Friday, 14 November 2014

Portuguese landing in India - 1498


Gama meeting Zamorian chief, Calicut.1498.credit:corbisimages.com
In the seventh century, India’s seaborne trade with the western countries fell into the hands of the Arabs who supplied Indian goods to the merchants of Venice and Genoa in Italy to meet the needs of the European market. Vasco da gama was sent in 1497 from Lisbon,Portugal to find the direct sea-route to India. Bartolomeo had already found the sea route around  Africa into the Indian ocean. Vasco de Gama (c. 1460s – 23 December 1524) set sail from Lisbon in July, 1497 and followed the African sea route into the Indian ocean and at last landed in Kappad near Calicut - now Kozhicode on the Malabar coast of India (Kerala state) on May 20,1498 - a new era of colonialism had just begun.He landed with 170 men in two ships. It took 300 days for him to reach the shores of India.


Gama meeting Zamorian chief, Calicut.  1498. credit: asiawelcome.com
The King of Calicut, Samudiri (Zamorin), upon hearing the arrival of a foreign fleet, received Vasco de Gama & his men with traditional hospitality including a grand procession of 3000 armed Nairs. However, the king was not impressed with the trivial gifts given by the Portuguese guests  The quality of gifts was too poor and it was offensive to be given to a ruler. So, the Portuguese guests did not leave a good impression on the ruler and his people. At Calicut Vasco da Gama encountered violent and open opposition from the Arab merchants who had been controlling the spice trade and only the armed guards of the Zamorin king protected the Portuguese from their fury.

Gama headed two of the armadas destined for India, the first and the fourth, the biggest armada, only four years after his arrival from the first one. For his contributions he was named in 1524 as the Governor of India. Gama's discovery of first sea route to India marked the beginning of the first wave of global multiculturalism.
Vasco de Gama. credit. en wikipedia.org

 Portuguese established the trade posts in Goa, Daman, Diu, Calicut and Hoogly in Bengal to expand their mercantile trade in India . Francisco Almida, who came to India in 1505, developed a powerful naval base and in 1509. Albuquerque became the Governor and seized Goa from the then Bijapur Sultan Yusuf Adil Shah in 1510, encouraged his people to settle down there and they started fortifying Goa.Thus, Goa became the center of trade activities for the Portuguese. 

Coming of Europeans:
Portuguese -1498; English -1600; Dutch – 1602; Danish 1616 and French 1664.


Vasco de Gama – maiden European looter - On his second trip to Calicut in October, 1501 Vasco de Gama's attempt to get the Hindu king to drive out the Zamaorins (who were not happy with the visitors on their early trip to Calicut)) having failed, he took revenge on them by attacking the unfortified town, the  ships, and at last killed the native sailors gruesomely and sent a degrading message to the Zamorian king. Natives,valiant as they were put up a good fight and at last were subdued by Gama and his men under force. Vasco de gama made a huge fortune out of his second trip to India – Loaded with a lot of Indian stuff, which he would have bought at rock bottom price, on his return journey he made seventy times more than what he had spent on his sea journeys to India thus paving the way for the establishment of first Portuguese trading post on the west coast of India and taking the honor of becoming the first ever European looter on the Indian soil, ironically in return for the King's hospitality upon his first arrival in Calicut!! 

Thus began the capturing of precious Indian land by the Portuguese way ahead of the British.
Vasco de gama sea route to India-1498.credit: en wikipedia.org
Having settled down on the Indian soil in 1500s,   they started  interfering with the religious freedom of the Hindus and shamelessly indulging in religious conversion work under threats of torture and death. Subsequent guests of Indian natives - the British dominated the Indian scene till August, 1945 - too long a period. Of course, there was no religious persecution during their period.