21 November 2010

India's Role in the Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution happened in Britain during 1775–1850. It gave birth to modern industry – a new system of production based on machines and factories. For the Industrial Revolution to happen, three things were needed:

1. Capital – to build the machines and factories
2. Raw materials – to produce the goods in the factories
3. Market – to sell the manufactured goods

All three were needed in large amounts for the Industrial Revolution to kick off:

1. Capital: After the Industrial Revolution started, the huge profits it generated could provide the capital for further industrialisation. That is, the process could become self-sustaining. But how was the process to begin in the first place? Where could such a large amount of money be got from?

2. Raw materials: The Industrial Revolution needed vast amounts of raw materials at cheap prices. Where were they to be got from?

3. Market: Finally, a vast captive market was needed to sell the manufactured goods at a handsome profit. Where was it to be found?

The first country to answer these three questions would be the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. In the second half of the 18th century, one country did find the answer to these three questions: Britain. And its answer was India.

On 23 June 1757, the English East India Company defeated Siraj-ud-Daula, the Nawab of Bengal, in the Battle of Plassey. The British thus became masters of east India (Bengal, Bihar, Orissa) – a prosperous region with a flourishing agriculture, industry and trade.

The East India Company started collecting revenue from this region and sending it to Britain. This provided the capital. It also started seizing raw cotton from the cotton farmers and sending it to Britain. This provided the raw material. Finally, it brought the manufactured textiles from Britain into India – without any duties or tariffs – and sold them here. This was their free market.

Thus India provided all the three ingredients of Britain's Industrial Revolution: capital, raw materials and market.

It is not a coincidence that the Industrial Revolution began less than 20 years after the British conquest of east India. Nor is it a coincidence that the engine of Britain's Industrial Revolution was its textile industry. Before the Industrial Revolution, India was the world's number one textile manufacturer and exporter. When you have conquered a country, what better industry to enter and dominate, than the industry dominated by the country you now rule – and whose economy you now control?

Subsequently, of course, Britain conquered the whole of India, thus giving it more capital, more raw materials and a larger market – which helped to accelerate its Industrial Revolution. Needless to say, India's economy was devastated in this process.

Thus the Industrial Revolution was built on the grave of the Indian economy. The Industrial Revolution was made in Britain, but it was funded by India (against her will).

The Industrial Revolution gave birth to the Industrial Age, or the Modern Age. Thus, though the Modern Age was inaugurated in Britain, the real driving force behind it was India.

That was the role of India in the Industrial Revolution (and consequently, the birth of the Modern Age).

Thus Britain did not "make India modern". The truth is the other way around. It was India that helped Britain to become modern.


Suresh said...

I fully concur. It is utterly pitiable to read about the consequent hardships of Bengal's peasantry; and also the helplessness during the great famine that followed. The looters did nothing to save the peasants. The selfish imbeciles who called themselves Kings too did nothing.

However, India allowed it to happen.
India has to get the money back. India has to work itself into a superior position in the new world order, where it can get the money back for its peasants.

Homeless said...

I agree, the division of wealth in Inidia is shockingly bad. On my blog I have reviewed "The White Tiger," which is a book that explores these issues. It is well worth a look, give me a follow :)

preeti said...

In India Industries start after Indian Independence in 1947, but lots of scam let India down..Now it is necessary for Indian Govt. to take further steps to get back money.

From: Silicon Carbide Manufacturers

fuse me said...

I agree with the fact that exploiting India helped Britain become the super power that it was. But why wasn't the spinning Jenny invented in India? Why wasn't the steam engine invented by an Indian? Why didn't Indians go to Europe to trade and then eventually conquer them? Yes, India had a role to play in the industrial revolution, but only a helpless one. We were complacent and it was obvious that we would be exploited. Of course it is not justified that we were exploited. We cannot remain complacent anymore.

Johnny said...

Different civilisations have made contributions to human development at different time time scales. India was known for many inventions during ancient times and then it was England with the Industrial revolition. Then America followed with her advances in Medcine, Technology and Space exploration. Japan was known as key innovators in many other technologies. What is Britain contributing right now? Nothing! It is not in the Nature of Indians to go and either exploit, conquer or masacre different regions or populations. Such actions are purely characteristic of the white race!

Sathya said...

@fuse me

"Why wasn't spinning jenny invented in India!!"

-Its bcoz after the continuous invasion of Islam to India all the wealth was used to wage war & R&D is out of question!! Only if u've proper food u could research something! Thats y most of the Indian inventions dates back to the period of before islamic-invasion. You can check the history for this.

"Why didn't Indians go to Europe to trade and then eventually conquer the?"

-When u study Indian history u cudnt c any Indian King invading the foreign nation. they nvr got out of India. Gupta at their peak, Muryans at their peak could've captured the whole world if they want to. bt they nvr wantd that. U knw the story of ashoka's invasion of kalinga dynsty?? Ashoka stopped waging war after looking at the bodies that heaped at war field! So he stop waging war. At that time he had most of the nation under his kingdom. U can check his map in wikipedia.

and for more reference on inventions of India., 0 zero is the ultimate invention by us which is the biggest invention evr by world. coz without zero there is no technology now., no science(measurement of world is science., in that basis) & infinity is also invented by an Indian.

