JAC Board Class 8th Social Science Notes History Chapter 6 Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners
→ Textiles and iron and steel industries were crucial for the industrial revolution in the modem world.
- In the nineteenth century, mechanised production of cotton textiles made Britain the foremost industrial nation.
- When Britain’s iron and steel industry started growing from the 1850s, Britain came to be known as the “workshop of the world”.
- With the growth of industrial production, British industrialists began to see India as a vast and huge market for their industrial products and over time manufactured goods from Britain began flooding India.
→ Indian Textiles and the World Market
Indian textiles had long been renowned both for their fine quality and exquisite # craftsmanship. They were extensively traded in Southeast Asia (Java, Sumatra and Penang) and West and Central Asia.
→ Words tells us histories
- European traders began referring to all finely woven textiles as “muslin” – a word that acquired wide currency. They first encountered these fine cotton cloths from India carried by Arab merchants in Mosul in present-day Iraq.
- The cotton textiles which the Portuguese took back to Europe along with the spices came to be called “calico” (derived from Calicut) and hence, calico became the general name for all cotton textiles.
- In The East India Company’s book, the order in 1730 was for 5,89,000 pieces of cloth.
- In the order book, a list of 98 varieties of cotton and silk cloths were mentioned. These were known by their common name in the European trade as piece goods- usually woven cloth pieces that were 20 yards long and 1 yard wide.
- Amongst the pieces ordered were printed cotton cloths called chintz, cossaes (or khassa) and bandanna. Chintz is derived from the Hindi word chhint, a cloth with small and colourful flowery designs.
- Rich people of England including the Queen herself wore clothes of Indian fabric.
- Now a days, the word bandanna refers to any brightly coloured and printed scarf for the neck or head. It originates from the word “bandhna” (Hindi for tying) and referred to a variety of brightly coloured cloth produced through a method of tying and dying.
- There were other cloths in the order book that were noted by their place of origin such as Kasimbazar, Patna, Calcutta, Orissa, Charpoore.
→ Indian textiles in European markets
- In 1720, the British government enacted a legislation banning the use of printed cotton textiles, chintz in England. This Act was known as the Calico Act.
- Competition with Indian textiles also led to a search for technological innovation in England.
- In 1764, the spinning jenny was invented by John Kaye which increased the productivity of the traditional spindles.
- In 1786, the invention of the steam engine by Richard Arkwright in revolutionised cotton textile weaving.
- Cloth could now be woven in immense quantities and cheaply too.
- Indian textiles continued to dominate world trade till the end of the eighteenth century.
- European trading companies the Dutch, the French and the English made enormous profits out of this flourishing trade.
→ Who were the weavers?
- Weavers belonged to communities that specialised in weaving.
- The tanti weavers of Bengal, the julahas or momin weavers of north India, sale and kaikollar and devangs of south India are some of the communities famous for weaving.
- The charkha and the takli were household spinning instruments. The thread was spun on the charkha and rolled on the takli.
- The first stage of production was spinning mostly done by women.
- In most communities weaving was a task done by men.
- For coloured textiles, the thread was dyed by the dyer who are known as rangrez.
- For printed cloth, the weavers needed the help of specialist block printers who are known as chhipigars.
→ The decline of indian textile
- Indian textiles had to compete with British textiles in the European and American markets.
- Exporting textiles to England also became increasingly difficult since very high duties were imposed on Indian textiles imported into Britain.
- Thousands of weavers in India were now thrown out of employment. Bengal weavers were the worst hit.
- English and European companies stopped buying Indian goods and their agents no longer gave out advances to weavers to secure supplies.
- By the 1880s, two-thirds of all the cotton clothes worn by Indians were made of cloth produced in Britain.
- Thousands of rural women who made a living by spinning cotton thread were rendered jobless.
- Handloom weaving did not completely die in India because some types of cloths could not be supplied by machines.
- Sholapur in western India and Madura in South India emerged as important new centres of weaving in the late nineteenth century.
- Mahatma Gandhi urged people to boycott imported textiles and use hand-spun and handwoven cloth and hence khadi gradually became a symbol of nationalism.
- In 1931, the Indian National Congress adopted the tricolour flag and the charkha was put at the centre of the flag to represent India.
- Many weavers became agricultural labourers.
- Some of these weavers also found work in the new cotton mills that were established in Bombay (now Mumbai), Ahmedabad, Sholapur, Nagpur and Kanpur.
→ Cotton mills come up:
- In 1854, the first cotton mill in India was set up as a spinning mill in Bombay.
- From the early nineteenth century, Bombay had grown as an important port for the export of raw cotton from India to England and China.
- By 1900, over 84 mills started operating in Bombay.
- The first mill in Ahmedabad was started in 1861. A year later a mill was established in Kanpur in the United Provinces.
- In India, the first few decades of its existence, the textile factory industry faced many problems. It found it difficult to compete with the cheap textiles imported from Britain.
- The first major spurt in the development of cotton factory production in India was during the First World War when textile imports from Britain declined and Indian factories were called upon to produce cloth for military supplies.
→ The Sword of Tipu Sultan and Wootz Steel:
- Tipu’s legendary swords are now part of valuable collections in museums in England.
- The sword had an incredibly hard and sharp edge that could easily rip through the opponent’s armour. This quality of the sword came from a special type of high carbon steel called Wootz which was produced all over south India.
- A year after Tipu Sultan’s death, Francis Buchanan who toured through Mysore in 1800 has left us an account of the technique by which Wootz steel was produced in many hundreds of smelting furnaces in Mysore.
- Wootz is an anglicised version of the Kannada word ukku, Telugu hukku and Tamil and Malayalam urukku which means steel.
- Indian Wootz steel fascinated European scientists. Michael Faraday, the legendary scientist and discoverer of electricity and electromagnetism spent four years studying the properties of Indian Wootz (1818-22).
→ Abundant furnaces in villages
- In Bihar and Central India, in particular every district had smelters that used local deposits of ore to produce iron which was widely used for the manufacture of implements and tools of daily use.
- The furnaces were most often built of clay and sun-dried bricks. The smelting was done by men while women worked the bellows, pumping air that kept the charcoal burning.
- By the late nineteenth century, however, the craft of iron smelting was in decline.
- Many gave up their craft and looked for other means of livelihood.
- The iron smelters had to pay a very high tax to the forest department for every furnace they used and hence their income reduced.
- Ironsmiths in India began using the imported iron to manufacture utensils and implements. This inevitably lowered the demand for iron produced by local smelters.
→ Iron and steel factories come up in India
- In 1904, in the hot month of April, Charles Weld, an American geologist and Dorabji Tata, the eldest son of Jamsetji Tata, were travelling in Chhattisgarh in search of iron ore deposits.
- One day after travelling for many hours in the forests, Weld and Dorabji came upon a small village and found a group of men and women carrying basket loads of iron ore. These people were the Agarias.
- Rajhara Hills had one of the finest ores in the world.
- The Agarias helped in the discovery of a source of iron ore that would later supply the Bhilai Steel Plant.
- A few years later a large area of forest was cleared on the banks of the river Subamarekha to set up the factory and an industrial township known as Jamshedpur. Here there was water near iron ore deposits.
- In 1912, the Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) that came up began producing steel.
- TISCO was set up at an opportune time. British experts in the Indian Railways were unwilling to believe that good quality steel could be produced in India.
- By 1919, the colonial government was buying 90 per cent of the steel manufactured by TISCO. Over time TISCO became the biggest steel industry within the British empire.
- As the nationalist movement developed and the industrial class became stronger, the demand for government protection became louder.