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Major Industries In India

Traditionally, India had been famous for the fine quality Muslin cloth from Dacca, golden zari embroidery work of Surat, calicos of Calicut. But during the British rule, Indian industries suffered. The Industrial Revolution in Britain caused a decline of the indigenous industry. The first manufacturing industry was set up in India during the British rule. In 1854, the first cotton-textile mill was established in Bombay, immediately after the first railway line was constructed between Bombay and Thane. The first jute mill was set up in Calcutta in 1855. The first iron ore smelting plant was established in 1870 in Kulti in West Bengal. During the First World War, the huge demand for industrial products boosted the iron and steel, chemicals and machine tools industries in India. There growth and development were well planned during the Five Year Plans.

On the basis of source of raw materials, industries are classified as follows:

  1. Agro-based industries such as cotton textiles, jute textiles and sugar.
  2. Mineral-based industries such as iron and steel, machine tools and aluminium.

On the basis of the main role played by the industries, industries are classified as follows:

  1. Basic industries: These are the industries whose finished products are used as raw material for several other industries. For example, the iron and steel industry produces different grades and qualities of iron and steel, which in turn, are used as raw materials in machine tools and other allied industries.
  2. Consumer goods industries: These are the industries whose finished products are directly used for consumption by consumers. For example, sugar, paper, electrical goods, etc.

On the basis of capital investment, industries are classified as follows:

  1. Small scale industry
  2. Large scale industry

On the basis of ownership, industries are classified as follows:

  1. Public sector undertaking, such as SAIL, HAL and BEML, which are owned and managed by government agencies.
  2. Private sector undertakings such as TISCO, Mahindra and Mahindra and Birla Cement which are owned and managed by individuals.
  3. Joint ventures of public and private undertakings such as Oil India Ltd.
  4. Co-operative industries which are owned and managed by the producers of raw materials or the workers. Sugar industry in Maharashtra is an example.

Based on the bulk of raw material and finished products, industries are classified as follows:

  1. Heavy industries like iron and steel
  2. Light industries like electrical and electronic equipments

In India, industries are concentrated in four major regions:

  1. West Bengal, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh: Industries are concentrated in the Damodar valley region of Chotanagpur Plateau and the banks of the river Hoogly. The high concentration of coal fields in the Damodar valley has been compared to the Ruhr valley of Germany. The abundance of almost all the minerals essential for developing industries in this belt has made the Chotanagpur Plateau famous as the Storehouse of Minerals in India. Large deposits of mineral raw materials such as iron ore, coal, manganese, bauxite; port facilities provided by Kolkata–Haldia and Paradeep; thermal and hydel power resources of the region; abundant supply of water from the Damodar and Hooghly river systems; and availability of cheap labour are the factors responsible for industrial development.
  2. Maharashtra–Gujarat region: The main industry is cotton textile. Industries are concentrated along Mumbai–Ahmadabad region due to good transport and port facilities provided by Mumbai and Kandla, hydel power from the Tata Hydroelectric Plants in Western Ghats, capital and labour. A heavy concentration of heavy industries is found in the Mumbai–Pune belt. Centres like Pimpri and Chinchwad are noted for machine tools, electrical and electronic industries.
  3. Gangetic plains is noted for various agro-based industries. Availability of road and railway transport, labour supply and available market due to the high concentration of population has contributed to industrialization here.
  4. South India: Iron and steel industry at Bhadravati has initially been a factor for attracting various industries. Raw materials (both mineral and agro-based), hydel power, market and supply of labour have helped in industrialisation. At present, the software industry has grown in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Other centres of industrial development are Chennai, Coimbatore, etc.

Agro-based Industries of India

The industries which depend on agricultural products as raw materials for the manufacturing process are called agro-based industry. In a predominantly agricultural country like India, agro-based industries are present since earlier times. Even today, it is one of the major sources of employment and contributor to the Indian economic growth.

