BANKING TRADE AND COMMERCE
The import and export trade in the nineteenth century is vividly described in the old Ahmadnagar District Gazetteer published in 1884. The description is reproduced below: -
" The imports are grain, chiefly bajri, jvari, rice, cotton, sugar, salt, dates, cocoanuts, English and Bombay piece-goods, English and Bombay yarn, linseed, copper vessels, metal, silk, glass-ware, ironware, China silk, sacking, and sundry articles of European manufacture to the value of about £3,60,000 (Rs. 36,00,000). This estimate includes many imports which merely pass through the district as there are no means of ascertaining how much of the whole imports are for purely local use. The demand for English cloth depends on the harvest and the husbandman's profits. In a season of a scanty rainfall the demand for cloth falls below the average and in a good season largely exceeds the average. Dealers bring most of the articles direct to the market and sell them wholesale or retail so that they do not pass through more than two or three hands. China and European goods commonly come from Poona and Bombay; and rice, sugar and salt from the Konkan. Large quantities of grain of all kinds pass through the district to the various railway stations from the Nizam's territory.
Since the opening of the Dhond-Manmad railway, in years of local scarcity considerable quantities of grain have been brought from Jabalpur, Nagpur, Malwa, Indur, and Cawnpur, and in ordinary years from Khandesh and Jabalpur. Rice is brought partly by rail from Kalyan in the Konkan and partly on pack-bullocks and in carts from Junnar and other parts of West Poona. Linseed, chiefly from the Nizam's country, is brought by Bhatia merchants and sent to
Bombay for export to Europe. Kerosene oil is brought by rail from Bombay by Bohoras and Bhatias and sold partly to city dealers and partly to village shop-keepers, most of whom are Marwaris. Salt comes from Panvel and Pen in Kolaba. Marwaris, both local and from the Nizam's country, send agents to Panvel, and, all through the cold and hot weather, small quantities, wagon-load or two at a time, are brought to Ahmadnagar. Here local dealers buy the salt and send it to the leading towns of Shevgaon, Parner, Vamburi, and Sangamner in quantities enough to last for two or three months. It is then bought by village shop-keepers and distributed among the villagers. Cloth is imported from Bombay, Sholapur,
Paithan, Ahmadabad, Bagalkot, Karmala in Sholapur, Nagpur, Yeola and a few other places. Copper, brass and iron are brought in large quantities from Bombay. Copper and brass vessels are made in Ahmadnagar. There are also considerable imports of the coarser class of vessels from Poona and of the finer class from Nasik and Benares. During the last twenty-five years its cheapness, fineness, and variety have greatly increased the demand for European cloth and within the last ten years, the cheaper kinds of European cloth have to a great extent been supplanted by the produce of the Bombay mills. Almost no import trade is carried on in ornaments, stimulants, or other articles of luxury. The famine of 1876-77 and several other recent seasons of short or damaged crops have left the husbandmen little to spend on anything but necessaries." [Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Ahmadnagar District, 1884, pp. 344-45.]
Many changes have taken place in the import trade of the district with the passage of time and especially in the post-war period. The chief imports in the district at present are salt, cocoanuts, betel-nuts, cloth and other piece-goods, yarn, copper and other metal vessels, glass-ware, iron-ware, etc. The imports of cloth include different varieties, such as woollen textiles, nylon, terylene, ready-made clothes, etc. The other commodities imported are hard-ware, building material, provision articles, stationery and cutlery, medicines, utensils, electrical goods and appliances, machinery, foot-wear, watches and a number of other consumer articles.
The imports of the various commodities is from different places. Cloth is mainly imported from Bombay, Sholapur, Ahmadabad, Madras, Malegaon and Ichalkaranji, whereas ready-made clothes are brought from Pune and Bombay. Many of the merchants place their orders directly to the mill-owners.
Stationery articles such as fountain pens, pen-holders, inks, pins, nibs, paper, note-books, erasers, pencils, etc., are brought from Pune and Bombay. Cosmetics and cutlery goods are imported from Bombay and sometimes from Pune.
Electrical goods, appliances and other articles find their way in the district from Bombay, Pune and Calcutta. Drugs and medicines are brought from Bombay, Pune, Panvel and Baroda. Some of the dealers bring the goods directly from the manufacturers while others obtain their stock-in-trade from the sales representatives of the producing companies. Kerosene comes directly from Bombay by railway.