When I think of South Asia, the beautiful region containing countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and, predominantly, India, the first things come to mind include the Taj Mahal, the fragrant food, and advanced software and technologies (including IBM, McAfee, and Symantec). South Asia and its cultures and many advancements are known around the world. However, these only scratch the surface of some of the many amazing components that make South Asia what it is. I expected rudimentary systems, basic trades, and minimal money roles in South Asia’s economic history. Due to the initial lack of information, because of the way it was documented, I was discouraged: My topic seemed boring, when meanwhile, the RENAISSANCE was happening in the neighbouring continent. However, what I did find pleasantly surprised me, in that there’s more than meets the eye in South Asia’s economy.
South Asian economy today, specifically India’s, is expected to overtake the UK in 2018, and, at the rate it’s going, become the world’s 3rd strongest economy by 2024. This economic power, however, had once been primarily based upon a socially established network of barter exchange for goods and services in the 15th-17th century. South Asia’s trade economy had two dominant components, the first revolving around village communities that had a well-built barter exchange. In this, money had a very unimportant role. In the more commercialized economy, villages would sell grains to nearby towns, through their rural merchants (Mahajans) and traders. They were also placed near popular trade routes, where markets sold specific goods and resources, targeted to their audience. They hosted seasonal fairs which attracted foreign crowds from near and far. Some villages were built specifically to supply travelers with food.
South Asia’s countries used a wide variety of currencies, but India, in particular, used coins made of gold, copper, and sometimes, lead. During his rule from 1540-1545, King Sher Shah Suri introduced a silver coin, predominantly known as a rupee, derived from the Sanskrit word rupya, meaning, “coin wrought from silver”. The coin was in use until the end of the Mughal Era, which ended in 1857, which was when large amounts of silver were discovered in the United States and some European colonies. This increase of silver was indeed detrimental to the rupee, as silver’s value relative to gold decreased, solely because of the large quantities of silver that had been found. This event was known as the “Fall of the Rupee”.
Today, India (representing South Asia, at least for now) is an up and coming economy that’s growing stronger as time passes, after many years of building up an advanced trading and selling platform, and “rebuilding” after the rupee lost value. Yes, ladies and gentleman, South Asia truly is an economic power that has faced struggle, and will continue getting stronger.
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