PARCHING THE LAND?: THE CHETTIARS IN BURMA
Sean Turnell () and
Australian Economic History Review, 2008, vol. 48, issue 1, pages 1-25
In the history of Burma's economy, few groups have been as vilified as the Chettiars. A community of Indian moneylenders, the Chettiars were crucial agents in transforming Burma into the rice bowl of Asia. Following the global depression of the 1930s, Burmese agriculture became severely distressed and wide-scale loan default saw the transfer of much of Burma's cultivatable land to the Chettiars, who were demonised and made scapegoats for the vices of colonialism. The paper draws on the 'information-theoretic revolution' in economics to reappraise the role of the Chettiars in Burma. We conclude the Chettiars merit history's better judgement. Copyright 2008 The Authors.
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