|The East India Company: The World's Most Powerful Corporation; Tirthankar Roy; Random House India; Pp 268; Rs 299|
The book tells the story of the events and circumstances that led to the formation of The East India Company and its voyage of history
First time in the history of the world, not a cavalry or infantry but a business entity won territories for a Kingdom and transformed it into an empire. It not only helped the creation of one of the powerful empires in the world but it also redrew the map of our world along with its history. The company became an archetype of the giant corporations followed. Indeed cutting the boundaries of nations, today’s MNCs resemble the power and might of their predecessor “The East India Company”. A beautifully researched book by Tirthankar Roy gives us a vivid account of the company since its inception. The book also provides a detailed description of the events and circumstances which led to the formation of the company and its voyage of history.
As Indians we always see the company accountable for our slavery and misery. Sometimes, due to misconception we also use to think that the company as an agent was sent to enslave us. But a fair reflection of historical events would give us a realisation or insight that it is not so. On the other hand the Trade barriers in the Middle East, competition and rivalry among European powers, quest for personal glory and wealth, sheer interest for adventure and some time undiluted greed etc. and many other factors can be attributed to the advent of the company and the events that followed.
Swachh Bharat: A Clean India; Editors: Mridula Sinha and Dr RK Sinha; Pp 278; Rs 400
Combating Violence Against Women: A reality in the making; Smita Nayak; Kalpaz Publications; Pp 278; Rs 900
Women are the worst victims of violence as they are subjected to both general and gender based crimes. This edited volume, consisting of research articles of a group of authors covers all aspects and dimensions of gender based crimes taking place in our society, government, and societal intervention to contain it in order to protect the human rights of women.
Urban Governance in India; C Nagaraja Rao; Kalpaz Publications; Pp 278; Rs 890
This book discusses measures to stimulate revitilisation and foster better economic and social development through developing cooperation mechanism between local and national governments so that the challenges of urbanisation can be best utilised as opportunities of innovation, economic growth and employment
Tireless Border Diplomacy of India with China and Pakistan;
Decades old India’s border dispute with China and Pakistan are largely held responsible for India’s declared wars with both and a major cause of terrorism in India’s major cities and around the borders. The book presents before us the recognised facts of India’s border diplomacy, its ups and downs along with diplomatic turn and twists, especially with the People’s Republic of China and Pakistan.
Since time immemorial the exotic products from India and the Far East had a market in Europe. And therefore there was a stiff competition in Europe to control the trade and trade routes with East and particularly with India in the sea. English were late entrants in this game; countries like Portugal had already established there trading colonies long back in India and elsewhere. But the late entrants, the English succeeded in establishing long-lasting footprints in Asia. A business entity called “The East India Company” made the real difference between English and their adversaries. In this book Roy narrated the event of company formation has in a sequential format giving a picturesque effect. His accounts also provide us with insights about the ships of those days, their size, not so developed shipping routes and bizarre behaviour of navies when there was no binding maritime law to regulate their actions. Further, the initial days were almost like scouting expeditions rather than a well-chartered programme. With the loss of men, money and ships they perfected their future voyages. They also ventured into new shipbuilding practices and the arrival of large and mighty ships further changed the game.
The company as a business entity also evolved over a period of time. And the company had many tough times to protect its monopoly as a single entity to do business with the East Indies. A lobby supported by the private traders often questioned its monopoly in the parliament. Nevertheless, always the support from the crown ensured its unhindered journey, though it emptied a large chunk of its fortunes to support the crown in wars. Another problem was maintaining control over its own employees; The company had many testing times, and it struggled hard to keep control over business posts abroad. Personnel indulged in private business always defied the rules of the company and amassed fortunes. And some of its recruits went on to become pirates and raided enemy and friendly ships alike. All these problems were very small as compared with the fortune the company amassed by selling the goods from East.
In India the company made its inroads slowly but sturdily. It fought many wars with both European armies and the native one while establishing its supremacy in India. In his book, Roy has beautifully narrated the evolution of the company in India. Hence, it would give us a deep insight into the life of people in India those days especially the economic activities and rules and costumes goverining it. It also provides information about the basket of produce we had to export. Further, the statement about the fineness of some products like muslin would definitely instil a sense of pride in our heritage. The later part of the book is mainly devoted to discussing the political situation of India and the conflicts and personalities ensuring its victory over India. At the end of the book there is a brief discussion about how the company influenced and shaped the business and economic activities in India. The book also has a comprehensive introduction written by Shri. Gurcharan Das. This well-written piece has added more flavour to the book which is already rich in its content.
One can debate on its actions and denounce it in the backdrop of history but you can’t ignore the East India Company while studying our history. The history of our present is so interwoven with its deeds in the past, therefore reading a book like one that of Roy would help us to understand our present in a better manner and it may also enable us to predict the future. Perhaps it is unavoidable in a world order were many monopolies are competing to conquer the imagination of people “The consumer”.