1. Before the Industrial Revolution, Hand Labour and Steam Power


Dawn of the Century, published by E.T. Paull Music Co., New York, England, 1900.

At the center is a goddess-like figure, the angel of progress, bearing the flag of the new century. She is perched on a wheel with wings, symbolizing time. Her flight is taking her into the future. Floating about are the signs of progress: railway, camera, machines, printing press and factory.

Two Magicians, published in Inland Printers, 26 January 1901.

The magician at the top is Aladdin from the Orient who built a beautiful palace with his magic lamp. The one at the bottom is the modern mechanic, who with his modern tools weaves a new magic: builds bridges, ships, towers and high-rise buildings. Aladdin is shown as representing the East and the past, the mechanic stands for the West and modernity.

  • The modern world is associated with rapid technological change and innovations, machines and factories, railways and steamships.
  • Even before factories were set up in England and Europe, there was large-scale industrial production for an international market.
    • This was not based on factories. Many historians now refer to this phase of industrialization as proto-industrialization.
  • 17th & 18th centuries: merchants from European towns began moving to the countryside.
    • They supplied money to peasants and artisans, persuading them to produce for an international market.
  • Expansion of world trade & the acquisition of colonies: demand for goods grew.
  • Merchants had to turn to the countryside since they could not expand production within towns, because:
    • Urban crafts and trade guilds were powerful. These were associations of producers that:
      • trained craftspeople,
      • maintained control over production,
      • regulated competition and prices,
      • restricted the entry of new people into the trade.
    • Rulers granted different guilds the monopoly right to produce and trade in specific products.

  • Countryside: poor peasants and artisans began working for merchants.
  • Cottagers and poor peasants earlier depended on common lands for their survival. They had to look for alternative sources of income:
    • Many had tiny plots of land which could not provide work for all members of the household.
    • Merchants came & offered advances to produce goods for them: peasant households agreed.
    • Now they could remain in the countryside and continue to cultivate their small plots.
    • Income from proto-industrial production supplemented their shrinking income from cultivation.

It also allowed them a fuller use of their family labor resources

Spinning in the 18th century. 
Each member of the family is involved in the yarn production. One wheel is moving only one spindle.
  • Within this system, a close relationship developed between the town and the countryside:
    • Merchants are based in towns, but the work is mostly done in the countryside.
    • A merchant clothier in England purchased wool from a wool stapler, carried it to the spinners; the yarn (thread) that was spun was taken in subsequent stages of production to weavers, fullers, and then to dyers.
    • The finishing was done in London before the export merchant sold the cloth in the international market. came to be known as a finishing center.
  • This proto-industrial system was part of a network of commercial exchanges.
    • It was controlled by merchants and the goods were produced by a vast number of producers working within their family farms, not in factories.
    • At each stage of production 20 to 25 workers were employed by each merchant.
    • So, each clothier was controlling hundreds of workers.

The Coming Up of the Factory

  • The earliest factories in England came up by the 1730s.
    • Late 18th century: the number of factories multiplied.
  • The first symbol of the new era: cotton.
    • Its production boomed in the late nineteenth century.
  • 1760: Britain imported 2.5 million pounds of raw cotton to feed its cotton industry.
    • 1787: import rose to 22 million pounds.
    • Increase linked to a number of changes within the process of production.
  • 18th century: A series of inventions increased the efficacy of each step of the production process (carding, twisting and spinning, and rolling).
    • They enhanced the output per worker,
    • Enabled each worker to produce more,
    • They made possible the production of stronger threads and yarn.
  • Richard Arkwright created the cotton mill.
    • Before: cloth production was spread all over countryside & carried out within village households.
    • After: costly new machines could be purchased, set up and maintained in the mill.
  • At the mill: all the processes brought together under one roof and management.
    • More careful supervision possible over the production process, a watch over quality, and the regulation of labor,
    • This had been difficult to do when production was in the countryside.
Lancashire cotton mill, painted by C.E. Turner, The Illustrated London News, 1925.
  • Early 19th century: factories increasingly became a part of the English landscape.
    • People concentrated their attention on the mills, almost forgetting the bylanes and the workshops where production still continued.
Industrial Manchester by M. Jackson, The Illustrated London News, 1857.
Chimneys billowing smoke came to characterize the industrial landscape.

Speed of Industrial Change in Britain

  1. Most dynamic industries: cotton and metals.
    1. Growing at a rapid pace, cotton was the leading sector in 1st phase of industrialization up to the 1840s.
    2. After that, the iron and steel industry led the way.
    3. Expansion of railways in England from 1840s & in the colonies from 1860s: demand for iron and steel increased rapidly.
    4. 1873: Britain was exporting iron & steel worth about £77 million, double the value of its cotton export.
  2. New industries could not easily displace traditional industries.
    1. End of 19th century: less than 20% of the total workforce employed in technologically advanced industrial sectors.
    2. Textiles: dynamic sector. A large portion of output was produced outside factories, within domestic units.
A fitting shop at a railway works in England, 1849. In fitting shop new locomotive engines were completed & old ones repaired.
  1. The pace of change in the ‘traditional’ industries was not set by steam-powered cotton or metal industries, but they did not remain entirely stagnant either.
    1. Seemingly ordinary & small innovations were the basis of growth in many non-mechanized sectors such as food processing, building, pottery, glasswork, tanning, furniture making, & production of implements.
  2. Technological changes occurred slowly.
    1. New technology was expensive and merchants and industrialists were cautious about using it.
    2. Machines often broke down & repair was costly.
    3. They were not as effective as their inventors and manufacturers claimed.
  • The case of the steam engine.
    • 1781: James Watt improved the steam engine produced by Newcomen & patented the new engine.
      • His industrialist friend Mathew Boulton manufactured the new model.
      • For years he could find no buyers.
    • At the beginning of the 19th century, there were no more than 321 steam engines all over England.
      • 80 were in cotton industries, 9 in wool industries, and the rest in mining, canal works & ironworks.
    • Steam engines were not used in any of the other industries till much later in the century.
    • So even the most powerful new technology that enhanced the productivity of labor manifold was slow to be accepted by industrialists.
A spinning factory in 1830. Giant wheels moved by steam power could set in motion hundreds of spindles to manufacture thread.
  • Historians now have come to increasingly recognize that the typical worker in the mid-nineteenth century was not a machine operator but the traditional craftsperson and laborer.


