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‘The law of storms': European and indigenous responses to natural disasters in colonial India, c. 1800–1850

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Focusing on collective response to storms and floods in early colonial India, the paper explores obstacles to successful disaster response with one example related to meteorology of cyclones and the other the use of embankments. In both these examples, there was an attempt to build public-private partnerships, which succeeded in the case of weather prediction and failed in river embankment. The failure is explained by two factors. Coordination and contracting were costly when the private partners had variable capacities and interests. Furthermore, whereas meteorology predicted nature, embankments interfered with nature, an intervention which carried social and economic costs.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27550/

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