The major agro-based industries are as follows:



Cotton Textile industry In India, the first cotton mill was set up in 1854 in Bombay. For the large concentration of cotton mills in and around the city, Mumbai is called the Manchester of India. The two World Wars held during British colonial rule boosted the demand for cotton textiles. India is one of the leading producers of cotton textile, ranking third in the world. At the earliest stage, the industry was set up in Bombay–Ahmedabad region. The major factors were close proximity to cotton growing fields, moist climate, port facility of Bombay, cheap labour, extensive market, well-knit and extensive transport network. The cotton textile industry supports a number of subsidiary and ancillary industries and maintains a close link with agriculturists for supply of raw cotton. Ginning, spinning, weaving, dyeing, designing, tailoring, packaging of the fabric are associated with the cotton mills. Textile machinery manufacturing, chemicals and dyes, packaging industries are the ancillary industries associated with the cotton textile mills. Cotton weaving is decentralised all across India and are mostly situated close to areas of high density population and market. Weaving is mainly done in handlooms and powerlooms. India is a leading exporter of cotton in the world, cotton fabric and ready-made goods are major items of export.

Jute Industry
India is the largest producer of raw jute and jute goods and is the second largest exporter in the world after Bangladesh. Most of the 70 jute mills are concentrated along a 98 km belt on both sides of River Hooghly in West Bengal. The first jute mill was set up at Rishra in West Bengal in 1859. The factors for the concentration of jute mills along River Hooghly include close proximity to jute growing areas, hot and humid climate, cheap water transport along with a dense network of roads and railways, abundant supply of water, and abundant supply of cheap labour from West Bengal and adjoining states. The jute industry faces a number of problems. After Independence, jute mills remained in West Bengal, but jute growing areas went to Bangladesh. This resulted in shortage of supply of raw jute to the jute mills. India has to face stiff competition in international market from other producers like Bangladesh, Brazil, and Thailand. At present, the current trend is to use jute substitutes all across the world. To overcome these problems, the National Jute Policy was created in 2005 to increase productivity, better quality and to ensure good price for farmers. Preference for natural biodegradable fibres all across the world is an encouragment for jute farming.

Sugar Industry
India ranks the second in the world in the production of sugar and first in producing gur and khandasari. Sugarcane is the main raw material for the sugar mills in India. It is bulky and the sugar content decreases with time. Hence, sugar mills are located very close to sugarcane fields to ensure processing within minimum time. The major sugar producing states are Maharashtra, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Sugar industry is seasonal in nature and is mostly managed by the cooperative sector. The major problems encountering the sugar mills in India are their seasonal nature, transport delays and outdated and inefficient machineries.

Paper Industry
The first paper mill was established in Bally near Kolkata in 1867. The major raw materials required for producing paper are soft wood, bamboo, sabai grass, bagasse, chemicals such as sulphuric acid, caustic soda, soda ash and chlorine and fresh water. The major centres are Kolkata, Titagarh, Kakinada and Bhadravati. There is a newsprint mill at Nepanagar in Madhya Pradesh. India’s production falls short of the demand. A large quantity of paper has to be imported.

Mineral-based Industries of India

A large number of Indian industries are based on minerals and raw materials for producing varied products. The major mineral-based industries of India are as follows:

Iron and Steel Industry
The iron and steel industry is a basic industry, since the steel produced from iron and steel plants are used in all other industries for manufacturing machineries. It is a heavy industry, as both raw materials and finished products are very bulky. Iron ore, coking coal and limestone are the major raw materials. India ranks ninth in the world in steel production and first in the production of sponge iron. Per capita consumption of steel per annum in India is only 32 kg. Most of the steel plants are controlled by Steel Authority of India Ltd. (SAIL). Tata Steel is privately managed by TISCO (Tata Iron and Steel Company). The iron and steel plants are localised in eastern India. Kulti and Durgapur in West Bengal, Bokaro and Jamshedpur in Jharkhand, Bhilai in Chattisgarh, Rourkela in Orissa are six major iron and steel plants which are located in the mineral belt of the Chotanagpur Plateau. Others are at Bhadravati and Vijaynagar in Karnataka and Salem in Tamil Nadu. The heavy concentration in Chotanagpur region is due to availability of good quality iron ore, coal, limestone, manganese, plenty of water, dense rail transport network, cheap labour, good market and proximity to Kolkata and Haldia ports. The problems faced by Indian iron and steel industry are shortage of good quality coking coal, poor infrastructure, lack of skilled and unskilled labour and energy crisis.

