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Banking Firms in Nineteenth-Century Hyderabad Politics


The relationship between business and politics in preindustrial societies has seldom been clear from historical records. I have argued elsewhere that the major banking firms of Mughal India were central to the imperial system. These ‘great firms’ were not parasites, passively supportive of the state because it preserved the law and order necessary for trade; they were not self-contained caste communities interacting with the government through the leaders of panchayats or guilds. Their functions were as important to the government as those of its official treasurers, and their desertion of the Mughal Empire in the eighteenth century helped bring about its collapse.

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