Hand Labour and Steam Power

  • Victorian Britain: no shortage of human labor.
    • Poor peasants and vagrants moved to the cities in large numbers in search of jobs.
    • Plenty of labor: wages are low.
  • Industrialists had no problem of labor shortage or high wage costs.
    • Unwilling to introduce machines that got rid of human labor & required large capital investment.
  • In many industries the demand for labor was seasonal.
      • Gasworks and breweries were busy through the cold months. They needed more workers to meet their peak demand.
      • For Christmas, high bookbinders & printers demand needed more labor before December.
      • At the waterfront, winter was the time that ships were repaired and spruced up.
    • In industries where production fluctuated with the season, industrialists usually preferred hand labor, employing workers for the season.
  • A range of products could be produced only with hand labor.
  • Machines were oriented to producing uniforms, standardized goods for a mass market.
    • demand in the market was often for goods with intricate designs and specific shapes.
      • In mid-19th-century Britain, 500 varieties of hammers were produced and 45 kinds of axes.
      • This required human skill, not mechanical technology.
  • Victorian Britain: the upper classes (the aristocrats & the bourgeoisie) preferred things produced by hand.
    • Handmade products came to symbolize refinement and class.
    • They were better finished, individually produced, and carefully designed
    •  Machine-made goods were for export to colonies.
  • In countries with labor shortages, industrialists were keen on using mechanical power so that the need for human labor can be minimized.
    • This was the case in 19th-century America.
People on the move in search of work, The Illustrated London News, 1879. Some people were always on the move, selling small goods and looking for temporary work.
Workers in an ironworks, north-east England, painting by William Bell Scott, 1861.
Many artists from the late 19th century began idealizing workers: they were shown suffering hardship and pain for the cause of the nation.

Life of the Workers

  • The abundance of labor in the market affected the lives of workers.
    • news of possible jobs: hundreds came to the cities.
  • The actual possibility of getting a job: dependent on existing networks of friendship and kin relations.
    • Not everyone had social connections.
  • Many job seekers had to wait weeks, spending nights under bridges or in night shelters.
    • Some stayed in Night Refuges that were set up by private individuals;
    • others went to the Casual Wards maintained by the Poor Law authorities.
Houseless and Hungry, painting by Samuel Luke Fildes, 1874.
This shows the homeless in London applying for tickets to stay overnight in a workhouse. These shelters were maintained under the supervision of the Poor Law Commissioners for the ‘destitute, wayfarers, wanderers & foundling’. Staying in these was a humiliating experience: everyone was subjected to a medical examination to see whether they were carrying disease, their bodies were cleansed, and their clothes purified. They had to also do hard labor.
  • Seasonality of work in many industries: prolonged periods without work.
  • After the busy season was over, the poor were on the streets again.
    • Some returned to the countryside after winter, when labor demand in the rural areas opened up.
    • Most looked for odd jobs, which till the mid-19th century were difficult to find.
  • Early 19th century: Wages increased somewhat
    • The average figures hide the variations between trades and the fluctuations from year to year.
    • Prices rose sharply during the prolonged Napoleonic War.
      • the real value of their earnings fell significantly since the same wages bought fewer things.
  • The income of workers was also critical was the period of employment:
    • the number of days of work determined the average daily income of the workers.
  • Till the mid-19th century, about 10% of the urban population were extremely poor.
    • Economic slumps: the proportion of unemployed went up to between 35 & 75% in different regions.
  • Fear of unemployment: workers hostile to the introduction of new technology.
  • Introduction of the Spinning Jenny in the woolen industry:
    • women who survived on hand spinning began attacking the new machines.
    • This conflict continued for a long time.
  • After the 1840s, building activity intensified in the cities, opening up greater opportunities of employment.
    • Roads widened, new railway stations came up, railway lines extended, tunnels dug, drainage & sewers laid, rivers embanked.
    • The number of workers employed in the transport industry doubled in the 1840s and doubled again in the subsequent 30 years.
A Spinning Jenny, a drawing by T.E. Nicholson, 1835.
The spindles could be operated with one wheel.

A shallow underground railway being constructed in central London, Illustrated Times, 1868.

From the 1850s railway stations began coming up all over London.
This meant a demand for large numbers of workers to dig tunnels, erect timber scaffolding, do the brick and ironworks.
Job-seekers moved from one construction site to another.

1. Before the Industrial Revolution, Hand Labour and Steam Power


The Age of Industrialization

We've all heard the term "Industrialisation" by now. This expression has entered our lexicon. In newspapers and magazines, we learn about various industries and industrialists. However, the question of how the industries came to be arises. How did the Industrial Revolution begin?

All of this will be covered in our chapter titled "The Age of Industrialisation." So let's get started with our chapter.

To begin, we will look at this image. This piece was essentially a cover page for a music book. This book was published in 1900 by E.T Paull, a well-known music publisher. We can see a goddess if we look closely at the image. She is depicted as an angel of progress carrying a new century's flag. She is standing on a wheel with wings, which will transport her to the future. Behind her are progress symbols such as railways, cameras, machines, and so on.

Not only that, but there were some more examples and depictions of people glorifying machines and technology. One such example was a photograph titled the two magicians that appeared in a trade magazine. On top is Aladdin from the Orient, who has built a beautiful palace with the help of his magical lamp, and below him is a picture of a mechanic, who has built bridges, ships, towers, and tall buildings with modern tools. Aladdin is depicted as a symbol of the East and the past. The mechanic, on the other hand, represents the West and its modernity.

This type of image provides us with a victorious account of the modern world. According to this account, the modern world is closely associated with technological change and various innovations. Machines, railways, and steamships are used to tell the storey of industrialization and development. These images have entered the public consciousness. The spread of industrialization to railways, as well as the construction of various buildings and bridges, is a symbol of society's progress. So the question is how we can relate to these images and ideas.

Is industrialization a rapid process?

Is it possible for us to continue this glorious journey?

All of these inquiries will be addressed in our chapter.

So, to begin, we will discuss Britain, which is regarded as the first industrial nation, and then we will discuss India, where industrial changes occurred as a result of colonial rule imposed on our country.

1. Before the Industrial Revolution, Hand Labour and Steam Power

Before the Industrial Revolution

We generally associate industrialization with the expansion of factories. When we talk about industrial production or industrial workers, we usually think of factories and factory workers. Industrialization histories should have started with the establishment of the first factory. However, there is a flaw in this notion as well. This is due to the fact that, even before factories began to operate in England and Europe, there was large-scale industrial production for an international market. As a result, many historians regard this period as the beginning of industrialization.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, merchants in Europe began to move to the countryside, where they used to supply money to persuade rural peasants and artisans to produce for the international market. As global trade expanded and colonisation of various parts of the globe began, the demand for goods increased. The merchants were unable to expand production in the towns, which created a problem. Because the urban crafts and trade guilds were more powerful, this was the case. These were the powerful producer groups or associations. They used to train craftspeople and maintain control over production, as well as regulate competition and prices and even restrict new businessmen's entry into the trade. Even the Kings granted monopolies to a few associations. Other than these organisations, no one else could manufacture or sell specific products. As a result, we can conclude that any new merchant faced stiff competition. As a result, the majority of them moved to the villages.

As a result, peasants in the countryside who were previously reliant on common fields for survival, where they gathered firewood, berries, vegetables, hay, and straw, began looking for alternative sources of income. Most of them had small plots that could not support all of the family members. As a result, they readily agreed to work for the merchants. The main advantage of working for the merchants was that it allowed them to stay in the countryside and tend to their fields while working for the prototype industries. Working in such industries not only provided them with a source of income, but also allowed them to fully utilise their family's labour resources.

