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Wednesday, February 15, 2017



The earlier foreign merchants had mere commercial motives and had very little or no support from their native Govts. But the European merchants who came to India during this period had the political and military support of their respective of their respective Govts. From the very beginning, the European trading companies began to establish their fortified trading settlements, called factories, on the coastal part of India, immune from the administrative control of the local powers. No doubt, due to the tripartite participation of the Portuguese, the Dutch and the English, India’s foreign trade grew phenomenally in the sixteenth centuries, but it was the last spark of the dying lamp. By the close of the eighteenth century India, from a bulk exporter, turned into one of the biggest importers industrially manufactured goods.

·         In the seventh century, India’s seaborne trade with the countries of the west fell into the hands of the Arabs who supplied Indian goods to the merchants of Venice and Genoa in Italy to meet the needs of the European market.
·         Vasco da Gama was sent in 1497 from Lisbon to find the direct sea-route to India. The Malabar Coast was then divided among petty Hindu chiefs. One of them, the ruler of Calicut, whose hereditary title was Zamorin, gave the newcomers, a friendly reception in 1498.
·         At Calicut, Arab merchants resented the appearance of a commercial rival, but the armed guards of the Zamorin protected the Portuguese.
·         Cochin was the best of all the ports on the Malabar Coast. Its ruler was subordinate to the Zamorin and jealous of him. Other important ports on the coast were Qulin which carried on trade with China, Arabia and other countries. The ports of Cranganore and Cannanore, which though nominally under the Zamorin, were virtually independent.
·         A second expedition, under Alvarez Cabral, reached Calicut in 1500, seized the Arab vessel lying in its harbor and sent as a present to the Zamorin. The Arabs stormed the Portuguese factory and put all its occupants to the sword, while Cabral retaliated by bombarding Calicut and setting fire to its wooden houses. He then went away to Cochin and Cannanore whose friendship he had secured.
·         A fresh expedition under Vasco da Gama, which started in 1501, demanded from the Zamorin the banishment of every Muslim resident from Calicut. He strengthened the factories at Cochin and Cannanore and left a squadron to patrol the Malabar Coast and to destroy all Arab vessels coming to it from the Red Sea.
·         Cochin (1502) was the initial capital of Portuguese, which was replaced by Goa (1530).
·         On his departure, the Arab merchants and the Zamorin attacked the Raja of Cochin who bravely held out until relieved by the arrival of the next Portuguese fleet in 1503. Their artillery gave the Portuguese a great advantage in sea warfare. Even on land the Portuguese proved the better fighters.
·         The next Portuguese expedition under Lopo Soares destroyed all the ports in which Arab influence prevailed, and prevented any ships from coming to or leaving cochin expect their own. Soaers burnt Cranganore and laid a good part of Calicut in ruins. It was now realized in Portugal that command over the eastern trade could not be established by sending an annual fleet and establishing a few isolated factories.
·         A new policy was adopted in 1505. The governor was to be appointed on a 3 year term. The person chosen for the post was Francisco De Almeida who was ordered to build fortresses at Kilwa, Anjadiva, Cannanore and Cochin and invested with full power to wage war, conclude treaties and regulate commerce.
·         Almeida reached India in September 1505, built a fort at Anjadiva, and settled, in Portuguese interest, a question of succession of the throne of Cochin. He introduced the policy of Blue Water.
·         The systematic assault of the Portuguese on the Muslim (mainly Arab) monopoly of trade in the Indian Ocean and the red sea deprived Egypt and Turkey of the duties on the Indian goods passing through the sea-route and across Egypt to Alaxandria.
·         The Sultan of Bijapur and Gujarat feared that the Portuguese would extend their net from the southern (Malabar) ports to the northern ports and encroach upon their interests. This brought an alliance between Egypt, Turkey and Gujarat against the Portuguese intruders.
·         In a naval battle fought near Chaul, the combined Muslim fleet won a victory over the Portuguese fleet under Almeida’s son who was killed in the engagement (January 1508).
·         In February 1509 Almeida defeated the combined Muslim fleet in a naval battle near Diu. This victory secured to Christendom naval supremacy in Asia and “turned the Indian ocean for the next century into a Portuguese sea”.
·         Albuquerque, the next governor, built up a great territorial power India. His efforts were directed towards the conquest of Goa, Malacca, Aden, and Hormuz which he considered essential for his purpose.
·         The plan of Albuquerque formed strategically a complete whole and consisted of three series of operations:
o   The control of the Persian Gulf and the Red sea.
o   The establishment of the head quarters of the Portuguese power at the central port on the west coast of India.
o   The destruction of Arab trade in the Malaya peninsula and the Far East.
·         The conquest of Goa from the Adil Shahi Sultan of Bijapur was Albuquerque’s first achievement (February 1510). But as the city was quickly recaptured by the sultan of Bijapur, he had to undertake a second expedition. He recaptured the place and fortified it against any surprise attack.
·         He maintained friendly relations with Vijaynagar and even tried to secure the goodwill of Bijapur. He created regular bodies of trained troops from among Indians.
·         Albuquerque’s immediate successor, Nino da Cunha (1529-38), captured Mombasa on the African coast, established settlements at San Thome near Madras and at Hugli in Bengal, and thus commerce on the eastern coast.
·         In 1535, he got possession of Diu in Kathiawar, inspite of its gallant defense both by sea and land jointly by the Turkish admiral and the Sultan of Gujarat in 1538.
·         In 1571, the Asiatic empire of Portugal was divided into three independent commands, viz.
o   A governorship at Mozambique controlling the settlements on the African coast.
o   A viceroyalty at Goa incharge of the Indian and Persian territories.
o   A governorship at Malacca to control the trade of Java and the Spice archipelago.
·         The Portuguese monopoly of the Indian Ocean remained unbroken till 1595, 15 years after the fatal union of Portugal and Spain. Philip II of Spain neglected Portuguese dominion in India and involved Portugal in his costly and disastrous European wars.
·         In 1595, the first Dutch fleet rounded the Cape of Good Hope in defiance of the hold over the route to the Malacca and of the Spice islands. In 1603, they blockaded Goa itself. Soon after, they made themselves masters of Java. They expelled the Portuguese all together from Sri Lanka in the year 1638-58. In 1641 they captured the great port of Malacca and in 1652 got possession of the Cape of Good Hope as well.
·         In 1611 an English squadron under Middleton defeated the Portuguese fleet of Bombay. Four year later came their great victory over the Portuguese, off Swally, in the Surat roadstead. In 1616 they entered into direct commercial relations with the Zamorin of Calicut. Two years later, they began to trade in the Persian Gulf. In 1622, they had captured Hormuz and established a factory at Gombroon. In 1654, the Portuguese had to recognize the right of the English to reside and trade in all their eastern possessions.
·         In 1632, the Mughal emperor, Shahjahan, completely destroyed their settlement at Hugli and carried away, as prisoners, more than a thousand of the Portuguese inhabitants.
·         The Portuguese Indian church was organized under the guidance of St. Francis Xavier, the apostle of the Indies who came to Goa with the Jesuits in 1542. St. Francis also travelled to Malacca and Japan for this purpose. Before his death in 1552, the great apostle after the Indies is said to have converted some 700,000 men.
·         They lost Salsette and Bassein in 1739 to the Marathas.

