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Volume: III, Issue: I, January-June 2012



Right from the ancient times till independence, India had been ruled by different communities under different reigns. As a consequence, several factors such as political, social, economic, religious and cultural etc., had come to influence the growth and pattern of the urbanization of the country in varying degrees in different time periods. Of them, religious and cultural factors were the basis of the urban growth in the early and medieval era. Although, among the economic factors, trade was the major one to affect the early urbanization. However, clear definitions of trade and urbanization came to India during colonial period. It was found that trade and urbanization went hand in hand in colonial period. Hence the main objective of this paper is to study the growth and pattern of the trade under different reigns and asses its impact on the urban growth and development in the pre- independent India.

Keywords Content

1. Introduction

Right from the ancient times till the establishment of British Empire, different communities had ruled the country. Apart from the cultural and religious requirements that became the basis of growth of towns in the phase of early urbanization, economic factors are basic to urban growth in the pre-colonial and the colonial era. In the pre-colonial era, functions of cities were well-defined. Clear definition of urban towns, in fact, came to India during the colonial rule. Objectives of such demarcation were totally based on the maximum use of rich natural resources of India for purposes of trade [Champakalakshmi, 1996]. And that was also the basis of developing transport network of railways and national highways in addition to water and sewerage networks. Townships and nodal cities grew around this network. The major concern of this paper is, therefore, to discuss the impact of trade and also to assess the nature of urban development and transformation of society through such impact.

India’s history of urbanization can broadly be divided into three eras: a) Ancient and medieval eras lasting up to twelfth century A.D. (b) Pre-colonial era lasting up to mid- eighteenth century A.D. (c) Colonial era starting from  mid - eighteenth century A.D. and ending with the Indian Independence in 1947. It will be discussed in three separate sections. The pre-colonial era can be further divided into two sub eras as Sultanate era and Mughal era. Thus, accordingly, periods of urbanization can be classified into four phases as follows: (1) Early historical urbanization comprising of Indus Valley Urbanization (also called proto-historic urbanization) and Ganges Valley Urbanization (also described as the second urbanization) (2) Medieval urbanization comprising that of Pallava-Pandya and Chola periods (3) Pre-Colonial urbanization comprising that of Sultanate Period, Mughal Era and  also that of Peninsular India (4) Urbanization of the Colonial Period comprising mainly British Colonial Urbanization and other major European Colonizations in different parts of India.

2. Material and Methodology

The relevant data sources are mainly compiled from the secondary sources such as various census reports of different years published by the Government of India, and also from various historical sources. Regarding methodology, this paper uses some of the statistical tools such as graphical representations of charts and diagrams to show the relevant growth trends in trade and urbanization.  In some cases, it also uses the historical maps to show the territorial limits as well.

3. Ancient and Medieval Era

3.1 Early Historical Urbanizations

Indus Valley Urbanization was the first known permanent and predominant urban settlement of proto – historic period (2800 BC – 1800 BC). It is, in fact, an example of primary urbanization, wherein, the rise of cities is solely the result of the internal developments, although not in complete isolation, for external influence could induce such development in varying degrees [Champakalakshmi, [1996]. Evidence of valley’s major cities such as Harappa, Mahenjodaro and Rakhigari reveals similar urban character in a hierarchy of settlement sites, in well planned cities with huge buildings of burnt bricks in urban infrastructure. At Mahenjodaro, apart from other archeological evidences, monumental architecture - their design and orientation with wide roads, elaborate drainage and water supply system together with an enormous public water tank thus provided the then city dwellers with the maximum benefits and basic civic amenities as offered by a modern city. Thus, Indus valley civilization boasted of an advanced and thriving economic system with their involvement in agriculture and allied activities,   ranging from cultivation of food crops (rice, barley and wheat) and other technical cash crops (cotton) to domestication of animals, making up of sharp tools and weapons from metals like copper, bronze, tin. They had also trade links with other cities. Crafts specialization were at rudimentary level with the gradual growth of work force and the specialization of labor, leading to the growth of different types of hand-based industries like textiles, food processing etc. This was gradually followed by the emergence of different classes in the society such as smiths, carpenters, jewellers, goldsmiths, weavers, metal workers etc. on the basis of above specialization of work force. Local exchange network and hence the local trade among them led to the growth of trade and commerce as an essential feature of this urban civilization with consequent growth of strong and prosperous Indus merchant community, both in whole-sale and retail business, and even in external trade. This is evident from close trade links between Indus Valley and Mesopotamia with the discovery of different Harappan articles in cities of Mesopotamia and also that of the Mesopotamian seals in the cities of Indus Valley. It is also known from Acadian sources that Harappans had a trade and cultural links with a number of foreign countries like Dilmun, Magan and Meluha. Of these places, Meluha had been identified with Mahenjodaro. Of not less than so far discovered two hundred and fifty archeological sites, only six sites had been identified as urban centres. Some of them can be mentioned as Harappa (Punjab) and Mahenjodaro (Larkana district of Sind) (the two largest urban centres), Lothal (Gujrat) and Kalibangan (Rajasthan) etc.

