1.2 Rise of Intermediaries
Intermediaries played a very important role in promotion of trade. It includes:
- Commission Agents, brokers, distributors for wholesale and retail trade They helped in expanding trade and brought in huge amount of silver bullion into Asis and large share was in India
- The institutions of Jagat Seths also played an important role during Mughal period and days of cast India company Bankers began to act as Executors and trustees. They charged high rate of interest on foreign trade.
- The emergence of credit transactions and availability of loans enhanced commercial activities. India enjoyed a favourable balance of trade where export exceeded the import.
- Indigenous banking system benefitted the manufacturers, traders and merchants with additional capital funds for expansion and growth.
- Later on, Commercial and Industrial banks also provided both short term and long term loans to traders
Land and water transport was popular during ancient time
- Land Transport: Roads had assumed a key role in entire process of growth. The Northern
Roadways route had streched from Bengal to Taxila There were also some trade routes in south spreading east and west. Trade routes were wide and suitable for speed and safety.
- Waterway Transport Maritime trade was another important way of global trade Malabar Coast on which Muziris is situated has long history of international trade. Pepper known as Black gold was traded through this route. It was search of an alternative route to India for spices that led to discovery of America by Columbus. Calicut Coast was so popular that it was even visited by Chinese ships to acquire essential items from middle east as well as pepper, diamonds, pearls and cotton from India.
1.4 Trading Communities:
In different parts of countries , different communities dominated
- in Northern Regitin Punjabi and Multani merchants handled business.
- In Western India Mahajans were managing trade.
- From South Cherians were important traders
- In states of Guarat, Rajasthan Bhats managed the trade
- In urban centres Mähajan Communities represented their Chief called Nagar Seth Other groups active in urban areas were: Hakim and Vaid (physicians), Wakil (Lawyer). Punde or Mullas (Teachers), Painters musicians, Calligraphers, etc Merchant Corporations
- To protect the interests of traders same corporations were formed, they formed ther own rules and regulations of membership code of conducts, which even kings were supposed to accept and respect.
- Traders had to pay Octroi duties on imported goods, Trade and Industry taxes were alsoa major source of Revenue.
- Customs duties varied according to the communities. Tariffs varied from province to province.
- The ferry tax was another source of income generation. goods, cattle and carts.
- Local bodies used to receive tax.
- The guild (head of Mahajans) used to deal directly with kings or tax collectors and settle the market toll on behalf of all the merchants.
- The guild merchants also acted as custodian of religious interest. They undertook the task of building temples and made donations by levying taxes on their members.
- Due to commercial activities big merchants gain power in society. Major Trade Centres: The following were the leading trade centres in ancient India
- Patliputra: Known as Patna today. It was not only a commercial town, but also a major centre for export of stones.
- Peshawar: It was an important export centre for wool and for import of horse. It had huge commercial transactions between India, China and Rome.
- Taxila: It was a major centre of land route between India and Central Asia It was also a city of financial and commercial banks. It was a place of Buddhist centre of learning. The famous Taxila university flourished here.
- Indraprastha: It was a commercial function on Royal Road. Where most routes leading to east, west, south and north converged.
- Mathura It was an emporium of trade. Many routes from South India touched Mathura and Bharuch.
- Varanast: It grews as major centre of textile industry and became famous for beautiful gold silk cloth and sandalwood workmanship. It had link with Taxila and Bharuch.
- Mithila: Mithila established trading colonies in South China especially in Yunnan.
- Ujjain: Agate. Carnelian, muslin and mallow cloth were exported from Ujjain to different centres
- Surat Textile of Surat were famous for their gold border (zari) Surat’s hundis were honoured in far off markets of Egypt and Iran
- Kanchi Here Chinese used to come in foreign ships to purchase pearls, glass and raw stones and in return they sold gold and silk.
- Madura It was the capital of Pandayas. It attracted foreign merchants particularly Romans for carrying out overseas trade
- Kaveripatta: also known as Kaveripatnam, it was scientific in its construction as city provided loading, unloading and strong facilities of merchandise. It was a centre of trade. for perfumes, cosmetic, scents, silk, wool, cotton. corals, pearls. gold and precious stones.
- Tamralipti: It was one of the greatest port connected both by sea and land with west and far east. It was linked by road to Banaras and Taxila.
Major Exports and Imports Major Exports included Species, wheat sugar. indigo, opium, sesame oil, cotton parrots, live animals and animal products like hides, spins, furs. horns, tortoise shells, pearls, sapphire. quartz, crystals, Lapislazuli granites. turquoise and copper etc Major Imports included Horses, animal products chinese silk, flax linen, wine, gold, silver, tin: copper. lead, rubies, coral. glass amber, etc. Position of Indian Sub-continent in World Economy (1 AD UPTO 1991) (1) Between 1st and 7th Centuries India was largest economy of the ancient and Medieval World Controlling about one third and one forth of the world’s wealth. The country was referred as Swaranbhumi and Swaran deep in writings of many travellers.
(2) The precolonial period in Indian History was an age of prosperity of Indian economy and made the Europeans embark great voyage of discovery. They soon realised the reward of trade in exchange of gold and silver.
(3) Despite of growing commercial sector India was far behind Western Europe in technology. innovation and ideas. It was due to:
- Increasing Control of East India company causing lack of freedom.
- No occurrence of agricultural and scientific revolution.
- Limited reach of education to the masses. All this made India a country which was prosperous but with people who were poor.