From Ledger to Budget: British Fiscal Imperialism, 1750-1800

Michael Mann
During the first half of the eighteenth century, the book-keeping of the East India Company in India seems to have been on a sound footing. Yet, from the middle of that century, inconsistencies turned up. Without doubt, this was related to the gradual take-over of revenue rights in Bengal after 1757. In London, too, the Company headed for a financial disaster. It was no longer possible to run the trading company with simple book-keeping whilst it was gradually establishing itself as a colonial
more » ... ower in Bengal. The Company's financial situation in India was permanently beyond control from the 1770s onwards. Extensive legislation in 1782 was implemented to address the financial situation. Eventually, it was the English government which consolidated the "Indian debt" by establishing the "India Budget" in 1788, running parallel to the "National Debt". What had commenced as a problem of book-keeping ended in an overall parliamentary control of the Company's accounting whilst incorporating her financial matters into the public sphere of Great Britain. These "financial cum political operations" made the British Empire viable well into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
doi:10.11588/iaf.2002.33.980 fatcat:l4332cdbq5bllp4dlmvm23kote