The second and early historic phase i.e. Ganges valley urbanization represents a long period of urban growth stretching from sixth century B.C. to third century A.D. With its epicentre in Ganges valley in sixth century BC, expansion of trade in ripples assumed significant proportions by third century BC. Then, it spread over the whole of northern India by third century BC, over Central India, Deccan, Andhra, and through arterial links over Central Asia and West Asia between second century BC and third century AD. The spread of this network into Deccan and Andhra was, undoubtedly, brought about by over-land trade links from third century BC. In fact, this Ganges valley urbanization is an example of secondary urbanization which is the direct outgrowth of expansion of empire, wherein, forts and regional administrative centres were established for political or economic control Champakalakshmi, 1996]. These could act as urban centres of diffusion of the then metropolitan culture. In this way, in India, similar expansion of the Mauryan state induced secondary urbanism in regions like Deccan and Andhra due to the spread of trade and commercial activities from the Ganges Valley. While in post-Mauryan period, Mauryan influence both, in administrative structures and trading networks, would seem to have been predominant. In Peninsular India, with major resource potential, specially, mineral, the impact of “maritime trade’’ was more significant from about second century BC to third century AD. However, in post-Mauryan period, foreign invasions by Persians, Indo-Greeks, Sakas, Parthians and Kushanas brought India’s contact with the foreign countries, establishing,  for the first time, all the commercial and trade links with West Asia and Central Asia. This was beneficial for opening traditional trade routes so that Indian Merchants could derive economic advantage by participating in Chinese silk trade which was carried out between China and Roman Empire [Davies, [959]. It was through Central Asia that India established relationship with Roman Empire, China and other Asian and European countries. Indian exports to the Roman Empire included diamond, spices, cotton goods etc. as against gold and silver imported into India from the Roman Empire. Of the above invasions, Greek invasion was significant in the sense that Alexander’s Indian campaign opened four routes by land and sea between India and Europe for the purpose of trade [Figure 1(a)] [Davies, 1959]. In fact, this early urbanism was not only the result of forces of an inner growth but was of secondary generation induced by inter-regional trade. Such trade links were mainly coastal between Ganges plains, Andhra and Tamil regions and over-land between Tamil regions. More significantly, it was further induced by maritime commerce between South India and Mediterranean West such as Syria, Egypt, Macedonia, Cyrene (Africa), Greece, and subsequently with South East Asia such as Campuchia (Cambodia), Vietnam etc. in which Ceylon (Sri Lanka) was the major entry-pot. It would seem that urban revolution in this period was almost “mystically sudden impulse’’ to change due to external stimuli i.e. “Maritime trade’’. However, the degree of urbanization and the nature of urban forms varied considerably in Deccan, Andhra and Tamilakam (Tamil Nadu) where the impact of Indo-Roman trade was greater and the influence of Mauryan Polity was minimal.

