NCERT Notes Class 10 Social Science History Chapter 4 The Age of Industrialisation

NCERT Notes Class 10 Social Science History Chapter 4 The Age of Industrialisation

Chapter 4 The Age of Industrialisation NCERT Notes

Chapter Name

The Age of Industrialisation Notes


CBSE Class 10

Textbook Name

India and the Contemporary World II Class 10

Related Readings

  • Notes for Class 10
  • Notes for Class 10 History
  • NCERT Solutions for The Age of Industrialisation 


Society, as we see today, was not the same. Modern buildings, infrastructure, railways, and airways were not a common sight for our ancestors. They led elementary lives and traveled days to reach destinations where it takes hours to reach currently.

Society developed, and the things common in our daily lives were once considered major changes. Two images from the past can be used to show what major technological progress in the past made the society as we know it today:

  • An image titled “Dawn of the Century” shows an image of a goddess of progress standing on a wheel with wings. The wing demonstrates time. Behind the goddess are pictures of the camera, railways, factories, and buildings, showing symbols of progress.
  • An image was published in a trade magazine which showed a comparison between two ages: one part of the picture showed Aladdin making palaces with his lamp, whereas another part showed a modern mechanic building the important elements of society- bridges, railways, factories, etc.

Before the Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution is referred to as an age where factories began to be set up. Products were being manufactured on a large scale by factory workers.

Before this Industrial Revolution, products were still produced and exported to the international market. This period is referred to as proto-industrialization.

  • Due to increase in world trade, there was a demand for goods to be produced. But merchants in towns could not produce such a large number of products. This was because there were guilds/ associations of skilled craftsmen. These associations limited the training of skill to new people to regulate and control prices and competitions. The associations were further supported by rulers who granted them a monopoly to produce and sell specific products.
  • In the countryside, poor peasants and artists were facing a hard time. Common lands were disappearing, and so these people had to look for other sources of income.
  • When merchants approached these poor peasants and artists, they agreed. They could work in their small fields and work for merchants, which added to their income. Moreover, work from merchants enabled them to involve every member of the family, thus increasing production.
  • This led to the formation of a close connection between towns and countryside, which led to an exchange of goods and money on a large scale.
  • The proto-industrialization phase involved 20 to 25 workers employed by a merchant, thus covering hundreds of workers by a single clothier.

The coming up of the Factory

The cotton industry was among the first industry to gain pace. In the eighteenth century, the demand for cotton products increased drastically, and so did its production.

  • There are many cotton production steps, and with the invention of techniques for each step, production per worker increased.
  • Also, the technologies helped in the production of better quality cotton.
  • Richard Arkwright set up the cotton mill. This brought the production of cotton products from the countryside to towns and under a single roof.
  • Setting up of mills led to close monitoring of each cotton production step, thus controlling quality and production.
  • A drawback of this was that due to the faster production of better quality products, the countryside workers were begun to be ignored.

The Pace of Industrial Change

Four important points describe the Pace of Industrial Change

In the initial phase of industrialization, the cotton sector gained momentum, but iron and steel became the leading sector in trade. This was due to the development of colonies and setting up railways to improve the exchange of goods.
  • Though the factory setup was rapid, a large proportion of products were still produced in the countryside. In fact, less than 20 percent of the workforce was employed in factories.
  • Though said to be ‘traditional,’ inventions in new techniques were incorporated in the old ways. This helped in the growth of many sectors such as pottery, glasswork, furniture making, etc.
  • Also, the transition from old to the new technology was not rapid. This was due to the high costs of the machine, and also they were difficult to maintain. This caused the limitation of the use of technologies in the initial phase of industrialization.

Steam Engine

In 1781, James Watt modified the steam engine produced by Newcomen.
  • Mathew Boulton manufactured a new model for the same and patented it.
  • Though the steam engine’s invention was a major contribution to society, it was in the late nineteenth century that people acknowledged its full capability and began using it on a large scale.

Hand Labour and Steam Power

Why weren’t technological advances rapid?

  • Expensive machinery and high maintenance costs were some of the main reasons why human labor was preferred.
  • In Britain, as the population increased, there was no shortage of people searching for work. People in large numbers traveled to cities and towns in search of work.
  • This surplus amount of labor enabled industrialists to hire workers at cheap wages.
  • Also, there were industries whose product’s demand peaked in a particular season. So, industrialists favored hiring workers for a particular season than investing in machines that required maintenance round the clock.
  • Another reason for hiring hand labor was that there were products in the market that required human skill, products with specific features. Machines could not meet a person’s needs as they produced products with uniform features.
  • With the invention of machines producing similar products for large crowds, handmade products that satisfied individual needs were considered rare. So aristocratic people considered it classy to have products being made with specific details suitable for them.