Because of this system, a close relationship developed between villages and towns. Merchants were generally based in towns, whereas the majority of the work was done in the countryside. A merchant dealing in clothing would purchase wool from a wool stapler, then transport it to spinners, who would then transport the thread to weavers, fullers, and dyers in subsequent stages of production. Before exporting the cloth to the international market, the final finishing was completed in London. London quickly established itself as a finishing point.

As a result, this proto-industrial system was part of a commercial exchange network. It was dominated by merchants, and the goods were produced by a large number of producers who worked from home rather than in factories. Each merchant employed between 20 and 25 workers at each stage. So, in this case, we can say that each merchant had approximately 100 employees working for him.

The Coming Up of the Factory

Although factories were established in England by the 1730s, it was only the late eighteenth century that the number of factories increased. Cotton was the first sign of the new era. In the late nineteenth century, cotton production increased. In 1760, the United Kingdom imported 2.5 million pounds of raw cotton to use as a raw material in its cotton industry. So, the question here is what caused this increase in cotton production. Let's take a closer look at this.

The numerous inventions made during the eighteenth century increased the efficacy of each step of the manufacturing process. These inventions increased worker output and enabled them to produce more. Not only that, but they could now manufacture stronger threads and yarn. Richard Arkwright later invented the cotton mill. As a result, a new change in the manufacturing process has been observed. Previously, cloth production was dispersed throughout the countryside and carried out within village households, but merchants began purchasing machines and establishing mills. This simplified the entire process, which was now carried out under one roof.

As a result, the entire manufacturing process was more closely monitored. Now, one could handle a variety of tasks, such as:

  • Keeping an eye on the quantity.
  • Regulation of a labour.

When the work was done in the countryside, such things were not possible. Factories became an important part of the English landscape at the beginning of the nineteenth century. So, how rapid was the process of industrialization, and did it only imply the establishment of new factories? Let's take a look at it in stages.

The Pace of Industrial Change

First, cotton and metal industries grew in popularity in the United Kingdom. Cotton was the leading industry in Britain in the 1840s. The iron and steel industry followed. However, with the expansion of the rail network in England during the 1840s and in colonies during the 1860s, demand for iron and steel began to pick up. As a result, by 1873, Britain was exporting iron and steel worth 77 million pounds, which was more than double the value of its cotton exports.

Second, new industries were unable to completely replace traditional industries. It can also be seen at the end of the nineteenth century that less than 20% of the total workforce was employed in technologically advanced industries. Textiles, for example, was a dynamic industry, but many of its products were still manufactured in households rather than factories.

Third, while steam-powered cotton mills and metal industries did not determine the rate of change in traditional industries, we cannot say that these industries became motionless. Nonetheless, small innovations served as the foundation for growth in many non-mechanized fields such as food processing, pottery, building, furniture making, and so on.

Fourth, technological progress has been slow for a variety of reasons. Purchasing such machines, for example, was an expensive investment, and many industrialists were opposed to it. Furthermore, the repair of these machines was expensive, and they were not as good as the inventors or makers claimed.

In the context of the steam engine, this is easily understood. In 1781, James Watt improved Newcomen's steam engine and obtained patent rights to it. Watt's new engine was built by his industrialist friend Mathew Boulton. However, the issue arose when they were unable to find a buyer for several years. There were only 321 steam engines in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Eighty of these were used in the cotton industry, while nine were used in the wool industry. The left ones were used in mining, canals, and iron works.

As a result, we can conclude that the most advanced technology of the time, which increased labour productivity by a factor of ten, was not readily accepted by industrialists. According to historians, the mid-nineteenth-century worker was primarily a traditional craftsperson rather than a machine operator.

So, now that we know how the industrial revolution occurred and how industries were established, new inventions were occurring. Now we'll talk about the labourers and steam power. So, let's see what happens.

Hand Labour and Steam Power

During Queen Victoria's reign, there was a plentiful supply of labourers available in the United Kingdom. In search of work, a large number of poor peasants moved from one city to another. We are all aware that when there are a large number of workers available for work, the wages paid to these workers are generally low. As a result, the industrialists faced no shortage of labourers or high wages. They could easily find low-wage workers to work for them. This was one of the main reasons why these industrialists were unwilling to spend large sums of money on purchasing the machines.

There were several industries where labour demand was seasonal. During the cold months, for example, gas works and breweries were generally busy. As a result, the demand for workers was higher during this time period. Even bookbinders and printers, who cater to the holiday season, required extra help before December. Not only that, but the shipping industry was generally repaired and spruced up during the winter season. So, in this case, we can say that industries that dealt with seasonal business relied heavily on seasonal labourers.

Hand labour was used to make a variety of products. Machines were used in the production of uniform or standardised goods for the mass market back then. However, there was a high demand for goods with intricate designs or specific shapes. In mid-nineteenth-century Britain, for example, 500 different types of hammers and 45 different types of axes were manufactured. Because this type of production necessitated skilled labour, mechanical technology was not preferred. The upper classes in Britain, such as the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie, preferred handcrafted items. Handmade items were regarded as a sign of wealth and privilege. Handmade items were better finished and more carefully designed. Machine goods, on the other hand, were intended for export to the colonies.

When we talk about countries with less manpower. Machines were preferred by industrialists for production purposes. This was evident in the case of America, but Britain had no such problem because it had a large manpower or labour supply. So, we now know that in some countries, there were a large number of workers available, whereas in others, production was dependent on machines due to a lack of workforce availability. But the question now is, what kind of life did these workers lead? Let's see what happens.

Life of the Workers

The market's large supply of workers had a greater impact on the lives of these workers. If news of new job opportunities reaches the villages, a large number of people will migrate to cities in search of work. If you had any friends or relatives who worked in a factory, it was simple to find work. However, some job seekers had to wait for weeks before finding work. They were forced to spend the night under bridges or in night shelters. Other options for lodging included night shelters set up by individuals or casual wards managed by law enforcement.

On the other hand, many industries' work was seasonal, resulting in extended periods of unemployment. When the season ended, the workers were stranded on the streets, without work or money. Some of them used to return to the countryside, while others tried to find odd jobs to make ends meet.

Wage increases occurred in the early nineteenth century. However, whether they were sufficient for a worker's well-being is unknown. When the state was at war, the fluctuation in trade had an effect on the workers' wages. For example, during the Napoleonic war, the wages paid to workers were insufficient because the prices of goods had risen, making them unable to purchase the necessary items. Even the workers' wages were not solely determined by the wage rate. The period of employment played a significant role. The number of jobs was used as a starting point to calculate the workers' average daily earnings. As a result, by the mid-nineteenth century, approximately 10% of the urban population was extremely poor. However, during the depression, the situation worsened and unemployment rose to 75% from 35% in various regions.

