Discuss Two Factors That Led To The Decline of Indian Textiles

The Decline of Indian Textiles

The development of cotton industries in Britain led to the decline of Indian textiles and affected textile producers in India in several ways.

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

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

By the beginning of the nineteenth century, English-made cotton textiles successfully ousted Indian goods from their traditional markets in Africa, America, and Europe. Thousands of weavers in India were now thrown out of employment. Bengal weavers were the worst hit. English and European companies stopped buying Indian goods and their agents no longer gave out advances to weavers to secure supplies.

But worse was still to come. So What happened after the decline of Indian Textiles? By the 1830s British cotton cloth flooded Indian markets. In fact, by the 1880s two-thirds of all the cotton clothes worn by Indians were made of cloth produced in Britain. This affected not only specialist weavers but also spinners. Thousands of rural women who made a living by spinning cotton thread were rendered jobless.

Later, during the national movement, Mahatma Gandhi urged people to boycott imported textiles and use hand-spun and handwoven cloth. Khadigradually became a symbol of nationalism. The charkha came to represent India, and it was put at the center of the tricolor flag of the Indian National Congress adopted in 1931.

Many weavers became agricultural laborers. Some migrated to cities in search of work, and yet others went out of the country to work in plantations in Africa and South America. Some of these handloom weavers also found work in the new cotton mills that were established in Bombay (now Mumbai), Ahmedabad, Sholapur, Nagpur, and Kanpur.

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