Topic outline

    • Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners

      Q37. Why handloom weaving did not completely die in India?

      Ans. Handloom weaving did not completely die in India.

                                 i.        This was because some types of cloths could not be supplied by machines. For example, machines could not produce saris with intricate borders or cloths with traditional woven patterns. These had a wide demand not only amongst the rich but also amongst the middle classes.

                                ii.        Nor did the textile manufacturers in Britain produce the very coarse cloths used by the poor people in India.

                               iii.        Sholapur in western India and Madura in South India emerged as important new centres of weaving in the late nineteenth century.

                               iv.        Later, during the national movement, Mahatma Gandhi urged people to boycott imported textiles and use hand-spun and handwoven cloth. Khadi gradually became a symbol of nationalism.

      Q38. How did the development of cotton industries in Britain affect textile producers in India?

      Ans. The development of cotton industries in Britain affected textile producers in India in several ways.

                                 i.        Indian textiles now had to compete with British textiles in the European and American markets.

                                ii.        Exporting textiles to England also became increasingly difficult since very high duties were imposed on Indian textiles imported into Britain.

                               iii.        By the beginning of the nineteenth century, English made cotton textiles successfully ousted Indian goods from their traditional markets in Africa, America and Europe.

                               iv.        Thousands of weavers in India were now thrown out of employment. Bengal weavers were the worst hit.

                               v.        By the 1830s British cotton cloth flooded Indian markets. This affected not only specialist weavers but also spinners.

      Q39. How do the names of different textiles tell us about their histories?

      Ans. It is interesting to trace the names of different textiles as it tells us about their histories.

      Muslin - European traders first encountered fine cotton cloth from India carried by Arab merchants in Mosul in present-day Iraq. So they began referring to all finely woven textiles as “muslin”.

      Calico - When the Portuguese first came to India in search of spices they landed in Calicut on the Kerala coast in south-west India. The cotton textiles which they took back to Europe, along with the spices, came to be called “calico” (derived from Calicut), and subsequently calico became the general name for all cotton textiles.

      Chintz - It is derived from the Hindi word chhint, a cloth with small and colourful flowery designs.

      Bandanna - The word bandanna now refers to any brightly coloured and printed scarf for the neck or head. Originally, the term derived from the word “bandhna” (Hindi for tying), and referred to a variety of brightly coloured cloth produced through a method of tying and dying.

      Q40. Why did the Indian iron smelting industry decline in the nineteenth century?

      Ans. Indian iron smelting industry began to decline in the nineteenth century due to the following reasons:

                                i.        The new forest law colonial government prevented people from entering the reserved forests. Thus, the iron smelters were not able to find wood for charcoal and iron ore for producing iron.

                               ii.        Defying forest laws, they often entered the forests secretly and collected wood, but they could not sustain their occupation on this basis for long. Many gave up their craft and looked for other means of livelihood.

                              iii.        In some areas the government did grant access to the forest. But the iron smelters had to pay a very high tax to the forest department for every furnace they used. This reduced their income.

                              iv.        Moreover, by the late nineteenth century iron and steel was being imported from Britain. Ironsmiths in India began using the imported iron to manufacture utensils and implements. This inevitably lowered the demand for iron produced by local smelters.