ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Portuguese Source Material on Indian History

Indo-Portagoese History: Sources and Problems edited by John Correia-Afonso; Oxford University Press, Delhi, 1981; pp i-xii + 201, THE period associated with the first six Mughal Emperors starting from Babur (1526-1530) and ending with Aurangzeb (1658-1707) witnessed an increasing scale in the activities of Europeans in India. These years also set the stage for political transformation in the Deccan. The rising power of the Maratha state was accompanied by the decay of the Vijayanagar Empire. Because of paucity of indigenous source material, the reasons for which will not be gone into, there has been an inordinate reliance on European source material for the chronicling of this period. Historical coverage has traditionally been focused on the various personages involved in these processes of political realignment with greater emphasis being placed on administrative norms. European pursuits have been largely assessed in terms of the transactions into which the various European commercial organisations entered. The point of focus has tended either towards an Euro-centric analysis of Company activities or an attempt to explain the processes of expansion on Indian soil taking into account political and economic as pets. Social factors have, by and large, been ignored. The most widely held explanation for European success in the East has been that Western culture was geared towards technical endeavour and when the East was faced by the disciplined forces of the West it could not but crumble. This has proved too simplistic an explanation. European manpower was pitifully meagre and in the field of navigation the Asian had little to learn from the European. It was in this context that Carlo M Cipolla ("Guns, Sails and Empires", Minerva Press, 1965), opined that the decisive factor providing an edge to the Europeans was their ability to deploy armament on their vessels on the high seas.

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