Aluminium Smelting
Aluminium smelting is the second most important metallurgical industry of India. Aluminium is durable, non-corrosive, malleable metal which is a good conductor of heat and becomes very strong when mixed with other metals. The main raw material is bauxite from which alumina is extracted and processed in aluminium smelters to produce aluminium. There are eight aluminium smelting plants in India which are situated at Korba in Chattisgarh, Alupuram in Kerala, Renukoot in Uttar Pradesh, Hirakud, Angul and Jharsuguda in Orissa, Mettur in Tamil Nadu and Muri in Jharkhand.

Chemical and Fertiliser Industry

Chemical industry: India ranks 12th in the world in the production of different type of chemicals. The manufacturing units are widespread across India. There are large and small scale units. The inorganic chemicals such as sulphuric acid, nitric acid, alkalies, soda ash and caustic soda are produced in India. Organic chemicals and petrochemicals are situated near petroleum refineries which produce synthetic fibres, plastics, synthetic rubber, drugs and pharmaceuticals.

Fertiliser industry: 
The fertiliser plants produce nitrogenous fertilisers, phosphatic fertilisers, ammonium phosphates or a combination of these. India is the third largest nitrogenous fertiliser producer in the world. The fertiliser producing plants are distributed almost all across India. Hazira in Gujarat and Sindri in Jharkhand are two fertiliser producing plants in India.

Cement Industry
Cement is used in the building and construction sector on a large scale. The major raw materials are limestone, silica, gypsum and alumina apart from coal and electric power. The first cement producing plant was set up in Chennai in 1904. There is a huge domestic demand for cement in India. Cement is also exported to South and East Asia, Middle East and Africa on a large scale.

Transport Industry

Automobile industry: A wide variety of vehicles are manufactured in India for goods and passenger transport. Cars, two-wheelers, three-wheelers, trucks, buses, multi-utility vehicles are produced in Indian automobile plants. Government policies have facilitated Foreign Direct Investment and a large number of units have started production in India. The major automobile manufacturing plants are located in Gurgaon (Manesar), Mumbai (Pune), Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Jamshedpur.

Railway Equipments:
 India manufactures railway coaches, engines, wheels in a number of railway factories. The electrical and diesel locomotives are manufactured at Chittaranjan in West Bengal and diesel locomotive in Varanasi in UP. Railway coaches are manufactured in Perambur near Chennai. Railway wheels factory is located near Bangalore.

Aircraft manufacturing: 
The major centres of aircraft manufacturing are at Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kanpur.

Ship-building industry: 
For ship-building industry, Mumbai, Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Marmagao are the major centres.

Engineering Industry

Electrical industry: The electrical equipment manufacturing units are numerous and spread across India. A heavy engineering unit producing heavy machineries is located at Ranchi in Jharkhand. Hindustan Machine Tools manufacture a number of equipments, tools and tractors. The manufacturing units are situated in many locations, of which Haridwar and Bangalore are examples. Heavy electrical equipments, manufactured by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited has one of its plants in Bangalore.

Electronic and IT industry:
 India manufactures a wide range of electronic products such as television sets, cellular phones, radars, computers and inputs of telecom sector. Bangalore is the electronic capital of India. Other centres are Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai and Lucknow. Software Technology Parks have been set up in India which provide high speed data communication facility and single window service. These have drastically improved the employment opportunities in this sector. A major foreign exchange earner in India is the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector, which is also a major employer for the Indian educated section of people.

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