WRITTEN BY R. NANJAPPA                        

Post No. 8307

Date uploaded in London – – – 8 July 2020   

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R. Nanjappa

Destruction of Indian Industry

One of the most important chapters in Dutt’s book traces the way Indian industry was deliberately destroyed by the company. It is one of the most moving portions of the book and it takes a stout heart to read it. But read it, we must.

Following irregularities, the company was required to renew its charter every twenty years, and before granting renewa, a Committee of the House of Commons enquired into the working of the company. A large number of witnesses were examined. The committee had a sort of general or superficial concern for the people, but their main objective was to increase the company business and profit, replacing Indian goods with their own manufactures. But some insights did emerge.

  • Thus, in 1813, Warren Hastings said to the Committee:

    • The supplies of trade are for the wants and luxuries of a people; the poor in India may be said to have no wants. Their wants are confined to their dwellings, to their food, and to a scanty portion of clothing, all of which they can have from the soil they tread upon
    • Sir John Malcolm, who had lived 
      in India and knew Indians well said:  

The Hindoo inhabitants are a race of men, generally speaking, not more distinguished by their lofty stature….than they are for some finest qualities  of the mind; they are brave, generous, and humane, and their truth is as remarkable as their courage.

They are not likely to become consumers of European articles, because they do not posses the means to purchase them, even if, from their simple habits of life and attire, they required them.

  • Graeme Mercer, who had served the company as a doctor and in other departments, described Indians as:
    • mild in their dispositions, polished in their general manners, in their domestic relations kind and affectionate, submissive to authority, and peculiarly attached to their religious tenets, and to the observance of the rites and ceremonies prescribed by those tenets.
    • Perhaps the most important witness examined by the Committee was our old friend Sir Thomas Munro. He said that Indians were good manufacturers and were likely to imitate English goods. Asked whether Hindu women were not slaves of their husbands, he said that they had as much influence as the English ladies had in their own country. Asked whether, introduction of  
    • Open trade would not improve the civilisation of Hindus, Munro made one of his most memorable submissions:
  • I do not understand what is meant by the civilisation of the Hindus; in the higher branches of science, in the knowledge of the theory and practice of good government, and in education which, by banishing prejudice and superstition, opens the mind to receive instruction of every kind, from every quarter, they are much inferior to Europeans. But if a good system of agriculture, unrivalled manufacturing skill, a capacity to produce whatever can contribute to convenience or luxury; schools established in every village for teaching reading, writing and arithmetic; the general practice of hospitality and charity amongst each other; and above all a treatment of the female sex full of confidence, respect, and delicacy, are among the signs which denote a civilised people, then Hindus are not inferior to the nations of Europe; AND IF CIVILISATION IS TO BECOME AN ARTICLE OF TRADE  BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES, I AM CONVINCED THAT THIS COUNTRY (ENGLAND) WILL GAIN BY THE IMPORT CARGO. 
  • Sir Thomas Munro said that the excellent quality of Indians’ own manufactures would stand in the way of their buying from England and mentioned that he had used an Indian shawl for seven years and found very little difference, and that he had never seen an European shawl like that.

                     **                To be continued

tags – India, economic downfall-5

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