The Portuguese maritime trade and supremacy over the Indian Ocean:
·         The Portuguese maritime empire acquired the name of Estado da India, which intended to monopolize the pepper and spice trade of the east. The cartage system by which every Indian ship sailing to a destination not reserved by the Portuguese by the own trade had to buy passes from the Portuguese viceroy of Goa or the Portuguese captains of the seas. If it was avoided the merchandise of the errant ship was seized and confiscated.
·         In 1534, the Portuguese secured permission to build factories at Satgaon (Porto Piqueno, little port) and Chittagong (Porto Grande, great port) from the Sultan of Bengal. Chittagong continued to be the ‘great port’, but Satgaon, the ‘little port’, lost its prosperity in the second half of the 16th century and Hugli became the Porto Piqueno.
·         Both Akbar and Jahangir left the Portuguese in undisturbed enjoyment of their rights and privileges at Hugli. But Shahjahan captured Hugli in 1632. The Portuguese pirates of Chittagong were exterminated in Aurangzeb’s reign. In Aurangzeb’s time, the Portuguese were weak and decadent. Their territory comprised Goa and the province of the ‘north’, stretching from Chaul to Daman.
·         The Portuguese brought to India the cultivation of tobacco.
·         The first printing press in India was setup by the Portuguese at Goa in 1556.
·         The first scientific work on Indian medicinal plants by a European writer was printed at Goa in 1563.

