This fascinating new history of the city focuses on the 18th century where scholarship is rare, instead of the 19th century and subsequent years.
The author argues that the century was a watershed in the city's history when its foundations were laid and it grew from scattered hamlets into a presidency town.
The century, rich with intrigue, interlopers, pirates, country powers, fortifications and land reclamation is also one which sees a new kind of English involvement in India. From commercial freebooters they become rulers. "The English blundered their way into an empire because they were forced into territorial expansion in response to local restriction on the commercial interests of English traders", she says, adding that Bombay expanded because of trade.
As the century progresses, Englishmen disbanded from European wars flock to the East, and consequently, the social life too undergoes a change. Life that centered around trade, comes to revolve around military and official circles. "Trade belongs to a lower social echelon and merchants want to become officers 'sustanised' with a ruling class aura, arrogant and race conscious".
At the same time, a chasm opens up between the European and the educated Indian. Life for the English becomes insular within an exclusively white society. Nostalgia evokes typical English settings and residential accommodation becomes exclusive in the Fort.
Dr. Dulcinea Correa Rodrigues traces the fortification of the city to the desire of its inhabitants for security and the freedom to grow commercial growth brings about civic responsibility and the city is subjected to a range of governmental activity and planning; land revenue and customs duty, finance and banking the law courts and police.
This is a maticulously documented and highly interesting book and should appeal to a wide readership.
1. Briefing on Bombay
2. Armed Diplomacy
3. The Fortification
4. Town Planning
5. Population and Produce
6. Trade: Private and Pirate
8. Social Life
9. The Grand Mart
Maps And Chart
Notes of Governors And Governor-Generals
Contemporary Events In The West And In India