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By Eric Micheletti

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An internal arms race ensued, coupled with the drive for modernization. Scindia proceeded to establish his own ‘military-industrial complex’ near Agra. The Maratha ordnance factories emphasized adaptation rather than innovation, but incorporated relatively sophisticated indigenous technology and involved local manufacturers. These developments so alarmed the English East India Company that it forbade Britons to serve as gunners with the Marathas and sought to curtail the trade in The Arms Trade and Global Empire in the Indian Ocean 37 muskets.

Among the latter were Oman, Mysore, the Marathas, the Sikhs, and the Afghans, along with the Bugis, the Tausug, and other seafaring peoples of Southeast Asia. As power was redistributed, these groups interposed themselves as power-broking intermediaries between the old sources of internal authority and the new sources of global authority. 30 But while the new elites used this new weaponry to contain or displace the internal old order, or to check the advance of the external new one, none of them ultimately proved capable of breaking into the upper echelons of arms production.

To appreciate more fully how that Indian Ocean ‘periphery’ contributed to the emergence of an international arms bazaar, it is first necessary to delineate some of its key historical features and frontiers. Global arms trading in the Indian Ocean arena The geographical configuration of the Indian Ocean has always resembled a gigantic water basin. It is framed by the continental landmasses of Africa (to the west), Asia (to the north), Australia (to the east), and Antarctica (to the south). It is also connected to the world’s other oceanic divisions by several strategic waterways: on the western side, the Cape of Good Hope and the Red Sea; and, on the eastern side, the funnellike Straits of Malacca, leading to the Indonesian and Philippine Archipelagos, and then the South China Sea beyond.

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