Small-scale Industry

Tirthankar Roy

in The Economic History of India, 1857-1947

Third edition

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780198074175
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199082148 | DOI:
Small-scale Industry

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In 1900, most of India's manufacturing workers were employed in industries that did not use either machinery or large factories. A century later, more than two-thirds of manufacturing employment remained intensive in manual labour and were concentrated in small firms, some of which had roots in the traditional handicrafts. During the colonial period, the scale of employment in the handicrafts declined. Small firms and industries producing handicrafts experienced major turmoil and increasing differentiation. Commercialization polarized and differentiated the handicrafts industry, essentially transforming traditional industry and giving rise to modern small-scale industry in colonial India. This change was characterized by the growing scope for commercial and industrial capital in the business, as well as increasing use of wage labour in place of family labour.

Keywords: India; manufacturing; handicrafts; employment; colonial period; commercialization; small-scale industry; wage labour; capital

Chapter.  11542 words.  Illustrated.

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