BANKING TRADE AND COMMERCE

TRADE ROUTES

Old trade routes: At the accession of British power in 1817 in the Indian territory and from that time till about 1850, Sholapur had no made roads and few carts and all traffic went over fair-weather tracks on pack bullocks. The situation was improved in 1883 when the district had ten lines of made roads together equal to 382 miles. Of these, three were provincial and seven local fund roads. The three provincial lines were Pune-Hyderabad road, Barshi road and Sholapur-Bijapur road. Of the seven local fund lines, Barshi-Pandharpur, Mohol-Pandharpur, Pandharpur-Junoni and Jeur-Karmala roads were important for goods traffic. The entire goods traffic was carried on over these roads on bullock-carts.

The railway traffic was also important as an artery of trade. The south-eastern branch of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway passed through the district with a length of 115 miles. The district had commercial links with Pune, Bombay, and with the northern parts of the country on the one hand and Akkalkot, Hyderabad and Madras on the other. The entire goods traffic was carried on through this line only. The Hotgi-Gadag section of the Southern Maratha and Bombay-Karnatak railways also served the goods traffic to a smaller extent.

Present trade routes: The Bombay-Sholapur-Madras railway line of the South-Central Railway is by far the most important trade route in the district, which connects important centres in the district to Pune, Bombay and upper India on the one hand and Hyderabad, Bangalore, and the entire south India on the other hand. Almost all the commercial and goods traffic is mainly carried through this line only. The Latur-Kurduwadi-Miraj narrow gauge line also serves as a feeder line to the principal trunk railway route. This railway route connects the district to the Marathwada region and Sangli and Kolhapur districts. However, this narrow gauge line is not a commercially important line. This line is proposed to be converted into broad gauge, and the work on the same has already been started from February 1,1973 as a famine relief work. After completion of the work this broad gauge line will serve traffic needs of the areas in Sholapur, Sangli and Osmanabad districts.

Roads: Of the road routes, the Pune-Sholapur-Hyderabad national highway is an important artery of trade which caters to the transport needs of the heavy commercial traffic in the district. It connects Sholapur with Bombay, Pune and the northern areas of Maharashtra State on one hand and Osmanabad district and Andhra Pradesh on the other hand. Some portion of goods traffic is also carried to Mysore State through Sholapur-Bijapur national highway. The rest of the road routes in the district serve mainly as approach roads or feeder lines to this main artery of trade. Sholapur-Osmanabad-Bhir-Aurangabad-Jalgaon state highway which is proposed to be upgraded into a national highway is an important trade route which connects this district with the important commercial centres, viz., Bhir, Aurangabad and Jalgaon. Some goods traffic also passes through Tembhurni-Ahmadnagar state highway.

Besides these major trade routes, there are a number of other trade routes which pass through the district. Among them the Sholapur-Nanded via Latur route is important. The Nanded and Latur markets are connected by this route with Sholapur. The Kolhapur-Miraj-Sholapur trade route serves as a feeder route which connects the district with Sangli, Kolhapur and Ratnagiri districts. The district has trade links with Konkan through Karad. The entire produce to and from the Konkan is transported through the Chiplun-Karad-Pandharpur route only. The Miraj-Pandharpur route also serves the transport needs of the district. The other trade route is Pandharpur-Phaltan-Pune route which brings into contact the important trade centres such as Lonand and Phaltan with the district. The Satara-Pandharpur-Sholapur trade route also serves the needs of trade traffic.

Sholapur district is famous for its trade since three centuries back when Sholapur and Barshi were prominent trade centres. The turnover of trade in the past mainly comprised export and import of a number of commodities from various trade centres in the district. The vivid description of trade in the district is given in the old Sholapur District Gazetteer, published in 1884, which is reproduced below:-

"Trade Centres: The chief agencies for spreading imports and gathering exports are trade centres, markets, fairs, village-shops, and travelling carriers. The largest centres of internal trade are Sholapur, Barsi, and Pandharpur, and next to these Vairag, Madha, Mohol, Karmala, Akluj, Natepute, and Sangola. Of these, Sholapur, Mohol and Madha are near the railway. But Sholapur and Barsi being on the edge of the district, their connection is chiefly with the country outside it while the trade of Pandharpur rests on its necessities as a place of pilgrimage; so that the lesser centres do not draw their supplies immediately from the larger centres but directly from the same places as they. The number of traders is about 6,000, the chief being Lingayats, Bhatias, Gujars, Vanis, Nagars, Shimpis, Niralis, Marwaris, Brahmans, Bohoras, and Khatris with capitals of 200 to 10,000 (Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 1,00,000). They are mostly independent. Some are agents to Bombay and other traders for whom they gather and export cotton, grain, and other local produce, and import rice, hardware, piecegoods, and salt......... The import trade is chiefly carried on both by wholesale traders of large trade centres and other petty local traders who often buy their stock from wholesale traders. The trade of Barsi requires special notice as it is almost entirely a transit trade. Barsi forms the western outlet for the produce of all the Nizam's territory east of it, here generally known as the Balaghat, comprising the towns and markets of Latur, Gangakhed, Mominabad, Nandiar, Pathri, Hingoli, and Bhir, which also receive their imports through it. Of the articles almost entirely produced within Nizam's limits which pass through and generally change hands in Barsi, the chief is cotton the yearly value of which is estimated at 3,60,000 (Rs. 36 lakhs). The next is linseed whose yearly value is estimated at 60,000 (Rs. 6 lakhs). Oil produced from a mixture of various seeds including karle or niger seed, til or sesame, havri til or white sesame, kardai or safflower, and bhuimug or groundnut, is estimated at a yearly value of 20,000 (Rs. 2 lakhs). The value of the export of turmeric, which is mainly produced in the Barsi sub-division, is estimated at 20,000 (Rs. 2 lakhs), to the same way the imports of which the chief are salt, piecegoods, yarn, sacking, and ironware, pass through Barsi on their way to the Balaghat. The exporters of cotton, oils, and Unseed are all Bombay men, and do not touch imports; otherwise the same firms often deal in both imports and exports. Consignments upto 100 (Rs. 1,000) in value are ordered from Bombay through agents.

The position of the adatyas, that is, brokers or agents, is a peculiar feature of the district trade. The following details belong to Barsi, but with few changes they apply to Sholapur and other places. The broker or adatya is a Komti or Lingayat Vani, a Brahman, or a Marwari, with little or no capital. He enjoys good credit with the brokers and money-lenders and can get financial accommodation in time of need with comparative ease. In all cases, husbandmen and dealers bring their raw produce to an adatya and are guided by him in disposing of it. The adatya charges a commission of 1s. (8 annas) on each bundle or boja of 250 pounds for cotton, and one per cent on the proceeds of other goods with interest on any advance made. The adatya has no direct or indirect interest in the rise and fall of prices, but simply earns his commission by selling the goods, the cultivator or dealer getting the profit and loss of the rise and fall of prices. It is frequently the case that all the cultivators of certain villages go to the same adatya year after year, unless they have grave cause of dissatisfaction. Most brokers deal uprightly with the cultivator who in most cases is perfectly innocent of arithmetic, and he in turn places great faith in his adatya, and agrees to whatever he does for him without questioning." [Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency, Volume XX, Sholapur, 1884, pp. 260-62.]

But this state of affairs has been undergoing gradual change with the passage of time. The pattern and organisation of trade which depend mainly upon the general economic conditions, agrarian structure, industrial progress, facilities of transport and communications and the institutional frame-work, underwent salient changes during the period that followed. However, much still remains to be done in the field of trade and commerce.

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