3.2 Medieval Urbanization

Medieval Urbanization may be located within a broad time span of six centuries which characterizes that of Pallava-Pandya rule and continued well into Cola period (i.e. ninth to eleventh century AD). During this period, two levels of exchange were mostly prevalent-(1) Regular local (informal) subsistence level exchange which was intra-regional in nature. This type of exchange was based on barter system, both in day to day transactions and inter-Tinai (zone) exchange and was mostly prevalent in urban forms which emerged in certain enclaves restricted to two eco-zones - (i) Marutam (plains) and (ii) Neital (coastal). Since the Kurinci-Tinai (hilly areas) was particularly rich in resources such as aromatic wood, honey, bamboo and rice, people of Marutam and Neital acquired these resources of hill tracts in exchange for Marutam paddy or Mullai dairy products and salt of Neital respectively. (2) Large scale exchange of goods for goods, and goods for coins at big emporia of trade at Puhar (Kaveripattinam), Madurai, and Vinci was mostly inter-regional in nature. Here, paddy, salt, raw materials, goods like textiles, gems and jewels were the few manufactured products meant for larger exchange network, while paper, spices, pearls, precious stones (Beryl Gems etc.), aromatic woods and cotton textiles had been produced for overseas exchange markets. In the process of establishing inter-Tinai exchange, several few and sparser urban settlements emerged as foci of inter Tinai commercial contacts which formed the criteria of modern urban centres in the interior and also in Marutam and Neital tracts i.e. inland capital and coastal towns respectively. These towns, in effect, represent development of dual centres of powers, each marked by political and commercial importance [Champakalakshmi, 1996].

So, it is possible that the impact of trade, particularly, maritime trade led to the intensification of inter-Tinai exchange which in turn could have provided an incentive for extracting the “surplus’’ of agricultural tracts and channelizing it towards trade. The centres, at which they were exchanged, could well have become the nodal points on trade routes in the process of expansion of trading network. The inland towns could at best be described as consumption points. The luxury goods that entered in the interiors were circulated through networks of kinship patronage, urban clientele (rulers and the elite class) etc. They, being the major consumers of these exotic goods, conspicuously encouraged external trade relations by developing ports of trade. Another important factor was that, as the maritime trade brought the much-needed luxury items as resources for socio–political dominance and patronage, it became important for the rulers to gain monopoly control over the coastal region, adjacent to their mainland through which they could regulate their trade with distant lands. Equally important was their attempt to control areas with rich trade and resource potential belonging to others. Thus, for example, the pearl-rich Pandya coast and the pepper-rich Cera coast would have been the major targets of Cola plunder raids. Hence, the ultimate manifestation of the impact of maritime trade on urbanization of this period had been restricted mainly in certain eco-zones of Marutam and Neital and also in more commercially active market centres and organized towns that emerged and was defined as trade enclaves, particularly, the Pattinams, characterized by greater diversity of occupation and the more complex society. These market centres of exchange, being the foci of long distant trade, were trading stations or the ports on the coast. For example, Uraiyar and Kaveripattinam (Puhar) of Colas, Madurai and Korkai of Pandyas and Vanci (Karuvur) and Muciri of Ceras.

Pallava-Pandya period would represent a stage of incipient urbanism, when the royal centres of ruling families show a similar growth around temples i.e. Kanchipuram and Madurai. As these royal centres were also the markets and commercial centres i.e. Nagarams, they were inevitably a part of expansion of trade network in the subsequent centuries. This led to the growth of organized commerce around these two cities and few other Nagarams, known from Pallava-Pandya records located in only certain key areas linking the capitals with rich Kaveri basin and with coast. Nodal points of such commercial links were at the confluence of the rivers and in delta areas. The ports of Mamallapuram (managaram) and Korkai served as the Pallava-Pandya hinterland (Table 1) [Champakalakshmi, 1996].

