The Age of Industrialization

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04 The Age of Industrialization

The Pre-modern World

Rapid technological change and innovations, machines and factories, railways and steamships mark the modern world. The history of industrialisation is a story of development, and technological progress.

Before the Industrial Revolution:

  • There was large-scale industrial production for an international market which was not based on factories. This phase of industrialisation is known as proto-industrialisation.


The Coming Up of the Factory

  • The factories in England multiplied in the late eighteenth century.
  • In 1760, Britain was importing 2.5 million pounds of raw cotton for its cotton industry which went up to 22 million pounds by 1787.


The Pace of Industrial Change

  • The new industries could not easily displace traditional industries.
  • Although, the pace of change in the ‘traditional’ industries was not set by steam-powered cotton or metal industries, they did not remain entirely stagnant either.

Hand Labour and Steam Power:

  • Machines were designed to produce uniforms and standardised goods for a mass market.
  • But the demand for goods with intricate designs and specific shapes was more.
  • However, in nineteenth-century America, industrialists were keen on using mechanical power so that the need for human labour could be minimised.

Life of the Workers:

  • Many people migrated to the cities as news of possible jobs travelled to the countryside.
  • Jobseekers without social connections had to wait weeks, spending nights under bridges or in night shelters.
  • Some returned to the countryside after the winter, when the demand for labour in the rural areas opened up in places.
  • Although, wages increased in the early nineteenth century, there was hardly any improvement in the welfare of the workers.

Industrialisation in the Colonies

The Age of Indian Textiles

  • Before the machine industries came into picture, silk and cotton goods from India dominated the international market in textiles.
  • The European companies gradually gained power.
  • Trade through the new ports came to be controlled by European companies, and was carried in European ships.



What Happened to Weavers?

  • The East India Company proceeded to develop a system of management and control that would eliminate competition, control costs, and ensure regular supplies of cotton and silk goods.
  • Weavers eagerly took the advances, hoping to earn more.
  • By the turn of the nineteenth century, cotton weavers faced a new set of problems.


Manchester Comes to India

  • In 1772, Henry Patullo, a Company official, had ventured to say that the demand for Indian textiles could never reduce, since no other nation produced goods of the same quality.


British Textiles in India:

  • The British industrialists pressurized the government to impose duties on cotton textiles so that Manchester goods could sell in Britain without any outside competition.
  • By the end of the 19th century, factories in India began production, flooding the markets with machine-made goods.
  • Consequently, the weaving industry decayed and died.


Factories in India:

  • 1854: First cotton mill came up in Bombay
  • 1855: The first jute mill came up; and another one in 1862
  • 1860s: The Elgin mill was started in Kanpur
  • 1861: The first cotton mill of Ahmadabad was set up
  • 1874: The first spinning and weaving mill of Madras began production


The Early Entrepreneurs

  • The British in India began exporting opium to China and took tea from China to England.
  • Many Indians participated in this trade by providing finance, procuring supplies and shipping consignments.
  • They accumulated their initial wealth partly from exports to China and partly from raw cotton shipments to England.
  • Other trading activities included carrying goods from one place to another, banking, transferring funds between cities and financing traders.



  • Industrialists employed people from villages, ensured them jobs, helped them settle in the city and provided them money in times of crisis.


The Peculiarities of Industrial Growth

  • The European Managing Agencies established tea and coffee plantations, acquiring land at cheap rates from the colonial governments.
  • The yarn produced in Indian spinning mills was used by handloom weavers in India or exported to China.
  • Nationalists during the Swadeshi movement mobilized people to boycott foreign cloth.
  • Industrial groups organized themselves to protect their collective interests, pressurizing the government to increase tariff protection and grant other concessions.
  • As the war prolonged, Indian factories were called upon to supply war needs including jute bags, cloth for army uniforms, tents and leather boots, horse and mule saddles and a host of other items.
  • Industrial production boomed owing to the increase in the working hours and the establishment of new factories.
  • Unable to modernize and compete with the US, Germany and Japan, the British economy crumbled after the war.


Small-scale Industries

  • Handloom cloth-production expanded steadily between 1900 and 1940.
  • Technological changes and other small innovations made the handloom cloth production rise.

Market for Goods

  • Advertisements expanded the markets for products and shaped a new consumer culture.
  • The label was needed for making the name and the place of manufacture and the name of the company familiar to the buyer.
  • Advertisements became a vehicle of the nationalist message of Swadeshi.

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