Page 25 - Science India August 2022
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           — ‘indikon’, ‘indicum’ by Dioscorides (60 AD) and Pliny the Elder, respec- tively. Italian businessman, Marco Polo (13th century), writes about witnessing it at the port of Travancore. Tavernier (16th century) details the manufacturing process being followed in India.
For significant centuries, India re- mained an entrepôt of international trade; an Egyptian merchant’s record dating first century CE, enlists indigo, cotton cloth, garments, silk, etc., as among the major international exports
from the port of Barygaza (present-day Bharuch, Gujarat). The Indian brand of indigo had its international market presence much before the British arrived here. In the mid-17th century, three ma- jor varieties of Indian indigo were domi- nating the world market — Sarkhej, Bi- ana, and Baroda — and were priced very competitively. The superior quality of the Indian product completely captured the European markets by sidelining the variety produced in Europe locally.
tween the Portuguese and Dutch over control of the monopoly of trade with India. The Dutch East India Company soon started collaborating with Indian indigo producers and captured Euro- pean markets by flooding them with the best quality Indian indigo. This troubled other European monarchs and many embargos were introduced against In- dian businesses. French king Henry IV banned the use of indigo and issued a proclamation sentencing to death any person using it (funnily it still exists, as it has not been formally repealed). The English Parliament, through an Act and prohibitive regulations, declared the dye to be poisonous and its use forbidden. This Act remained in force until 1660.
In the meanwhile, England, through
The Dutch soon started collaborating with Indian indigo producers and flooded the European markets with the best quality Indian indigo
its East India Company, had started gradually consolidating its base in In- dia, but a series of political events led to an almost complete suspension of in- digo trade between the two countries. The change in economic value can be gauged from this data: Indian indigo export to England in terms of British imports which stood at a huge value of £2,00,000 per annum in 1660-63 was reduced to £54,000 pounds (1698- 1710), and subsequently to £ 1,310 per year during 1741-60.
For almost a decade, the indigo industry was forgotten by the world, although its cultivation continued on a smaller scale in India. In 1770, a French businessman visited Bengal and started establishing ties with Indian farmers. His endeavour was successful and immediately noticed by the East India Company present in
Very soon, a rivalry sprang up be-

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