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Asian Merchants Of Gujarat And Indian Ocean Trade

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Chapter Summary

During Mughal rule, merchants exerted considerable influence by virtue of their rendering crucial financial services to rulers and officials. With the political ascendancy of the English East India Company (EIC), the dynamic of the engagement between trade and politics changed. The merchant community of Gujarat comprised people involved in various fields of activity. Some merchants were shipowners, others were freighters, inland traders, bankers, brokers, and suppliers. The concept of commercial networks is a better analytical tool for understanding the organisational dimensions of long-distance trade. This was a crucial institutional factor behind the long-term commercial success of Asian merchants. Institutions that facilitated trade, especially the long-distance trade, include network, commercial and financial intermediation, and mechanisms of pooling resources such as partnership, bottomry and respondentia. It transpires from the data on Gujarati mercantile activities that the regions commerce, especially its maritime sector, was vibrant in the second half of the eighteenth century.

Keywords: Asian merchants; English East India Company (EIC); financial intermediation; freighters; Gujarat; merchant community; shipowners



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