Ahmedabad: Throwing light on the legacy of Indian presence in sea –trade, Vice President M Hamid Ansari on Sunday said India was the lynchpin of sea-based trade and commerce for at least four millennia.
   
"India was the lynchpin (a source of support and stability) of sea-based trade and commerce for at least four millennia. The world's first tidal dock is believed to have been built at Lothal around 2300 BC during the Harappan civilisation, on the Gujarat coast," Ansari said, at a book release function here.
   
He released the book entitled "Gujarat and The Sea" edited by Dr Lotika Varadarajan and its Gujarati translation by Professor Makrand Mehta.
   
The book, a treasure trove of facts and facets of a bygone era, includes the role of earthquakes in changing the course of rivers and causing civilisational decline, and the accuracy of ancient wind charts and maps.
   
It covers the textile traditions of Gujarat and the impact it has had in West Asia, Europe and South East Asia.
   
"Any study of Indian history cannot be separated from the context of the three large water bodies that surround the Indian sub-continent," Ansari said.
   
Each of our coastal zones -Gujarat Coast, Malabar Coast, Coromandel Coast and Bengal Coast- had their commercial sectors of specialisation, their commercial interlocutors and geographies of affinity, he said.
   
With trade came politics, cultural and human interaction. Mutually beneficial trade yielded to more narrow and selfish concerns causing Indian merchants to lose their control over India’s maritime commerce, Ansari said.

Speaking on the occasion, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said that 80 percent of the private cargo was being handled on the shores of Gujarat.
    
"Ironically, the state blessed with a 1,600 kilometre long coastline has not been sanctioned a single Marine Engineering College by the Centre. However, it doesn't matter. We shall develop it on our own strength," Modi said. Addressing the gathering, Gujarat Governor Dr Kamla said that Gujarat's Maritime history is nearly 4,500 years old.
     
Several papers presented on Gujarat's Maritime history during an international conference held at Mandvi in Kutch and now compiled in the book highlight the central role played by Gujarat in the Indian ocean, she said.

(Agencies)