·         In 1593, under the famous William Barents, they made their first determined effort to reach Asia by the north-east passage.
·         The first Dutch expedition which successfully reached the East Indies was that of Cornelius Houtman in 1596. He concluded a treaty with the ruler of Bantam in Java and opened up the Spice archipelago to Holland. His voyage was mainly due to the impetus given to voyages of discovery and exploration by Huyghen van Linschoten who had come to Goa in 1583, lived there till 1589, and on his return to Holland published a book dealing with the sea-routes to the east.
·         Ralph Fitch, an English traveler, who had reached India by the Euphrates valley and Hormuz, and had visited Goa and Agra, Bengal, Burma and Malacca, returned to England in 1591, with an account of the magnificent possibilities of commerce in the East. Fitch was to England what Linschoten was to Holland.
·         Between 1595 and 1601, as many as fifteen voyages had been made by the Dutch to the east. The Dutch clearly saw that it was necessary to stop small and separate voyages by individual traders and to display a united front to the enemy. In 1602 they combined together the several Indian companies formed within their different provinces into one huge association under the title of the Dutch United East India Company. It was granted an exclusive right to trade with India and the East Indies for 21 years and vested with ample powers of attack and conquest by the state.
·         From the early years of its trade, the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) was determined to establish and defend with real strength an exclusive trade in superior spices and pepper.

Dutch settlements in India:
·         The Dutch settlements in India, except the Fort of Geldria at Pulicat, were all unfortified trading posts and did not constitute the centre or a principal field of their power in the east, either strategically or economically or even administratively.
·         The spices of the archipelago were exchanged for cotton goods from Gujarat and the Coromandel Coast.
·         Barring an earlier abortive attempt to start trade at Surat and on the Malabar Coast, Admiral Van Der Haghen opened up trade with the Coromandel Coast and planned to set up a permanent factory at Masulipatnam (early in 1605).
·         Another factory was found at Pettapoli (Nizampatam), but the oppressions of the local governors were heavy and there was little relief even after a mission to the sultan of Golconda secured ‘farmans’ fixing the duty levied at 4%.
·         Soon another factory was founded at Devanampatnam (Tegnapatam), Fort St. David as it came to be called later (under English occupation), and a treaty guaranteeing a limited levy on goods was obtained from the representative of Krishnappa, Nayaka of Gingee. He permitted the Dutch to rebuild an old fort at Devanampatnam and a factory at Tirupapulilyur (southern Pataliputra) situated three kilometers in the interior, in spite of Portuguese opposition.
·         In 1610, upon negotiating with the king of Chandragiri, the Dutch were permitted to found another factory at Pulicat. Pulicat continued to coin its gold pagodas, and served as a place of refuge for the neighborhood in the days of Golconda depredations that followed.
·         Textiles, woven according to special patterns sent from Bantam and Batavia, constituted the chief export of the Coromandel ports.
·         Indigo was exported from Masulipatnam.
·         Rice, diamonds and slaves for Batavia were also exported.
·         Apart from spices, the chief articles of import to the Coromandel were sandalwood and pepper from the archipelago, copper from Japan, tatenag and textiles from China.
·         In 1617, the directorate of the Coromandel coast was raised to the dignity of a government. The chief of the Pulicat became the governor and extraordinary councilor of the Indies. Negapatam, on the Tanjore coast, acquired from the Portuguese in 1659, superseded Pulicat as the seat of the governor and as the strategic centre of Coromandel in 1689. It was equipped with a strong castle far more powerful than Geldria.
·         Porto Novo factory, which was started in 1680, was a prosperous centre of cotton-weaving, and Sadraspatam (to the south of the Madras) was noted for the special excellence of its textiles.
·         Devanampatnam and Masulipatnam were very busy ports and the chief of the factory at the Golconda (which had been started in 1660 was also the company’s agent at the Qutbshahi court), Nagalwanche and Palakollu were noted for indigo and dyeing.
·         There were also factories at Draksharam and at Bhimilipatam further North.
·         Stimulated by the success of English efforts at Surat, the Dutch governor of Coromandel sent Van Ravensteyn to that port in 1615, but he despaired of starting a factory in the Mughal dominions and of getting a ‘farman’ from the emperor for this purpose, though he went as far as Burhanpur in the company of Sir Thomas Roe.
·         Factories were organized at Broach, Bombay, Ahmadabad, Agra and Burhanpur, which had all been explored during the previous years.
·         The indigo trade became as valuable at Surat and at Broach as cotton.
·         In Bengal, the Dutch first established a factory at Pipli, but soon abandoned it for Balasore, which was in turn neglected when a firm footing was obtained at Chinsura on the Hugli in 1653. The Dutch constructed Fort Gustavus at Chinsura, which along with Baranagar, was held by them in perpetual fief from the Nawab of Bengal. They also established factories at Qasimbazaar and Patna.
·         The chief articles of export were cotton cloth, silk, saltpeter and opium, the last of which was consumed in Java and China and yielded enormous profits.
·         The Dutch conceded to British after their defeat in Battle of Sedera (1759).

