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Caravans- Indian Merchants on the Silk Road by Scott C Levi


Before the Industrial Revolution in the West, India and China were the largest trading nations and controlled more than forty per cent of the world’s wealth, says Gurcharan Das in his foreword for Scott C. Levi’s ‘ Caravans- Indian Merchants on the Silk Road’. The book is the seventh in ‘The Story of Indian Business’ series.

Each book highlights Indian merchants’ role in global trade. From Arthashastra as Book One to the coastal merchants of Tamilakam, which comes fifth in the series, each book opens up a plethora of trading tactics used by merchants from centuries ago. Up until the Industrial Revolution, the trade consisted of spices, cloth, dyes crossing land and sea routes to Central Asia and Europe  and in exchange the Indian merchants only bright back top-bred steeds and bullion.
What hold true even today is the need for an effective transport network and infrastructural support to  merchants. Merchants were considered the backbone of every empire and rulers ensured smooth trade.
The book describes Caravanserais- inns that dotted the inland Silk Route. These were not just simple rest houses where travellers rested. The interaction between merchants who met in these inns, took culture, language and ideas from Turkey to China.
An interesting insight into the ever growing ambitions and network of Indian merchants.
Scott C. Levi is Associate Professor of Central Asian History at Ohio State University. His research focuses on the social and economic history of Central Asia in the broader context of the early modern Indo Islamic world.
Gurcharan Das is a world-renowned author, commentator and public intellectual.

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