The issue of unemployment created fear in the workers. Because of their apprehension, they were hostile to the new technology. As a result, when the spinning wheel was introduced into the woollen industry. Many of the women who used to work in these factories are now unemployed. As a result, the workers begin to attack these factories. This conflict lasted a long time. Building activity in cities increased after the 1840s. Various construction projects were undertaken, including road widening, bridge construction, tunnel digging, and river embankment construction. This resulted in the creation of new job opportunities. The number of workers employed in the transportation industry doubled in the 1840s and then doubled again in the following years. So, now we'll look at how industrialization began in colonies.

2. Industrialization in the Colonies


The Age of Indian Textiles

  • Before machine industries: silk and cotton goods from India dominated the international market.
  • Coarser cotton were produced in many countries, but finer varieties often came from India.
    • Armenian & Persian merchants took items from Punjab to:
      • Afghanistan,
      • Eastern Persia,
      • Central Asia.
    • Loads of fine textiles carried on camelback via the northwest frontier, through mountain passes and across deserts.
  • A sea trade operated through the main pre-colonial port:
    • Surat on the Gujarat coast connected India to the Gulf and Red Sea Ports;
    • Masulipatam on the Coromandel coast & Hoogly in Bengal had trade links with Southeast Asian ports.
  • Indian merchants and bankers were involved in this network of export trade:
    • financing production,
    • carrying goods,
    • supplying exporters.
The English factory at Surat, a seventeenth-century drawing.
  • Supply merchants linked the port towns to the inland regions.
    • They gave advances to weavers, procured the woven cloth from weaving villages, and carried the supply to the ports.
    • At the port, the big shippers & export merchants had brokers who negotiated the price and bought goods from the supply merchants operating inland.
  • 1750s: the network controlled by Indian merchants was breaking down.
  • The European companies gradually gained power:
    • They secured a variety of concessions from local courts, then the monopoly rights to trade.
    • This led to a decline of the old ports of Surat and Hoogly through which local merchants had operated.
    • Exports from these ports fell:
      • the credit that had financed the earlier trade began drying up,
      • the local bankers slowly went bankrupt.
    • Last years of 17th century: the gross value of trade passing through Surat had been Rs 16 million.
      • By the 1740s it had slumped to Rs 3 million.
  • Bombay and Calcutta grew.
    • Shift from the old ports to new ones: an indicator of the growth of colonial power.
  • New ports: Trade controlled by European companies, and carried in European ships.
  • Many of the old trading houses collapsed,
    • Those wanting to survive had to operate within a network shaped by European trading companies.

What Happened to Weavers?

  • After the 1760s: The consolidation of East India Company power.
    • British cotton industries: not yet expanded,
    • Indian fine textiles: in great demand in Europe.
    • The company was keen on expanding textile exports from India.
  • 1760s & 1770s: East India Company found it difficult to ensure a regular supply of goods for export.
    • They then set up political power in Bengal and Carnatic.
  • The French, Dutch, Portuguese, as well as local traders, competed in the market to secure the woven cloth.
    • Weaver and supply merchants could bargain and try selling the produce to the best buyer.
    • In letters back to London, Company officials complained of difficulties of supply and high prices.
  • East India Company established political power: it could assert a monopoly right to trade.
  • It proceeded to develop a system of management and control that would:
    • eliminate competition,
    • control costs,
    • ensure regular supplies of cotton and silk goods. This it did through a series of steps:
  1. It tried to eliminate existing traders & brokers connected with the cloth trade, and establish more direct control over the weaver.
    It appointed gomastha: a paid servant to supervise weavers, collect supplies, & examine the quality of cloth.
  2. It prevented Company weavers from dealing with other buyers.
    One way of doing this: the system of advances.
    An order placed: weavers given loans to purchase raw material for production.
    Those who took loans had to hand over the cloth they produced to the gomastha.
    They could not take it to any other trader.
A weaver at work, Gujarat.
  • Loans flowed in & the demand for fine textiles expanded: weavers took the advances, hoping to earn more.
    • Earlier: Many weavers had small plots of land which they cultivated alongside, the producers took care of their family needs.
    • Now: they leased out the land & devoted their time to weaving.
      Weaving required labor of whole family, children & women helped in various stages of processing.
  • In many weaving villages, there were reports of clashes between weavers and gomasthas.
    • Earlier: supply merchants often lived within the weaving villages, and had a close relationship with the weavers, looking after their needs & helping them in times of crisis.
    • Now: The gomasthas were outsiders, with no long-term social link with the village.
      • They acted arrogantly: marched into villages with sepoys & peons, & punished weavers for delays in supply– often beating & flogging them.
      • The weavers lost the space to bargain for prices & sell to different buyers: the price received from the Company was miserably low & the loans they had accepted tied them to the Company.
  • In many places in Carnatic and Bengal, weavers deserted villages and migrated, setting up looms in other villages where they had some family relations.
  • Weavers along with the village traders revolted, opposing the Company and its officials
    • Overtime: they began refusing loans, closing down their workshops & taking to agricultural labor.
  • By the turn of the 19th century, cotton weavers faced a new set of problems.

Manchester Comes to India

  • 1772: Henry Patullo, a Company official, said that the demand for Indian textiles could never reduce since no other nation produced goods of the same quality.
  • Beginning of 19th century: a long decline of textile exports from India.
    • 1811-12: piece-goods accounted for 33% of India’s exports;
    • 1850-51: it was no more than 3.

The reason & its implications:

  • Cotton industries developed in England: industrial groups worried about imports from other countries.
    • Pressurized government to impose import duties on cotton textiles so that Manchester goods could sell in Britain without facing any competition.
    • Industrialists persuaded the East India Company to sell British manufactures in Indian markets.
    • Exports of British cotton goods increased dramatically in the early 19th century.
  • End of 18th century: virtually no import of cotton piece goods into India.
    • By 1850: cotton piece-goods constituted over 31% of the value of Indian imports;
    • by the 1870s: it was over 50%.
  • Cotton weavers in India faced two problems:
    1. their export market collapsed,
    2. the local market shrank, being glutted with Manchester imports.
  • Produced by machines at lower costs, the imported cotton goods were so cheap that weavers could not easily compete with them.
  • By the 1850s: most weaving regions of India were of decline and desolation.
  • By the 1860s: weavers could not get a sufficient supply of raw cotton of good quality.
    • American Civil War broke out: cotton supplies from the US cut off, Britain turned to India.
  • Raw cotton exports from India increased, the price of raw cotton shot up.
    • Weavers in India were starved of supplies and forced to buy raw cotton at exorbitant prices.
    • In this situation, weaving could not pay.
  • By the end of the 19th century: weavers & other craftspeople faced yet another problem.
    • Factories in India began production, flooding the market with machine goods.
Bombay harbor, a late-18th-century drawing.
Bombay and Calcutta grew as trading ports from the 1780s.
This marked the decline of the old trading order and the growth of the colonial economy.