Life of the Workers

  • The life of workers can be imagined from the availability of work and the wages being given.
  • For any number of vacancies, there were hundreds of people who ready to take up the job. But as not everyone could get the job, the best probability was with those who had friends or family working in an organization, which was not the case with most people.
  • The workers went about days to weeks without employment, living in Night Refugees or Casual Wards, as per their convenience, for shelter.
  • As many industries were seasonal, when the demand for their products decreased, the workers found themselves jobless again. While many moved back to the countryside, some stayed back to find another alternative source of income.
  • Even when the laborers were employed, they were not paid sufficiently. The average income depended on the number of days he was employed, which is less (in case of seasonal employment), further deteriorated the condition.
  • Unemployment in Britain till the mid-nineteenth century ranged from 35 to 75 percent in different regions.
  • Unemployment and starvation among workers were so drastic that any invention or technological advance that could speed up work was seen as a threat to their survival. A similar case was observed when Spinning Jenny was invented. Its introduction led to chaos among the women workers who started destroying the machines.
  • Employment in Britain increased after the 1840s by building up factories, roads, constructing railways, digging tunnels, laying drainage and sewers, and many more.

Industrialization in the Colonies

The Age of Indian Textiles

  • Before industrialization and colonial rule in India, the international market was dominated by silk and cotton produced in India.
  • This demand led to the establishment of ports in India which had trade connections with different regions. Important among them were Surat on Gujarat Coast (connected to the Gulf and Red Sea Ports), Masulipatam on the Coromandel Coast, and Hoogly in Bengal (connected to Southeast Asian).
  • Merchants and bankers in India controlled the production and supply of cotton. They paid advances to weavers and collected cotton from them. This cotton was then transferred to ports where they sold cotton to brokers.
  • This network started breaking down with the introduction of European companies in India. These companies first gained ground and then started establishing their roots in the Indian system of trade.
  • Slowly, the trade controlled by Indian merchants began dying, and ports controlled by them also began losing their value (from Rs 16 million, the value of trade passing through Surat declined to Rs 3 million).
  • While the old ports were losing value, new ones were gaining importance. These were the ones controlled by European companies. The new ones included ports of Bombay and Calcutta.

What Happened to Weavers?

  • Before establishing a monopoly over trade, East India Company faced competition in the market with other European powers, i.e., Dutch, French, and Portuguese, along with local traders.
  • This competition enabled the weavers and merchants to sell their goods at optimum prices.
  • So after acquiring monopoly over trade, East India Company established a system that enabled them a regular supply of cotton and silk, abolished competition, and so consequently control over prices.

Gomasthas was a post appointed by the Company who had direct relations with the weavers. This they did so to eliminate traders and brokers who acted as middlemen and controlled supply and prices. Gomasthas were now responsible for looking over the quantity and quality of cotton provided.

East India Company prevented the weavers from trading with other merchants. This it did so by paying advances to the weavers. So once an advance was taken, weavers were forbidden to sell their products to other merchants.

Also, after taking advances and to ensure a timely supply of cotton, weavers began taking loans. They had small agricultural lands, which helped them to cater to their needs. But these lands were then kept as a mortgage, and every member of the family was involved in cotton making process.

  • Soon, weavers began facing problems. There were times when the weavers were not able to complete the order on time. This led to clashes between the gomasthas and the weavers.
  • Gomasthas were outsiders for the village people, and peons and sepoys often accompanied them. So whenever any order got delayed, the weavers were treated with beatings and mistreatment.
  • Weavers began to leave their villages, searching for another place to live, free from East India Company’s clutches. Those who stayed back refused to work for the company and resorted back to agriculture.

Manchester comes to India

The 1800s saw a decline in cotton export from India. It accounted for 33 percent of the export price in 1811-12; it went down to less than 3 percent in 1850-51.

Why did it happen?

  • During the 1800s, cotton industries began booming in Britain. With this development, the industrialists of Britain wanted less competition in the market with their goods. So they wanted the imports of cotton made goods to be reduced.
  • The industrialists also pressurized the Company to sell goods in its colonies, thus increasing export of their machine made products. This led to an increase in cotton exports from Britain drastically.
  • Also, when American Civil War broke out, raw cotton supply from America declined. This caused a maximum supply of raw cotton from India.

What were its implications?

  • The weavers prominently felt the implications. On the one hand, where their export market was ruined due to the banishment of imports in other countries, the local market faced a similar fate.
  • The weavers now faced competition in the local markets with machine-made goods from Britain. As the prices of the goods were low, weavers started facing problems with the sale of their goods at minimum prices.
  • Also, as raw cotton export increased from India, its prices rose very high. The weavers could not buy raw cotton, or even if they did, they had to do so at very high prices. This was not affordable as their products were not being brought in the market.

