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Old November 5th, 2012, 11:53 AM   #1

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What if Mughal India developed a modern navy?


Emperor Akbar, who ruled much of India in the latter half of the 16th century, apparently had a great interest in modern shipbuilding. This might have been sparked in part by his relations with the Portuguese (who had established themselves at Goa by this time) and their modern warships. It is known from the Akbarnama and Ain-e-Akbari that several large, ocean-going ships were built in India under Akbar's reign, at Lahore and Ilahabas (Allahabad). The first such ship was built in June 1592 near Lahore; construction could not place near the coastline itself due to a lack of timber. The ship was built of 3000 large wooden planks and roughly 12 tons of iron was used, with a keel measuring close to 100 feet in length. This would make it on par with the galleons being built in Europe at the same time. The constructed ships were transported by massive barges to the Mughal ports in Sindh, where they were put to sail in the Arabian Sea.

Unfortunately, Akbar's successors did not share his enthusiasm in shipbuilding, and a modern ocean-going Mughal navy comparable to those of European powers never materialized. But what if the successors of Akbar had invested more resources in the development of a navy? How would it affect the commercial and political interactions between India and the European powers in the 17th and 18th centuries?
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Old November 5th, 2012, 12:01 PM   #2

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What makes you think the Portuguese would sell the Indians their cannons?
After all, that was the aspect that made the European navies so modern.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 12:04 PM   #3

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Quote:
Originally Posted by bartieboy View Post
What makes you think the Portuguese would sell the Indians their cannons?
After all, that was the aspect that made the European navies so modern.
Cannons had long been produced by Indian manufacturers.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 12:13 PM   #4

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Quote:
Originally Posted by civfanatic View Post
Cannons had long been produced by Indian manufacturers.
But of the same quality and quantity as the Europeans? because all the sources I have read so far stated that European cannon manufacturing was the most advanced in the 1500's. And tough other nations could produce some high quality guns they were mostly not able to build them on a large scale.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 09:23 AM   #5
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They could have allied and cooperated with Ottoman Turkey. Ottoman shipbuilding and cannonry technology were more than a match to that of Europeans around that time.
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Old November 10th, 2012, 09:37 AM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dreamhunter View Post
They could have allied and cooperated with Ottoman Turkey. Ottoman shipbuilding and cannonry technology were more than a match to that of Europeans around that time.
But for how long?
Who knows maybe it could have been beneficial for the Indian states in the long term but I have my doubts
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Old November 10th, 2012, 05:02 PM   #7

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Indian ship-building did not lag behind. It was on par with any other nation of the time, as it was a very old civilization with long generations of ship-builders. Also they were exposed to Arabian(with it the European ones) and Chinese designs, which they incorporated into indigenous ships.

Indian navies lost to European ones simply because they were vastly out-gunned and outclassed by Europeans using superior tactics.
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