2. Industrialization in the Colonies

2. Industrialization in the Colonies

When we talk about colonies, we are referring to areas that were colonised by European powers. We will talk about India in this section. Britain had a colony in India. So now we'll see how a colony becomes industrialised.

The Age of Indian Textiles

Indian textiles, particularly silk and cotton goods, were well-known on the international market. As a result, prior to the development of various types of machines, Indian textiles dominated the international market. Cotton was produced in a variety of countries, but it was coarse. Cotton of the highest quality was produced in India. Armenian and Persian merchants transported the goods from Punjab to Afghanistan, from where they were transported to eastern Persia and central Asia. Camels were used to transport bales of fine textiles across the North West frontier, through mountain passes, and across deserts. On the other hand, it was exported via sea routes from Surat and Gujarat to Gulf and Red Sea ports, while Masulipatnam on the Coromandel Coast and Hooghly in Bengal had trade links with Southeast Asian ports.

Various Indian merchants were involved in the entire export trade process, such as financing production, transporting goods, and supplying exporters. Supply merchants connected the port towns to the inland regions. They used to give weavers advances and buy woven cloth from weaving villages. They would then transport the supplies to the ports. At the port, there were export merchants and large shippers who used brokers to make deals by negotiating prices so that they could buy goods from inland supply merchants. However, by 1750, the entire export network controlled by Indian merchants had begun to fail.

It was because European firms had now arrived on the scene. They began gaining power by obtaining a variety of concessions from local courts and then establishing a trade monopoly. All of this contributed to the decline of old ports such as Surat and Hooghly, which were used by local merchants. Exports began to fall, and the situation quickly deteriorated to the point where local bankers went bankrupt. Surat's trade fell to Rs 3 million from 16 million in the last year of the seventeenth century.

Though old ports like Surat and Hooghly were declining, the ports of Bombay and Calcutta began to grow. This shift was a clear indication of the colonial power's expansion. The European powers ruled over all trade activities. Any Indian trader who wanted to live had to work for them. There were some other changes that occurred in the lives of weavers and artisans while all of these changes were taking place. What caused this to happen? Let's see what happens.

What Happened to Weavers?

The East India Company was able to maintain a firm grip on India after 1760, but this had no effect on our country's weavers. Because the British cotton industry did not grow at first, demand for Indian textiles was high in the international market. As a result, Britishers initially concentrated solely on increasing textile exports from India.

The East India Company was able to gain political power over Bengal and Carnatic in the 1760s and 1770s, but prior to this, the company faced significant difficulties in ensuring an uninterrupted supply of goods for export. It was so because there were so many other European companies present at the time with similar intentions, such as the French, Dutch, Portuguese, and even local traders. As a result, we can conclude that there was strong competition among buyers. It was a golden period for weavers and supply merchants because they could get the best price for their product. During that time, company officials were required to send letters to London describing the difficulty of obtaining supplies and the high prices of the goods.

The company quickly established political control over the area. This resulted in the company exercising monopoly power over a specific trade. It devised a system to eliminate competition, control costs, and ensure a consistent supply of textiles. All of this happened in the course of a process. Let's take a look at the steps that were taken.

First and foremost, the Company removed the local leaders and brokers from the entire process. They got in touch with the weaver directly. Gumastha, a paid servant, was assigned to supervise, collect supplies, and inspect the quality of the cloth.

Second, the Company has mandated that the Company weavers not contact any other buyer. So, in order to make this a reality, they began making advances to them. Following the placement of the order, some loans were made available to the weavers for the purpose of weaving a cloth, which was later handed over to the gomastha. They were unable to deal with anyone else as a result of their actions. As weavers received loans and the demand for Indian textiles increased, weavers leased out their small holdings to carry on the weaving. Their families also assisted them because the job required a large number of people.

However, the entire scenario quickly changed. Conflicts between gomastha and weavers began to emerge from the weaving villages. Previously, the merchants were locals who had good relationships with the weavers. They used to come to their aid when they were in need. The gumastha, on the other hand, were the outsiders, harsh and arrogant. They used to use peons and sepoys to punish the weavers if they were late with their work. Furthermore, weavers began to face a variety of issues as a result of the Company's loans, which bound them to a single buyer. Their earnings were pitiful, and their lives were miserable.

Weavers in many places in Carnatic and Bengal left their villages and migrated to villages where relatives lived, or they revolted against the Company and its officials. Many of the weavers later refused to work as weavers and returned to their agricultural work. But this was not the end of their problems; by the nineteenth century, they were confronted with a new set of issues.

Manchester Comes to India

It is said that Henry Patullo, a Company official in 1772, declared that demand for Indian textiles would never decline, but it was later discovered that Indian exports had declined. In 1811-12, India had a 33 percent share of the trade, which had dropped to 3 percent in 1850-51. So the question is, what caused this to happen? What were the consequences?

With the expansion of cotton industries in England, industrialists began to be concerned about imports that could harm their trade. As a result, they lobbied the government to impose import duties on cotton textiles. This would allow them to easily sell Manchester goods without facing any competition. The industries, on the other hand, asked the East India Company to sell Manchester textile in India. This resulted in an increase in British exports. As a result of an increase in trade of British cotton in 1850, the Indian textile began to decline, which led to the decline of Indian weavers.

By 1860, the Indian weavers were facing a new challenge. The problem was a scarcity of raw cotton. When the civil war broke out in America, a major supplier of raw cotton. As a result, the British turned to India for raw cotton supplies. As a result, the price of raw cotton in India has risen. Purchasing cotton at a high price was not a profitable endeavour for them. Not only that, but factories presented them with a new problem. All of this made survival difficult for them. However, by 1850, cotton piece-goods accounted for more than 31% of the value of Indian imports, and by the 1870s, this figure had risen to more than 50%. Cotton weavers in India were thus confronted with two problems at the same time: their export market had collapsed, and the local market had shrunk due to a glut of Manchester imports.

3. Factories Come Up


  • 1854, Bombay: first cotton mill came up.
    • 1856: went into production.
  • 1862: four mills were at work with 94,000 spindles and 2,150 looms.
  • 1855, Bengal: first jute mill came up.
    • 1862: another jute mill set up.
  • The 1860s, Kanpur, North India: the Elgin Mill was started.
    • a year later: the first cotton mill of Ahmedabad was set up.
  • 1874: the first spinning & weaving mill of Madras began production.

