Decline of Indian Textiles and New Industries in India Ncert Class 8th


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  • The development of cotton industries in Britain affected textile producers in India in several ways. The two major challenges during the time were.
  • First, Indian textiles now had to compete with British textiles in the European and American markets.
  • Second, exporting textiles to England also became increasingly difficult due to very high duties that were imposed on Indian textiles which were imported into Britain.
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Textile Mills, India
  • By the beginning of the 19th century, English- made cotton textiles successfully ousted Indian goods from their traditional markets in Africa, America and Europe.
  • This took away the employment of many Indian weavers and the most hit were the weavers of Bengal. Distressed weavers wrote petitions to the government to help them.
  • By the 1880s two-thirds of all the cotton clothes worn by Indians were made of cloth produced in Britain. This affected not only specialist weavers but also spinners.
  • Handloom weaving was still alive in India as some type of clothes can not be produced by machines but by humans, like woven patterns, intricate work on sarees.
  • Handloom clothes still had high demand among rich as well as middle-class people.
  • During the national movement, Mahatma Gandhi urged people to boycott imported textiles and use hand-spun and handwoven cloth.
  • Khadi gradually became a symbol of nationalism and charkha came to represent India and in 1932 it was put at the centre of the tricolour flag of the Indian National Congress.
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  • The rest of the weavers and the spinners who had lost their job and became agricultural workers, plantation workers in Africa and South America.

New Industries in India

  •  Bombay had grown as an important port for the export of raw cotton from India to England and China by the early 19th century due to the presence of black soil areas in its close proximity thus easy raw matter supply.
  • The first cotton mill in India was set up as a spinning mill in Bombay in 1854, and many more spurted by 1900 and major of them were set up by Parsi and Gujratis.
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Cotton Mill
  • The first mill in Ahmedabad was started in 1861 and later spread to many other cities like Kanpur, United Provinces. They provided employment to many weavers and workers.
  • In the first few decades of its existence, the textile factory industry in India faced many problems. It found it difficult to compete with the cheap textiles imported from Britain.
  • The colonial government in India usually refused to heavy duties on imports which protect the small industries by eliminating the competition.
  • The first major outbreak in the development of the cotton factory production in India came during the First World War when textile imports from Britain declined, so  Indian factories were asked to produce cloth for military supplies.

Iron and Steel Industry

  • The beginning of metallurgy started from the sword of Tipu Sultan, the sword had an incredibly hard and the sharp edge that could easily rip through the opponent’s armour.
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The Sword of Tipu Sultan
  • This sword was made from a special type of high carbon steel called Wootz which was produced all over south India.
  • Wootz provides a very sharp edge with a flowing water pattern which was the result of very small carbon crystals embedded in the iron.
  • Francis Buchanan, a traveller told about the technique by which Wortz steel was produced in many hundreds of smelting furnaces in Mysore.
  • In these furnaces, iron was mixed with charcoal and put inside small clay pots. Through an intricate control of temperatures, the smelters produced steel ingots that were used for making a sword.
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Wootz Steel
  • Production of Wootz steel required a highly specialised technique of refining iron and almost every village had a smelter. E. g in Bihar and Central India
  • The furnaces were most often built of clay and sun-dried bricks and smelting was done by men while women worked the bellows, pumping air that kept the charcoal burning.
  • Michael Faraday the famous scientist studied about the Indian Wootz steel but later with the conquest of India by the British, imports of iron and steel from England displaced the iron and steel produced by craftspeople in India.
  • The swords and armour making industry died and with that, the furnaces and smelters were left abandoned in the villages.
  • The forest laws made it harder for the iron smelters to collect wood, in some areas where the collection was allowed the taxes were too high for each furnace reducing their income.
  • By the late 19th century, the iron and steel started imported from Britain, and ironsmiths started using the imported iron which lowered the demand for iron produced by local Indian smelters.

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  • Jamsetji Tata wanted to set up an iron and steel factory in India and for that, they were looking for the finest iron ore.
  • In the year 1904, an American geologist Charles Weld and Dorabji Tata (son of Jamsetji) identified the fine iron ore by the help of Agarias in the Rajhara hills, which had the finest iron in the world.
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Jamsetji Tata
  • The major problem there was a lack of water and the terrain was exhausting, with the help of Agarias they later found another source for iron ore which later sourced the Bhilai plant.
  • In 1912, on the bank of the river Subarnrekha, an iron and steel factory with an industrial township called Jamshedpur was set up, here the water was available near the ores.
  • The factory was called Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO), it came at an opportune time, the railways were at development during the period, but the iron and steel used were from Britain.
  • In 1914 the First World War broke out and steel produced in Britain now had to meet the demands of the war in Europe.
  • This resulted into decline in imports of British steel into India and the Indian Railways turned to TISCO for the supply of rails.
  • The war dragged on for several years, TISCO had to produce shells and carriage wheels for the war. By 1919 the colonial government was buying 90 per cent of the steel manufactured by TISCO.
  • TISCO became the biggest steel industry within the British empire.
  • In the case of iron and steel, as in the case of cotton textiles, industrial expansion occurred only when British imports into India declined and the market for Indian industrial goods increased.
  • The first world and the nationalist movements weakened the situation for the British government and they had to the demands of Indian people during the last decades of the colonial rule.
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