PhD which I received from the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi in 2002.

Continue reading