The Early Entrepreneurs

The history of many business groups: trade with China

  • Late 18th century: the British in India began exporting opium to China & took tea from China to England.
    • Many Indians became junior players:
      • providing finance,
      • procuring supplies,
      • shipping consignments.
    • Some of these businessmen had visions of developing industrial enterprises in India.
  • Bengal: Dwarkanath Tagore made his fortune in the China trade.
    • Then he turned to industrial investment, setting up 6 joint-stock companies in the 1830s & 1840s.
    • Tagore’s enterprises sank along with those of others in the wider business crises of the 1840s,
    • 19th century: many of the China traders became successful industrialists.
  • Bombay: Parsis like Dinshaw Petit & Jamsetjee Nusserwanjee Tata built industrial empires in India, accumulated their initial wealth partly from exports to China, partly from raw cotton shipments to England.
    • 1917, Calcutta: Seth Hukumchand, Marwari businessman. Set up 1st jute mill, had traded in China.
    • The father as well as the grandfather of the famous industrialist G.D. Birla traded with China.
  • The capital was accumulated through other trade networks.
    • Some merchants from Madras traded with Burma,
    • Others had links with the Middle East & East Africa.
  • There were other commercial groups that were not directly involved in external trade.
    • Operated within India, carried goods to places, banked money, transferring funds between cities, & financed traders.
    • When opportunities for investment in industries opened up, many of them set up factories.
  • Colonial control over Indian trade tightened: the functioning of Indian merchants could become limited. They:
    • Were barred from trading with Europe in manufactured goods,
    • Had to export raw materials & food grains needed by British: raw cotton, opium, wheat & indigo.
    • They were gradually edged out of the shipping business.
  • Till World War I: European Managing Agencies controlled a large sector of Indian industries.
    • Three of the biggest ones:
      • Bird Heiglers & Co.,
      • Andrew Yule,
      • Jardine Skinner & Co.
    • The Agencies mobilized capital, set up joint-stock companies and managed them.
    • Indian financiers provided capital; European Agencies made all investment & business decisions.
  • European merchant-industrialists: had chambers of commerce. Indian businessmen weren’t allowed to join.
Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy.

He was the son of a Parsi weaver. He was involved in the China trade & shipping. He owned a large fleet of ships, but competition from English & American shippers forced him to sell his ships by the 1850s.

Dwarkanath Tagore.

He believed that India would develop through westernization and industrialization.
He invested in shipping, shipbuilding, mining, banking, plantations & insurance.

Partners in enterprise – J.N. Tata, R.D. Tata, Sir R.J. Tata, and Sir D.J. Tata.

1912: J.N. Tata set up the first iron and steel works in India at Jamshedpur.
Iron & steel industries in India started much later than textiles.
In colonial India industrial machinery, railways & locomotives were mostly imported.
So capital goods industries could not really develop in any significant way till Independence.

Where Did the Workers Come From?

  • With the expansion of factories, demand for workers increased.
  • 1901: 584,000 workers in Indian factories.
  • 1946: over 2,436,000 workers in Indian factories.
Young workers of a Bombay mill, early 20th century.
When workers went back to their village homes, they liked dressing up.
  • Most industrial regions: workers came from the districts around.
    • Peasants & artisans without work in the village went to the industrial centers for work.
  • 1911, Bombay: Over 50% of workers in cotton industries came from the neighbouring district of Ratnagiri.
  • The mills of Kanpur: most of their textile workers are from the villages within the district of Kanpur.
    • Millworkers moved between village & city, returning to village homes during harvests & festivals.
  • News of employment spread: workers traveled distances in the hope of working in the mills.
    • From United Provinces, they went to work in the textile mills of Bombay & in the jute mills of Calcutta.
A head jobber.
The posture and clothes emphasize the jobber’s position of authority.
  • Getting jobs: always difficult.
    • even when mills multiplied and the demand for workers increased.
    • The numbers seeking work were always more than the jobs available.
  • Entry into the mills: restricted.
    • Industrialists usually employed a jobber to get new recruits.
    • The jobber: an old and trusted worker.
      • He got people from his village, ensured them jobs, helped them settle in the city and provided them money in times of crisis.
      • The jobber: a person with some authority and power.
      • He began demanding money & gifts for his favor & controlling the lives of workers.
  • The number of factory workers increased over time.
Spinners at work in an Ahmedabad mill. Women worked mostly in the spinning departments.


3. Factories Come Up

3. Factories Come Up and Early  Entrepreneurs

Factories Come Up

The first cotton mill in Bombay was established in 1854. After two years, production in this factory began. By 1862, there were four mills producing approximately 94000 spindles and 2150 looms. During that time, factories were also being built in Bengal. The first factory in Bengal was established in 1855, followed by the second in 1862. In the 1860s, a mill was established in Kanpur, India. Elgin Mill was its name. Ahmedabad soon received its first mill. Madras got its first mill in 1874 as well.

As a result, we can see that a large number of factories or mills were established between 1854 and 1874. However, the question here is that. Who established the industries? Where did the money come from, and who worked in the mills? So, tell us about the people who built these mills. They were known as entrepreneurs.

The Early Entrepreneurs

History demonstrates the various business groups in India's trade connection with China. The British in India began trading opium and tea with China in the late eighteenth century. Many Indians, however, entered the trade as junior players. They used to provide financing, obtain supplies, and ship the shipments. They profited handsomely from this and considered establishing industrial enterprises in India. In Bengal, for example, Dwarkanath Tagore made his fortune in the China trade before transitioning to industrial investment, establishing six joint stock companies in the 1830s and 1840s. However, during the 1840s business crisis, Tagore's business took a hit. However, by the late nineteenth century, many of those dealing with China had become successful industrialists. Coming to Bombay, Parsi businessmen like Dinshaw Petit and Jamsetjee Nusserwanjee Tata were able to build their empires by earning money from exports to China and raw cotton exports to England. Not only that, but others, such as Seth Hukamchand, a Marwari businessman who established the first Indian jute mill in Calcutta in 1917, as well as the father and grandfather of the famous industrialist G.D Birla, traded with China.

China was not the only trade link that could earn money for businessmen; there were numerous other countries that had trade links with India, allowing Indians to earn more money. Some Madras merchants, for example, traded with Burma, while others had connections with the Middle East and east Africa. Not everyone was involved in international trade. There were some who worked solely within India. Their responsibilities included transporting goods, banking money, transferring funds between cities, and financing traders. When opportunities for investment in industries arose, many of them established factories.

However, when the British gained political power in India, they left only a small space for Indian merchants. As a result, Indian merchants were no longer permitted to trade in manufactured goods with Europeans. They were only able to trade in raw materials and food grains such as raw cotton, opium, wheat, and indigo. They were eventually pushed out of the shipping business as well. However, when the British gained political power in India, they left only a small space for Indian merchants. As a result, Indian merchants were no longer permitted to trade in manufactured goods with Europeans. They were only able to trade in raw materials and food grains such as raw cotton, opium, wheat, and indigo. They were eventually pushed out of the shipping business as well.

The fact that European managing agencies controlled Indian industries until the First World War demonstrated British control over the Indian business sector. Bird Heiglers & Co., Andrew Yule, and Jardine Skinner & Co. were three of the largest. These organisations raised capital, formed joint stock companies, and managed them. In the majority of cases, European agencies were in charge of all investments and business decisions. They had their own chambers of commerce where Indian businessmen were not permitted. So, now that we've learned about entrepreneurs and capital sources. Let us now discuss the employees who worked in these factories. What were they like, and where did they come from?


Where Did the Workers Come From?


