Opium in the Indian Ocean Trade in the Early Modern Period: A Commodity of Both Official and Contraband Commercial Exchange
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This article analyses the involvement of Indian peasants living in the major production areas of Bihar and Malwa. It asks in this context if the expansion in output witnessed over time was solely a function of coercion of the peasants or was there also an activist role that the peasants and especially the Indian government played in trade expansion? At the time, the involvement of the English East India Company in the Bihar opium trade was rather limited. Nonetheless, the article does show that the liberal policy of the government, whereby it provided an assured market (through government monopoly) for the peasants’ output at a predetermined price not subject to alteration, also contributed to the great expansion of cultivation of opium.