In manufacturing, India could not develop a sound industrial base under the colonial rule.
Even as the country’s world famous handicraft industries declined, no corresponding modern industrial base was allowed to come up to take pride of place so long enjoyed by the former.
The primary motive of the colonial government behind this policy of systematically de-industrialising India was two-fold,
- first, to reduce India to the status of a mere exporter of important raw materials for the upcoming modern industries in Britain and,
- second, to turn India into a sprawling market for the finished products of those industries so that their continued expansion could be ensured to the maximum advantage of their home country — Britain.
The decline of the indigenous handicraft industries created not only massive unemployment in India but also a new demand in the Indian consumer market, which was now deprived of the supply of locally made goods. This demand was profitably met by the increasing imports of cheap manufactured goods from Britain.
During the second half of the nineteenth century, modern industry began to take root in India but its progress remained very slow.
- Initially, this development was confined to the setting up of cotton and jute textile mills.
- The cotton textile mills, mainly dominated by Indians, were located in the western parts of the country, namely, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
- The jute mills dominated by the foreigners were mainly concentrated in Bengal.
- Subsequently, the iron and steel industries began coming up in the beginning of the twentieth century. The Tata Iron and Steel Company (TISCO) was incorporated in 1907.
- A few other industries in the fields of sugar, cement, paper etc. came up after the Second World War.
However, there was hardly any capital goods industry to help promote further industrialisation in India. Capital goods industry means industries which can produce machine tools which are, in turn, used for producing articles for current consumption. The establishment of a few manufacturing units here and there was no substitute to the near wholesale displacement of the country’s traditional handicraft industries.
Furthermore, the growth rate of the new industrial sector and its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) remained very small.
Another significant drawback of the new industrial sector was the very limited area of operation of the public sector. This sector remained confined only to the railways, power generation, communications, ports and some other departmental undertakings.
Bibliography : NCERT – Indian Economic Development