The Dutch in Malabar:
·         Pepper trade of Malabar was considered to be less valuable than the Coromandel cloth trade, the Dutch ignored this coast. The only port belonging to them on this side was Vengurla, to the north of Goa.
·         In October 1661, Van Goens appeared with a large fleet off Qulin, and after taking it sailed for Cranganore which was also seized after a stiff fight (January 1662). Soon he occupied the island of Vypeen, to the north of the Cochin inlet, and built on it the fortress of New Orange (Niev Oranje).
·         In November 1662, the Dutch, with a new fleet from Batavia, renewed their siege of Cochin. Van Goens completed the Dutch conquest of the Malabar Coast by the subjugation of the chief of Porakkad and the reduction of Cannanore.
·         The Dutch factories on the Malabar Coast, including Vengurla, were under the commandeer of Cochin. All administrative and commercial matters were controlled from Batavia.

·         The voyages of discovery of Columbus and Vasco da Gama had removed the centre of gravity of the commercial world from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
·         Henry VII displayed great interest in the promotion of foreign trade. Both Henry VII and his son Henry VIII were eager to share in the trade with the Indies.
·         By a charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I on 31 December 1600 those interested in such a venture were incorporated under the title of ‘the governor and company of merchants of London trading into the East Indies’.
·         The immediate aim of the company was the acquisition of the spices and pepper of the eastern archipelago.
·         England was at war with Spain and Portugal. So the first (1601-03) and second (1604-06) voyages were made, not to India, but to Achin (in Sumatra), Bantam (in Java) and the Malacca. After the conclusion of peace with Spain and Portugal (1604) it was decided that the third expedition should, on its way to Bantam, attempt to open up trade at Aden and Surat.
·         The second in command, William Hawkins, who had experience in such ventures and could speak Turkish, was provided with a letter from King James I to Akbar. Captain William Hawkins journeyed from Surat to the Mughal court (1608), but failed to get permission to erect a factory at Surat.
·         In 1611, Captain Mildenhall landed at Swally near Surat in spite of Portuguese opposition, and got permission from the Mughal governor to trade at the place.
·         The victory of Captain Best in the Surat roadstead broke the tradition of Portuguese Naval supremacy and an English factory was permanently established at Surat. The English soon build subordinate factories at Ahmednagar, Burhanpur, Ajmer and Agra.
·         Sir Thomas Roe, the royal ambassador from King James I to the Mughal emperor, succeeded in getting two ‘farmans’ by 1618, one of the King and the other of the prince Khurram confirming the trade and its continuance as well as exemption from inland tolls.
·         English trades largely in the fine cotton fabrics and muslins of upper India, as well as in indigo which was cultivated in large quantities in the neighborhood of Agra.
·         By 1616, the English had contrived to establish four factories at Ahmednagar, Burhanpur, Agra and Surat, while an attempt was made to oust the Portuguese from Cochin and destroy their influence in Malabar.
·         In 1620, the English gained a victory over the Portuguese which secured for them great influence and respect in the Persian Gulf. Two years later they cooperated with the Persians and captured Hormuz from the Portuguese. The capture of Hormuz weakened the trade and strength of the Portuguese port at Diu.
·         The English and the Dutch competed for the trade of Masulipatnam which was the chief sea port of the great inland kingdom of Golconda and largely traded in diamonds, rubies and textiles of that region. In 1614, and again in 1624, the English had serious quarrels with the Dutch who tried to win over the local ruler to their side.
·         In 1628, the English abandoned Masulipatnam in despair and attempted to settle at Armagaon in the present Nellore district. Only two years later they were able to revive their factory at Masulipatnam. It was only with the foundation of Madras by the English in 1639, their arrival at Hugli in 1650 and their establishment of a factory at Balasore in North Orissa that the position of the English on the eastern coast became strong and permanent.
·         In 1620, the English began to trade at Pulicat, but the hostility of the Dutch compelled them to abandon the place three years later. For the same reason they had to abandon Masulipatnam (where they had been permitted to trade in 1613) in 1628, but they returned to Masulipatnam in 1630 and secured the ‘golden farman’ from the sultan of Golconda (1632) which ensured safety and prosperity for their trade.
·         In September 1641 Fort St. George in Madras superseded Masulipatnam as the company’s head quarters on the Coromandel Coast.
·         In 1661, the Portuguese gave Bombay as a part of dowry to princess, Catherine of Braganza, on her marriage with Charles II. The English secured Bombay at a very crucial moment when Surat was being repeatedly attacked by the Marathas.
·         Under Aungier, Bombay became the best naval station on the Indian coast and a harbor of refuge from the Marathas and the Malabar pirates.

