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By William Howell (sometimes spelled Howel)

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These are of course gross ®gures. Net commercial migration was much smaller, but the characteristic of commercial migration is precisely that it is a phenomenon of circulation rather than migration proper, rarely resulting in permanent settlement. 5 14 15 Calculated by me on the basis of data provided in Census of India, 1931, vol. I, India Report, by J. H. Hutton, Delhi, 1933, Subsidiary Table IV, `statement showing details of persons of Indian origin enumerated in various parts of the British Empire for the period 1926±31', pp.

South Asian merchant networks 27 differentiated themselves from other groups. There was, however, one ®eld in which the Hindu/Muslim difference was important. Diverging concepts of purity and impurity made it rare for Hindu merchants to take their wives out of India, while Muslim merchants generally travelled with their families, especially to Muslim lands. At this stage, a rapid discussion of the problem of the religious taboo attached for Hindus to the crossing of the kala pani is necessary. Little is actually known about the way that kind of taboo was conceptualized and enforced among Hindu merchant communities.

Trade with the Middle East, particularly with the Persian Gulf, remained also an important area of activity for many Indian traders from Kutch, Kathiawar, Sind, Gujarat proper and Bombay. The full extent of Indian participation in India's foreign sea trade is partly masked by the exclusion from of®cial statistics of the data relating to the Kathiawar ports, through which a lot of the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf dhow trade was carried out. Statistics concerning the foreign land trade with Afghanistan, Central Asia, Iran, Sinkiang and Tibet are even more uncertain, but it was a ®eld which remained largely dominated by various groups of Indian traders, even if some were basically agents for British ®rms.

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