The popular belief that India had never been an industrial country, is incorrect. It was true that agriculture was the dominant occupation of its people but the products of Indian industries enjoyed a worldwide reputation. The muslim of Dacca, the calicos of Bengal, the sarees of Banaras and other cotton fabrics were known to the foreigners. The chief industry spread over the whole country was textile handicrafts. The textile handicrafts includes chintzes of Lucknow, dhotis and dopattas of Ahmedabad, silk, bordered cloth of Nagpur and Murshidabad. In addition to cotton fabrics, the shawls of Kashmir, Amritsar and Ludhiana were very famous. India was also quite well-known for her artistic industries like marble-work, stone-carving, jewellery, brass, copper and bell-metal wares, wood-carving, etc. The cast-iron pillar near Delhi is a testament to the high level of metallurgy that existed in India. In this way Indian industries, “Not only supplied all local wants but also enabled India to export its finished products to foreign countries”.
Decline Of Indian Handicrafts And Progressive Ruralisation Of The Indian Economy:
Before the beginning of Industrial Revolution in England, the East India Company concentrated on the export of Indian manufactured goods, textiles, spices, etc., to Europe where these articles were in great demand. But the Industrial Revolution reversed the face of Indian’s foreign trade. Tremendous expansion of productive capacity of manufactures resulted in increased demand of raw materials for British industry and the need to capture foreign markets. Following principal causes that led to the decay of handicrafts were as follows:-
- Disappearance of Princely courts: The growth of industries is only possible due to patronage of nawabs, princes, rajas & emperors who ruled in India. The British rule meant the disappearance of this patronage enjoyed by the handicrafts. Cotton and silk manufactures suffered especially.
- Competition of machine-made goods: The large-scale production that grew as a result of Industrial Revolution meant a heavy reduction in costs. It also created a gigantic industrial organization and, consequently, the machine-made goods began to compete with the products of Indian industries and handicrafts. This led to the decline of textile handicrafts. Whereas the British emphasized the free import of machine-made manufactured goods they did not allow the import of machinery as such. The decline of Indian handicrafts created a vaccum which could be filled by the import of British manufactures only.
- The development of new forms and patterns of demand as a result of foreign influence: With the spread of education, a new classs grew in India which was keen to imitate western dress, manners, fashions and customs so as to identify itself with the British officials. This led to a change in the pattern of demand. Indigenous goods went out of fashion and the demand for European commodities got a fillip. Besides, there was a loss of demand resulting from the disappearance of princely courts and nobility. Thus, the British rule, silently but surely, alienated the Indians not only from Indian culture but also diverted in its favour their form and pattern of demand for goods.
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