CBSE NCERT Class X (10th) | Social Studies | History

Chapter- 5 The Age of Industrialization


Before the Industrial Revolution

Industrialization did not exactly begin with industries and machines. The early industrialisation phase, also known as proto industrialisation paved the way for modern industrial economies.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, several merchants in Europe shifted their production to the countryside and persuaded peasants and artisans to produce for an international market. Open fields and common land were fast disappearing and peasants were desperately looking for alternate sources of income, so they readily agreed.

The proto industrial times involved a lot of workers who worked from their homes and not in factories. By the 1730s though factories began developing in Britain, they actually expanded in the late 18th century. Cotton was the first industry to grow in Britain. The invention of the cloth mill by Richard Arkwright brought a revolution to cloth production by bringing together the scattered processes under one single roof. Iron and steel was the next industry to flourish.

With the expansion of the railway network in Britain as well as in the colonies, there was a huge demand for iron and steel. Even at the end of the 19th century most textile production happened through domestic units.

Despite many small industries had begun using some technology in their processes, industrialists were still hesitant about the new machines due to their high repair and maintenance cost, so the shift to machines was a gradual and slow process.

Hand Labour and New Technology

During the 19th century, many people migrated to the industrial centres, in search of jobs. Since the market was flooded with people, labour was cheap.

Cheap labour was a profitable option for the industrialists, so rather than installing machines, the owners preferred to hire manual labour for a short period.

Manual work was also favoured for products that required intricate design and finish. Machines could be used to mass-produce uniform goods. It required craftsmanship and skill to make goods with individual specifications. So, workers had to spend weeks of extreme hardship before they finally got jobs.

During the 19th century, wages increased slightly but their real value remained low due to the consequent price rise. Till the mid-19th century nearly 10% of the urban population was very poor. During the economic slump, there was a dramatic rise in the unemployed population in the cities.
The innovation of new machines would replace the workers was another threat. The Spinning Jenny, designed by James Hargreaves in 1764 increased the pace of spinning and reduced the demand for labour, leaving hand spinners jobless.

The second half of the 19th century, the rise of building activities came as a blessing in disguise for the workers. Construction work for railways, road widening, drainage and sewers created new job opportunities.

Industrialisation in Colonies

Historically, India has been known the world over for its flowing silks and crisp cottons. Textiles were one of the most vital industries of India.

India had a huge international market for its textiles. The old sea ports of Surat, Masulipatam and Hoogly also enhanced the textile trade and connected India with the Gulf, ports in the Red Sea and South-East Asia.

Indian merchants and bankers played a key role in the export trade. The European companies obtained several concessions from local courts and secured monopoly rights to trade. The old Indian ports began to shrink and Bombay and Calcutta emerged as the new ports catering to the European companies.

The textile market in India was very competitive with a variety of foreign and local traders where a weaver and a supply merchant could negotiate the best price for the goods. After establishing its power, the East India Company developed a system of management and control. This system helped the company eradicate competition, control costs and ensure regular supply of textile goods. The company also appointed a paid servant called the Gomastha who supervised the weavers, collected their produce and examined the quality of cloth.

This did away with the brokers in cloth trade and made Gomasthas the sole buyers of the weavers’ produce. The Gomasthas were insensitive and paid very low prices to the weavers. In wake of this exploitation, some weavers rebelled and some migrated to other villages while a few of them even gave up weaving and became agricultural labourers.

With the arrival of goods from Manchester, the weavers faced stiff competition in the local markets. Due to the import duties overseas, Indian weavers lost their overseas market as well. This made the situation worse for the weavers as their export marked collapsed.

During the US Civil War, the cotton supplies to Britain drastically decreased and so Britain turned to India for support. This led to a sudden surge in raw cotton exports resulting in soaring cotton prices. Towards the end of the 19th century India saw the growth of factories and the fine art of weaving died a slow death.

Factories in India

Jamsetjee Nasserwanji Tata, for the Tata group of industries and Dwaraknath Tagore one of the first Indian businessmen invested in shipping, shipbuilding, mining, and banking and insurance. Indians got involved in the British China trade by providing finance, procure supplies and ship consignments.

After making money from the China trade, some Indians decided to set up their own industries. In Bengal, Dwarkanath Tagore invested his money to set up six joint stock companies in the 1830s and 1840s, but they did not flourish.

Jamsetjee Nasserwanji Tata and Dinshaw Petit established industries in Bombay while Seth Hukumchand set up the first jute mill in Calcutta.

The stringent policies of the British government restricted their trade. Their exports were limited to items like cotton, opium, wheat and indigo which were required by the British.

European managing agencies were given the task of controlling Indian industries. These agencies rendered Indian industrialists helpless and had complete control over all the investments and key business decisions.

Indian factories multiplied in the second half of the 19th century. The first cotton mill was established in Bombay in 1854. A few years later, the first jute mill sprung up in Bengal. A strong labour force was required in these mills which opened new avenues of employment. As the number of job aspirants increased, mill owners began to hire a jobber who helped manage recruitment.

Marketing and Industrial Growth

In the last phase of the 19th century, Indian markets were flooded by goods from Britain. British manufacturers used effective advertisements to create a positive image of their product and boost sales.

Early Manchester labels showed many Indian Gods and Goddesses to create respect and approval for the product. The advertisements by Indian manufacturers were very nationalistic upholding the idea of Swadeshi.

During Swadeshi movement in the 20th century the industrial groups pressurized the government to increase tariff protection and grant them other concessions.

From 1906 the export of Indian yarn to China declined because of new players in the Chinese market. The beginning of the First World War brought a dramatic turn to industrialisation in India. The supply of Manchester goods declined as the English mills got busy in producing goods for the war. This provided opportunity to the Indian Mill owners to capture the domestic market. Indian industries were also used to supply items for the British army in war later.

After the war, British economy could not compete with new players US, Japan and Germany and collapsed. Manchester could not regain its position in the Indian market either. The handloom cloth production increased in the 20th century due to the use of looms with fly shuttle. The weavers learnt to handle competition from the mills. After World War I, many factories grew in India but the maximum labour force worked out of small household units in the villages.

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