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India in the World Economy, 1400-1750
Andre Gunder Frank
Economic and Political Weekly
Vol. 31, No. 30 (Jul. 27, 1996), pp. PE50-PE64
Published by: Economic and Political Weekly
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4404438
Page Count: 15
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World development between 1400 and 1800 reflects not Asia's weakness but its and particularly China's and India's economic strength and Europe's relative weakness in the global economy. For it was all these regions' joint participation and place in the single but unequally structured and unevenly changing global economy that resulted also in changes in their relative positions in the world. The common global economic expansion since 1400 benefited the Asian centres earlier and more than it did Europe, Africa and the Americas. However, this very economic benefit turned into a growing absolute and relative disadvantage for one Asian region after another in the late 18th century. Production and trade began to atrophy as growing population and income and growing economic and social polarisation exerted pressure on resources, constrained effective demand at the bottom and increased the availability of cheap labour in Asia more than elsewhere in the world. Contrary to Marx and Weber, however, this new European participation in world development was not based on any unique development of 'capitalism' nor on scientific 'revolution' in Europe after the Renaissance and, still less, on any exceptional western 'rationalism' inherited from Judaism or Greece. Instead, some Europeans then managed to climb on the Asian economies' shoulders. The Europeans pursued policies adopted by the latterday Newly Industrialising Economies (NIEs), first of import substitution and then increasingly export promotion to and within the global world market. Europeans innovated labour-saving and power-generating technologies that responded to world economic population/resource relations of demand and supply which began to favour the west over the east.
Economic and Political Weekly © 1996 Economic and Political Weekly