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one of the major issues of nationalist critique of colonial rule while imperialist scholars sought to justify such a process by stressing on the beneficial aspects of the British Raj. Nationalist scholars like Dadabhai Naraoji, R.C. Dutt and M.G. Ranade believed that British rule resulted in progressive decline and destruction of Indian town handicrafts and village artisans without any subsequent growth of modern industrial sector. Millions were deprived of their traditional occupation and were forced to fall back on agriculture and consequently there was an increasing ruralisation of the country. The Indian industries were destroyed as British used their political control over India to impose unfair terms of competition between the two countries, India and England. The English brought about economic growth without generating economic development and this helped them realize their aim of making India a marker for the products of British industries and to transform India to a provider of cheap raw material for the British industries. There were certain drawbacks in the nationalist critique. They relied heavily on statistics of external trade which indicated a collapse in the trade of Indian textile and showed rapid increase in British export to India. But these do not constitute a definite proof of decline in aggregate internal productivity. Decline in handicrafts was also not a single, uniform and cataclysmic process as is assumed by the nationalist scholars. The current deindustrialization debate was initiated by Daniel Thorner and Alice Thorner. While agreeing with the fact that there was decline of India’s traditional handicrafts they point out that it was a worldwide phenomenon affecting different countries at different times under the impact of industrial revolution. Besides if deindustrialization occurred as described by the Nationalist historians one would expect decline in the number of workers in the industries and an increase in the dimensions of the agrarian working groups. But the census figures (as for instance of 1881 and 1931 showed the number of workers in manufactories to have decreased by 3.2 million while that in agriculture increase by 28.5 million) are not realistic enough. The classifying of those employed into broad groupings of agriculture and industry is not suited to a society like India where the characteristic unit is not the workers doing a particular job but an entire household doing related activities. The 181 figures available for manufactories are also seriously overstated since they include considerable number of workers who in later years were counted under services such as agriculture. Thorners’ were criticized because the ratio of the total number of people in industry to the total number of population including jobless and dependent people was the key. To include trade as an industry ignored the fact that the influx in trade could have been due to the absence of alternate employment. Thorners’ conclude that there was not much of a decline in manufacturing sector during 1881-1931. The marginal decline in traditional sector was as a result of
The second factor are figures which show an increase in industrial production in 19 th century India. The Indian mills producing coarse yarn competed only with local hand spinners. Morris also refutes the belief that foreign factory made good flooded India after 1800.development of modern industries providing enough employment opportunities. Morris’s so called ‘reinterpretation’ largely follows the traditional imperialist argument which declared that India was growing more prosperous and undergoing economic development under colonial rule. The standardization of currency had favourable effect on industries. They opine that obsession over deindustrialization . Krishnamurthy also criticizes Thorners’ work arguing that deindustrialization could only be demonstrated in terms of the percentage of output since manufacturing workforce might be accompanied by capital intensive techniques which raise overall industrial production. However recent data of the period 1900-31 disputes such a viewpoint showing that over the years there was a decline of the industrial labour force compared to the total working population. Tomlinson He mentions that Indian Handloom industry was flourishing till the 1930s. till the institution of the indigenous cotton mills in Bombay. Vicziany and B.R. It was only because of native industry’s coarse yarn that hand spinners declined. Cotton industry also flourished despite competition form industrial Britain. bulk of yarn used in production of coarse cloth was still being produced by hand as late as 19 th century. and tried to provide these institutions. he believes that the East India Company tried to promote trade and commerce. he states. British producers sold only medium and fine quality yarn in India. He stressed that international competition had nothing to do with the decline.R. contractual development of infrastructural assets. In towns like Bombay and Calcutta first manifestations of modern industries were seen. J. Tomlinson Both of them concern their studies to certain competition within the Indian indigenous economy. With the coming of British. If anything like deindustrialization occurred it would have occurred before 1880s. He links the stagnation of the Indian economy with the history of globalization and not with the history of colonization. M. Jute industry due to cheap labour and simple processing was able to penetrate foreign markets by 1870s. For him the Company rule was more of a provider rather than an exploiter.equality before law. there were improvements in domestic and foreign transport and communication which were favourable for industrial possibilities. Fergusson and Patrick O’ Brien They stress that British brought elements that were conducive to industrialization rather than the contrary--. Brien goes on to say that British rule in India did not affect the economy significantly. not because of British. Thus. Similar trends are observed in the works of. B. essence of a need for a ‘civil society’. sanctity of private property. In stressing his view about ‘missing institutions’. Morris D Morris also rejects the thesis of deindustrialization. Morris D Morris believed that the indigenous weavers benefited from lower prices of imported yarn.
