European Managing Agencies were interested in certain kinds of products. They focused on tea and coffee plantations, mining, indigo and jute. These products were mainly required for export and were not meant for sale in India.
The Indian businessmen avoided direct competition with Manchester goods in the Indian market. For example, they produced coarse cotton yarn which was used by handloom weavers or exported to China.
By the first decade of the twentieth century, various changes affected the pattern of industrialization. This was the time when the swadeshi movement was gathering momentum. Industrial groups organized themselves for collective bargaining with the government. They pressurized the government to increase tariff protection and grant other concessions. This was the period when the export of Indian yarn to China declined. This was because the produce from Chinese and Japanese mills flooded the Chinese market. The Indian manufacturers began to shift from yarn to cloth production. Between 1900 and 1912, the cotton piece-goods production doubled in India.
Industrial growth was slow till the First World War. The War changed the situation. The British mills became busy in meeting the needs of the army. This resulted in decline of imports to India. There was a vast home market to be catered by the Indian mills. The Indian mills were also asked to supply goods for the British army. This created a boom in industrial activities.
After the war, Manchester could never recapture its lost position in the Indian market. The British industry was no longer in a position to compete with the US, Germany and Japan.
In spite of industrial growth, large industries formed only a small segment of the economy. About 67% of the large industries were located in Bengal and Bombay. Small-scale production continued to prevail in the rest of the country. Only a small portion of the industrial workforce worked in registered factories. This share was just 5% in 1911 and 10% in 1931.
The handicrafts expanded in the twentieth century. The handicrafts people adopted new technology. For example; weavers started the use of fly shuttle in their looms. By 1941, more than 35% of handlooms in India were fitted with fly shuttles. The percentage was 70 to 80 in major textile hubs; like Travancore, Madras, Mysore, Cochin and Bengal. Many other small innovations helped in improving productivity in the handloom sector.
The manufacturers practiced various ways to lure new customers. Advertisement is one of the various ways to attract new customers.
The producers from Manchester labeled their products to show the place of manufacture. The label ‘Made in Manchester’ was considered to be the sign of good quality. The labels also carried beautiful illustrations. The illustrations often carried the images of Indian gods and goddesses. This was a good attempt to develop a local connect with the people.
By the late nineteenth century, manufacturers began distributing calendars to popularize their products. A calendar has a longer shelf life than newspaper or magazines. It works as a constant brand reminder throughout a year. Moreover, while newspaper or a magazine can be meaningful only for a literate person, a calendar useful for even an illiterate person.
The Indian manufacturers often highlighted nationalist messages along with their advertisement; in an attempt to develop a better connect with the potential customers.
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