16 September, 2012

Trade and Traders in Early Indian Society

Trade and Traders in Early Indian Society

By- Ranabir Chakravarti

Situating trade and traders in the overall agrarian milieu of early India, this book highlights the diversities of merchants and market places, which are not viewed as an undifferentiated category. Chakravarti strongly argues against the perception of declining trade in India during the period AD 500-1000, and demonstrates the linkages of trade at the locality level during this period. The author questions the stereotyped account of early Indian commerce merely in terms of trade in luxuries and draws our attention to transactions in daily necessities. In-depth analysis of maritime commerce in the Bengal coast (c. 200 BC to AD 1300) is a major feature of the book.

The author also explores different, if not sometimes conflicting, attitudes of early Indian society to merchants, who were lauded as patrons to cultural activities and also branded as ‘open thieves’; yet the presence of non-indigenous merchants was always favoured. The settlements of foreign merchants especially in coastal tracts witnessed in different ages remarkable cultural synthesis and coexistence among diverse trading communities. Most significantly, the social and cultural accommodation of several non-indigenous minority groups is inseparably associated with the history of early Indian commerce. The author also examines the role of trading communities in the making of a plural and complex society like India.

Ranabir Chakravarti, Professor, Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi specializes in the social and economic history of early India, with a thrust particularly on the maritime trade of India in the Indian Ocean (c. AD 700-1500).

ISBN  81-7304-695-6    2007   300p.   Rs.295/ pounds 19.99

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