Fishing Rights and Colonial Government: Institutional Development in the Bengal Presidency

34 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2019

See all articles by Shourya Sen

Shourya Sen

Wesleyan University

Richard Adelstein

Wesleyan University

Date Written: January 15, 2019

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Fishing Rights, State Formation, Relational Contracts, Colonialism, Credible Commitments

JEL Classification: N55, O13, P48

Suggested Citation

Sen, Shourya and Adelstein, Richard, Fishing Rights and Colonial Government: Institutional Development in the Bengal Presidency (January 15, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3316370 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3316370

Shourya Sen

Wesleyan University ( email )

Middletown, CT 06459
United States
860-685-2348 (Phone)
860-685-2241 (Fax)

Richard Adelstein (Contact Author)

Wesleyan University ( email )

Middletown, CT 06459
United States
860-685-2366 (Phone)
860-685-2241 (Fax)

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