By Janhavi Lokegaonkar, Senior Research Associate, Maritime History Society

International Customs Day is celebrated on 26 January every year. In order to look at the stellar role of the Customs Department in India, the blog titled ‘International Customs Day- A Historical Perspective on the Indian Customs’ is dedicated as a two-part series. The following is the first in the series to trace the historical aspects.

World Customs Organisation and International Customs Day 2023:

Before delving into the history, it is pertinent to understand what Customs are. Every nation has a dedicated Customs Authority that is responsible for the collection of duties and tariffs and overseeing the interchange of goods. Each nation has its own regulations and codes regarding the nature and kind of commodities that are permissible for import and export. The law to regulate such practices is under the jurisdiction of the Customs Authority. In order to increase interoperability on a global scale, the World Customs Organization (WCO) is set up as an international organization that oversees the different customs administrations related to international trade. Continue reading “INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMS DAY- A HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE ON THE INDIAN CUSTOMS”

Natal: The word that crept into the Indian lexicon.

Dennard H D’Souza Senior Research Associate (Maritime History Society)

The birth of Jesus is widely known as Christmas in India, owing to the predominance of the English language in the South Asian Subcontinent. It is also interesting to note that Christmas in many pockets of  western India has a different nomenclature. In Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat it is referred to as Natal, a word of Iberian origin but Portuguese to be precise.


As Goa remained a colonial settlement of the Portuguese in India for the longest time – approximately for  four centuries. It is astonishing to note that Maharashtra and Gujarat which were part of the British Raj were still influenced by the linguistic sensibilities of the Anglosphere and retained a Portuguese loanword “Natal” Continue reading “Natal: The word that crept into the Indian lexicon.”

Trade and Polity in the Indian Ocean: State Formation in Late Medieval Kerala

By Ms Jibita Jans Binnu, Research Intern, Maritime History Society


The term Malabar denotes the Indian Subcontinent’s southwestern region, which comprises Malayalam-speaking areas. Geographically, it extended from the Western Ghats to the Arabian Sea. Following the intrusion of the Europeans, the process of state creation and the idea of the power structure in various areas of Kerala underwent a massive change.

Continue reading “Trade and Polity in the Indian Ocean: State Formation in Late Medieval Kerala”

Reminiscing About Life On Submarines During COVID Isolation

Submariners have been prepping for decades for ‘Extreme Isolation’.

The above tweet was the prompt for this article. Whilst, there appears to be a subtle similarity between life on board a submarine and the current way of life under a lock down, it needs to be viewed from the perspective of absorbing certain survival skills in a difficult environment and maintaining a strong collective desire towards mission accomplishment. Submariners being more prepared…. well yes, most of us are a well-trained, disciplined, optimistic and buoyant lot. Submariners all over the world have at some time or the other experienced close or unforgettable encounters, operating at depths within the confines of a steel tube and have survived to tell the tale. Indian naval submariners are a resilient bunch, often light-heartedly wishing their brethren dolphiners one more surfacing than the number of dives and a fathom below keel always as a prayer to keep returning from sorties to narrate and laugh at such experiences.

Continue reading “Reminiscing About Life On Submarines During COVID Isolation”

On Researching and Writing about the Maritime Medium

Our personal journeys are dotted with questions. We want answers to so many questions about our personal life, our professional side, self-actualization, family, friendship, love and so on. Each of us anchors ways of anchoring those questions in a sense of personal capabilities, and resources and support that we are blessed with.

When the pursuit of a question becomes larger than us and our immediate surroundings, it begins to inch towards collective and shared wealth of knowledge. In order to make a larger contribution to community and society, this pursuit follows a certain method of enquiry that we may call research.

Continue reading “On Researching and Writing about the Maritime Medium”