Regulating Financial Markets
TCA Ranganathan
DEBT, TRUST, AND REPUTATION: EXTRA-LEGAL FINANCE IN NORTHERN INDIA by Sebastian Schwecke Cambridge University Press, 2022, 345 pp., 1095.00
December 2022, volume 46, No 12

The popular image of the village moneylender is often that of a rapacious scoundrel who impoverishes people by lending money at exorbitant rates, a monopolist who retards the development of free market forces, someone who needs to be eliminated in the name of progress. This line has been propagated both by the government (right from the colonial times through enactments such as the Usurious Loans Act) and the Reserve Bank of India.  However, the actual practice of moneylending is much more complex. The main thrust of this scholarly work is to argue that we must be wary of over-simplification.

The author, Sebastian Schwecke, is the founding director of the Max Weber Forum for South Asian Studies, Delhi, and often writes, using a multi-disciplinary approach, on South Asian history, economics and society. He has been working and researching in Varanasi for over two decades now and considers himself to be an honorary Banarsi. He had recently co-edited Rethinking Markets in Modern India: Embedded Exchanges and Contested Jurisdiction (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Continue reading this review