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The mughal empire : Rural Masses, Agriculture, Growth of Trade

While the wealthy people wore silk and cotton clothes, the poor people wore the minimum cloths. They suffer from insufficient clothing even during the winter. Nikitin observed that the people of Deccan were bare-footed.

The mughal empire :

Rural Masses

 

While the wealthy people wore silk and cotton clothes, the poor people wore the minimum cloths. They suffer from insufficient clothing even during the winter. Nikitin observed that the people of Deccan were bare-footed. It might be due to high cost of leather. Rice, millets and pulses were the staple food of the common people. Fish was popular on the coastal region. While ghee and oil were cheaper, salt and sugar were more expensive. As plenty of cattle were kept by the rural people, milk and milk products were available in plenty.

 

Agriculture

 

An estimate claims that the population of India at the beginning of the seventeenth century was about 125 million. As plenty of land was available for cultivation, agriculture was prosperous. A large variety of crops such as wheat, rice, gram, barley, pulses were cultivated. Commercial crops such as cotton, indigo, sugarcane and oil-seeds were also cultivated. During the seventeenth century two new crops, namely, tobacco and maize were added. Potato and red chillies came later in the eighteenth century. But, no new agricultural technique was introduced during this period. However, India was able to export food items like rice and sugar to the neighbouring countries.

 

Growth of Trade

 

The Indian trading classes were large in numbers and spread throughout the country. They were well organized and highly professional. Seth, bohra traders specialized in long distance trade while local traders were called banik. Another class of traders was known as banjaras, who specialized in carrying bulk goods. The banjaras used to move to long distances with their goods on the back of oxen. Bulk goods were also taken through rivers on boats. The trading community did not belong to one caste or religion. The Gujarathi merchants included the Hindus, Jains and Muslims. In Rajasthan, Oswals, Maheshwaris and Agarwals came to be called the Marwaris. Multanis, Khatris and Afghanis conducted trade with central Asia. In south India, the Chettis on the Coramandal coast and the Muslim merchants of Malabar were the most important trading communities.

 

Bengal exported sugar, rice as well as delicate muslin and silk. The Coramandal coast became a centre of textile production. Gujarat was an entry point of foreign goods. From there, fine textiles and silk were taken to north India. Indigo and food grains were exported from north India through Gujarat. It was also the distribution centre for the luxury products of Kashmir such as shawls and carpets. The major imports into India were certain metals such as tin and copper, war horses and luxury items such as ivory. The balance of trade was maintained by the import of gold and silver. The growth of foreign trade had resulted in the increased import of gold and silver in the seventeenth century. The Dutch and English traders who came to Gujarat during the seventeenth century, found that Indian traders were alert and brisk.

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