- Two famous pictures published in the year 1900 and 1901 glorified the machines and technology which symbolizes the industrialisation as a time of technological progress and modernity.
- In the year 1900, a music book was produced by E.T. Paull showing the ‘Dawn of the century’ on the cover page with the goddess like figure at the Centre of the picture.
- This goddess is symbolised as the angel of progress bearing the flag of the new century and perched on the wheels with wings which symbolizes the time.
- She is taking a flight into the future and the signs of progress like the railways, camera, machines, printing press and factories are behind her.
- On 26th January 1901, a trade magazine cover page showed two magicians to glorify the machines and technology. At the top of this picture is Aladdin and the modern mechanic is at the bottom.
- Aladdin represents the East and the past Orient who built a beautiful palace with his magic lamp whereas the modern mechanic represents the West and modernity who weaves bridges, ships, towers and high rise buildings with the help of his modern tools.
Before the Industrial Revolution
- The history of industrialisation begin with the setting up of the first factories but there was large scale industrial production in England and Europe which the historians refer as protoindustrialisation.
- During the 17th and 18th centuries, the world trade and the colonies expanded which increased the demands of goods.The merchants were not able to cope up within towns because of the powerful urban crafts and trade guilds and therefore they moved to the countryside to persuade the peasants and artisans to produce for the international market and also supplied money to them.
- Urban crafts and trade guilds were associations of producers who trained the craftspeople, controlled the production and regulated the price and competition.
- These trade guilds restricted the entry of the new people into the trade because monopoly rights were granted to them to produce and trade in specific products. This situation made the new merchants difficult to set up their business units in towns.
- The poor peasants and artisans eagerly agreed to the take the advance offered by the merchants and were willing to produce goods for them.
- During this time, in the countryside, the open fields were disappearing and commons were being enclosed. The cottagers and peasants were looking for alternative source of income because they were dependent on the common lands and gathering of firewood, vegetables, berries, vegetables, hay and straw for their livelihood. Many of them had small plots of land which was not sufficient to provide work to all the family members.
- It proved good for the peasants and artisans to work for the merchants as they could now remain in the countryside and continue with their small plot cultivation. Their family income was supplemented and also they were able to engage all the family members as labour resources.
- A close relationship was developed between the town and the countryside because the merchants were living in the towns but their work was completed in the countryside.
- During this period, London came to be known as the Finishing Centre because the finishing work of the cloth was done in London before it was exported in the international market.
The Coming up of the Factory
- Though the earliest factories came up by 1730s in England, it multiplied only in the late 18th century.
- Cotton was the first symbol of the new era. The production of cotton jumped high in the late 19th century which brought number of changes in the production process.
- Carding, twisting, spinning and rolling were the different steps of the production process in the cotton industries. The production efficiency of these steps of cotton production increased due to a series of inventions in the 18th century. These inventions also increased the output per worker and started producing stronger threads and yarns.
- Richard Arkwright changed the whole situation when he created the cotton mill. Now the cloth production is not spread all over the countryside. The costly new machines were purchased, set up and maintained in the mills itself. Thus all the processes of the cloth production was brought under one roof and management.
- Now the supervision of the production process, quality and regulation of work became much easier which was not possible when the production was done in the countryside.
The Pace of Industrial Change
- Cotton and metals were the most dynamic industries in Britain. Till the first phase of industrialisation (1840s) cotton was the leading sector and then iron and steel took the first place. The demand of the iron and steel increased with the expansion of railways in England and its colonies in 1840s and 1860s respectively. The value of export of iron and steel doubled the value of cotton export by the year 1873.
- The new industries were not able to displace the traditional industries. This can be proved by the fact that till the end of the 19th century less than 20% of the workforce were engaged in the technological advanced industries and a large portion of the output was produced within the domestic units.
- Food processing, building, pottery, glass work etc. were the non-mechanized sectors in which the changes were ordinary with small innovations.
- The technological changes occurred very slowly because the new technology was very costly. The merchants and industrialists were highly cautious for its use as the machines often broke down and its repair was too expensive. These machines were not as effective as it was claimed by the investors and the manufacturers.
- The earlier model of steam engine was produced by Newcomen. The improved version of it was invented by James Watt in the year 1781. There were around 321 steam engines all over England in the beginning of the 19th century out of which 80 were used in the cotton industries, 9 in the wool industries and the rest were used in the mining, canal and iron works.
Hand Labour and Steam Power
- In the Victorian Britain there was abundance of human labour because the peasants and vagrants shifted there for jobs and were waiting for work. Due to this huge labour supply, there was competition among them. This benefitted the industrialists as they had no shortage of labour, the labour cost was low which protected them from huge capital investment in buying machines.
- Gas work and breweries industries had seasonal demand of labour in the cold months. Likewise the book binders and the printers needed labour before December as they had to cater to the demand before the Christmas. The ships were also cleaned and repaired during the winter season. Due to the fluctuation of production with the season, in these industries hand labour was preferred and were employed for the season only.
