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How India’s flourishing spice trade shaped the future of the world

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By Harshmeet Singh

“No man should die who can afford cinnamon” – A common saying in the 15th century, this perfectly depicted the rewarding spice trade between India and the rest of the world.

The fragrance and aroma coming out of an Indian kitchen are unparallel. If India has seen a flood a multinational food chains opening in the past three decades, the Indian cuisine has made sure that the progress takes place both ways! Known to be spicy and exotic, ‘Indian food’ is in vogue in many first world nations. But what makes our food so irresistible? How are cardamom, tamarind, pepper and other spices melted so perfectly that they enhance the taste of the food manifold? The answer, it seems, is hidden in the small round shaped spice box – an irreplaceable commodity of any Indian kitchen!

India’s spice monopoly

Spices were, perhaps, one of the first commodities to be imported from India in significant numbers. Kerala was known as the hotbed of many exotic spices around 3000 BC. At first, spice trade was carried out through land routes, and thus, remained confined to a few close nations. But with the starting to maritime trade, the spice business took off exponentially. While black pepper was indigenous to Kerala, Cinnamon was grown extensively in Sri Lanka. Cloves, on the other hand, came from the Spice Islands, a part of Indonesia.

Indian Spice trade has always been connected with one of the strongest empires of that time. Arabs were the first to exert control over Kerala bound spice trade in 600 BC. Huge quantities of cinnamon, pepper and oils were taken to Arabia via Persian Gulf. The Arab traders sold these spices at sky high rates by keeping its origins as a mystery and making up stories about the winged creatures and poisonous snakes that they had to fight off in order to reach the hills where these spices were grown. Pepper was a symbol of the riches and luxury. There have been multiple recorded instances in the ancient history where Kings have demands bags filled with pepper as toll for sparing a city. Tonnes of pepper were demanded as a dowry in royal weddings.

Pepper was called ‘Black Gold’ in the 4th century BC and exported in large quantities from Cochin in Kerala to the mighty Greek empire. With the rise of power in the Greek empire, the royal households became much more adventurous and flamboyant, thus increasing the demand for Indian spices. It is said that close to 120 ships every year were sent by the Romans at the peak of spice trade to import huge quantities of pepper from India.

Fun fact – Many Roman soldiers were paid their salaries in Salt! This gave birth to the term ‘salary’. The phrase ‘worth his salt’ was also derived from the same context.

And thus came the Europeans

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that India’s flourishing spice trade shaped the future of the world for the coming centuries. After silently witnessing India’s booming spice trade and Arab’s monopoly for many centuries, the European countries set out to search for a sea route to India. The colonisation of India and Americas was a result of such expeditions undertaken by different European nations. Americas were discovered while Columbus was searching for East Indies (India) through the Atlantic sea route. It is weird to imagine now that the world’s strongest nation was mistakenly discovered when the original destination was India and its spices! These expeditions, where the ships reached distant lands and didn’t fall off from the edge of the earth, forced the Europeans to believe what the ancient Hindus knew for centuries – that the Earth is round and not flat!

Famously, when Vasco Da Gama reached the Indian shores, his men, while getting off the ship, shouted, “for Christ and spices!”

The first European power to resort to colonization on the name of ‘trade’ was Portugal who captured Indonesian Spice Islands and Sri Lanka. They were later overthrown by the Dutch. The driving reason behind the formation of the British East India Company in 1600 was to compete with the Dutch spice trade in India. And this later on transformed into the grand British Empire in India. After the British entered the scene, an agreement was reached according to which India and Sri Lanka were to be ruled by the British while the Dutch would control Spice Islands.

Not just taste, but health too!

In ancient times, illness was treated with spices such as turmeric and ginger, and herbs. Many ancient inscriptions found in Europe and Egypt indicate that spices were preferred as medicines in many scenarios. The ancient medicinal art of Ayurveda also prescribed many spices for the well-being of the human body and mind.

Foreigners’ infatuation with Indian culinary and spices goes back many centuries. Indian spices, it seems, are taking the country’s name far beyond our imagination and borders.

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Recovery Rate Rises and Case Fatality Goes Down in India

Recovery rate is rising, case fatality is going down, says Health Ministry of India

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The case fatality rate is 2.83 per cent which has decreased from 3.30 per cent as on April 15. Pixabay

The Union Health Ministry on Monday said that two specific trends were noticed in the Covid-19 situation – while the recovery rate is increasing on one hand, case fatality is going down on the other.

The ministry said at least 4,835 Covid-19 patients had been cured in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cured patients to 91,818.

“The recovery rate in the country is progressively increasing and has reached 48.19 per cent amongst Covid-19 patients. On May 18, it was 38.29 per cent, on May 3, it was 26.59 per cent and on April 15, it was 11.42 per cent,” it said.

The Health Ministry also said that presently there are 93,322 active cases in the country, which are under active medical supervision.

The case fatality rate is 2.83 per cent. On May 18, it was 3.15 per cent, on May 3, it was 3.25 per cent and on April 15, it was 3.30 per cent.

“A steady decline can be seen in the case fatality rate in the country. The relatively low death rate is attributed to the continued focus on surveillance, timely case identification and clinical management of the cases,” the ministry said.

