Om Prakash, ‘Bullion for Goods: European and Indian Merchants in the Indian Ocean Trade, 1500-1800′ (Delhi: Manohar, 2004)

South Asia Research (SAGE Journals): Vol. (29) (3) | November 2009
Nizar Manek, London School of Economics
The author, Professor of Economic History in the Delhi School of Economics, presents an anthology of 21 essays written between 1964 and 2002, many now difficult to access. Embedded in original archival sources, this impressive array of work documents the rise in world trade following major discoveries of trade routes towards the end of the fifteenth century. Macroeconomic implications of the interactions between Asian and European merchants, both corporate enterprises as well as private traders, for the newly emergent early modern international economy are highlighted, well beyond the direct significance to the economies and polities of the Indian Ocean region. Particular focus is accorded to the growing level of Euro-Asian trade, involving exchange of Asian luxury and other goods against European precious metals, mainly silver, but also gold.
The essays range from ‘Asia and the Pre-modern World Economy’ (chapter one) and the ‘Spice Trade in the Indian Ocean in the Early Modern Period’ (chapter five), to ‘Bullion for Goods: International Trade and the Economy of Early Eighteenth Century Bengal’ (chapter fourteen, the best known and perhaps most ambitious piece), and ‘Financial Intermediation, and Credit Network in Mughal India’ (chapter twenty-one). The collection will primarily interest historians of India and the Indian Ocean, particularly readers concerned with the monetary history and whirl of commercial traffic in the subcontinent’s early modern period.
(950 words)