The pattern clearly shows that the exchange nexus which was more oriented towards the commercial needs of the market centres, henceforth, brought Southern India into a larger network of inter-regional and overseas trade, and, above all, led to the evolution of full time trading community participation both in local exchange nexus as well as in wider commerce. The emergence of market centres for agrarian regions and a commercial network, linking four major Mandalams or sub-regions, simultaneously coincided with the rise of Colas and the proliferation of the nagarams (market centres) also kept pace with the expansion of Cola power. The distribution pattern of nagarams in early, middle and late Cola phases showed a remarkable increase in the middle phase, not only within the Tamil country, but also beyond its cultural frontiers i.e. Southern Karnataka and Andhra regions. For example, Kongu and Gangabadi showed a conspicuous increase in nagaram centres [Champakalakshmi, 1996]. In consolidating their conquest, the Colas not only renamed their conquered areas – such as Gangabadi into Mudikonda–Kolamandalam, but also founded new nagaram centres like Mudikonda-Colapuram (Kongu regions in Coimbatore district), Rajendra-Colapuram (founded by Raja Rajendra I in Tirunelvelli district) and Nigarili-Colapuram (Malur-patna in Mysore). Other Major Royal centres (or managarams) of Cola regions and significant Cola ports are shown in Table 2 [Champakalakshmi, 1996] and Figure 1b [Davies, 1959] respectively.

The second important development in Cola period took place within nagaram organizations in the form of a further diversification in trading activities due to specialization in marketing and trade. The diversification of this commerce was also reflected in the nature of specialist traders in the markets of Puhar (major emporium on east coast) and Madurai. Some of whom dealt in high value commodities, apart from daily consumption goods. They even bore the names of major commercial centres to which they belonged and also the nature of their trade. Classification of all such specialists is mentioned in the Table 3 (a) and (b) [Champakalakshmi, 1996].

Hence, to conclude, it appears that the impetus to organized commerce came mainly from the revival of peninsular trade. But the expansion of South Asian trade, involving South Asia and South East Asian Kingdoms including China, also played an important role in enhancing the process more from tenth century AD. Together with this, Nagaram network, emergence of the merchant organization to look after the long distance trade, proved to be the major factor of urbanization between the eleventh to thirteenth centuries.

The pattern of external trade and growth of urban centres in Ancient and Medieval era are shown in the Table 4(a), (b) and (c) [Champakalakshmi, 1996], as no differences can be perceived in the basic nature of the urbanization during these eras from overall perspective.   

4. Pre-Colonial Era: (Pre-Colonial Urbanization)

 Muslim conquest in Indian subcontinent mainly took place from eleventh to seventeenth centuries with the Arab attack on the nest of pirates near Modern Bombay to safeguard their trade in Arabian Sea and also their consequent settlements at Indian ports. From that time, with the beginning of the Sultanate era, Muslim rule saw greater urbanization with the rise of many cities and urban cultures in India. The biggest impact was upon trade, resulting from a common commercial and legal system, extending from Morocco in the west to Mongolia in the north-east, and Indonesia on the south east. Islam’s impact was most notable in the expansion of trade. Impact of Islam on Indian culture also had been inestimable as it permanently influenced the development of all areas of human endeavors – language, dress, cuisine, all arts and architectural forms and urban design etc [Choudhury, 1985]. While Southern India was already in trade with Arabs in Medieval times, Northern India found new opportunities in setting up of important centres of trade and industries such as Delhi, Lahore, Bombay, Ahmedabad, Sonargaon, Jaunpur etc. During two hundred years of Mughal rule, the urbanization of India, received a further impetus, as the world had expanded to maximum extent possibly in the pre-Colonial era and India was then the second largest economy in the world. Sher Shah Suri took initiative in improvement of trade by abolishing all taxes thereby encouraging progress of “free trade’’. He built large network of roads and constructed G.T. (Grand Trunk) Road, connecting the major busiest trade route at that time from Calcutta to Kabul.

