Columbian Exchange refers to the period in which agricultural products, livestock, and cultural influences shifted between the Western and Eastern Hemispheres. The beginning of the era, as many people tend to believe, is time Christopher Columbus made his first voyage to the American continents in the year 1492. He was the man who initiated many other trips to the American continents by other interested Europeans. Trade started between different regions and meant constant interaction between societies in the Eastern and those in the Western hemispheres.
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This trade that took place, and frequent interactions of these societies, had a profound impact especially on those people living in India and the Europeans during the busy period. The effects range from economic, social, cultural and political. This paper seeks to examine the trade’s influence on the people of India and Europe in particular. It considers both the positive influence and negative outcome that the era presented to the concerned communities and their general way of life. The reception of the new era was okay. It benefited the occupants of the different regions by offering them new products and practices from one locality other environmental settings. In spite of the tremendous benefits that the people enjoyed, there were other unpleasant, strange effects of the trade that they had to deal with, which appeared from other regions.
A major impact of the Columbian Exchange was introduction and adoption of new agricultural crops by both the Europeans and Indians. The Europeans introduced Indians to crops such as bananas, oranges and potatoes, which became significant food products to them. On the other hand, the Europeans managed to enjoy the benefits of new crops like tomatoes and squash. This significantly changed many aspects of agriculture in areas, especially outside Europe. People found alternative food crops to what they traditionally had. This helped to boost food security in areas where new crops would thrive. Some of them could not do well in their new environments; thus, the recipients would not benefit as much as they would wish to do. Essentially, additional food sources led to an appreciable increase in the population of the Indians.
Another notable impact of the Columbian exchange was livestock exchanges. Europeans managed to get new animals from other regions while introducing their own to the other places. The horse, coming from Europe, attracted quite substantial admiration and acceptance by other people. Other animals in the exchange included cattle, pigs and goats. Introduction of new animals meant supplementing animal meat sources, transport alternatives, acquisition of new pets and many other useful functions of livestock and other domestic animals.
Despite the merits that people found in the new era, there were various other unattractive consequences that seriously affected individuals, communities and systems. People did not find joy without shedding tears for other adverse outcomes they had to face because of their coming into contact with new people, cultures, animals, crops and other products.
To begin with, there were strange diseases that people suffered from, emanating from their interaction with other people from different environments. The use of goods from strange places also posed formidable dangers to the people. The Indians felt the worst of such negative effects. For instance, the dreadful Venereal syphilis that rocked most of Europe originated from the Americas.
Other than diseases, the Europeans discovered new areas that they could use for their own economic empowerment and development. They began to conquer many regions, and even forcing other people into slavery through the historical slave trade. American Indians suffered a enormous blow to their political organization and cultural arrangement. Their empires went down due to the invasion by the European forces into their land. They lost their treasures, culture and dignity. The Europeans benefits from such warfare, never minding the anguish they caused others, were enormous. They started colonizing other nations and treating humans in areas outside of Europe to inhuman conditions of torture and forced labor.
Besides, the introduction of new disease into different regions wiped out populations and destroyed cultures. The affected places had little information concerning such ailments. They, therefore, had no means of combating such tragic incidents, leaving people to die helplessly. Indians suffered from such diseases more than the Europeans. People in Europe got civilization earlier than their counterparts. They had medical systems and lifestyles that could contain such tragedies more effectively than any other person.
Inclusion, both Indians experienced significant effects of the Columbian Exchange. However, the magnitude of suffering or joy that the era brought varied from one group to another. It is evident that the Europeans profited more from the era than their Indian counterparts did. The Europeans approached the entire business strategically, and got sufficient funding from their governments to trade. Indians and other people mostly saw their culture diminishing sharply, while they enjoyed new cuisine, dressing and economic practices that the Europeans sold. The religious perception by most Indians changed because of the introduction of Christianity to them.