About the Speaker:
Nikhar Gaikwad is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University who specializes in international and comparative political economy, with a focus on the politics of economic policymaking, trade and migration, business-state relations, and identity. He has a regional specialization in India, which he studies in comparative perspective with Brazil and other democratic emerging economies. Prior to joining Columbia University, he was a Fellow at the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton University. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University.
About the Lecture:
Conventional wisdom about colonialism suggests that imperial trading relations were a one-way street: trade policy forced colonies to export raw materials to the metropole and, in turn, purchase large quantities of manufactured goods from the empire’s industrial centers, thus hamstringing local industries. Professor Gaikwad argues that this narrative overlooks a critical feature of colonial history following the First World War, namely the devolution of limited representation to key colonies such as India. Using an original dataset of all product-level import tariffs in British India, 1921-49, as well as archival records of local legislative debates and confidential correspondence, he attempts to show that incipient democracy eroded Britain’s ability to shape India’s tariff policy to suit British needs. His findings demonstrate that the introduction of a limited franchise shifted the balance of power in trade policy, illustrating how electoral autonomy reduced the rapacity of colonial power.