Both internal and external trade made progress under the Mughal era. Indian goods were in high demand in foreign countries with their permanent markets in Persia, Poland, and Russia and in other European countries like China and West Asia. Apart from Surat (largest port), a large number of cargo ships reached Calicut, Hooghly, Masulipatnam, Balasore and other ports for Indian goods which were to be shipped to East Africa, Malaya, Iraq, Bukhara, Quette through Red Sea and Mediterranean ports and also through overland routes via Khyber Pass [Mukherjee, 1957]. Major imports of horses, bronze, iron, wax were brought in through Goa, Cochin, Quilon (Kollam), Malabar and other port cities of Khambat, Bangalore and Palampores. In Khambat, the volume of trade being such that about three thousand Chinese ships visited this port annually, thus giving an idea of India’s foreign trade during this era. However, Vijayanagar, being the richest and most extensive state in fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, enjoyed both voluminous maritime trade with diverse countries such as Persia, Arabia, Malayan Archipelago, Burma, China, Portugal and numerous islands in Indian Ocean (Figure 2a and 2b) [Davies, 1959].

Thus, India had enjoyed favorable balance in her trade relations with other countries with her earnings from various exports of textiles, spices, indigo, gold, silver, diamonds etc. alone amounting up to crores of rupees. The prime urban centres during this era were Agra, Delhi, Lahore, Multan, Thatta and Srinagar in the north, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bombay, Khambat, Ujjain and Patan (Gujrat) in the west, Bengal, Dacca (Dhaka), Hooghly, Patna, Chitgaon and Murshidabad in the east (Table 5) [Mukherjee, 1957]. The growth of indigenous cotton textiles, weaving, sugar, iron and ship building industries etc together with the consequent increased employment of millions in those industries led to the gradual growth of the above flourishing cities as booming industrial trade centres which boasted of sizeable population. The industrial population of these centres was divided into two classes, namely, village artisans (handicraftsman) and urban craftsman. The former satisfied the needs of village population while the latter satisfied that of the aristocrats and elite classes respectively living in commercial towns.

During the pre – colonial period, both the growth and the pattern of trade had undergone a major change with further focus on both the inter- regional and the intra – regional trade within the country. In 1720, major trade routes had converged on the imperial capitals of Delhi and Agra. The major striking trade route later in 1780 was that they also survived in spite of substantial rerouting and local decline. Another feature of the situation in 1780 was the importance of the cross country trade routes between the natural surplus areas and stronger polities which criss crossed the older, arterial routes of the Mughal periods. The rise of Awadh, Marathas and Rohillas had enhanced their importance in the general scheme of medium and the long distance trade. It is even possible to make out at least five flourishing cross country trade routes which intersected the Ganges, Jamuna and the GT Road as they moved from north to south. The rise of these cross country trade routes was closely connected with continued economic growth in the more stable agricultural areas and the state building in the central India. Of them the best route is that from Bengal via Benaras and Mirzapur to Jabbalpur and the Deccan. According to K.P. Mishra, it was the most valuable of Benaras transit trade. By 1780, Benaras region had become the financial and commercial cross roads for the whole subcontinent, together with Mirzapur and Ghazipur, thus controlling the south west and the north east routes which had converged on Delhi and Agra in the earlier years. Benaras was one of the fastest growing cities during the years 1750-90. It became the subcontinent’s inland commercial capital after the decline of Murshidabad in Bengal in 1757. It received immigrant merchant capital from the whole of the northern India and stood astride the growing trade route from Bengal to the Maratha territories. This was because the evidence for commercialization in this relatively prosperous and stable hinterland of Benares on the eve of British rule implies an integrated existing produce market which included bulky commodities such as timber, stone, wood, and basic food grains as well as high value commodities. Local specialization was also evident as production of cotton, vegetables, opium, and indigo was also specialized, intensive and profitable. As a result, Benaras cotton imported from south so that its small crop of higher value cotton would be used for quality handicrafts. River trade was well developed and land transport between intermediate markets and ganjs seem to have been surprisingly rapid. Regarding the commodity composition of trade, the salt and grain trades were the two great voluminous trades of the pre-colonial period. It was pre-eminently a ‘treaty trade’ subject to close state control in production, distribution and marketing (Bayly, [1983]). The viability of the salt trade, as a bulk trade, was important as it played an important part in the survival of Agra, Farukkabad and Allahabad as major centres of transit trade during this period. Not only that salt trade also worked to tie the traders of major towns to the dealers of smaller centres thus linking the cities to the peasant haths in a classic urban hierarchy. But inspite of the existence of supportive and flourishing grain markets, foodgrains trade did not appear to have promoted large urban concentrations to the extent which it did in case of salt and spice, or middle range cloth trades. The reason for this was the limited extent of interregional specialization in basic foodgrains which had made the regional trade more spasmodic. So the absence of a strong, interregional specialization and trade in foodgrains imposed definite limits on the level of urbanization in India.

