In 1626, in his Remonstrantie, Francisco Pelsaert, the Dutch factor at Agra, complained of the Armenians “running and racing about like hungry folk” in the indigo areas, “making as if they would buy up the whole stock, raising prices, losing a little themselves and causing great injury to us and other buyers, who have to purchase large quantities”.
In 1630 Armenians were competing with the Dutch and the English for the Sarkhej (Gujarat) indigo as well. When in 1635 the Mughal Emperor abolished a brief and abortive monopoly over the indigo trade, the Armenians were in the field well ahead of the Dutch and the English, transporting the indigo overland to Persia and securing “a very great price” for the product there.
The Armenians were thus setting up a fairly competitive overland trade. In 1639 they were reported to be conveying to “Spahan [Isfahan] and other parts thereabouts, by the way of Candahar” large quantities of cloth and sugar grew between Agra and Lahore; they brought in return, overland, “very great quantities of broadcloth and sold it at such low rates” as to ruin the Lahore and Agra markets for their European competitors.
One reason for the Armenian success was their efficient intelligence, low operational costs, and cooperation, which Roques emphasizes:
“These people are shrewder than the Indian satraps because they do not work alone when evaluating their merchandise and money.
More enterprising amongst them deal with all that is there [to trade in] and do not ignore the price of any merchandise, either from Europe, Asia, or any other place because they correspond with all others and receive rapid information on current prices wherever they are.
Thus they do not get cheated in their purchases, are very economical, and work unbelievably hard to trade so as not to overpay for the merchandise. They spend very little on their living. They are by nature accustomed to living frugally […]” (Husain, 1995, 939).
Taken from: Mano Chil