Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners (Class 8 History Chapter 6 Notes)

Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners (Class 8 History Notes)
During the industrial revolution, Britain became to be known as the workshop of the world, due to its grasp on 1. textile and 2. iron and steel industry. This industrial domination of Britain has a close connection with its conquest and colonization of India. They saw India as a vast market for their product and this led to the destruction of India's crafts and other industries.

Indian Textiles and the World Market
  1. Till 1750, India was the world’s largest producer of cotton textiles.
  2. Indian textile industry was renowned for its fine quality and exquisite craftsmanship.
  3. They had grasp all over the world, and especially in Southeast Asia and West and Central Asia.
  4. From the 16th century, European trading companies also began to buy Indian textiles for sale in Europe.

Words Tell Us Histories
  1. The european traders first encountered fine Indian cotton thanks to their trade with Arab merchants at the market in Mosul (present-day Iraq). Thus they began referring Indian cotton as “muslin” – a word that acquired wold wide currency.
  2. On another hand, Portuguese who came to India in search of spices, also took Indian cotton back to Europe and thus came the word "calico" (derieved from Calicut) for all the fine cotton cloths from the southern India.
  3. In 1730, similarly words like chintz, cossaes (or khassa) and bandanna entered english lexicon for variety of printed Indian cotton clothes.
  4. Chintz originated from the Hindi word "chhint" which refers to a cloth with small and colourful flowery designs.
  5. Bandanna originated from the word “bandhna” which refers to a brightly coloured printed scarf for the neck or head.
  6. There were other words for these cotton cloths that took their name from the place of their origin such as Kasimbazar, Patna, Calcutta, Orissa, Charpoore.

Indian textiles in European markets
  1. By the 18th century, worried by the growing demand of Indian textiles, the British textile makers started protest against the import of Indian cotton.
  2. In 1720, the Calico Act was introduced which banned the use of chintz.
  3. This competition with Indian textiles led to a search for technological innovation in England.
  4. In 1764, the spinning jenny was invented by John Kaye which increased the traditional spindles productivity manifolds.
  5. In 1786, the steam engine was invented by Richard Arkwright which laid the foundation of the Industrial revolution and put the British texile industry on the pedestal. They now could produce clothing at very cheap rates and in bulk.
  6. However, Indian textile industry thanks to its quality flourished till the end of the 18th century. European trading companies – the Dutch, the French and the English – made large profits through textile trade with India.
  7. They need to pay in gold and silvers. However, with their rising political influence (Diwani for the British East India Company), the Companies managed their finances from their revenues in India itself.

Who were the weavers?
  1. Most of the Indian weavers belonged to communities that specialised in weaving.  They passed their skills  from  one generation to another.
  2. Some of the well known weaving communities are Tanti (Bengal), julahas or momin (Northern India), sale, kaikollar and devangs (Southern India).

The Production
  1. In the first stage, the cotton was spinned. It was mostly done by the women and they used charkha and takli for this process. The thread was spun on the charkha and rolled on takli.
  2. In second stage, the thread was weaved into cloths by weavers. Weavers were mostly men.
  3. For coloured textiles, the thread was dyed before the weaving by the dyers. They were known as rangrez.
  4. For printed cloths, the designs on the cloths were printed by the specialist printers known as chhipigars.

The decline of Indian textiles
  1. With the development of the British cotton industry, the Indian textile industry has to face several challenges: 1. They now had to compete with the british textiles in the wold markets. and 2. The export to England became increasingly difficult due to very high custom duty fees.
  2. By the early 19th century, the British cotton successfully displaced Indian cotton their traditional markets such as Africa, America and Europe.
  3. By the 1830s, British cotton entered Indian markets and by the 1880s, two-third of the cotton worn by the Indians was British.
  4. However, Indian handloom industry did not fade away as some types of cotton still cannot be produced by the machines.
  5. Later, in 1900s, Mahatma Gandhi urged Indians to boycott imported British cotton and use hand-spun and hand-woven cloths. This led to the Khadi movement.
  6. Gradually, the Khadi and Charkha gradually became the symbols of India and national pride. The Charkha was put in the centre of the Indian National Flag adopted by the Congress in 1931.
  7. However, by this time, many weavers became agricultural labourers. Those who survived the onslaught of the British cotton found work in the cotton mills of Bombay, Ahmedabad, Sholapur, Nagpur and Kanpur.

Cotton mills come up
  1. The first cotton mill in India was established in Bombay in 1854. However, the city has already established as an important port for the export of raw Indian cotton to places like England and China. By 1900, they city has 84 cotton mills.
  2. The first mills in Ahmedabad and Kanpur were started in 1861 and 1862 respectively.
  3. Despite growth, the Indian textile industry faced stiff competition from the British textile industry due to low import duties and unwillingness of colonial government to protect the industry.

The Sword of Tipu Sultan and Wootz Steel
  1. Wootz is a special type of steel that was produced all over South India during the 18th century. The famous sword of Tipu Sultan is made up of the wootz steel.
  2. In 1800, the technique to produce Wootz steel was first recorded by the Francis Buchanan during his Mysore tour.
  3. Wootz is the anglicised version of Kannada word "ukku". It was known as "hukku" in Telugu and "urukku" in Tamil and Malyalam.

Abandoned furnaces in villages
  1. Iron smelting has not advanced very much in India. Till 19th century, smelting was done in furnaces made up of sun-dried bricks and clay.
  2. However, by the end of 19th century, India saw a decline in craft of iron smelting and several iron producing village emptied. This happened because of 1. new laws banning Indians entering reserved forests which reduced charcoal supply, 2. high taxes on charcoal and 3. import of steel from Britain.

Iron and steel factories come up in India
  1. In 1904, Charles Weld and Dorabji Tata started the exploration for a site to setup a modern Iron and Steel company. They found such a site at the present source of iron ores for Bhilai Steel Plant with the help of Angaria people.
  2. They cleared the land at the bank of Subarnarekha river to setup the factory and industrial town - known as Jamshedpur. The Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) started producing steel in 1912.
  3. In 1914, World War I opened a floodgate of opportunities for TISCO due to decline in import of British steel and growing needs of Indian Railways.
  4. By 1919, colonial government was buying more than 90% of steel produced by TISCO and in next few years, it became biggest steel producing company within the British empire.