- There were number of goods in the market which required the hand labour only. Goods with intricate designs and specific shapes were in demand in the market which was done with hand labour only. For example, the hammers and axes produced in Britain. Machines were used just for producing the uniforms and other standardized goods for a mass market.
- The aristocrats and the bourgeoisie were the upper class people in the Victorian Britain who preferred hand-made things because these products symbolize refinement and class as they were better finished and carefully designed. They had the thinking that the machine made goods were for export to the colonies.
- There was shortage of human labour in America in the 19th century so they used the mechanical power to meet the demand.
Life of the workers
- Due to the news of job opportunities in the city, large number of people migrated from the countryside. This created a situation of abundance of labour in the market. Getting a job was dependent on the networks of friendship and kin relations in factories.
- But not all had such connections and that’s why they had to wait for weeks spending nights under the bridges or in the night shelters or the night refuges built by the private individuals or in the casual wards maintained by the poor law authorities.
- The abundance of labour, social connections in the factories, seasonality of work and welfare of the workers were the main issues which made the life of the workers miserable.
- The spinning jenny was devised by James Hargreaves in the year 1764 to speed up the spinning process and reduce the demand of the labour. In this machine just by turning one single wheel number of spindles and spins could be set in motion. This was introduced in the woolen textile industries which was opposed by the women who survived on hand spinning.
- Building activities, widening of roads, new railway stations and railway lines, tunnel digging, drainage, sewers and transport increased the job opportunities in Britain after 1840s.
Industrialisation in the Colonies
The Age of Indian Textiles
- Earlier, India dominated the international market in terms of cotton and silk because of its fine varieties. It was exported through the mountain passes, deserts and the ports like Surat, Masulipatam and Hoogly.
- In this export process, variety of merchants and bankers were involved for financing production, carrying the goods and supplying to the exporters.
- The supply merchants gave advances to the weavers and carried the supply to the ports where the brokers of the big shippers and the export merchants negotiated the price with the supply merchants to buy it and export to other countries.
- All this network was controlled by the Indian merchants which started breaking down by the 1750s when the European companies secured variety of concessions from the local courts and the monopoly rights to trade.
- Due to this the export from Surat and Hoogly declined and thus the local bankers went bankrupt. But the new ports like Bombay and Calcutta grew as these were controlled by the European countries and carried European ships.
- Though the old trading houses collapsed, those who wanted to survive they had to operate within the European trading network.
What Happened to Weavers?
- Even after the consolidation of the East India Company’s power after the 1760s the company was willing to expand the textile exports from India because of the two reasons – first, the cotton industries had not yet expanded in Britain and the second, great demand of the Indian fine textiles in Europe.
- Earlier due to the number of buyers of the woven cloth in the Indian market Britain found difficulties in supply and also the supply merchants and the weavers could bargain and sell it to their best buyers.
- But after establishing political power in Bengal and Carnatic and the monopoly right to trade, Britain developed systems to control and eliminate the competition.
- The Company took the direct control over the weavers through gomastha who were paid servants appointed by the company to supervise weavers, collect supplies and check the quality of the cloth.
- The Company also prevented the weavers from supplying the cloth to any other buyer. This prevention was done through the system of advances. The weavers were given loans to buy the raw materials and were made bound to supply it the gomastha only.
- Due to the flow of loan and increase in demand of the fine textiles the weavers now willingly took loans and leased out their land so that they could devote more time to weaving along with their family members.
- Difference between the supply merchants and the gomasthas – the supply merchants lived within the weaving villages whereas the gomasthas were outsiders. The supply merchants had a close link with the weavers whereas the gomasthas had no social link with the weavers. The supply merchants were looking after the needs of the weavers whereas the gomasthas acted arrogantly and often beaten them for the delay in supply.
- Due to the new system of gomastha the weavers lost the space to bargain, could not sell to other buyers, the price for the cloth received from the Company was very low and the loans which they receive from the Company tied them with the company itself.
- Due to these various reasons there were clashes between the weavers and the gomasthas, many villagers refused taking loans, closed down their workshops, shifted back to agriculture work and some of them migrated to other villages to set up their looms.
Manchester Comes to India
- Though Henry Patullo, a company official, said that no other country of the world produces the same quality of product as India so its demand could never reduce it declined from 33% in 1812 to 3% in 1851.
- The reasons for the decline of cotton import to England were–development of industries in England, industrial groups were worried about the imports from other countries, import duties were imposed to eliminate the competition for the Manchester goods, British East India Company was persuaded to sell the British manufactured goods in the Indian market.
- Problems faced by the Indian cotton weavers–export market collapsed, local market shrunk, Indian market flooded with Manchester imports, they could not compete with the mill made products as they were much cheaper and also they were not getting supply of good quality raw cotton.
- During the American Civil War the supply of raw cotton from US to Britain were cut off therefore the Indian raw cotton export increased and the prices shot up. Due to this the Indian cotton weavers were facing difficulty in the supply of raw cotton and also they had to buy raw cotton at very high prices.
