Trade, Industries, Social Life




Trade, Industries, Social Life:

The Mughal Empire was perfectly situated between east and west, and as such, it became a pass-through via the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean or by land via the Silk Road for all those wishing to trade. Rice, textiles, tobacco, and metals were some of the items exported by the empire. Common imports included spices, sugar, oil, horses, and textiles from Asian countries. 

The Indian merchants traded with merchants from Arabia, Iran, China, Armenia, and some countries of the European continent. Silk, carpets, indigo, leather items, sugar, ginger, asafoetida, precious stones, and many such items were exported to foreign countries from India. The goods imported to India included gold, silver, horses, China silk, etc. During the Mughal period, the Indian textile industry flourished. Indian cotton cloth had great demand in the regions of Arabia, the East coast of Africa, Egypt, Myanmar, Malacca, etc. The dyes for textiles were made at Agra. Colours were mainly prepared from indigo, turmeric, lac, Kusumba (dried flowers of safflower), etc. Weapons and farming equipment were the main products of the casting industry. The copper and brass vessels were in demand on a large scale. The province of Bihar was famous for its paper production. Paper was produced from silk. Siyalkot was famous for a white paper. Salt and sugar production were important industries of this period. During the Mughal period, most of the population stayed in villages. Every village was self-sufficient. The law and order were managed and the daily needs were met at the village level.

During the Mughal period, the purdah system was rooted in the elite class of both the Muslim and Hindu communities. The education system of the Sultanate period had continued till the rule of Akbar. However, Akbar made important reforms in this system. Along with education of Islamic religion, he also included new subjects in the syllabi such as Indian philosophy, agriculture, politics, and astronomy. During the Mughal period, a number of Madarasas were established at Sambhal (Uttar Pradesh), Ahmedabad (Gujarat) etc. In South India cities like Ahmednagar, Gulbarga, Burhanpur, Bijapur, Golconda, and Hyderabad had also become famous as learning centers. There was a Madarasa established at Ahmednagar by Saint Tahir. The libraries in Madarasas use to have a special staff appointed for its maintenance.


The foreign trade flourished to a great extent during the Mughal period. Exports from India were larger than the imports. Many commodities including silk cloth, precious stones, spices etc. were exported from India while the imported goods mainly included luxury items. The foreign traders had to pay for the Indian goods in the form of silver. Hence India received silver every year in large quantities. Edward Terry, an European states, “Just as rivers meet the sea and stay there similarly the tide of silver from all over the world comes to India and does not return.”

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