As we all know, when factories are built, workers are required to carry out all of the factory's operations. This demand increased as factories expanded. There were 584000 workers in Indian factories in 1901. By 1946, the figure had risen to over 2436000. All of these workers were mostly locals who lived in the areas where the factories were located. So, in 1911, the majority of workers in Bombay cotton industries were supplied by Ratnagiri district, and workers in the Kanpur mill were from villages within Kanpur district. In general, villagers commuted between the village and the city, returning to their village homes for harvests and festivals.

As a result, whenever word of a job opening reached the workers, they would travel long distances in search of work in the mills. People from the United Provinces (Uttar Pradesh) would travel to Bombay or Calcutta to find work. Getting a job was not an easy task; while the number of mills was increasing, so was the number of job seekers. Aside from that, another issue was that it was difficult to find work in the mill. The mill owners used to delegate this task to jobbers. A jobber was a trusted worker who preferred well-known jobs. He recruited people from his village, placed them in jobs, assisted them in settling in the city, and provided them with financial assistance during times of crisis. As a result, the jobber gained some authority and power. They quickly gained authority and gained some status. They began accepting gifts and money from those who wanted to work in the mills.

We have learned so far about how factories were established in India. We will now discuss the expansion of industries in India.

The Peculiarities of Industrial Growth

When we discuss industrial growth in India during British rule, we can see an unusual sign of growth of some specific industries. It was because certain types of products attracted the interest of European management agencies. As a result, they established tea and coffee plantations, as well as investments in mining, indigo, and jute. These were the products that were most commonly exported to Europe.

When Indian businessmen began establishing industries in the late nineteenth century, they had no intention of competing with Manchester goods. As a result, these industries produced coarse yarn rather than fabric. This yarn was commonly used by handloom weavers in India or exported to China.

Various changes occurred during the first decade of the twentieth century, resulting in a shift in the pattern of industrialisation. With the rise of national movements such as the Swadeshi movement, which mobilised people to boycott foreign clothing, Industrial organisations formed to protect the interests of the business class. They began to put pressure on the government to lower tariffs and make other concessions. Also, beginning in 1906, Indian yarn exports to China decreased because the demand for yarn was now being met by Chinese and Japanese cotton mills. As a result, Indian industries shifted their focus from yarn to fabric or cotton pieces. This resulted in a doubling of goods production between 1900 and 1912.

Though Indian industries were growing, it was slow until the First World War. The war brought about a new situation. Imports from Manchester to India decreased as British mills were occupied with the production of war-related goods. This provided a fantastic opportunity for Indian industries to grow. As the war dragged on, Indian factories were called upon to supply war necessities such as jute bags, army uniforms, tents, and leather boots, among others. As a result, new factories were built, while old ones continued to operate in multiple shifts. A growing number of employees were hired. During the war years, production increased.

Manchester goods were unable to regain their position in the Indian market after the war. The British economy lagged behind because it was unable to compete with the modern economies of the United States, Germany, and Japan. Local industrialists grew stronger within the colonies and began producing substitutes for foreign goods. As a result, we can see how changes were occurring. Now we will talk about small-scale industries in India.

4. The Peculiarities of Industrial Growth and Market for Goods


  • European Managing Agencies dominated industrial production in India, interested in certain kinds of products.
    • They established tea and coffee plantations,
    • Acquired land at cheap rates from the colonial government;
    • they invested in mining, indigo and jute.
  • Most products: required primarily for export trade.
  • Late 19th century: Indian businessmen began setting up industries.
    • they avoided competing with Manchester goods in the Indian market.
    • Yarn: not an important part of British imports,
      • early cotton spinning mills produced coarse cotton yarn (thread) rather than fabric.
  • Yarn imports: only of the superior variety.
    • Indian yarn: used by handloom weavers in India or exported to China.
  • 1st decade of 20th century: swadeshi movement gathered momentum,
    • nationalists mobilized people to boycott foreign cloth.
  • Industrial groups: organized themselves to protect collective interests,
    • pressurized the government to increase tariff protection and grant other concessions.
  • 1906: export of Indian yarn to China declined.
    • Produce from Chinese and Japanese mills flooded the Chinese market.
  • Industrialists in India: shifted from yarn to cloth production.
    • 1900-1912: Cotton piece-goods production in India doubled.
  • Till World War I: industrial growth slow.
    • The war: British mills busy with war production. Manchester imports into India declined.
    • Indian mills: a vast home market to supply.
      • Prolonged war: Indian factories called to supply war needs:
        • jute bags,
        • cloth for army uniforms,
        • tents and leather boots,
        • horse and mule saddles, etc.
      • New factories were set up and old ones ran multiple shifts.
  • New workers employed. Everyone made to work longer hours.
    • War years: industrial production boomed.
  • After the war: Manchester never recaptured its old position in the Indian market.
    • British economy crumbled: unable to modernize & compete with the US, Germany & Japan.
      • Cotton production collapsed.
      • Exports of cotton cloth from Britain fell.
      • Within the colonies: local industrialists gradually consolidated their position, substituted foreign manufacturers & captured the home market.
The first office of the Madras Chamber of Commerce.

By the late 19th century merchants in different regions began meeting & forming Chambers of Commerce to regulate business & decide on issues of collective concern.

Small-scale Industries Predominate

  • After the war: Factory industries grew steadily, large industries formed a small segment of the economy.
    • 1911: about 67% are located in Bengal and Bombay.
    • Rest of the country: small-scale production continued to predominate.
  • A small proportion of the total industrial labor force worked in registered factories:
      • 5% in 1911 and 10% in 1931.
    • Rest worked in small workshops & household units, often located in alleys & by-lanes.
  • 20th century: handicrafts production expanded. Also the case of the handloom sector.
    • 19th century: Cheap machine-made thread wiped out the spinning industry.
      • Weavers survived, despite problems.
  • 20th century: handloom cloth production expanded steadily. 1900-1940: almost trebling.
    • Partly because of technological changes.
    • Handicrafts people adopt new technology if that helps them improve production without excessively pushing up costs.
    • The second decade of 20th century: weavers used looms with a fly shuttle.
      • increased productivity per worker speeded up production and reduced labor demand.
  • 1941: over 35% of handlooms in India are fitted with fly shuttles. In regions like:
    • Travancore,
    • Madras,
    • Mysore,
    • Cochin,
    • Bengal
      • the proportion was 70 to 80%.
      • Several other small innovations that helped weavers improve their productivity & compete with the mill sector.
A Hand-woven Cloth.
Intricate designs of hand-woven cloth could not be easily copied by the mills.
  • Certain groups of weavers were in a better position than others to survive the competition.
    • Some produced coarse cloth while others wove finer varieties.
    • Coarser cloth: bought by the poor & its demand fluctuated violently.
      • In times of bad harvests and famines, the rural poor could not buy cloth.
  • The demand for the finer varieties bought by the well-to-do was more stable.
    • The rich could buy these even when the poor starved.
    • Famines did not affect the sale of Banarasi or Baluchari saris.
  • Mills could not imitate specialized weaves.
    • Woven borders saris, famous lungis & handkerchiefs of Madras, couldn’t be displaced by mills.
  • 20th century: Weavers & craftspeople who continued to expand production did not necessarily prosper.
    • They lived hard lives and worked long hours.
    • Very often the entire household had to work at various stages of the production process.

