Notes on the Class Structure of India


  • D. D. Kosambi





A hundred years ago, Karl Marx was a regular correspondent of the New York Tribune, one of the direct ancestors of today's New York Herald-Tribune. Among his communications was one, published on August 8, 1853, entitled "The Future Results of British Rule in India." Though he knew little of India's past, and though some of his predictions for the future have not been borne out by subsequent events, Marx nevertheless had a remarkably clear insight into the nature and potentialities of Indian society as it existed in his time. "[The British] destroyed [Hindu civilization]," he wrote, "by uprooting native industry, and by levelling all that was great and elevated in the native society." Political unity was imposed by the Indo-British army, strengthened by the telegraph, the free press, the railroad, and ordinary roads that broke up village isolation—all noted by Marx as instruments of future progress. But he stated clearly:

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