Page 36 - Aug 2021
P. 36

         COLLECTOR’S EDITION
Indian textile industry, renowned globally, suffered a fatal blow at the hands of discriminatory colonial policies
 ‘Colonial Science’
as called by many was
also used to deride
those few scientists
and academicians of
Indian origin, who
had emerged despite
the challenging cir-
cumstances then pre-
vailing in British India. However, there emerged a galaxy of scientists during the last decades of the 19th century and initial ones of the 20th, whose works still resonate in the scientific world. They received great support from many wealthy Indians, Indian rulers and intel- lectuals. This not only resulted in the establishment of institutions like the Indian Academy for the Cultivation of Science (IACS), Indian Institute of Sci- ence (IISc) and Maharashtra Academy for Cultivation of Science (MACS) but also industries like Bengal Chemicals by Prafulla Chandra Ray.
Before 1757, Bengal had a surplus Balance of Payments; its exports exceed- ed imports by a factor of four. Initially itself, during 1757-80, in the immediate aftermath of the Battle of Plassey, Ben- gal was forced to pump in a substantial sum of 38 million pound sterling into England. These resources helped finance the Industrial Revolution in Britain on one hand and the discriminatory trade policies implemented by the British East India Company in India ensured a vast market for the products of industrial revolution on the other. In the process, our industries suffered a fatal blow.
India had the richest economy in the world during the beginning of the 18th century with a contribution to global GDP of more than 30% and even dur- ing 1757, its contribution to global GDP was nearly 20%. This declined to just around 4% in the 190 years up to 1947 when the British left this country. Many economists, including the well-known British economist Angus Maddison have
recorded the decline of Indian economy and the corresponding growth of the British one.
Industry, trade and agriculture, the three pillars of Indian economy during the 18th century were all knocked down through predatory policies, discrimina- tory tariffs and astronomical land taxes. Pt. Madan Mohan Malaviya’s dissent note as part of the report of the Indus- trial Commission of 1916 clearly brings out the devastation caused. The vast number of cross references in this note is indicative of the deep study as well as au- thenticity of this note. He especially cites three areas where we were devastated. 1. The cotton and textile industry
2. The iron industry
3. Ship making and shipping industry
Romesh Chandra Dutta, in his au- thentic work, Economic History of In- dia Under Early British Rule brings out the approach of the British East India Company, that eventually led to the dein- dustrialisation of India.
“A deliberate endeavour was now made to use the political power obtained by the East India Company to discour- age the manufactures of India. In their letter to Bengal dated 17 March 1769, the Company desired that the manufac- ture of raw silk should be encouraged in Bengal, and that of the manufactured silk fabrics should be discouraged. And they also recommended that the silk winders should be forced to work in the Company’s factories and prohibited from working in their own homes.” (As quoted by Mahamana Malaviya ji)
‘DHAKE KA MULMUL’
The story of Dhaka muslin is the most vivid example of the British modus ope- randi. ‘Dhake ka Mulmul’, as it was known, captured the tastes of the rich and the powerful across centuries and continents. Amir Khusrau, the 14th cen- tury Sufi poet, describes it in his work Nihayat-ul-Kamaal (the Heights of Wonders) thus: ‘A hundred yards of it can pass through the eye of the needle, so fine is its texture, and yet the point of the steel needle can’t pierce it through easily. It is so transparent and light that it looks as if one is in no dress at all, but has only smeared the body with pure water.’
Soon after the Battle of Plassey, Bengal was forced to pump in a substantial sum of 38 million pound sterling into England that helped finance its Industrial Revolution
  36 SCIENCE INDIA AUGUST, 2021
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