Modern forms of national accounting are widely understood to have emerged within the context of rivalry between the western powers and attempts to manage the economic fallout of World War I. There has been little consideration of the way in which imperialism shaped debates and approaches to national accounting. Providing a close reading of Indian scholar K. T. Shah’s intervention in debates about how to measure the national economy of the 1920s, this article seeks to shed new light on innovative debates within Indian economics in this period. In so doing, it also seeks to draw attention to the ways in which debates about national economy were themselves a site of contestation, and reaffirmation, of colonial power structures in the interwar years.

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