• The industrial revolution was the force behind this new imperialism
  • The colony started industrializing in India as well where the factory industries and non-mechanized sectors were established .

3.1 The age of Indian Textiles

  • Silk and cotton goods from India dominated the international market in textiles way before the age of machine industries.
  • A vibrant sea trade operated through the main pre-colonial ports. Surat (Gujarat) connected India to the Gulf and the Red Sea ports ; Masulipatnam on the Coromandel coast and Hoogly in Bengal had trade links with Asian ports.
  • A variety of Indian merchants and bankers were involved in this network of export trade- financing production, carrying goods, and supplying exporters.
  • Indian merchants controlled this network till the 1750s which started breaking down.
  • The European companies gradually gained power - first securing a variety of concessions from local courts, then the monopoly rights to trade.
  • Such c onditions resulted in the decline of the old ports of Surat and Hoogly .
  • The shift from old ports to new ones indicates the growth of colonial power .
  • European companies started controlling the trade through new ports
  • Many of the old trading houses collapsed , and those that wanted to survive had to now operate within a network shaped by European trading companies.

 3.2 What happened to Weavers?

  • After the 1760s, the consolidation of the East India Company did not initially lead to a decline in textile exports from India
  • Before establishing political power in Bengal and Carnatic in the 1760s and 1770s, the East India Company had found it challenging to ensure a regular supply of goods for export. 
  • The French, Dutch, Portuguese, and local traders competed in the market to secure the woven cloth. 
  • After the east India company established political power, it started developing a system of management and control that would eliminate competition, control costs, and ensure regular supplies of cotton and silk goods.
  • The company established it through a series of steps:

> The company tried to eliminate the existing traders and brokers connected with the cloth trade, and establish more direct control over the weaver.

It appointed a paid servant called Gomastha to supervise weavers , collect supplies, and examine the quality of cloth.

> It prevented the company weavers from dealing with other buyers through the system of advances

  • Loans started flowing in , which expand the demand for fine textiles . Weavers eagerly took advances with hopes to earn more.
  • Many weaving villages reported clashes between weavers and Gomasthas .
  • New Gomasthas were outsiders, with no long-term social link with the village . They acted arrogantly , marched into villages with sepoys and peons, and punished weavers for delays in supply.
  • The weavers lost the space to bargain for prices and sell to different buyers.
  • In many places in Carnatic and Bengal, weavers deserted villages and migrated .
  • Weavers along the village traders revolted , opposing the company and its officials.
  • By the turn of the nineteenth century, cotton weavers faced a new set of problems.

3.3 Manchester Comes to India

    • In 1772, Henry Patullo , a company official, said that the demand for cotton textiles could never reduce since no other nation produced goods of the same quality.
    • The beginning of the 19th century leads to a long decline in textile exports from India.
    • Industries started developing in England which made the industrial groups worried about imports from other countries. 
    • Exports of British cotton goods increased dramatically in the early 19th century. 
    • At the end of the 18th century, there had been virtually no import of cotton piece goods into India.
  • Cotton weavers in India faced two major problems:

> The export market collapsed

>the local market shrank and glutted with Manchester imports. 

  • By the 1860s , weavers faced a new problem as they could not get a sufficient supply of raw cotton of good quality.
  • When the American civil war broke , raw cotton exports from India increased and the price of cotton shot up.
  • By the end of the 19th century, weavers and other craftspeople faced yet another problem- factories in India began production, flooding the market with machine goods.
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Davneet Singh

Davneet Singh has done his B.Tech from Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He has been teaching from the past 14 years. He provides courses for Maths, Science, Social Science, Physics, Chemistry, Computer Science at Teachoo.