History of Migration

The story of how Rajasthanis settled in various parts of the country is quite intriguing, and their excellent skills especially with regards to management of business and finance were the leading force behind. By the eighteenth century, Rajputana's market environment had made the rulers of each of its states conscious that the assistance of the Marwaris was needed to supplement their revenue. A stage came when the Marwaris, like land, started to be divided based on the allocation of hereditary properties among the rajas and feudal lords. Marwaris were considered an important part of the state and were kept accountable for the state treasury. During the Mughal era, there was a common saying that went, ‘Pahale shah, phir badshah — first a merchant, then an emperor.' The social importance of the Marwaris can be further gauged by the fact that Rajputana's rajas and feudal lords were eager to attract as many Marwaris as possible to live in their respective territories. The number of seths residing in a town determined its status because the taxes and levies received by the latter bolstered the state's financial situation. As a result, the seths were known as the foundations or foundation blocks of a city's economy. Many well-known seths were invited to settle in Jaipur State and were given free houses and shops. They were exempted from corporate transaction levies, as were their counterparts in Bikaner, Punjab, and Delhi. As a result, many people relocated to Jaipur. Over time, due to booming trading activities in lands other than their home state of Rajputana, Marwari merchants were able to produce surplus capital wealth, allowing them to play a dominant role in the nation's growth and economic development, even in pre-independence India. Many Marwaris started opening shops outside of Rajputana in the first half of the nineteenth century. Massive Marwari migrations took place into east India beginning in 1860. By 1911, Calcutta had 15,000 Marwaris and Bihar, Orissa, Bengal, and Assam had 75,000. Soon after, they developed their supremacy in the field of indigenous banking. Beginning in 1870, the banias were indispensable to British cotton textile importing companies. Much before 1860, Marwari traders dominated the opium trade. Marwari merchants entered the jute trade, and by 1914, they dominated the trade. During World War I, domination of main speculative markets, import of cotton cloth, and jute trade culminated in war revenues, allowing some Marwaris to join the industrial field. Apart from the incidental contributions of a few major banking companies, the majority of the available benefit from trade and moneylending was spent in land in central and western India. The Shekhawati segment of the Bombay community rose to prominence in speculative markets, especially stocks and cotton, as well as trade in opium, cloth, and cotton. However, fierce competition, especially from various Gujarati commercial classes, prevented them from achieving the same level of dominance as in Calcutta. Prior to the First World War, a few Marwari merchants were instrumental in the establishment of mills for others in Bombay. However, after the war, a number of people founded their own mills. Similarly, war income allowed merchants in Hyderabad and Indore to openly establish cotton textile and carpet mills. Between 1857 and the end of the First World War in 1918, a small community of Marwaris in Calcutta, numbering less than 15,000, began trading from the port. They steadily made inroads, ultimately launching some of the first large Indian-owned companies that produced and traded in indigenous products in eastern India.

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