History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 1981: Q.1 (a)

History Optional Paper-2 Solution – 1981: Q.1 (a)

Q.1 (a) Write a critical note on: “Consequences of the ruin of handicraft industries under the rule of the East India Company.”


The ruin of  traditional industries (handicrafts) was the product of the establishment of British rule in India. This was mainly due to the competition posed by the machine made goods that were imported from Britain. The ability of mass production of goods helped Britain to flood the Indian markets with cheap products especially cotton textiles.
The railways facilitated the reach of these goods to remotest parts in India and the procurement of raw materials from these parts. The traditional handicrafts industry faced a tough competition from these goods produced in bulk.
Indian goods were also subjected to high tariffs in the English market whereas the British goods gained duty free access into the Indian markets.

Negative consequences of the ruin of handicraft industries

(1) This destroyed the self-sufficiency of village economy.

(2) The destruction of the traditional industries led to overcrowding in the agrarian sector. The decline of artisans class and their association with agriculture activities generated additional pressure on agricultural sector because there was no alternative other than agriculture during that time.

(3) Such class which got associated with agriculture neither possesed land nor means so they became agricultural labourer.

(4) Occupational centres, commercial centres and industrial centres declined because of the decline of traditional industries adversely affected the diverse economic activities of these centres. The main centres like Surat, Dhaka, Murshidabad etc. declined.

(5) The void created by the decline of traditional industries could not be filled in by the growth of modern industries.

Positive consequences of the ruin of handicraft industries

(1) Growth of industrial market took place in India which gave impetus to the availability of domestic and foreign goods. Such growth was not confined to the production of commodities necessary for pleasurable persuit and military requirement but it was also associated with items of daily use.

(2) India gradually developed as an extensive industrial market which led to the growth of the modern form of exchange system.

(3) The growth of exchange relations also promoted economic integration and this process acted as a factor in the economic integration of India and also integration with the world economy.

(4) The decline of traditional industries indicates the decline of pre-capitalist handicraft industries. In one sense it indicates the decline of industries influnced by feudalistic ideals and values. This created base for modern indistries.

(5) The class associated with the medieval handicraft industry got merged into modern labour class. This decline prepared the base for  the growth of modern industries and a new labour class grew up in society which was the most important part of the newly established capitalist  economy.

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