Monthly Archives: September 2015

An Economic Power on the Rise: South Asian Economy in the 15th-17th Century

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.

 

More about South Asia:

Religion and Government: http://aileen.talons43.ca/

Technology: http://andreasg.talons43.ca/

Lifestyle: http://francisco1.talons43.ca/

 

Other links:

http://www.academia.edu/1567443/South_Asian_Economy_During_16th-18th_Centuries_and_the_Great_Divergence_Debate

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_history_of_India

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_history_of_India

World Economic League Table 2015

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/southeast-asia/640200

Nurture vs. Nature: The Seemingly Impossible Question

What would you say has helped shape who you are more up until now: genetics, personality, and innate composition, or your friends, teachers, and environment? Depending on how you perceive that question, it could be a toss-up between both: when going in-depth on this topic, most people come to think that their environment affects their behaviour and choices, but arguably, innate structures play a big role in your behaviour as well. This, ladies and gentleman, quite simply sums up the long-standing argument of “Nurture vs. Nature”, which basically tries to evaluate the roles of genetics and environment in how people act and how they make their choices. I’ve been pursuing this topic for a while now, and no matter what facts I dig up, experiments I pore over, or stories I read, it never fails to fascinate me. Learning about this has helped me become more aware of the people I surround myself with, and how my choices are influenced. However, the question is, do genetics or environment play a bigger part in the decisions people make?

A Hero on the Horizon? Or a Hostile Party?

Christopher Columbus was a hero, they said. A valued explorer who discovered the Americas, although he was not the first inhabitant. They say we owe ourselves to him, the noble man who sailed from Spain to discover land and bring his descendants over. That’s what they taught us, and that’s what were led to believe.

They were wrong.

When Columbus and his men, living in a hierarchical society that prized monetary value, first stepped foot onto shore, how could the Arawaks, presenting Columbus with gifts and selflessly welcoming them, know that they were greeting a desolate future in which Columbus, on the hunt for illusory gold, took the Arawaks as slaves, murdering these “lesser beings”, and completely killing them off?

I for one believe in equality. We, as humans, are all one, and Columbus’s treatment of the Arawaks, just because they were less technologically advanced or didn’t bend to the rules of hierarchy, didn’t mean that he could completely look down on them. The land was theirs to begin with, and not his to take. They so willingly gave their tangible treasure to him, and welcomed him to the island, and his first thought was, “These people so selflessly give, with 50 or so men I could enslave all of them”? That’s just messed up.

Alternatively, if Columbus hadn’t “discovered” the Americas, how long would it take to develop it to the point we are at now, or would it diverge onto a different path? If someone else had found the Americas, would they have treated the Arawaks just as poorly?

Colmbus’s requirement to fill the dividends with slaves, in my opinion, was also a poor attempt at revenge. Disguising this cruelty with religious sayings and the label of “progess”, his failure to find gold disabled him to even consider returning empty-handed. Once he had a brief glimpse of gold, in his mind, there was no going back. Perhaps the incessant killing “made up” for it, in my opinion. After all, completely ridding the island of its original inhabitants seems to be, you know, a little too dramatic.
Capture (1)
In no way am I directing this picture to anyone in particular, but, like the rule of seniority revolving around different grades and ages, Columbus totally stacked himself on top of the pyramid when it came to the Arawaks. Columbus was a quintessential example of entitlement, and desiring more than what you need, and the Arawaks paid the price.