Friday, September 25, 2009

The "Hinge"

Abu-Lugbod discusses everything from the importance of the all important Persian Gulf and the slave trade to my primary focus, India. India for centuries will serve as a prime location for trade. The Indian Ocean is sub-divided into three culturally different regions. India consists not as a unified state but as culturally abundant zones. The Indian Ocean served as a connection “on the way to everywhere”, as state by Abu-Lugbod. Thus my question is why did India not unify and continue to lead as a hegemonic force is the “Modern World System”? One main reason is the reclusion of Chinese, opening the door to Portuguese, as later mentioned.
India not unified, seemed to have a lack of interest in becoming a hegemonic force, in the World System. It being the gate way that linked the Mediterranean region and Middle East with China virtually everyone passed through. Also, do not forget about the fragmentation the of the Mongol Empire and the major land passage that closed with it. India’s lack of interest is contributed to by its location. It was in the prime of the pre-world system being known as the “hinge”. Thus, India has no need to create a unification of state to trade, as it is already a key point along any trade route. Location is not the only reason for its relaxed approach to the world system.
A second reason is the Chola State (5th-13th A.D.) developing advanced agrarian, mercantile, and industrial society. There advancements soon spread to the fragmented parts of India. There advanced society produced more than it consumed, yielding a high export rate. In essence their economy was self-sufficient in a way that they depend less than any other force did on the pre World System. The next question that arises is why did India not unify under one state. The first reason was mentioned before their self sufficient society, made no need of such a unification. Secondly, legitimate king-ships could not influentially reach out to connect all regions of India. With no such unifications India could stop the Portuguese invasion of the Indian Sea.
The last reason they didn’t unify and become the hegemonic power is because of the Portuguese invasion. China at the time held the leading naval Power in the Indian Ocean, and with the reclusion of the Chinese navy, it let the door open for a new force. Thus, Portuguese entered the scene with their Man-O-Wars. India being wealthy due to prime location was uninterested in building a navy to control trade was now subject to Portuguese jurisdiction with heavily taxed trading permits. This eventually led to the downfall of India and the emergence of a new European focused World System. India goes from being a prime trade center in the pre world system to a secondary trading empire in the Modern World.
I again ask why India did not unify and become the hegemonic force in the evolving World System. Mentioned before was India was too wealthy. Its non – reliance on the pre-world system led it to be a passive force instead of uniting and aggressively asserting its could be role. Secondly, India was known as the “hinge” literally almost all trading routes passed through here as it connected the pre world system. India had an abundance of goods to export as well, so it’s a natural trading Mecca for other purchasing merchants, basically showing that world economy depended more on their exports than imports. The last reason mentioned was the Chinese withdrawlment of their naval power. This opened the door to the “Pirates”, Portuguese who imposed the world system to work in its favor. This is why India did not become a unified hegemonic power in the New World System.

Eric Wisniewski

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