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Dowry Murder: The Imperial Origins of a Cultural Crime

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (July 18, 2002)

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (July 18, 2002)

Another was that the date you paid the revenue was fixed, meaning twice a year the revenue was due and you had to pay it.

Fourthly, you had to pay this revenue in cash. This adds a great number of days to the agricultural calendar because you not only have to harvest your crop, you have to bag it, take it to the market, sell it and your crop arrives at the market the same time as everyone else's so prices are at an all-time low. You get the least amount of cash from it that you ever would and then you have to deliver it to district headquarters revenue office, with the title, to show that you are paying your revenue bill.

Now you ask, what has all this got to do with dowry violence? What happens is: you have one bad year, one bad season. Suddenly you don't have the money to pay. There is a money lender, the British didn't invent that, but he knows that it's a bad season for all farmers. They will all be coming for loans. He raised the interest rate - I have seen the papers to suggest they go up from 18-20% to 48- 60% interest rate! You are never going to get out of this debt. Furthermore, before the colonial period, all loans were unsecured, meaning you didn't really have to produce collateral to get a loan because your loan was miniscule. Occasionally a cow or a bangle would do the trick. Now the British demand the title to your land as collateral to your loan. You know you won't be able to repay it at that interest and the land will then redound to your creditor and you will become a sort of tenant or quasi-slave because you will be repaying this debt.

So when you look around and say, now what other custom is there in the system that can be used, the only other place to look is at dowry. If you have a son, he has joined the army, he has a salary, he is a plum to get, you will put up his price in the dowry you want. Because in the end, the cash you will get you can buy more land in the market or you can get rid of the debt you have. And dowries, at this time, can become totally fluid. Because your goal can be to buy land because there are auctions every season.