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Trade in Mughal India, Mughal Empire Trade

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India witnessed huge growth in Trade and commerce during the Mughal Rule. The Mughals required every article of luxury. There was a market of high consumption. There had been much wealth of Mughal aristocracy. There was therefore a large body of consumers who were willing and able to buy above the line of necessity. Towns and cities grew out of this spirit. There were quite a large number of them. Srinagar, Lahore, Thatta, Karachi, Cambay, Ahmadabad, Surat, Bombay, Poona, Goa, Calicut, Nagapattam, Kanchipuram, Madras, Masulipattam, Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Murshidabad.

Mughal traders could be divided into following categories in accordance with the nature of business in which they involved themselves.

  1. The traders of Mughal age who were involved in large scale business enterprises such as export and import controlling the entire business world of India.
  2. The traders of the Mughal India who belonged to medium group. They had less capital compared to the traders belonging to first category.
  3. The traders own store houses in different parts of the country. Those store houses were located near the market places. They had transport business and they gradually became interested in transporting and sailing goods from one place to another.
  4. Lastly, the small retail sellers and traders in the market places.
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Both Hindus and Muslims of Mughal India belonged to the traders of first category. The most prominent among them were a noted capitalist of Surat who became famous as Virsji Bliohra. Besides a few merchants from Gujrat, Chinna Chetti of South India and Jagat Seth of Bengal specially engaged themselves in export trade, transporting Indian goods abroad. They had their ships and other transport arrangements.

Inland trade and overseas trade also flourished during the Mughal regime. Inland trade, however, belonged to two prominent categories local and provincial. In the Mughal period there was no dearth of towns. Towns were thickly populated. Hence many markets were opened to meet the daily necessities of the urban community.

Land and river transport systems were developed in order to carry on inland trade in different provinces. Roads were constructed, extended and enlarged. An important road constructed during the Mughal rule proceeded from Sonargaon in Bengal to Lahore in the north western part of India.

There were various sea ports in India. India had overseas trading relations with the Arab countries, Persia and Egypt. Besides they traded with various countries of South-East Asia and China. They mainly imported horses from West Asia, silver from Japan and gold from East Indies. There had been increasing demands for European toys and luxury items in India.

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