In the first article on the series on Indic mercantile collusion with the invaders, we investigate the social composition of the Indic (Hindu, Jain, Sikh and Parsi) mercantile groups that colluded with the invaders, the social characteristics of the merchant groups that made them attractive to the Islamist invaders, their contempt for the indigenous lower castes of India, their transnational trading connections that allowed them to profit, the symbiosis between the invaders and the merchants and the commoditization of all values, including those social and religious.
In the second article on the series on Indic mercantile collusion with the invaders, we focus on the historical collusion between the merchants and the Islamists, starting from the initial invasion in Sindh in the areas that proved detrimental to Indian nationhood, namely: a) funding campaigns of invaders against Indic kingdoms b) enabling the functioning of the Islamist states by funding rulers/nobility and managing their finances c) Enabling slavery of Indics and financing slave trade of Indics d) intelligence gathering for invaders and undermining the morale of resistance against them e) Negotiating with others on behalf of invaders. We also narrate the collusion of the Islamists and the Indic merchants in the time of the Delhi sultanate, the Mughals, the post Mughals and the Islamists in the British era. We also examine how the merchants covered up their collusions in terrible Islamist atrocities with overt religiosity.
In the third article on the series on Indic mercantile collusion with the Islamist invaders, we document how the Islamist rulers cruelly oppressed the peasantry, and contrast it with the concessions they offered the merchants. We document the bonhomie that existed between the highest merchants and the Islamist rulers and the degree of comfort that existed between them, across multiple regimes. We note the various measures that the Islamist regimes took against the farmers and artisans and ignored even threats to their lives during famines, but scrupulously respected the property and profits of the Indic traders, and catered to their trade needs zealously. We note how the powerful merchants exploited the vulnerable peasants and traders, taking advantage of the helplessness of the latter classes. We also note how the peasants and artisans preferred to live under Indic rulers, while the merchants often preferred to live under the Islamist regimes. Finally, we note the disparity in wealth between the commoners and the merchants/nobles in Islamist regimes.
In the fourth article of the mercantile series, we examine Indic mercantile collusion in trade of Indic slaves both within and outside India. We examine the institution of slavery under the Islamist rule and describe how Islamist regimes acquired Indic slaves. We point out that a strong element of religious persecution attended the Islamist slavery systems. We point out the quantum of trans-national Indic slave trade and how Indic merchants collaborated and participated in the trade of Indic slaves to various regions across the world. We also show how Indic merchants bankrolled the slave economies of Islamist regimes outside India.
In the fifth article on mercantile collusion with the Islamist invaders, we note how the big merchants had their interests cared for and how they were exempt from persecution that attended other communities, especially those that resisted the invaders. We also note how the underprivileged classes were forcibly converted or incentivized to convert to the faith of the invaders. We note how many temples built by influential merchants were spared the destruction that befell other temples.
In the sixth article, we begin examining the collusion of the Indic merchants in the various regions of the country, beginning with Gujarat. We examine their values, their organisation and structure and how the Indic merchants expanded rapidly, thanks to collusion with the Gujarat Sultanate. We discover that the merchants indulged in loansharking and tax farming, fleecing the peasants. In contrast to the traders, we examine how the Gujarati society cherished the memory of the outlaws, who robbed the state treasury, the traders and burned their debt notes and account books, freeing the peasants from the clutches of the usurious moneylenders. We examine the overlap between the mercantilism and religion and how the merchants also controlled religion and how they influenced the selection of religious authorities and the performance of religious rites. We also examine how the creditworthiness of the merchants was linked to their religious hold over and status in their communities. Further, we examine their collusion over the various regimes including the Gujarat sultanate, the Mughals and the various East India Companies. Finally, we examine the huge influence and power wielded by the Gujarati merchants over the various rulers (both Gujarat Sultanate and Mughals) and how they were able to influence policies in their favour. We also rule out extortion of the various merchants by examining the roles played by the merchants and the Mughals, and the power equations.
In the seventh article in the series, we focus specifically on the Mughal era. We evaluate how the merchants from the north and west of the country spread to Bihar and Bengal in the train of the Rajput collaborators who destroyed local Hindu resistance to the tottering Karrani sultans. The destruction of the local Hindu resistance made it easy for European pirates to abduct Bengali commoners. The export of local slaves to Afghan and Central Asian markets also has been examined. We also examine the trade routes preferred by the merchants and the influence they exerted on the Rajputs who colluded with the Mughals, and point out that Rajput collusion with Mughals may have been the effect of the influence of the merchants on the Rajputs. We then observe the deep collaboration between the powerful merchants and the Mughals and how the traders performed the duties of treasurers and moneylenders for the Mughals. We then examine how the usury and tax farming by the rich merchants led to repeated famines, slavery, forced conversions and misery for the common people of Bengal. Many temples of Bengal were also destroyed by the invaders, and these invasions were financed by the rich merchants. On the other hand, the merchants enjoyed a general prosperity under the Mughals. Finally, we make a case study of the collusions of the Jagat Seths with the Mughals and how they prospered and influenced the Mughals and the later Bengal Nawabs, to the extent that they could change rulers at will.
In the eighth article of the series, we examine the collusion of the merchants of the current Uttar Pradesh, focussing specifically on Rohilkhand and Awadh. We highlight the extent to which the Hindu farmers of the region were reduced and how the Muslims had been settled in areas which were depopulated due to Hindu revolts and their subsequent slaughter or sale into slavery. The merchants performed the same money lending and tax farming roles for their Muslim rulers and benefited hugely, both socially and economically, from the collusion. We examine how the power equations between the rulers and the merchants, the organisation and structure of the merchants. We note the despoiling of the peasantry to pay off the extortionate rates of interest charged by the powerful bankers, and how the Muslim rulers rewarded the big merchants. We examine the misery of the peasants under the Nawabs of Awadh and the rulers of Rohilkhand and the famines they suffered, and contrast it with the lavish lifestyle of the merchants, and the favours they enjoyed at the hands of the Muslim rulers.