NCERT Class 8 History Chapter 6 - Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners

Chapter 6 - Weavers, Iron Smelters and Factory Owners

Question 1: Who were weavers? Name some communities famous for weaving?

• Weavers often belonged to communities that specialized in weaving. Their skills were passed on from one generation to the next.
• The tanti weavers of Bengal, the julahas or momin weavers of north India, sale and kaikollar and devangs of south India are some of the communities famous for weaving. 

Question 2: How did the inventions of Spinning Jenny and Steam Engine revolutionise cotton textile weaving in England?

• Textile industries had just emerged in England in the early 18th century. So, it was difficult for the English producers to compete with Indian textiles.
• This competition with Indian textiles led to a search for technological innovation in England. In 1764, the Spinning Jenny was invented by John Kaye which increased the productivity of the traditional spindles.
• Then, the steam engine was invented by Richard Arkwright in 1786. These two inventions revolutionised cotton textile weaving in England. Cloth could now be woven in immense quantities and cheaply too. 

Question 3: Describe the process of cloth making in India in the eighteenth century.

• The process of cloth making consists of two stages: The first stage of production was spinning which was mostly done by women. The charkha and the takli were household spinning instruments. The thread was spun on the charkha and rolled on the takli.
• When the spinning was over the thread was woven into cloth by the weaver. In most communities weaving was a task done by men.
• For coloured textiles, the thread was dyed by the dyer, called rangrez. For painted cloth the weavers needed the help of specialist block printers called chhipigars. 

Question 4: Handloom production did not completely die in India. Why?

• This was because some types of cloths could not be supplied by machines. Saris with intricate borders and cloths with traditional woven patterns could not be produced by machines.
• These had a wide demand not only amongst the rich but also amongst the middle classes.
• Moreover, the textile manufacturers in Britain could not produce the very coarse cloths used by the poor people in India.
• In the late 19th century, Sholapur and Madurai grew as important new centres of weaving. During the national movement, Gandhiji urged people to use hand-spun and hand-woven cloth Khadi which gradually became a symbol of nationalism.

Question 5: What helped TISCO expand steel production during the First World War?

• Before the First World War India imported British steel for rails. When in 1914 the war broke out, steel produced in Britain now had to meet the demands of the war in Europe.
• So, imports’ of British steel into India declined and the Indian Railways turned to TISCO for the supply of rails. As the war dragged on for several years, TISCO had to produce shells and carriage wheels for the war.
• By 1919 the colonial government was buying 90% of the steel manufactured by TISCO. Over time TISCO became the biggest steel industry within the British Empire.

Question 6: Why did the Indian iron smelting industry declined in the nineteenth century?

• The new forest laws of the colonial government prevented people from entering the reserved forests which made it difficult for the iron smelters to find wood for charcoal.
• Getting iron ore was also a big problem. Hence, many gave up their craft and looked for other jobs.
• In some areas where the government grant access to the forests, the iron smelters had to pay a very high tax to the forest department for every furnace they used. This reduced their income.
• By the late 19th century iron and steel were being imported from Britain. Ironsmiths in India began using the imported iron to manufacture utensils and implements.
• This inevitably lowered the demand for iron produced by local smelters. All these reasons caused the decline of the Indian iron smelting industry.

Question 7: How do the names of different textiles tell us about their history?

• European traders first saw fine cotton cloth from India in Mosul in present-day Iraq. They referred to all finely woven textiles as “muslin”.
• Portuguese first came to India in search of spices and landed in Calicut on the Kerala coast in south-west India. They took back cotton textiles to Europe, along with the spices. They named it “Calico”. Subsequently Calico became the general name for all cotton textiles.
• Many other words point to the popularity of Indian textiles in Western markets. Printed cotton cloths called chintz was derived from Hindi word chhint, a cloth with small and colourful flowery designs.
• Bandanna is a brightly coloured and printed scarf for the neck or head. This term was derived from the word “Bandanna” (Hindi for tying).
• Other clothes were known by their place of origin: Kasimbazar, Patna, Calcutta, Orissa and Charpoore. The widespread use of such words shows how popular Indian textiles had become in different parts of the world. 

Question 8: How did the development of cotton industries in Britain affect textile producers in India?

• Cotton industries in Britain developed and adversely affected textile producers in India in several ways: Indian textiles faced competition from British textiles in the European and American markets. Export of textiles to England became more and more difficult because the British government, imposed very high duties on Indian textiles imported into Britain.
• In the beginning of the 19th century, cotton textiles made in Britain successfully ousted Indian goods from their traditional markets in Africa, America and Europe. Thousands of weavers in India were thrown out of employment.
• English and European companies stopped to buy Indian goods. Their agents no longer gave out advances to weavers to secure supplies. Distressed weavers wrote petitions to the government to help them.
• By the 1830s British cotton cloth flooded Indian markets and two-thirds of all the cotton clothes worn by Indians were made of cloth produced in Britain. This affected not only specialist weavers but also spinners. Thousands of rural spinner women were rendered jobless.

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