Indian Shipping - A case study of the working of Imperialism
Mirza Firuz Shah
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Jahangir II 1920-1948
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Royal Mughal Ref:
India for centuries had been a sea-faring nation. Her ships sailed across the many seas. Her people colonised and civilised distant lands. We shall point only to a land-mark or two from the proud record of those achievements. After Alexander's invasion of India, a large part of his vast army returned homewards from the Punjab via the Indus and the Persian Gulf.
For the purpose of this famous voyage of Nearchus, Alexander's general, down the rivers and
the Persian Gulf all the available boats were impressed and a stupendous fleet was formed
numbering, according to the estimate of Ptolemy, nearly 2,000 vessels.
This river flotilla continued to expand during the succeeding centuries. In the reign of Akbar, according to the "Ain-e-Akbari," 40,000 vessels were engaged in the commerce of the Indus alone. In oceanic traffic and ship-building, ship India was second to none. Marco Polo has paid tributes to Indian shipping Corporation. The system of sheathing or multi-planking, eulogised by Marco Polo, was, nearly 500 years later, recommended to the East India Company by Gabriel Snodgrass as a novelty, evidently invented by himself. When Vasco da Garna first reached India he found some local seamen who knew more about navigation than he did. When he tried to impress them with his navigational instruments, they instantly produced their own, which he
found to be similar but obviously superior. Cessare Di Fedorici, a Venetian traveller, writing about 1565, stated that such was the abundance of materials for ship-building in India that the Sultan of Turkey found it cheaper to have his vessels built in Dacca than at Alexandria. And even as late as the Napoleonic Wars, Codrington, a British admiral, chose to go into action at Navarino in a flagship, Asia, that had come out of an Indian dockyard.
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