Saturday, March 21, 2015

The story of Wadias - Indic's loss of control over maritime mercantile networks

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Ability to build a jet engine is indeed very useful "tool" to track the industrial progress of a society, especially Indian society. However there is one other indicator which is even more fundamental than ability build aircraft and engine.. that indicator is "ship building". 

Since earliest days, India has been a predominantly maritime society. Be it internal navigation (rivers) or blue-water navigation, the technology and the tradition to build ships, trace routes protect routes, find new ones, indulge in naval warfare and dominate the associated trade has been integral part of Indian mercantile-military nexus.

With time, this tradition vanished owing to ills acquired by Hindu religion. While Aircraft can be studied as a tool to see the consolidation of shudra in India, it will only take you thus far..The real consolidation of shudra-vaishya-kshatriya nexus can be studied by shipbuilding and maritime sciences. 

Will write of this shortly.. India's fate was sealed when western trade routes passed on to Arabs and later portuguese. There was, and still is, no redeeming until these routes are acquired. It is a shame that in spite of such long coastline, none of the Indian company has any "mother vessel" because none can build anything so large. Nor do they have any port fit enough to dock a mother vessel. Nor do they show any vision to develop one..

There is a story here which needs to be linked and told. We consider Wadias here. The real picture is much more complicated and hence beyond the scope of single post on discussion board. 

The story of Wadia family in gist

1. Wadia family arose in 1736 and entered Ship-Building business in Surat. 

2. 1736 - Political scenario of India - Almost entire geography which today's Republic of India occupies is directly OR indirectly controlled by Marathas (except Bengal). Gujarat and Surat firmly in hands of Gaikwad faction, although the problems within Maratha Navy and Peshwa began here. Portuguese wiped out of existence except Goa and entire coastal Gujarat and northern konkan comes under direct Maratha rule. Marathas allow Anglosaxon EICs (British, Dutch, Danish, French) to continue operating from Surat while disallowing the catholic fraction of EU from existing. Anglosaxon EICs did not show any interest in colonization (as yet) and proselytism as Catholics did. This is when rise of Wadia family began along with other Parsi business houses. 

3. 1729 - Andaman and Nicobar islands won over by EIC from Maratha navy. Death of Kanhoji Angria (the admiral of Maratha navy) succeded by Tuloji Angria. The indigenous shipbuilding industry located in Kalyan and on Konkan coast. 

4. The manufacturing base of Maratha Navy gradually diminishes owing to problems between Peshwa (Balaji Bajirao - Son of Bajirao, the first) and Angre clan. Peshwa and British EIC collaborate to destroy the fleet (and manufacturing base of Maratha navy's now renegade chieftain Tuloji Angre).

5. Whatever Maratha navy lingered on after 1730s, depended on British-EIC (and in turn business houses like Wadias) for supply of Ships. 

6. British EIC came out of closet declaring their colonizational intentions in 1764 (Buxar) when Marathas were busy recovering from Panipat-3.

7. As EIC's zone of influence increased drastically (post 1803), the empire of business houses such as these increase as well. The hold of British on India became absolute after 1858 and many business houses jumped in British wagon saluting the rising sun (this includes the Marwadi business houses which are at forefront now - The Birlaa, Mittal etc. One has to understand that the family names is not the correct way of tracing the capital. Many families today were known by different names in 18th century. The marital alliances and other things (including royal favors) shift the equilibrium of capital flow. One pointer from Topé's book shows Sindhia faction of Marathas owning most of the capital and banking networks of Central India (which includes Khandesh-malwa-Mewad-Marwad-Bundelkhand-Nimad region - Basically today's MP, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Northern Maharashtra). This entire network shifted to EIC after 1858. (this means basically all Marwadi and Mewadi business houses and their predecessors which we see today).

8. This hindu vaishya network did not venture (or was it that it was not allowed to venture?) in basic industries like Iron&steel, Shipbuilding and others. Hindu Business houses were kept limited to banking and financial sector. Slowly after 1857, other Non-Hindu business houses too were eased out of heavy industry (Wadia included) and they made a shift in textile and other industries. Wadias, however, still retain some of their hold on Ship-Breaking industry in Gujarat. Tatas were first who were allowed to venture in Iron&Steel manufacturing sector. No Hindu Business house actually ventured here until rise of Mittals and Jindals post independence. 

9. It is very interesting how Jinnah and Wadias were intertwined. It is furthermore fascinating to know that Ness Wadia and Jehangir Wadia visited and paid respect to their great-grandfather Jinnah when visiting TSP. It is of course a family matter. 

10. But this puts a light on how complicated the problem of Pakistan is. There are many more such intertwining relations which complicate the choices in front of Indian government. These complications persist because GOI does not strongly state their stand on Hindu identity of India. Everyone else (Vaishyas first) will shift their priorities accordingly.

11. Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani is one of the spectacular Coup d'état that Hindus gave to the long entrenched Anglosaxon funded section of Indian scenario. The Rise of Vimal and fall of Bombay Dyeing is indeed a fascinating story. Although many regard (including Nusli Wadia and other economic chroniclers like Sucheta Dalal) the methods employed by Dhirubhai as unscrupulous. 

12. Reliance gatecrashing first into the entrenched elite club of traditional industrialists of India and then in the petroleum industry is one of the turning points in India's history. Who backs them, how could they pull this off are questions that can be answered by the means of speculations alone. The conspiracy theorists have named everyone from Rockefellers to Rothchilds behind rise of Ambanis, but it is really irrelevant. 

13. This gate-crashing coupled with geopolitics of late 80s and liberalization policies of PVNR forced Indian vaishya community (both Hindu and non-Hindu) to shift their outlooks.

14. The shipbuilding industry is still not in hands of Indian OR hindu vaishya house. Something is not allowing them to exploit the complete potential of Indian Iron&Steel Industry and Chemical Industry. (this is topic of one other post I am planning to make - Rise of European chemical giants after debacle of India in 1858).  Someone made a similar post on BRF few months ago (perhaps Ramana). 

15. India needs thousands of Dhirubhais gatecrashing the party. This is how Hindus can reclaim their right on the lost capital and decide its fate as they have since eternity until 1858.

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