we cannot believe that there was no decline in number of persons engaged in handicrafts sector. Amiya Kumar Bagchi. A further issue as Bayly points out is not the collapse in artisan production but the impact of deindustrialization on their livelihood and an overall income in family income. Artisans survived either by getting impoverished to maintain their competitive position or due to failure of British products to reach large Indian market or due to lack of purchasing power of Indian peasantry. He mentions that the British state destabilized existing property rights in both regions of India and China. Toru Matsuri has pointed out that even if fall in prices of yarn did benefit handicrafts industry. Tapan Raychaudhari believes that Morris has missed out the most important implication that traditional sector did survive but was marked by a stagnation of skills and hence production. it must have struck a blow to the spinning industry. Industrial population/total population (21%) 1809-1813 1901 18. They mention principal competition between Indian mill producers who were flooding markets with cheap cloth and Indian weavers who resorted to production of coarse cloth.5% Spinners and weavers/total industrial population 1809-1813 1901 62. In totality.1 % Bagchi also mentions the coming of a new kind of Capitalism which he links with British Imperialism. Desai’s view that even after shifting to cheaper British yarn. Bipan Chandra points out that cheap yarn was also available to British weavers whose productivity was more and faster. Toru Matsui and Tapan Raychaudhari. Thus. supporting the thesis of deindustrialization. Besides while there is ample evidence of decline of traditional textile centres of India there are no new centres. presents his study of gangetic Bihar where he mentions a steady decline in the industrial population to the total population as well as the number of spinners and weavers to the total industrial population from 1809-1813 and 1901. They ‘invented’ slavery in . this trend carried by Morris D Morris has been severely criticized by scholars like Bipan Chandra.overpowers this aspect.6% 8. Indian weavers would have to increase their productivity by 43% between 1818-1821 and 1829-1831 to compete with British cloth.3% 15. Morris also ignores M.
India. Bagchi concludes that the process of deindustrialization as far as Bihar and Bengal were concerned was a general one for at least the first fifty years of period under study. and not a havoc.agrestic slavery. This adaptation with restricted type of cloth during the 18 th and 19th centuries. He mentions that roots of Indian poverty and unemployment were not causational effects of deindustrialization. rather than being used for development. and saltpetre. an increase in disposable incomes was noticed. He talks about the adaptation of the handloom industry which was necessary for its survival. He mentions the decline of pure weaving castes like the Koshtis. He marks the period of 1805-1858 as a phase of stagnation. He talks about parliamentary legislations of 1690s-1750s which resulted in the fall of Indian handicrafts. He also talks of agrarian decline being offset by increasing agrarian activity in other sections. He marks the period of 1820-1855 marked by a long term price depression. the shrinking of industry did not necessarily mean shrinking of incomes. opium. where in 1858 the English East India Company saw it being replaced by managing agencies which turned out to become conduits of exploitation. integration of markets with global market was seen as a way of surviving. During 1750s-1797 the import of bullion into Bengal had stopped and tribute in huge quantities had started being given to Britain. improved quality and quantity of cloth.19th century show a decline in handlooms. In a similar manner. Roy points out that deindustrialization was limited and gradual. .those of Peter Harnetty and Tirthankar Roy. cultural value of commodities increased. Depression plagued both agriculture and industry. but also refers to the Juhlahas and Momins who took up weaving and also worked as watchmen at night. Tirthankar Roy talks about industrial decline in terms of level of employment Year 1800 1900 Fall in Employment (%) 18 10 He also mentions that even if there was such a decline a stability in industrial income was noticed. He states that it cannot be denied that there was a fundamental shift of weavers owing to the markets of central provinces being integrated with global markets.indigo. Between 1797-1885. major parts of silver were put to finance the war that Wellesley was fighting. coming of railways. He stresses that the level of employment was not falling. He mentions that both statistical and impressionistic data of the mid. Peter Harnetty bases his studies on the handloom weavers in central provinces (1800-1947). However. and input in production became cheaper and finer. he states that a decline in handloom weaving industries cannot be accounted for deindustrialization. This stability enabled less expenditure on articles of necessity. New insights have been provided by scholars regarding the aspect of deindustrialization.
It would be incorrect to say that India was deindustrialized or totally devoid of industries at any point in time. .Thus. to sum up it can be stated that the Indian industries suffered and were subordinated to British interest yet at the same time industrial progress however retarded did take place.
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