Factories come Up

✓ The first cotton mill was established in Bombay in 1854.
✓ The first jute mill was set up in 1855 in Bengal.

The Early Entrepreneurs

  • The early businessmen in India were mostly traders. In the late eighteenth century, the East India Company exported opium to China and bought tea imported in England. Many traders played minor roles in these transactions. But over the years, they acquired knowledge, skill, and finance to set their own factories when opportunities provided.
  • Examples of such business people are:
    1. Dwarkanath Tagore from Bengal
    2. Dinshaw Petit and Jamsetjee Nusserwanjee Tata from Bombay
    3. Seth Hukumchand from Calcutta, set up a first jute mill in Calcutta in 1917
  • Apart from traders who dealt with China market, many had trade relations with other countries – Burma, Middle East, and East Africa. Also, many were such who traded within the boundaries of the country.
  • With the company’s control over trade, these traders were banned from having connections with other European countries. They were restricted from the items they could trade under, including raw cotton, wheat, indigo, and opium.
  • European Managing Agencies had a large control over Indian trade. Three important agencies were – Bird Heigler’s & Co., Andrew Yule, and Jardine Skinner & Co.
  • These companies controlled investments and made decisions regarding trade, where Indian traders only worked as finance providers.

Where did the Workers come From?

  • With the increase in the number of factories and industries being set up, there was also a great demand for workers.
  • Most of the workers came from nearby villages and districts. In search of work, people also traveled large distances.
  • Though there was a demand for workers to be employed, getting a job was always difficult as people available for the job were always more than the jobs available.
  • The work of hiring workers was allotted to a person, jobber. He was usually a trusted person. Jobbers usually employed people from his village, promising them a settlement in the city. In return, he expected gifts and money, thus controlling their lives.

The Peculiarities of Industrial Growth

  • The European Managing Agencies had a monopoly over the trade of certain products – cotton, jute, indigo, tea, and coffee.
  • When Indian industries set up, they chose products that would not face any competition with the Agencies. One such product was yarn- a coarse cotton thread. This yarn was either used by the local market or exported to China.
  • When Swadeshi Movement became popular, industrialists started making demands to grant concessions and give protections. Along with this, the export of yarn to China also diminished. This led the industrialists to shift their production from yarn to cloth.
  • First World War opened windows of opportunities for the Indian businessmen. As Britain got involved in the war, the Company’s goods declined, giving Indian industrialists the local market to them.
  • As the war continued, there was a demand for war necessities to be supplied, such as – jute bags, cloth for army uniforms, tents and leather boots, etc. This led to the working of overtime by the workers. New factories were set up to meet the demands.
  • After the end of the First World War, The European agencies could not take over the Indian market. Britain’s economy failed drastically.

Small Scale Industries Predominate

  • After the First World War, India saw the growth of factories and industries. But despite enormous demand from the international market, the workforce in the industries was very less, almost five to ten percent. The remaining was involved in small-scale production units, which flourished during this time.
  • Weavers were not entirely against innovations or technological advances. They accepted the inventions that helped them increase their production. One such invention was the fly shuttle- which helped them weave large pieces of cloth. Such technologies helped them survive the market of machine-made goods.
  • Machine-made goods are uniform without any specialization, whereas weavers had the advantage of producing materials with unique features. Banarasi or Baluchari sarees are good examples of such a kind.
  • There were two types of cloth production – coarse and fine material. Coarse cloth products were usually bought by the poor, but their demand fluctuated during poor harvest. At the same time, finer fabrics always maintained demand in the market as the rich could not afford them.

Market for Goods

Indian markets were flooded with Britain made goods. But this was not sufficient. To sell these products, first, there was a need to create its demand. It was necessary to create a sense of need in the minds of the consumers for these products. This was done through advertisements.

One way of advertising was labels. Labels on products were put to give a unique identity to the products, giving them a superior feel. Labels helped customers to have confidence in the product manufactured by a particular company/ brand.

  • Many a time, labels were beautiful illustrations or paintings which attracted consumers.
  • Manchester made goods had images of gods and goddesses as labels. With foreign products having images of gods gave them a familial feeling.
  • Images of kings and Nawabs were also used. They depicted a sign of royalty and class.

Calendar printing also bloomed during this time. Irrespective of the financial status, calendars were brought by both rich and poor. These contained advertisements, which, when seen regularly over the year, left a mark on the people’s minds. So when one needed to buy a particular product, the aforementioned brand/ shop was the one to be preferred.

Advertisements also helped in the spread of nationalism message. Indian made goods were popularised during the Swadeshi movement, enabling them to boycott foreign products.

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