Early English settlements in Bengal:
·         Between 1633-63, the English factories in Bengal aimed at nothing more than peaceful trade under the protection of the Mughal power. In the next stage, 1663-85, the English merchants in Bengal were hampered by quarrels with native powers, by quarrels with interloping rivals, and by quarrels among themselves. After 1685, when they had come to despair in respect of maintaining their trade by peaceful means and by treatise with the Indian powers, they resolved to protect themselves by force and entered into open war with the Mughal power. At last in 1690 they returned to Bengal at the invitation of the Mughal viceroy and formed a fortified settlement at Calcutta. It was in the fourth period which begins from 1690 that the English settlement took a definite shape.
·         In 1633, the Mughal governor of Orissa gave the English merchants permission to establish factories at Hariharapur (near the mouth of Mahanadi), Balasore, Pipli. In England there was a growing demand for Bengal goods, especially for silk and saltpeter and the trade of Bengal factories consequently increased.
·         In 1667 Aurangzeb gave the English a farman for trade in Bengal, and five years later, in 1672, the Mughal governor Shayista Khan issued an order confirming all the privileges already acquired by the English.
·         The mission of William Hedges (the first governor and agent of the English company in Bengal) in August 1682, to Shayista Khan, governor of Bengal, proved to be of no avail. Four years later, hostilities broke out between the English and the Mughal govt. in Bengal. In retaliation for the sack of Hugli (October 1686), the English captured the imperial forts at Thana (modern Garden Reach), raided Hijili on the east of the Midanpore dist, and stormed the Mughal fortifications at Balasore. But the English were forced to leave Hugli and to retire to an unhealthy place at the mouth of the river. Their agent, Job Charnock, opened negotiations for permission to return to Sutanati.
·         But the hostilities were renewed on the arrival of company’s new agent, Captain William Heath. In November 1688, he stormed the Mughal fort at Balasore and committed inhuman atrocities on the people there. His attempt to capture Chittagong did not succeed and he sailed away for Madras on February 17, 1689.
·         After the conclusion of peace between the company and the Mughal govt. in February 1690, Job Charnock returned to Bengal as agent and reached Satanauti on August 24, where he established an English factory on February 10, 1691.
·         The rebellion of Sobha Singh, a zamindar in the district of Burdwan, gave an opportunity to the English to fortify their settlement at Sutanati in 1696. They were permitted by Azim-us-Shah, governor of Bengal, to purchase the zamindari of the three villages of Sutanati, Kalikata and Govindpur on payment of Rs. 1,200 to the old proprietors.
·         In 1696, a serious rebellion occurred in Bengal under an Afghan named Rahim Khan who plundered the whole country along the Hugli. Alarmed by the rebellion and the inability of the Mughal viceroy to put it down, the English at Calcutta as well as the Dutch at Chinsura asked permission to fortify their factories, and to raise troops. The viceroy ordered them, in general terms, to defend themselves, so the English began to build walls and bastions round their factory (1697). This was the origin of the Fort William, named after King William III.
·         Next year they got from the viceroy permission to rent, besides Calcutta, the villages of Satanuti and Govindpur.
·         The most important event in the history of the company during these years was the diplomatic mission led by John Surman in 1715 to the court of the Mughal emperor Farukhsiyar, resulting in the grant of 3 famous 'farmans' addressed to the officials in Bengal, Hyderabad and Gujarat. The farman gave the company many valuable privileges.
·         In Bengal, it exempted the company’s imports and exports from additional customs duties, expecting the annual payment of Rs. 3,000 as settled earlier. The company was allowed to rent additional lands around Calcutta. At Surat, the company was exempted from the levy of all duties for its exports and imports lieu of an annual payment of Rs. 10,000 and the coins of the company minted at Bombay where to have currency throughout the Mughal Empire.
·         Thomas Pitt, governor of Madras from 1698-1709, obtained from the Nawab of Carnatic a grant of 5 villages near Madras in 1708, and in 1734 it also got Vepery and four other settlements.

