September 10, 2006

Mumbai: A City with a History

The history as a subject is merely confined to the text books and quiz contest culture. Well, no apologies for such an observation on a blog of history by a student of history living in India. Here, the idea is not to give any new finding or interpretation on the process of urbanization or the emergence of an identity as a city. No doubt, such a study is required because any city is a place of habitation of humanity and such a study is required to understand that place of habitation. It is required by the habitants of the city for their ‘social common sense’ or their ‘common consciousness’ and especially for those who are born in the city and lived through its various stages of development and also for the people who are entrusted with the responsibility of its bureaucratic administration.

Anyhow, this post is made to identify a source of information (which is one of the aims of this blog) which is well presented covering a whole period of existence of a habitation. It may be useful for the people interested in quiz culture, or writing an essay in a school or giving an introduction in a seminar or writing an introduction to a souvenir or pamphlet.

The source identified is titled as ‘Bombay: History of a City’ given on the portal of British Library in its section Learning and sub section Trading places.

The writeup gives a historic detail of the possession of the place presently know as Mumbai named after the goddess of deep sea fishermen, Mumba devi since 1995. It refers to the origin of its early name as Bombay. Bombay was a English utterance for Portuguese’s word Bom Bahia which meant ‘the good bay’. From then onwards, the article trace in brief the transfer of Bombay to Charles V and then its renting out to East India Company in 1668. The efforts were made by the British traders to establish an urban center on the dowry of their royal landlord on the model of London which they had tried to establish in London after the Great Fire of 1666. It came under the siege of Mughal army in 1688 due to trading practices of the British company and the company lost its trading privileges for sometime because at that time Royal Mughal more mightier than the trading company. However, soon after, the British Company restored itself to dominance because those were the years of the passing out of the Mighty Mughal Royalty. In the early years of 1700, Bombay emerged as the Gateway of India by serving as the trading center for the British Trading Company. From then onwards, started the saga of rise of Bombay first as the trading then later as manufacturing center in South Asia.

The article is brief but it has very nicely trapped the whole development of Mumbai. It is embellished with details on population and trading activity for specific period. On the whole, it is a nice, brief but proportionate. However, there is a touch of peculiar Cambridge histrographic tradition in referring to some specific incidences and details.

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