We had all the development before the rest of the world cud possibly imagine about it. Bt one stupid thing is we didnt have the unity.

bt i guess in this 60 yrs of independence we've developed far better than others. when u look at USA, Britain & any other western nation or new world's development our is phenomenal one. We just have to keep working on what we do now to be the best! Corruption will go down in next two generations. Coz current youth generation & future youths wud nvr support it! I believe in that!

Busy Boy said...

It was really very interesting to read this firebrand article posted by you. Now it's India's turn to conquer the Industrial Scenario in the World. Indian Railways and Postal Systems are good examples of Britain's Industrial Drive in Colonial Ruled India.

Busy Boy said...

It was really very interesting to read this firebrand article posted by you. Now it's India's turn to conquer the Industrial Scenario in the World. Indian Railways and Postal Systems are good examples of Britain's Industrial Drive in Colonial Ruled India.

Busy Boy said...

It was really very interesting to read this firebrand article posted by you. Now it's India's turn to conquer the Industrial Scenario in the World. Indian Railways and Postal Systems are good examples of Britain's Industrial Drive in Colonial Ruled India.

Zuha Shaheen said...

what are the inventions during Indian industrial revolution ?

Anonymous said...

The industrial revolution has to taken in contest of the Great Divergence a global economic event that effected every single country in the world starting in the late 1500s. By 1757 the G D was two centuries ongoing.

Britain EiC and Holland VOC dominated but USA was catching up and also the countries of North Europe and Canada. The negative Great Divergence effected India, China, all of Asia (except Japan after 1850), Islamic countries, South America, Mexico, Italy (after 1600) Spain and Portugal (mid 1500s) with eastern European countries and Russia flat lined. So by 1757 India was in the grip of the G D. That was why UK was able to win enough Indian wars to be the last man standing by 1818.

G D has nothing to do with race or nationality so much as other complex events that fulled a global revolution. The GD happened in India in the mid 1500s. Indian statistics show by 1801 India was economically impoding by GD indicators. UK was not in control until 1818. Aurangzeb left India bankrupt and suffering from hyper inflation on his death 1702. Mughals and Muslim invaders looted billions and squandered 1/3 to 1/2 of the GNP of India for centures. the Shah of Persia looted billions by today's estimates of his sack of Delhi. That is where Indian capital went along with missed centuries of the scientific revolutions, agricultural revolutions, financial revolution, and finally industrial revolutions which together caused GD.


Indian said...

Very interesting, JEF.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting take on the Industrial revolution. Food for thought...

Anonymous said...

To the people who asked why spinning jenny was invented in India, here is an explanation.


Adrian Cheale said...

Hi, I live in the middle of the UNESCO world heritage site in England, where the industrial revolution "Started"- Cromford, where Arkwright built his cotton mill, powered by water, in 1771. You are indeed correct as to the real reasons why the industrial revolution started here, in England. The problem is, that NOBODY here knows this!! I wonder why?! I have written to my member of parliament about it, but she will only persist in getting schools to teach history wrong. In fact, nobody is taught ANYTHING at school about the history of the E.I.C or India etc as the Brits are quite a vile and hypocritical lot!! They still have an empire, only now it is coupled hand in glove with the hegemonical USA. This history will not be taught as the west is the dominant power which controls knowledge. We will NOT acknowledge the harm done by us to India, amongst hundreds of other places. Instead the history taught in schools and in the media is about the Tudors (a 16thC lot) which has little consequence on our modern history. I am ashamed to be English and I try to educate people and complain to people as much as possible about this dire state of affairs. Only today I complained to the British museum for their website's reasons for the start of the industrial revolution.
Adrian cheale.

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vibenchi said...

i feel that the indian too had something to do with their weakness .if the indian kings were not fighting against eachother and would live in harmony and trust their strenth would have been more !and indian would have advancement in various fields including weaponry ! india has a history of many great wars but has it any stories on anything other than that !?there are stories how their minters had killed their own king for the throne!?? most of the king have died due to this cause ! dont u think !? there are minor things which was helpful nationally but anyting international during the time of the Mughals and kings came into being !??
Indians fall for money very easily ! Dont u think !?and very weak on the basis of religion !? well we have a very easily vurnerable weakness that even the lamest country could break it ! thats the main reason we are easily ruled!during the advent of the aryans they was peace and harmony and trust was abundant !they use to keep many precious jewels in the open !that much trust was ther ! that was the time inventions ,ideas ,discoveries ,were made internationally !and did u know that indians had got the idea of computers even before the foreign (if u see the mahabharata they see things going in and around then on screens of magic ) dont u think !? but i still feel that the British have done a really wrong thing on India and even i feel they should be retuned to our former glory !
and hey i am an INDIAN !and ihave no offence or grudge on india! i am just trying to tell the actual truth !