Flourished Inland Trade:
India’s inland trade flourished during the Mughal period on account of the following reasons:
1. Law and order:
In the words of Dr. Satish Chandra,
“Perhaps the most important factor was the political integration of the country under Mughal rule and establishment of conditions of law and order over extensive areas.”
2. Use of standard currency and measures of weight:
The Mughal rulers issued standard coins and fixed weights and measures which facilitated trade and commerce.
3. Cash payment of revenue:
The payment of land revenue in cash helped a lot in the growth of trade and commerce.
4. Growth of new cities:
Mughal rulers founded several new cities. These cities became centres of trade and commerce. Chief cities of the country were sufficiently presperous. Fitsch wrote, “Agra and Fatehpore are two very great cities, either of them much greater than London and very populous.” Speaking of the Punjab, Terry observed, “Lahore is the chief city thereof, built very large and abounds both in people and riches, one of the principal cities for trade in India. Monserrate corroborates this account. ”
Abul Fazl wrote of Ahmednagar as, “A noble city in a high state of prosperity for the pleasantness of its climate and display of the choicest productions of the whole globe. Burhanpur, Banaras, Patna, Burdwan, Dacca and Chittagong were the other important towns which became centres of trade.
5. Development of industries:
Several industries flourished in India. India’s products of various arts and crafts became very popular not only in India but also abroad. Naturally this led to enormous trade activity.
6. European traders:
The arrival of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English traders led to increased trade activities. During the reign of Jahangir, Sir Thomas Roe had secured some trade concessions.
7. Transport facilities:
The rivers, some of which were navigable throughout the year and some through part of it, afforded excellent means for the carriage of heavy traffic.
Pattern of Trade: main features:
(1) Each village had a small market.
(2) Seasonal and annual fairs attracted a large number of people and traders from the neighbouring villages and towns.
(3) There was a high degree of professionalism among the Indian traders. Some specialized in wholesale trade and others in retail trade.
(4) The wholesalers were called ‘Seths’ and the ‘Bohras’ and the retailers ‘Beoparis’ or ‘Baniks’.
(5) In South India, ‘Chettis’ formed the trading community.
(6) The Banjaras’ specialised in varying trades. They used to move from place to place, sometimes with many oxen loaden with food grains, salt and ghee etc.
(7) The Sarrofs (money lenders) gave money on interest. They carried their money in the shape of Hundis.
(8) There were big traders in India who owned their own ships. Virji Vohra and Malaya Chetti were prominent traders of Surat and Coromandal coast respectively. Virji Vohra was considered to be the richest merchant in the world.
(9) Several big traders lived in important cities like Lahore, Delhi, Agra, Patna, Bhardwan and Ahmednagar.
Following were the main characteristics of the foreign trade of India:
1. Favourable balance of trade:
On account of its extensive trade and quality of goods India exported to other countries and there was inflow of wealth in India. The Voile of Dhaka was supposed to be so fine that the whole packing (than) of it could be passed through two fingers or a ring. It was an item of great demand in foreign countries.
2. Items of export:
Cotton cloth was the most important item of export. European merchants exported ‘malmal’ (muslin) from Dhaka, silk from Banaras and cotton textiles from Surat, Ahmedabad and Madurai. Pepper from Malabar was eagerly sought after by foreign traders. It is estimated that towards the end of 17th century, India had about 25 per cent of the world’s market share in textile exports. Today it contributes less than 1 per cent.
3. Main items of import:
Horses, velvet, decorative goods, guns and gun powder, scents and wine were imported. India also imported dried and fresh fruits. Carpets were imported from Persia and horses from Arabia.
4. Countries having trade with India:
India had trade relations with France, Holland, Portugal, England, Arabia, Egypt, Central Asia, Persia, China, Japan and Nepal etc.
5. Modes of transport:
There were a number of ports on the sea coast of Bengal, Gujarat and Deccan. Land routes were also used.
6. Change in the pattern of trade:
Till the end of the 16th century AD, India’s foreign trade to Europe was in the hands of the Portuguese. In the 17the century AD, the East India Company was formed by the English merchants. The Company set up a factory at Surat, Before the end of the 17th century AD, British settlements grew up at Madras, Bombay, Calcutta, Hooghly and many other places. The Portuguese were pushed back to Goa and the French to Pondicherry and Chander Nagar.