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.
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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 Many of its aspects and aesthetics are outdated, but some remain – like the word ‘pukka’ which implies a certain sensibility, now with a new interpretation.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.
In the seventeenth century, the British established a monopoly on the opium trade to China. Bombay, a deep-sea port, emerged as a significant opium export hub for Indian and European traders alike. In this podcast, Sifra Lentin traces the events that led to the Opium Wars.
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.
The Imperial Bank of India completed a hundred years in 2021. This Bombay Presidency institution is the precursor of the State Bank of India, which was a retail bank but also performed central bank duties. In this podcast, Sifra Lentin discusses the legacy of what was once the Indian subcontinent's oldest, largest bank.