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Commercialization of the textile industry under British Rule

Referat (Ausarbeitung) 2013 5 Seiten

Asienkunde, Asienwissenschaften


Commercialization of Textile industry under British Rule: Assessing the plight of artisans in western and Eastern India


Textile industry held a pre-dominant position in the economic history of India. The industrial revolution had an over-whelming impact on domestic industries leading to far-reaching repercussions in the economic sphere. B.R Tomlinson in his work, Economy of Modern India, 1860-1970 [1] points out that at the beginning of the English rule the Indian handicraft and textile industries used to supply about a quarter of all manufactured goods produced in the world. The domestic industries contributed to the majority of chief export items of the European trade. With the start of the Industrial revolution in the west, India’s status as the chief supplier of textiles to the world relegated to the background. India became the dumping ground of raw materials for the rising English Industries. At the same time the country was a potential market for the influx of British manufactures. There is a considerable quantitative data from south, Central and Eastern India hinting at the general decline in textile production. The English industrialization had a subversive effect on spinning and home spun commodities. The Lancashire produced fine quality yarn had somehow wrecked the possibilities of yarn spinning in India. Tirthankar Roy points out that cotton textile is the most important example of craft threatened by steam-power technology, or of pre-modern industry threatened by industrializing Britain[2].

Francis Crouzet claims that the process of industrialization in England was endogenous and it was occasioned by concatenation of circumstances. The industrial revolution opened a new age of promise. David Landes says that the massive technological progress preceded a change in the process of production in the economy. Landes mentions that the cotton manufacture was the most important in the kingdom in value of product, capital invested, and number of workers employed. The price of yarn took a downward course in England. Landes claims that the cheapest Hindu labour could not compete in either quality or quantity with Lancashire’s mules and throstles.[3] This had further, accentuated the danger for the single overarching textile industry in India. Roy mentions that the threat initially came from Lancashire until pre-war decade and from Bombay in the inter-war period.[4] My paper operates at the interstices of two main lines of enquires, firstly, did the textile industry in India succumb due to the unequal nature of the contest? Secondly, how did the handlooms adapted to competition and how artisans responded to big changes in the market?


[1] B.R Tomlinson,’ the economy of Modern India: 1860-1970’, published by the Cambridge University Press, 1996.

[2] Tirthankar Roy,’ Traditional Industry in the economy of Colonial India’, published by the Cambridge University Press, 1999.

[3] David Landes, ‘The unbound Prometheus ‘, published by the Cambridge University Press, 1969.

[4] Tirthankar Roy, ‘Traditional Industry in the economy of Colonial India’,1999


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Buch)
449 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Presidency College, Kolkata
commercialization british rule



Titel: Commercialization of the textile industry under British Rule