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“A steady decline can be seen in the case fatality rate in the country.”, the Ministry was qouted saying. Pixabay

Also Read: COVID-19: MakeMyTrip Lays Off Nearly 350 Employees

It also said that the testing capacity increased in the country through a total of 676 laboratories including 472 government and 204 private laboratories.

“Cumulatively, 38,37,207 samples have been tested so far for Covid-19, whereas, 1,00,180 samples were tested on Sunday,” the Health Ministry stated.

According to the data the ministry cited in its press statement, the case fatality rate in the world is 6.19 per cent. It is highest in France, at 19.35 per cent, followed Belgium with 16.25 per cent, Italy with 14.33 per cent and the UK with 14.07 per cent. (IANS)

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Xiaomi to Unveil Mi Notebook on June 11 in India

The launch event is all set to kick off at 12 noon IST

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Xiaomi is all set to launch exclusive Mi Notebook in India on June 11 via an online event. Wikimedia Commons

Xiaomi on Monday said it is going to unveil an India exclusive Mi Notebook on June 11 via an online event.

The launch event will kick off at 12 noon IST and will be streamed across Xiaomi’s social media platforms and Mi.com as well.

In a tweet, Manu Jain, Vice President, Xiaomi and Managing Director, Xiaomi India, confirmed that upcoming Mi Notebook model is exclusively made for the Indian consumers.

Xiaomi’s Mi last week announced that it will enter the Indian laptop market in June.

“We are ready to introduce the next big category in India with the Mi Notebook series. We will broadly have two series under Mi Notebook that we are going to launch. It will be a minimalistic design, a power-packed device with latest technology to fulfill the requirements of our Indian users,” Raghu Reddy, Chief Business Officer, Xiaomi India, told IANS in an interaction.

He also said the company also intends to introduce more products under the Mi brand, like Internet of Things (IoT) products and Smart TVs.

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Xiaomi RedmiBook 13 features a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution anti-glare display. (Representational Image). Pixabay

According to a recent report, Mi’s first Notebook will be a rebranded version of RedmiBook 13 which launched in China in December last year.

Xiaomi RedmiBook 13 features a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels) resolution anti-glare display with narrow 4.65mm bezels on three sides.

Also Read: Here’s How You Can Keep Dark Circles Away

The display offers 178-degree wide-viewing angle with 250 nits maximum brightness. It is 16.3 mm thin and weighs around 1.23 kilogrammes.

The laptop comes in two sets of configuration options– with 10th gen Intel Core i5-10510U processor and 10th gen Intel Core i7-10510U chipset

The RedmiBook 13 comes fitted with a chiclet keyboard with a 1.3 mm keystroke travel along with Microsoft PTP supported trackpad. (IANS)

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My Menu: Redefine Your Online Food Ordering Process

Here's a new way to order food online with 'My Menu'

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'My Menu' -- an International digital menu company on which a restaurant can take care of all its digital menu needs. Pixabay

By Puja Gupta

Tablet menu or digital menu has been around for over 10 years, but they never became popular, why? Unfortunately until two years ago, every digital app/product was not design oriented and all it did was just show plain pictures of the food. Today, it’s not only about showcasing pictures, but also a beautifully designed and printed menu can do a much better job than any app.

‘My Menu’ — an International digital menu company currently live in over 1,600 restaurants across countries in over 142 languages – is all-in-one platform on which a restaurant can take care of all its digital menu needs – tablet menu, QR menu, QR ordering and online ordering. It recently announced a complimentary QR ordering solution to restaurants worldwide.

As restaurants are preparing to open across the country from June 8, ‘My Menu’ helps tackle dining the post COVID-19 era to prepare the industry for the socio-economic changes that make ‘contactless’ service the new normal.

The QR Ordering system allows guests a complete contactless, self-ordering system, table service to communicate with the wait staff. Its online ordering and restaurant delivery module can interface with any restaurant POS thus making it the perfect add on module for restaurants to start accepting orders directly and avoid paying hefty commissions to third party aggregators/delivery portals.

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A beautifully designed and printed menu can do a much better job than any app. Pixabay

“Our objective remains the same from the time we started conceptualizing the product — to increase the average check value and guest satisfaction. As a by-product, we also see increase in efficiency and reduction of operational costs. We have multiple case studies which show that restaurants see an immediate increase in the average check value of 25 – 30 per cent,” says My Menu CEO Abhishek Bose.

Also Read: 60% Decrease in Pediatric Fractures During Pandemic: Study

He adds: “We have also announced a complimentary QR ordering solution to restaurants worldwide for tackling the post COVID-19 era to prepare the industry for upcoming socio-economic changes post the pandemic. In order to contain the single most reusable and essential item ‘food menu’, digitalized menus supported by QR code is a strategic solution that will prove to be successful for active prevention.”

My Menu has been made a corporate standard by Accor hotels and Bose hopes other hotel chains will follow soon. It is already being used across popular restaurant chains such as Nandos, Wagamama, Carluccio’s, he informs. “Being a self-managed product we have seen a lot more uptake from countries where hoteliers/restauranteurs are considerably more IT savvy,” he concludes. (IANS)