Europeans in Subcontinent-Vasco da Gama-Suez Canal

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Vasco da Gama

Since ancient times there have been trade and trade links between India and Europe. Before discovering the sea route by Vasco da Gama the land route was used by the traders between India and Europe. Indian spices such as salt, cardamom, ginger, Iron and many more spices were highly demanded in Europe. The Trade happened between them through the land routes only. The Arab traders brought the Asian products into the Europe. Constantinople (today Istanbul) was gate for Europe to enter in Asia which was under the Roman Empire.  Constantinople is also known as ‘Gate of European Trade.

Portugese in India upsc

  Route Through Istanbul

The Turks of the Ottoman Empire conquered Constantinople in 1453. As a result, the Turks controlled all the commercial routes between Europe and Asia. The Turks began taxing too much of the products on these roads. Consequently, trading was not profitable in the view of the merchants. Meanwhile traders of Spain, Italy and Portugal started to search some other ways to reach India. They began urging brave mariners to travel to India by sea. This idea was further impulse by the creation of Compass, astronomical instruments and Gunpowder.

Portuguese In India 

French rule in India

Route discovered by Vasco-da-Gama

Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese sailor who left Portugal and arrived in India in 1498.   He was succeeded in discovering a new maritime route to India as a result of this. For many years, merchants used this route as the primary commerce route between Europe and India. The Portuguese were the first to re-establish commerce relationship between India and Europe.

Vasco da Gama first went to Africa through sea and from cape of Good Hope (South Africa) he came in India.  After that many other Portuguese came in India. In 1510 Portuguese defeated the Sultan Adil Shah and captured the Goa. From 1510 to 1961 Goa remained under the control of Portugal. In 1961 Indian Army captured the Goa by launching the “Operation Vijay”. After that it became the part of India.

English In India-East India company rule in India 

On December 31, 1600, Queen Elizabeth granted a royal charter granting the East India Company a fifteen-year license to trade with India. The English also used vasco da Gama  way to came in India. In 1613, the company formally began operations. The Mughal emperor Jahangir granted permission to East India Company to establish first factory in Surat.  Later in 1617 Sir Thomas Roe came in Jahangir’s court as ambassador. He asked Jahangir for permission to set up factories in various other parts of the Mughal Empire also. Jahangir gave the permission.  The English set up factories at Ahmedabad, Agra and Broach.

In 1690, East India Company bought three villages on the banks of the Hugli RiverKolkata, Sutanauti and Govind Pura, and constructed Fort William there. Calcutta city developed around this fort. By the 17th century, the English had made Bombay, Madras, and Calcutta the centers of their Reigns. In eighteenth century, the English made Calcutta as their capital city. From 1690 East India company rule in India started to spread in subcontinent day by day. 

 French rule in India

In 1664, the French East India Company was established.  In 1668, they established its first factory in Surat. Later, factories were built at Machalipatanam, Chandranagara, Mahe, and some other parts of India.  The French captured Valikandapuram from a local Muslim official in 1674 and turned it into a major commerce center. The English India Company and French East India company were rivalry to each other and want to control India. This desire resulted in Carnatic wars between them.

Suez Canal

Suez canal and India

   Route through Suez Canal

The Suez Canal, which connects the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea, was constructed in Egypt in 1869. Until the Suez Canal was built, the maritime route found by Vasco da Gama was the only way to travel between India and Europe. To reach India, the ships must travel across the Cape of Good Hope, Africa’s southernmost point. The distance between India  and United Kingdom  through the  vasco da Gama way is  10,800 nautical miles (1 NM=1.85 KM); while, the route via the Suez Canal is just 6,200 nautical miles. So after the construction of Suez Canal trade between India and europe started through Suez Canal. 


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