The pre-colonial period traces, in general terms, the relationship between rulers, commerce and the markets which centred parts of the countryside as it developed later between 1770 and 1870. In much of the Northern India, decentralization of political power during the eighteenth century encouraged the further growth of a rooted service gentry and a homogeneous merchant class operating around small town centres. This north Indian merchant family, corporate trading institutions of merchant class and gentry were modified, but they remained the basis of the commerce and political life of the later colonial period, particularly after 1857, with the galvanization of the society by canals, railways and new export trades. The history of these urban, mercantile and service people was broadly moulded by the following influences. First, commercialization, associated with the significant expansion in the east of the Ganges valley together with no greater fall off in the agricultural activity in the northern India during the century, had increased rapidly the opportunities for export outside India. Secondly, external trade to Bengal, Europe and China further speeded up the growth of commercial production in the countryside, being converged with the stimulus to cash crop production and market foundation, which was provided by the pre- colonial states, thus, pushing the towns through boom and slump. But it is important not to lose sight of the regional variations in the culture and organizations of the eighteenth century ruling classes. These differences created patterns in commerce, in the incidence of towns and markets or in the organization of the agrarian production which persisted in the colonial period. The greater density of the market towns in the west of the regions was one pre- condition for the more dynamic agricultural and artisan production which existed there well before the coming of the British canals and railways in the mid-nineteenth century [Bayly, 1983].

Sketchy evidence available regarding the quantitative changes in the agricultural economy of the Ganges valley suggests that there was no massive decline in overall production even though there was considerable physical movement of resources. Moreover, there is a strong evidence for economic growth and social change in the most stable core areas, particularly, the principalities of the west such as Awadh and Benaras which had probably sustained commercialization, local agricultural and artisan specialization and a growth of urban population since the late seventeenth century. This early urbanization was consolidated by the settlement in the region after 1720. In this connection reference may be made of the establishment of forty two such ganjs or fixed bazaars, indicating a higher level of economic activity than the biweekly peasant markets or 'haats' in the trans- Ganges. The foundation of ganjs was however an acknowledgement of the existence of trade in sufficient bulk, comprising of some wholesale traders, a number of commission agents, permanent moneylenders. In the settled areas, new ganjs centralized trade, but also stimulated it by encouraging the economies of scale among traders and providing more ready access to credit for peasant farmers. Ganjs founded in the marginal areas, had a significant effect, thus, playing a key role in extending the money economy into the fringes of the Himalayan foothills. For instance, in Awadh and Benaras, ganj foundation went ahead in both the jungle fringes and around the towns. As new aristocracies established themselves, the growth of the so called luxury trade helped settled and revitalized the unstable tracts through which it flowed to the new centres of growth.

