Tales From Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners: Weave Stories, etc.

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Tales From Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners

During the British rule in India, there were two industries that played a crucial role i.e. the textiles and iron and steel. These two had a major contribution to the evolution of Industrial Revolution in the modern world. By the 19th century, the mechanized production of the cotton textiles, clothes weave and more made British the first industrial nation.

Further, in the 1850s, when the iron and steel industry began evolving, British began to be called as the “workshop of the world”. Here, we’ll tell you about the industries and the crafts of India during the British rule. Let’s weave the story and know more.

Industrialisation and Colonisation

The industrialization of Britain had a deep association with the colonization and conquest of India. With the advancement in the growth of the industrial production, the industrialists from Britain began to see India as a huge market for their industrial products. Over the years, the degree of export of goods manufactured in Britain to India only went on to increase.

Indian Textiles and the World Market
Around the year 1750, India became the largest producer of cotton textiles in the world. The reason for the popularity of the cotton textile was that these were known across the globe for their exquisite craftsmanship and superfine quality. As a result of this, post 16th century, the traders from Europe showed a keen interest in Indian textiles and started buying them for sale in Europe.

Words Tell us Histories
The textiles from India was famous in the western markets by different names such as ‘Calico’ (derived from Calicut) and ‘Muslin’. Chintz (derived from chhint) was the name given to the printed cotton clothes. Moreover, if the pieces were ordered in bulk from the market, it was referred to as bandanna (derived from ‘bandhna’ or tie and dye).

Indian Textiles in European Markets
In the year 1720, the government of Britain enacted a legislation that went on to ban the use of Chintz or the printed cotton textiles in England. Further, they went on to imitate the Indian designs and print the same in England on plain unbleached Indian cloth or the Muslin. To promote industrialization, in the year 1764, John Kaye invented the Spinning Jenny. Later on, Richard Arkwright Invented the steam engine in the year 1786 that completely revolutionized the cotton textile weaving.

Who Were The Weavers?

Who Were The Weavers

Weavers were specialized craftsmen that belonged to the weave community which specialized in weaving. Handloom weaving along with the different weave occupations associated with it helped in providing a comfortable livelihood for millions of Indians.

The Decline of Indian Textiles
Post the development of the cotton industries in England, there was a decline in the demand for cotton created by textile producers in India. By the beginning of the 19th century, the cotton textile crafted by the British completely overshadowed the Indian goods from their traditional markets in the continents of Europe, Africa, and America.

Both the European and the English companies completely stopped by the good produced in India. Later by the 1830s, the British cotton cloth was all over the Indian market. As a result of this, thousands of Indian women from the rural villages who made their living by spinning cotton thread now were out of work.

This led to the development of National Movement by Mahatma Gandhi where Gandhi urged the Indians to boycott the imported textiles and use only the handwoven and handspun cloth. Conclusively, Khadi became the symbol of Nationalism in India.

Cotton Mills Come up
In the year 1854, the first cotton mill in India was started in Bombay as a spinning mill. By 1900, there were more than 84 mills operating in Bombay. During the first World War, there was the first key spurt in the development of cotton factory production in India. It was possible because of the decline of the textile imports from Britain. Naturally, leading to the growth in the Indian factories that were then producing the cloth for the military supplies.

Iron and Steel Factories
In the year 1904, Dorabji Tata who was the oldest son of Jamsetji Tata in collaboration with Charles Weld who was an American geologist started a modern iron and steel plant in India. Further, in 1912, the Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) came up that worked on producing the steel.

Two years hence, in 1914, the First World War broke out. After the 1st World War, the imports of British Steel in India saw a massive decline. This is when the Indian Railways turned to TISCO for the supply of rails. In the passage of years, TISCO became the number one steel industry within the British empire.

Abandoned Furnaces in Villages
To be able to produce Wootz steel, a specialized technique of refining iron was required. The craft of iron smelting was in decline by the late 19th century. People began giving up this craft and began looking for other means of livelihood. Unfortunately, by the early 20th century, the artisans involved in the production of iron and steel faced a new competition.


Who are the Agarias?
The Agarias are the Indian community of Iron Smelters.