- Another problem started with the weavers and the crafts people in the end of 19th century when the factories started production in India and the market became flooded with the machine goods.
Factories Come Up
- 1854 – First cotton mill came up in Bombay.
- 1862 – Four more cotton mills were set up.
- 1855 – Jute mills came up in Bengal.
- 1860s – Elgin Mills started in Kanpur.
- 1861 – The first cotton mill was set up in Ahmedabad.
- 1874 – The first spinning and weaving mill started its production in Madras.
The Early Entrepreneurs
- Dwarkanath Tagore in Bengal, Parsis like Dinshaw Petit, Jamsetjee Nusserwanjee Tata in Bombay and Seth Hukumchand, and a Marwari businessman set up first Indian jute mill in Calcutta.
- These early entrepreneurs had accumulated wealth from the trade with China,the merchants of Madras from trade with Burma and the others from the trade with the Middle East and east Africa.
- There were another group of entrepreneurs who had accumulated wealth from trade within India, supplying goods from one place to another, banking money, transferring funds between cities and by financing the traders.
- By the end of the First World War a large sector of the Indian industries were under the control of the three biggest European managing agencies called Bird Heiglers and Company, Andrew Yule and Jardine Skinner and Company.
- But mostly the finance was done by the Indian people whereas the investment and business decisions were taken by the European agencies and also the Indian businessmen were not allowed to join the chamber of commerce of the European merchants-industrialists.
Where Did the Workers Come From?
- The demand for the workers increased due to the expansion of industries which were supplied from the districts around. Those peasants and artisans who did not get work in the villages moved to these industrial centres.
- There was restriction of entry into the mills. The jobbers were employed to get new recruits. These jobbers were old and trusted persons who got people from the villages, ensured them jobs and their settlement in the cities along with financial help during the times of crisis. Thus they had authority and power. Later on, they started demanding money and gifts for their favour and thus they controlled the lives of the workers.
The Peculiarities of Industrial Growth
- The European managing agencies were interested in tea and coffee plantations, mining, jute and indigo and therefore they invested in these products.
- The Indian industrialist did not want to compete with the Manchester goods. Therefore they produced cotton yarn rather than fabric which was either used by the Indian handloom weavers or exported to China.
- During the swadeshi movement the people boycotted the foreign clothes and the Indian industrial groups organized themselves and pressurized the government to increase tariff protection and for granting other concessions.
- Again the Indian industrialists shifted from the yarn production to cloth production because the Indian yarn export declined in China as the Chinese and Japanese mills became plenty in China.
- Effects of the First World War on the Indian Industries – Indian mills regained the domestic market as the British mills were busy with the war needs production and also the Manchester imports declined in India, due to the prolonger war. Indian factories got an opportunity to produce for the war needs. Many new factories were set up, the old factories ran multiple shifts, demands for workers increased who had to work for long hours and due to the huge economic loss in the war, Britain could not regain its dominance over the export and thus the local industries consolidated their position in the home market.
- Small scale industries predominate.
- There was small proportion of large scale industries in the country and about 67% of these were located in Bengal and Bombay.
- Very less percentage of labour force were working in the registered factories and rest were engaged in the workshops and household units.
- Due to the technological changes the handloom cloth production rose without pushing up the cost. A fly shuttle was used by the weavers using looms which resulted in rise in per worker production, total production and the demand of labour reduced.
- There were two types of weavers – one who produced coarser cloth and the others who wove fine varieties.
- The rural poor were the buyers of the coarser cloth and had a variating demands during the bad harvest and famines.
- The well-off people were the buyers of the fine quality cloth and had a stable demand because neither the buyers had any financial problem nor these clothes (Banarasi saris, Baluchari saris, famous lungis and the handkerchief of Madras) be replaced by mill production.
Market for Goods
- When any new product is launched in the market it is the utmost goal of the companies to attract the buyers and make them feel like using the products.
- Advertisement is used since the beginning to attract the buyers because it helps in making the product appear desirable and necessary.
- The Manchester industrialists also put labels (Made in Manchester) on the bundles of the cloth for the following purposes – to make the place of manufacture and the name of the company known to buyers, for a mark of quality and to make the buyers feel confident about the product.
- These labels carried the words, texts, images and beautiful illustrations which gives some idea about the mind of the manufacturers, their calculations and the way they approach the buyers.
- Initially the images of gods and goddesses like Krishna and Saraswati appeared on the labels for making the buyers convince that there is divine approval to sell these products.
- In order to make the products more popular the products were printed in the newspapers, magazines and the most important on the calendars.
- The calendars became the most popular due to the following reasons – they were used even by the illiterates and poor, hung at tea shops, hung in homes which they see day after day through the year.
- The figures of important personages, emperors and Nawabs were also used in the advertisements and calendars to expand the market of the product. These figures gave the message that this product is used by the royalty and hence it is of good quality and also if you respect these figures then give due respect to the product also.
- The Indian manufactures used the figures of the nationalists on the products and gave the message that if you love your nation then buy the Indian products.