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India on the eve of British Conquest
- Eighteenth century India failed to make progress economically, socially or culturally
- India became a land of contrasts because extreme poverty and extreme luxury existed side by side.
- Though agriculture was technically backward, it was worked by the hard labour of peasants
- They were forced to pay exorbitant amounts to the state, the zamindars, the jagirdars, and the revenue-farmers
- But this worsened under British rule
Trade and Industry
- On account of being self-sufficient in handicrafts and agricultural products, India did not import foreign goods on a large scale.
- Persian Gulf Region – pearls, raw silk, wool, dates, dried fruits, and rose water
- Arabia – coffee, gold, drugs, and honey
- China – tea, sugar, porcelain, and silk
- Tibet – gold, musk, and woollen cloth
- Africa – ivory and drugs
- Europe – woollen cloth, copper, iron, lead and paper
- Cotton textiles, raw silk and silk fabrics, hardware, indigo, saltpetre, opium, rice, wheat, sugar, pepper and other spices, precious stones, and drugs
Important Centres of Textile Industry
- Dacca, Murshidabad, Patna, Surat, Ahmedabad
- Kashmir was a centre of woollen manufactures.
- Maharashtra, Andhra region and Bengal were the leaders in ship building.
- Indian shipping also flourished on the Kerala coast at Calicut and Quilon.
- European companies bought many Indian-made ships for their use.
Status of Education
- knowledge was confined to literature, law, religion, philosophy, and logic
- It excluded the study of physical and natural sciences, technology and geography
- Hindu and Muslim elementary schools were called pathshalas and maktabs respectively
- Children from the lower caste sometimes attended the schools, but female presence was rare
- Society of 18th century India was characterised by traditional outlook and stagnation
- People were divided by caste, religion, region, tribe and language.
- The family system was primarily patriarchal and caste was the central feature of the social life of the Hindus
- The sharif Muslims consisting of nobles, scholars, priests and army affairs often looked down upon the ajlaf Muslims or the lower class Muslims.
Position of Women
- upper class women remained at home, lower class women worked in fields and outside their homes supplementing the family income.
- Ppurdah, sati, child marriage, polygamy did exist which hindered the progress of women.
- Life of Hindu widow was usually miserable.
- Evil of dowry was especially widespread in Bengal and Rajputana
Menace of Slavery
- Higher classes of Rajputs, Khatris and Kayasthas kept women slave for domestic work.
- Status of slaves in India was better than that in Europe.
- Slaves, were usually treated as hereditary servants
- European trading companies purchased slaves from the markets of Bengal, Assam and Bihar and took them to the European and American market
Development in Art, Architecture and Culture
- At Lucknow, Asaf-ud-Daula built the bada Imambara in 1784.
- Sawai Jai Singh built the pink city of Jaipur and five astronomical observatives at Delhi, Jaipur, Benares,
- Mathura and Ujjain. He also prepared a set of time-tables called Jij Muhammad-shahi, to help the people in the study of astronomy.
- In the south, in Kerala, the Padmanabhapuram Palace, famous for its architecture and mural paintings.
- Kanchan Nambiar was a noted Malayalam poet.
- The Tamil language was enriched by sittar poetry.
- Tayumanavar (1706-44), one of the best exponents of sittar poetry, protested against the abuses of temple-rule and the caste system.
- Heer Ranjha, the romantic epic in Punjabi literature, was composed by Warris Shah.
- In Sindhi literature, Shah Abdul Latif composed Risalo, a collection of poems.