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Industrialisation in Colonies

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Industrialisation in Colonies - Lesson Summary

Historically, India has been known the world over for its flowing silks and crisp cottons. Textiles were one of the most vital industries of India.

India had a huge international market for its textiles. The old sea ports of Surat, Masulipatam and Hoogly also enhanced the textile trade and connected India with the Gulf, ports in the Red Sea and South-East Asia.

Indian merchants and bankers played a key role in the export trade. The European companies obtained several concessions from local courts and secured monopoly rights to trade. The old Indian ports began to shrink and Bombay and Calcutta emerged as the new ports catering to the European companies.

The textile market in India was very competitive with a variety of foreign and local traders where a weaver and a supply merchant could negotiate the best price for the goods. After establishing its power, the East India Company developed a system of management and control. This system helped the company eradicate competition, control costs and ensure regular supply of textile goods. The company also appointed a paid servant called the Gomastha who supervised the weavers, collected their produce and examined the quality of cloth.

This did away with the brokers in cloth trade and made Gomasthas the sole buyers of the weavers’ produce. The Gomasthas were insensitive and paid very low prices to the weavers. In wake of this exploitation, some weavers rebelled and some migrated to other villages while a few of them even gave up weaving and became agricultural labourers.

With the arrival of goods from Manchester, the weavers faced stiff competition in the local markets. Due to the import duties overseas, Indian weavers lost their overseas market as well. This made the situation worse for the weavers as their export marked collapsed.

During the US Civil War, the cotton supplies to Britain drastically decreased and so Britain turned to India for support. This led to a sudden surge in raw cotton exports resulting in soaring cotton prices. Towards the end of the 19 th century India saw the growth of factories and the fine art of weaving died a slow death.

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