Urban Wage Earners in Seventeenth Century India
Artisans, Labourers, Service Providers and Entertainers
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This volume takes a pan-Indian view of different professional groups and service providers mainly based in towns. While Persian texts provide limited information on the subject, European sources in the form of travelogues, letters, memoirs and official reports unfold an interesting panorama on the subject. Here focus has been on the seventeenth century, as some prominent European share holders’ Companies established their warehouses-cum-residential complexes in India in this very century. Officials of these Companies sent to India or elsewhere, maintained proper records of their transactions and interaction with the state officials, common people, servants inside the household and outside, and through their reports attracted many European freebooters also to have a firsthand experience of the East.
Here from, we get numerous details on the social life, working conditions, wages and other aspects of life of people who earned their livelihood through manual labour, as conditions in India appeared novel to them and they meticulously recorded everything with much interest. Their information is corroborated with the Indian sources. In both types of sources – Persian and European – artisans, labourers and service providers have generally been projected as ‘poor’, ‘miserable’ and ‘wretched’; who faced exploitation at all levels. Still, their contribution to the economy and society was imperative. Aspects of life of such people deserve a detailed discussion as this volume amply proves.
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Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Low-paid Servants, Labourers and other Professional Groups 2. Categories of Artisans, Labourers and other Service Providers 3. The Basic Needs: Food, Clothing and Housing 4. Wages: A Basic Requirement for Subsistence 5. Aspects of Social Life 6. Conclusion
Nishat Manzar is the Head of Department of History and Culture. She has been teaching History of Medieval India, Medieval Central Asia and Islam since the last twenty-five years.
"Scientific in approach and balanced in analysis, this work breaks fresh ground and unearths new evidence. While filling a long-standing gap in medieval historiography, it is a welcome addition to historical literature on South Asia."
-Surinder Singh, Prof. (Retd.) Department of History, Panjab University, Chandigarh