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The Peculiarities of Industrial Growth

  • European Managing Agencies, which dominated industrial production in India, were interested only in tea and coffee plantations.
  • They acquired land from the colonial government; and invested in mining, indigo and jute.
  • These were products were exported.
  • Indian businessmen who set up factories did not try to compete with imported goods which were available in the Indian market.
  • Since yarn was not imported into India, the early cotton mills in India produced coarse cotton yarn rather than cloth.
  • The yarn produced in Indian spinning mills was used by handloom weavers in India or exported to China.

The ‘swadeshi movement’ and the Industrial boom in India

  • During the early twentieth century the swadeshi movement gathered momentum.
  • Indians boycotted imported foreign cloth.
  • Industrial groups organised themselves to protect their collective interests.
  • The government was forced to protect the Indian manufacturers.
  • As the export of Indian yarn to China declined, industrialists in India began shifting from yarn to cloth production.
  • Cotton piece goods production in India doubled between 1900 and 1912.
  • The First World War, created a dramatically new situation. British mills were busy to meet the needs of the army, Manchester imports into India declined and Indian mills had a vast home market to supply.
  • As the war prolonged, Indian factories were called upon to supply war needs: jute bags, cloth for army uniforms, tents and leather boots, horse and mule saddles and a host of other items.
  • New factories were set up and old ones ran multiple shifts.
  • Many new workers were employed and they had to work longer hours.
  • The economy of Britain crumbled after the war. Cotton production collapsed and exports of cotton cloth from Britain fell dramatically.
  • Indian industrialists consolidated their position and captured the home market.

The ‘swadeshi movement’

The Spinning Wheel, the symbol of the ‘Swadeshi Movement’


The Swadeshi movement was part of the Indian independence movement It was a successful economic strategy to remove the British Empire from power and improve economic conditions in India through the principles of self-sufficiency.

Strategies of the swadeshi movement involved boycotting British products and the revival of domestic-made products and production techniques. Swadeshi, as a strategy, was a key focus of Mahatma Gandhi , the father of the Indian Nation. He described the ‘swadeshi movement’ as the soul of self rule or independence.

Mahatma Gandhi, the man behind the ‘Swadeshi Movement’

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