Location of large-scale industries in India, 1931. The circles indicate the size of industries in the different regions.

Market for Goods

  • British manufacturers attempted to take over the Indian market.
  • New products produced: people to be persuaded to buy them. They have to feel like using the product.
Gripe Water calendar of 1928 by M.V. Dhurandhar.
The image of baby Krishna was most commonly used to popularise baby products.
  • Ways to create customers:
    • Advertisements: make products appear desirable and necessary.
      • They try to shape the minds of people and create new needs.
      • Manchester industrialists selling cloth in India: they put labels on the cloth bundles.
      • The label was needed to make the place of manufacture and the name of the company familiar to the buyer. The label was also to be a mark of quality.
      • ‘MADE IN MANCHESTER’ written on the label: buyers expected to feel confident buying it.
      • They also carried images and were very often beautifully illustrated.
      • Images of Indian gods and goddesses regularly appeared on these labels.
      • Association with gods gave some divine approval to the goods being sold.
        • Intention: make the foreign manufacturing appear somewhat familiar to Indians.
Manchester labels, early 20th century.

Images of numerous Indian gods and goddesses – Kartika, Lakshmi, Saraswati – are shown in imported cloth labels approving the quality of the product being marketed.

  • Late 19th century: manufacturers were printing calendars to popularise their products.
    • Calendars were used even by people who could not read.
    • They were hung in tea shops & poor people’s homes as much as in offices & middle-class houses.
    • Those who hung the calendars regularly saw the advertisements.
    • In these calendars, the figures of gods were used to sell new products.
    • Images of important personages, emperors and nawabs, also featured.
    • The message very often seemed to say:
      • if you respect the royal figure, then respect this product;
      • when the product was being used by kings, or produced under royal command, its quality could not be questioned.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh on a Manchester label.
Historic figures are used to create respect for the product.
  • When Indian manufacturers advertised the nationalist message was clear and loud.
    • If you care for the nation then buy products that Indians produce.
    • Advertisements became a vehicle of the nationalist message of swadeshi.
Sunlight soap calendar of 1934. God Vishnu is shown bringing sunlight from across the skies.
An Indian mill cloth label.
The goddess is shown offering cloth produced in an Ahmedabad mill, and asking people to use things made in India.
  • The age of industries meant major technological changes, the growth of factories, and the making of a new industrial labor force.
  • However, hand technology and small-scale production remained an important part of the industrial landscape.

4. The Peculiarities of Industrial Growth and Market for Goods

4. The Peculiarities of Industrial Growth and Market for Goods

Small Scale Industries Predominate

Though we can see how industries shifted their production patterns, which led to their growth, it is worth noting that large industries constituted only a small portion of the economy. As a result, approximately 67 percent of large industries were located in Bombay and Bengal in 1911. Small-scale production continued to predominate in the rest of the country. In registered factories, only a small number of industrial workers were employed. In 1911, it was 5%, and by 1931, it had risen to 10%. The remainder were employed in small workshops or in household units located in alleys and bylanes.

When it comes to the handloom and handicraft industries, they grew in the twentieth century. Despite the fact that cheap machine-made thread wiped out the spin industry, the handloom industry was able to survive, though with some difficulties for the weavers. The handloom industry expanded three times between 1900 and 1940, resulting in a nice growth in the twentieth century.

So, the question is, how did the handloom industry grow?

Half of the credit, of course, goes to the fact that handicraft artisans adopted new technologies. This enabled them to increase production without increasing production costs. Weavers began using looms with a fly shuttle by the twentieth century. Until 1941, fly shuttles were used on more than 35% of all handlooms. The ratio was 70-80 percent in Travancore, Madras, Mysore, Cochin, and Bengal. There were a few other innovations that aided weavers in increasing their output.

Some weavers were able to survive the competition with mill industries due to their superior position. Some of them produced coarse cloth. This type of cloth was commonly purchased by the poor, and its demand fluctuated. This was due to the fact that during famines or poor harvests, these people did not have enough money to purchase the cloth. Other weavers, on the other hand, used to produce fine cloth that was purchased by wealthy Indians. Famines had no effect on the demand for finer fabrics like Banarasi or Baluchari Saris. Furthermore, mills were unable to replicate the specialised weavers. Saris with woven borders, as well as the famous Madras lungis and handkerchiefs, dominated the market and were not replaced by mill production.

Weavers and other craftspeople who continued to expand their work were unable to prosper. These people had to deal with a variety of difficulties. In general, all family members were required to work. So far, we've learned about how industrialization began in Britain and then spread to India. We also read about the miserable lives of labourers, which began either as a result of the invention of machines or as a result of imperialism. However, things changed later on, and colonised countries saw an increase in local industries and production levels. The question now is where these products were sold and if there were any marketing strategies in place. Let's check this.

Market for Goods

We have already read about the British establishing control over the Indian market, as well as the resistance of Indian weavers, traders, and industrialists who demanded tariff protection and how they created market space for their product in their own way. We will now investigate how industrialists persuaded customers to purchase new products manufactured by them.

Advertising your product was one method of attracting customers. Advertisements, as we all know, make products appear necessary. The advertisements were aimed at preparing people's minds for their product and creating new demands. Nowadays, advertisements can be found almost anywhere: in newspapers, on television, on the streets, in magazines, and so on. However, in the past, when India's industrialisation was in its early stages, the use of advertisements played an important role in generating demand for the products.

Manchester industrialists initiated this practise by affixing labels to their cloth bundles. The primary goal of placing labels was to familiarise the customer with the company's name. As a result, a label with the words "Made in Manchester" was placed on the bundle, assuring the customer of the quality of the cloth and giving him confidence in purchasing the cloth. Labels used for advertising carried more than just words and texts. They also had images on them that revealed how calculative the manufacturers were.

Generally, images of Indian gods and goddesses were used to attract customer. Images of Krishna or Saraswati were used to make the foreign manufacturer appear familiar to Indians. Calendars were first used for advertising in the late nineteenth century. Manufacturers began to produce calendars that could be hung in homes, offices, and middle-class apartments. Indian god figures can also be found in these calendars.

Images of important people, such as kings or nawabs, were used in the same way that images of God were. These images conveyed the message that if you respect your king, you should also respect the product. Furthermore, it was a sign of quality assurance because the product was shown as the choice of Kings, indicating that it was of high quality. When Indian manufacturers advertised their products, the message was clear: if you are a true patriot, you should buy Indian products. Advertisements promoted the concept of nationalism or swadeshi.


As a result, we concluded that the age of industries meant technological advancement, industry growth, and the creation of a new industrial labour force. However, the handloom and small-scale industries remained an important part of the overall process