During this pre- colonial era, the textile industry was the major component of the artisan production and probably accounted for between tawenty and thirty percent of the total artisan population of the towns and villages. Perhaps, 60,000 specialist weavers and dependents lived in the Beneras region. 250,000 in Awadh, 200,000 in Rohilkhand and 30,000 in lower Doab. There were three levels of economic activity. Highest quality production, designed for royal and aristocratic consumption and for export by East India Company, centred on a few illustrious centres- Bengal, Dacca, Murshidabad, Lakhipur. In eastern India, this sector seems to have been resilient between 1750 and 1810. Its stability helped maintain overall urban population. Then, medium level of production was meant for military gentry and royal courts with the presence of less specialist weavers in the region’s large towns. This level of demand was most likely to be fluid and unstable during the eighteenth century. Finally, the village weavers, nearly almost during 1835, implies ninety percent of the India’s raw cotton production for local consumption. Among the towns’ occupational structure, merchants, traders, and brokers account for about 30 percent of the registered population which bears out the importance of transit trade for them. Another twenty percent accounted for by artisans with weavers as the largest single group. A further twenty percent can be attributed to the services of all sorts including personal servants which existed in towns and people involved in transport. In 1770, there were 60 such larger centres serving many different functions. Cities acted as retail centres, bulking points for their immediate hinterlands.  Large towns were generally transit points for the longer- distance high value trades which is why so many brokers and merchants congregated there. Generally they supported their own artisan communities which produced this level of trade. The stability of large towns depended well on the combination of these roles of the artisans, traders, etc. but loss of one did not necessarily mean collapse of others, thus maintaining the urban stability [Bayly, 1983].

However the interruption of river traffic above Allahabad and the collapse of the Mughal control on GT Road in mid-eighteenth century led to the loss or the decline of the ganjs or qasbahs in the areas of decline in the west with the decline of the specialist artisans. This was at least balanced by the foundation of many small centres in the east. The cities of Ganges valley are unique for their variety and antiquity. In the rice growing lands of the east, cities were deeply embedded in the slower moving rythms of the neo traditional Hindu kingdoms but an advancing European presence was beginning to swell and transform their trade. So it could well be that percentage of population inhabiting places with distinct urban characteristics was larger at the end of the century than at the beginning, though there had been displacement of population from the largest into medium sized  and smallest places.

 Under the disturbed surface of politics of the last decade of the century, agricultural production, trade and revenue provided the framework on which new empires could be reared, thus, forming a new pattern of stability. The British were lucky enough to inherit this opportunity later in the colonial period [Bayly, 1983]. Conditions for marketing of middle ranged goods in Rohilkhand decreased considerably after 1774. But weaving population remained as high as 200,000 in 1800 and the weaver’s impoverishment and idleness caused the incoming British some well grounded apprehensions about the consequences for public order. The most specialized high quality weaving communities remained in a strong position throughout the century. Certainly they were affected by the decline of the old consuming aristocracies. Nevertheless the decline of the old capitals did not signify the complete collapse of the demand. Strong was the demand from western merchants and indeed the East India Company found it necessary to use its political power to secure monopolization on the production of Awadh and the weavers there. So persistence of this demand and maintenance of high quality trade was maintained by notions of aristocracies and kingships Bayly, 1983].

The situation, however, changed completely with the gradual intrusion, monopolization and, finally, colonization of foreign traders, particularly, European traders in the Indian foreign trade.  In fact, European traders started penetrating into the Indian economy in the pre- colonial period, particularly, with the establishment of Portuguese supremacy in the coastal regions of India in the mid – seventeenth century (Figure 3a) [Davies, 1959]. But, the greed for monopolization of Indian trade had caused war between the European companies such as Dutch, Portuguese and the British.  Of them the latter power became successful to transform the country into a colonial economy.  It, therefore, became increasingly difficult for Indian traders later to continue their sea-borne trade [Dasgupta et.al, [1987].

