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Introduction

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Chapter Summary

The eighteenth century was a critical phase in the historical trajectory of South Asia. Despite its particular character, this period is a part of the temporal landscape often referred to as pre-colonial or early modern. With the establishment of the Portuguese Estado da India in the early sixteenth century, and even more so with the coming of the European East India Companies to Asia at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Asian economies began to interact more closely and directly with what Immanuel Wallerstein has described as the European worldeconomy. The failure of South Asian political economies to check British domination must therefore be located somewhere within the differential indigenous political and economic structures and institutions of South Asia and Great Britain. Surats pre-eminence in the maritime trade of Gujarat and its position as the largest oceanic terminus in western India was incontestable.

Keywords: European East India Companies; Great Britain; Gujarat; South Asia

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