The 18th century wave of Armenian immigrants to India were at the forefront of reinforcing a national identity for the Armenian people who lived dispersed across the world and without an independent country. The English colonial city of Madras was an important Armenian trading hub soon became home to an Armenian liberation movement
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Bombay was once an important Armenian settlement in the 18th and 19th centuries, as the English East India Company was keen to relocate the successful Armenian merchants of Surat to the Company’s new outpost of Bombay. Today, no Armenians from Bombay’s historic community remain, but their church and cemetery survive, the subject of study for Armenian expatriates keen to rediscover their history.
The return of the pravasi Mahatma Gandhi on 9 January 1915 to India from South Africa, marked a turning point in India’s freedom struggle. The contribution of such overseas Indians was significant. Often, they had a galvanizing effect on existing movements within India. On this 75th anniversary of independence, the sacrifices of these pravasis remind Indians of a shared history and ties with their overseas kin.
The old world order and the manners and values that went with it, have come to an end. Many of its aspects and aesthetics are outdated, but some remain – like the word ‘pukka’ which implies a certain sensibility, now with a new interpretation. Will its meaning hold in the new world order that has yet to emerge?
City-level climate action is gaining pace in India. This is crucial, given the country’s climate vulnerabilities and growing carbon footprint. Its success depends on mobilisation of climate finance, targeted devolution of central resources, inter-agency data-sharing and of course, public participation.
Indians are the largest expatriate community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Their contribution to building that nation is being celebrated this year, which is also the UAE’s golden jubilee year. Cultural fluency built on centuries-old trade and migration makes it easier for Indians and Gulf Arabs to collaborate.
On February 18, India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA). This is a modern trade agreement with its roots in the erstwhile Bombay Presidency’s administration of the nine Emirati kingdoms.
The Anglo-French commercial treaty of 1860 opened trade between France and Bombay, and brought two iconic French companies – a shipping line and the city’s first European bank. Bombay’s affluent residents were already familiar with French fashion, luxury goods, wines and liqueurs.
Three hundred years ago, the Anglo-French rivalry in Europe spilled over to India, and threatened the dissolution of the powerful Bombay Presidency. Three centuries later, India and France are in a different place, with economic ties blossoming and the bilateral upgrading in 1998 into a strategic relationship. The speed with which this has scaled up reflects the deep familiarity between the two nations rooted in colonial history.
There is no better way to celebrate the winter festive season in Mumbai than to visit the many Bombay East Indian enclaves dotting the metropolis, urban villages that once made up the city before the 17th century. Attending Midnight Mass in the Bombay East Indian dialect of Marathi in a parish church and feasting on a traditional Christmas lunch is the best way to experience Mumbai before Bombay.