·         Colbert, the famous minister of Louis XIV, had a genuine desire to help his country’s economic development through maritime trade and France owed him in the foundation of the Compagnie des Indes Orientales in 1664.
·         In 1667, an expedition was sent under Francois Caron, who established the first French factory in India at Surat. In 1669, Marcara founded another French factory at Masulipatnam by securing a patent from the sultan of Golconda.
·         In July, De la Haye occupied San Thome near Madras, which the Sultan of Golconda had conquered from the Portuguese 10 years earlier. This led to a combine of the Dutch and the Sultan of Golconda against the French. Faced with a critical situation, De la Haye had a capitulate (September 6, 1674) and surrender San Thome to the Dutch who allowed the sultan of Golconda to reoccupy it.
·         In 1673, Francois Martin, director of the Masulipatnam factory, obtained from Sher Khan Lodi, governor of Valikondapuram, a site for a factory.
·         After taking charge of Pondicherry in 1674, Francois Martin developed it as a place of importance amid the clash of arms and the clamor of falling kingdoms.
·         They also occupied Mahe, Yanam and Karaikal.
·         In Bengal, the French laid the foundation of their famous settlement of Chandranagar in 1690 on a site granted to them by Shayista Khan.
·         Pondicherry fell into the hands of the Dutch after a short siege (August-September 1693), and for 6 years it remained under their rule. In the treaty of Ryswick (1697) it was stipulated that Pondicherry should be return to the French with all its fortifications, intact the place was not, however, actually handed over to them till 1699.
·         In 1701, Pondicherry was made the headquarters of all the possessions of the French in the east, and Martin was appointed director general of French affairs in India. He built solid walls around Pondicherry, helped to strengthen the company’s position at Chandranagar in Bengal where Des Landes had planted a factory in 1690, and attempted to revive even the decline French factory at Surat.
·         He completed the building of Fort Louis at Pondicherry. Martin died in December 1706.
·         Their factory at Surat was abandoned in 1714. The factory at Masulipatnam was not flourishing. Chandranagar on the Hugli in Bengal was occupied by the French in 1676 and ceded to them by a grant of the Mughal emperor in 1688.
·         It was not until Dupleix was appointed in 1731 as chief of Chandranagar, that vigorous attempt was made to infuse fresh life into this settlement.

The nature and the organization of European trade:
·         Four European companies – the Portuguese Estado da India, the Dutch United East India Company and Vereenigde Oost Indische Compagnie (VOC), the East India Company and French East India Company were established in India.
·         The Portuguese were mainly interested in pepper and spices, while the Dutch introduced Indian textiles and other products to the markets of Europe.
·         Because of the textile trade, the Dutch established their factories on the Coromandel Coast which was famous for weaving and printing of fine chintz and other finer varieties of textiles.
·         Since the Portuguese had been ousted by the Mughal from the Bengal in 1633, the English and the Dutch companies established their trade in Bengal, which was known as subcontinent’s food granary and chief textile producing area in the Mughal Empire.

·         Indian exports comprised textiles, food products like rice, wheat, pulses and oil and commercial products like indigo and opium.


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