They have described the glory and the roaring trade of Debal, Lahari Bandar and other ports of Sindh
They have described the glory and the roaring trade of Debal, Lahari Bandar and other ports of Sindh
They have described the glory and the roaring trade of Debal, Lahari Bandar and other ports of Sindh

Sindh had no rigid caste system, but this group formed a division of educated Sindhis and was given the name ‘Amil', a word derived from ilm, the Persian word for education and also related to amal which refers to administration

Many British historians and administrative officers have written of the changing course of the Indus which constantly destroyed towns and ports while creating new ones. 'The Early British Traders in Sindh' by Advani (1934) is an account of the first attempts the British made to trade in Sindh.

The oldest recorded merchant community from Sindh are the Bhatias of Thatta who formed, from the late 15th to the early 19th century, the bulk of the large Indian trading community in Muscat. From the late 18th century, the Sindhi Khojas played an important role in the trade in the Western Indian Ocean. The inland city of Shikarpur also gave rise to a major network which extended from Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea to the Straits of Malacca. Their hundis (promissory notes) were the major currency on the caravan routes of Central Asia and in India ().

With this long tradition of trade and merchant mobility, and with its own rich range of products, in the 19th century the inland city of Hyderabad gave rise to another extraordinary community which Claude Markovits describes as ‘the most extensive of all Indian merchant networks abroad, which around 1947, stretched from Kobe in Japan to Panama, with several firms having branches in all the major ports along the two main sea-routes, Bombay-Kobe (via Colombo, Singapore, Surabaya, Saigon, Canton, Shanghai, Manila) and Bombay-Panama (via Port-Sudan, Port Said, Alexandria, Valletta escort in Hartford, Gibraltar, Teneriffe, or alternatively via Lourenco-Marques, Capetown, Freetown). By 1937, it was estimated that there were 5000 of these Sindhworkis, who specialized in the sale of silk and curios, scattered across the world' ().


Soon after the British annexed Sindh in the mid-19th century, they began attempting to describe the tribes and races they colonised from their point of view. Accordingly, the 1876 Gazetteer of the Province of Sindh says:

The people inhabiting the province of Sindh madans and the Hindus, the former being by far the more numerous and comprising quite two-thirds of the entire population.

Of the Waishia, Wani or the Banya caste, there is one great family, the Lohano. It is as usual divided and subdivided almost ad infinitum, but the distinguishing features of the race are still sufficiently prominent. To treat of the Lohano caste is to describe the main body of Hindus in Sindh.

The Lohano may be divided into two great classes according to their several occupations: First, the Amils or Government servants: and secondly, the Sahukars, Hathwara, Pokhwara, &c., i.e., merchants, shopkeepers, agriculturists, & c. & c.' (Hughes , 92, 93).

The Hindus who had taken to education and the knowledge of Persian had thereby acquired responsible positions in the courts of the Mirs. The Amils quickly learned English and took to the education the new rulers imposed, and the British welcomed these industrious and trustworthy administrators into their empire.

The larger Hindu group was of the traders, some of whom had small holdings of land. Things were more complicated for them. With an eye on trade, the British had entered Sindh with well-entrenched cartels that had their own legacies of methods and movements. They imposed new taxes, monopolized trade in products and restricted markets. The British also brought their own treasury system, and the bankers of Hyderabad, who had previously financed the state, had to find new outlets. When the Company rupee was introduced as legal tender, they lost their thriving business in currency exchange.


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