5. Colonial Era (Colonial Urbanization)

The situation took a different turn from the second half of the eighteenth century when East India Company emerged as political power in India (Figure 3b) [Davies, 959]. Europeans had been domesticated into the Indian scene since the early seventeenth century. A critical condition for British success was the naval dominance in the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. This study concerns the period when British were establishing their administrative and commercial system between Calcutta and Delhi, the way in which conditions in Indian society determined the emergence and form of British India. Bengal which had probably been the wealthiest province of Mughal India, proved an extraordinary prize for the British so as to deal with other states and economies in the subcontinent. The Company started dominating trade and industry of eastern region with the gradual emergence of British entrepreneurship in industries of indigo,  salt, tea, coal, jute, cotton, iron and steel, textiles, sugar, cement, paper, matches etc. British entrepreneurship further created a favorable atmosphere of trade and industry in the western region providing adequate .infrastructure in transport such as roads and railways, ports, telegraphs, electricity, insurance, banking, etc. There they induced Indian industrial entrepreneurship which essentially came from Parsees, Gujratis, Marwaris, and Bengalis who largely concentrated on consumer goods industries.  

This was also possible because of the Industrial Revolution in England during the period from eighteenth century to nineteenth century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the socio economic and cultural conditions of the times. It began in the United Kingdom, and then, subsequently spread throughout Europe, North America, and eventually the world. The First Industrial Revolution, which began in the eighteenth century, merged into the Second Industrial Revolution around 1850, when technological and economic progress gained momentum with the development of steam-powered ships, railways, and later in the nineteenth century, with the internal combustion engine and electrical power generation. Steel was often cited as the first of several new areas for industrial mass-production, which were said to characterize a "Second Industrial Revolution", beginning around 1850, until the 1860s, for mass manufacture of steel. This second Industrial Revolution gradually grew to include the chemical industries, petroleum refining and distribution, electrical industries, and, in the twentieth century, the automotive industries, and was marked by a transition of technological leadership from Britain to the United States and Germany. The main features involved in the Industrial Revolution were technological, socioeconomic, and cultural. The technological changes included the following: (1) the use of new basic materials, chiefly iron and steel,  new energy sources, including both fuels and motive power, such as coal, the steam engine, electricity, petroleum, and the internal-combustion engine, (2) the invention of new machines, such as the spinning jenny and the power loom that permitted increased production (3) a new organization of work known as the factory system, which entailed increased division of labor and specialization of function, (5) important developments in transportation and communication, including the steam locomotive, steamship, automobile, airplane, telegraph, and radio, and (6) the increasing application of science to industry. These technological changes made possible a tremendously increased use of natural resources and hence the mass production of manufactured goods. There were also many new developments in nonindustrial spheres, including the following: (1) agricultural improvements that made possible the provision of food for a larger non agricultural population, (2) economic changes that resulted in a wider distribution of wealth, the decline of land as a source of wealth in the face of rising industrial production, and increased international trade, (3) sweeping social changes, including the growth of cities, the development of working-class movements.

It, thus, also had laid its impact on the economy of India, being a British colony. Advances in agricultural techniques and practices resulting in an increased supply of food and raw materials, changes in industrial organization and new technology resulting in increased production, efficiency and profits, and the increase in commerce, (both foreign and domestic), were all conditions which promoted the advent of the Industrial Revolution in India. Many of these conditions were so closely interrelated that increased activity in one spurred an increase in activity in another. There were also fundamental changes in the commodity composition of trade after Industrial Revolution in Europe which had a noted impact on the pattern of trade and the consequent urbanization in India. As a consequence, India, which initially supplied manufactured goods in the pre- industrial period, began to export raw materials and primary commodities, importing, in turn, finished consumer goods and certain industrial goods [Mukherjee, 1968].

Hence, the establishment of the British rule brought fundamental economic transition in India, transforming agriculture from subsistence to commercial with the introduction of cultivation of variety of new crops such as tobacco, groundnuts, indigo, jute, tea, coffee etc. and gradual industrialization of the economy. The development of transport and foreign trade was the ultimate result of such economic transition [Kaushal, 1979]. In this connection, mention may be made of the river Ganga and the valley which had played an important role in Britain’s oriental trade, its hinterland and colonial power in India. This was because the valley of the river Ganges was the main axis of Britain’s Asian empire. Along its length ran Kim’s G T Road which linked the British Bengal with the capital cities of Mughal India. By 1880, a railway