Traders and British Raj
Lakshmi Subramanian
FOUNDATIONS FOR EMPIRE: ENGLISH PRIVATE TRADE IN INDIA 1659-1760 by Ian Bruce Watson Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1981, 384 pp., 125.00
May-June 1981, volume 5, No 5/6

The increasing interest of historians in re-defining the nature and aspects of early British commercial interaction with the Indian sub-continent has found expression in a number of important publications. Among these the works of Holden Furber, Ashin Dasgupta and Pamela Nightingale have served effec­tively to highlight the intricacies and complexities of the Anglo-Indian inte­rrelation and the responses of the Indian merchants to its implications. One is made increasingly aware of the impor­tance of the private trade of the English East India Company Servants in the 18th century, in the general commercial and political processes of the period. The steady expansion of private trading interests entailed among other things voluntary and involuntary partnership with local traders and seamen. It is ironical that our understanding of the nature and dynamics of the English East India Company’s private trade and of the emerging Anglo-Indian partnership (for want of a better word) has been for the most part limited if not obscure.

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